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Oman Driving Guide 2022

Oman is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2021-07-29 · 9 mins

Oman is more than just a Muslim country. If you want to travel around a country, and witness its rich culture, explore its white-sand beaches, mountains, desert, valleys, and castles, never miss this country in the Arabian Peninsula. As you travel to destinations in Oman, experience the diverse cuisine influenced by many cultures. And don’t forget to try some Omani coffee - it’s their national beverage.

The country has established its reputation as one of the safest countries in the Middle East despite its risky location, as seen in the news worldwide. As the number of tourists rises each year, Oman promises to provide unique experiences from its historical landmarks, natural reserves, and cultural sites.

How Can This Guide Help You?

The most practical way to explore Oman is to have your transportation. This way, you will have the freedom to manage your time. However, first, you need to have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) to rent a car in Oman. As you read further, you will discover more about Oman, the dos and don'ts when driving in Oman, the requirements you need to have to rent a car, and the best places to visit as you navigate around Oman.

General Information

Oman’s capital Muscat is by far one of the most popular destinations in the country. However, Muscat is only a percentage of what Oman has to offer for tourists. Oman might be your first country to travel outside your home country - may it be solo travel or in a group.

Geographic Location

Oman is considered the oldest independent state in the Arab World. The country is strategically positioned at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Oman shares its land borders with the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Yemen to the southwest, and Saudi Arabia to the west. It also shares marine borders with Pakistan and Iran. The coastal region of Oman is known for its grapes and other agricultural produce. The country’s central desert is visited as an essential source of meteorites for researchers.

Languages Spoken

Arabic is a widely spoken language in Oman and is also its national language. Some dialects are also spoken here, such as Dhofari Arabic in Salalah and surrounding coastal regions, Gulf Arabic in parts bordering UAE, and Omani Arabic in Central Oman. You don’t have to worry as well if you visit here since English is also spoken here. It is used in schools from an early age and is widely spoken in the business industry.

Land Area

Oman covers a land area of 309,500 km2 in the southeastern quarter of the Arabian Peninsula. Eighty-two percent of its land area is mostly valleys and deserts. Fifteen percent of its total land area are mountain ranges, and three percent constitute the coastal plains. Oman may be known for its oil reserves, which comprise 84 percent of its revenue, but it also offers excellent beaches, coastlines, and mountain ranges for adventurous travelers.

History

The Yaarubah was believed to be the first settlers in Oman. It is believed that during the 8th century BC, Yaarub, the descendant of Kahtan, ruled Yemen, including Oman. Through the centuries, tribes from Western Arabia lived in Oman and made fishing, farming, and stock breeding their living sources. In the 16th century, the Portuguese colonized Oman, mainly the capital city, Muscat. Muscat is known to be the center for the trading of the Persian Gulf region.

Portuguese colonization lasted for 143 years. In the late 18th century, as Oman solidified its maritime power, the British also wanted to dominate southeast Arabia. It started to establish international agreements to advance British political and economic interest in Muscat and, in return, will strengthen sultans’ military protection. Today, Oman still is one of the countries with large oil reserves, ranking 25th worldwide. Apart from oil reserves, Oman is trading tourism, trading fish, dates, and other agricultural products.

Government

Oman practices a unitary state and an absolute monarchy type of government. The head of state is the Sultan and directly controls all legislative, executive, and judiciary powers, including foreign affairs and defense portfolios. All laws since 1970 have been taken into effect through royal decrees, including the 1996 Basic Law. The Sultan’s authority can not be voided, and total subordination to his will is expected from Oman’s people.

Tourism

Oman catered to more than 3.5 million tourists in 2019, which is 8.14 percent higher than the number of tourists recorded in 2018. 1.4 million tourists were from the Gulf Cooperation Council, more than 400 thousand were from India, and 10 0 thousand more tourists were from China. Accommodations such as hotel amenities, camps, heritage inns, and greenhouses are being eyed for years to come to accommodate the tourists’ possible rise each year.

International Driver’s Permit FAQs

International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is needed when you rent and drive a car in Oman. Your IDP is a translation of your local driver’s license and is essential to ensure your safety and avoid getting in trouble when driving in Oman. Read through below to know more about using an IDP in Oman.

Do I Need an International Driver’s Permit for Oman?

An International Driver’s Permit is not necessarily needed. Your driving licence will suffice when driving in Oman. However, it is advisable to get one, primarily when your license is not written in the Roman or Arabic alphabet. Your IDP can always come in handy when authorities ask you for one. Remember that Omanis are very strict when it comes to abiding by the road rules. If you plan to stay and drive longer than three months, you need to get a driving licence in Oman.

The same goes for if you wish to visit countries in the US or Canada, your Oman driving license is valid in Canada, given that you have an IDP. Your IDP will serve as a translation of your Omani license. Canada allows foreigners to drive in their territory with their own local driver’s license for 90 days. Beyond that, IDP has to come along with your Oman driving license for your initial drive to be valid in Canada.

How to Get An International Driver’s License/Permit in Oman?

Once you log on, you will be asked to fill out a form with your personal information. You need to provide a copy of your valid driver’s license as well as a passport-sized photo of you. It will only take two hours for the IDA team to review and approve your application. Ensure all the information is correct for a faster process of your application. You just follow the steps above on how to get an international driving license for your travel in Oman. Then you are good to go!

How Long Does It Take to Get an IDP?

A digital copy of your IDP will be immediately emailed to you, and its physical copy will be shipped to you, whether you are in Oman already or in your home country. Just don’t forget to key in the exact shipping address. Steps on how to get an international driver’s license in Oman are easy as one to three, and it won’t take much of your time.

An IDP is valid to over 150 countries worldwide; getting it will not waste your money. An IDP has validity; make sure it’s still valid before your next travel, after Oman. Steps on renewal of IDP are the same steps on how to get an international driving license after your trip to Oman.

Renting a Car in Oman

Public transportation in Oman is minimal; even in key cities, there are some routes with no public transport. So to fully experience the scenery in Oman, you might as well have your transportation. Some areas in Oman, especially the secluded areas like the Sharqiya Sands and the Hajar Mountains, are certified must-visit but inaccessible through public transport.

Car Rental Companies

It is best to book your car rental before traveling to Oman. You can do some searches online before booking the right car for your travel needs in Oman. Avis car rentals offer $19/day rent at some locations, the cheapest deal in Oman. Meanwhile, Dollar is the most popular among travelers in Oman. If you want a car rental with many access within Oman, you can choose Europcar with most locations around Oman. There are currently 14 locations of Europcar all over the country.

Documents Required

To rent a car, agencies will require you to present a valid driver’s license and a valid passport or any document that will certify your identity. While it is given that you can drive in Oman with your local driver’s license, you should have your IDP available. Lots of companies for car rentals might ask for it, especially if your passport is not written in the Roman or Arabic alphabet.

Vehicle Types

The Economy is the most frequently booked car in Oman. This usually happens for tourists who prefer to drive around the key cities of Oman. SUV is also an option for some who want to explore the mountains and desert of Oman. The type of car you need to choose depends on your budget, itinerary, and the number of people accompanying you. Car rental companies offer different deals; that is why it’s best to explore your road options first before booking.

Car Rental Costs

The basic cost of rental cars varies from one rental company to another. Usually, basic rates include unlimited mileage, local taxes, third-party liability insurance, and other add-ons. Make sure to check with your rental company on the coverage of the price you will pay or the rent so you will not be surprised. There will be instances that the price suddenly goes up with you knowing what’s in it.

Usually, add-ons and insurance take up much of the price increase. Add-ons include car seats, drop-off, and pick-up services. If you plan to cross borders to other countries, few rental companies will allow this but a corresponding additional fee. And be mindful of your car rental timeline as car rental companies will charge you for the delayed return of rented cars.

Age Requirements

The minimum age for a person to rent a car is 21. Some bigger companies allow 21-year-olds to rent cars; there are also small car agencies that require renters to be at least 25 years old. Before confirming your car rental booking, make sure to check with your chosen agency first.

Car Insurance Cost

Mostly, basic car insurance such as Collision Damage or Loss Damage Waiver is already included in the basic car rental cost. This means that your rental company will pay for any claims from other parties in case of an accident or in case you lost the rented car. It is best to consult with your car rental agency first before purchasing additional coverage for your car rental.

Car Insurance Policy

You might want to add extra insurance apart from the mandatory third-party liability insurance. The Collision and Damage Waiver (CDW) reduces your liability if there are damages to the vehicle. However, the CDW insurance policy does not cover for loss of the rented vehicle. You can opt to have the Theft Protection policy, which covers your liability if the vehicle is stolen.

Another common insurance policy is Personal Accident Insurance, which covers any injuries, disability, or death of the driver and the vehicle’s passenger. Some rental companies offer the Complete Protection Package, with all the mentioned insurance in one policy. Note that all this extra insurance you might decide to add to your existing one means an additional charge to your basic rental rate.

Sur Oman Photo by Katerina Kerdi

The Road Rules in Oman

Omanis roads are generally in excellent condition. Oman is one of the safest countries globally, especially for tourists. Hence, driving in Oman is not a big problem at all. As a foreign driver, you also have to be familiar with the road rules as Oman authorities are very strict in implementing their regulations.

Important Regulations

Locals and tourists alike have to follow the rules when driving in Oman. An Omani must be at least 18 years old to legally drive in the country, and travelers must be at least 21 years old. You must have a valid driver’s license and other essential documents when you drive in Oman. Here are other important key points you need to know to guide you in your drive in Oman.

Drunk Driving

Oman authorities will not tolerate any alcohol in the blood of drivers when in their territory. It is not a good plan to drink and drive as it may cause severe accidents on the road, and in Oman, it can land you in jail if you are caught doing so. You can go to jail for up to one year and will be fined OMR 200.

Turning Signals at an Intersection

Traffic lights and car signals serve as the language used by motorists to communicate with each other. The Royal Oman Police mandates every driver to make their turn signal prior before moving left or right on the roadway. The intent to turn left or right must be indicated in advance before turning to avoid any accidents. Motorists who fail to follow this road rule will face a penalty of RO15.

Parking

Park your car at the assigned parking areas. There are free parking spaces in some places, so you will not have any real problems placing your vehicle in a safe place. When you are in key cities and small towns or even tourist destinations, you will find paid parking on garages and parking lots.

Avoid illegal parking because authorities will indeed penalize you. You cannot park at a pedestrian crossing, on bridges, tunnels, and at curves. It is also prohibited to park on public offices like in front and entrance gates of Royal palaces, entry and exit points of parking spaces, petrol stations, hospitals, schools, bus stations, firefighting centers, and police and military areas.

Ensure you and your vehicle is in good condition before driving

Make sure to rent a car from registered car rental companies and see that the vehicle is registered. Inspect the car’s condition, if it’s functioning well, including its brakes, car doors, horns, car lights, side windows, and wiper blades. You can expect to have heavier rains in Oman, so be sure to have all the car functioning parts. Check if there are prior car scratches and bumps and report them immediately to the car rental company before starting your drive.

There are a few things that you should not forget when you drive in Oman. Make sure to bring a first aid kit and visibility devices such as a warning triangle and beam deflectors. These can come in handy, especially in case of accidents on the road.

Seatbelt Laws

It is mandatory in Oman to fasten the seatbelts of the driver and the passengers of the vehicle. Children below ten years old should be seated at the car’s rear side with their seat belts. Also for children aged four below must be provided with car seats. Penalties await you if you violate these rules.

General Standards

Oman's government imposes hefty fines for those who fail to follow road rules. It is crucial to follow general standards while driving in Oman to ease your trip and avoid any unfortunate circumstances while on the road. Here are a few reminders you need to take, not while in Oman.

Speed Limits

Oman implements speed limits, which is the same as most countries. If you are driving through urban roads, your speed limit must be between 40-80 KPH. For those driving in rural areas, they must maintain a speed of 90 KPH, and for drivers passing through highways, they are allowed to drive at a maximum speed of 120KPH. There are fixed speed cameras, especially on highways, and mobile speed cameras are being used in Oman; you can’t get away if you are overspeeding.

Driving Directions

Roads in Oman are generally in modern and good condition. It also connects to all major cities and tourist destinations, so driving from one destination to another will be as hard as it could get. Expressways with multiple lanes are also available in Oman for a faster drive, but be mindful of the speed limit, which is 120KPH.

Traffic Road Signs

Oman may follow the Arabic language, but most road signs in the country have corresponding English translations. Some are even in the English language alone. So driving there will not be a headache. Nevertheless, it pays to be familiar with the country’s road signs.

Most road signs are somewhat the same as in other countries. The following are examples of what you will see while driving in Oman.

  • For The Warning Road Signs: Steep descent, traffic signals, left bend, right bend, series of bends, steep ascent, two-way traffic ahead, and more
  • For Priority Road Signs: stop, priority road ahead, roundabout ahead, and more
  • For the Mandatory Road Signs: maximum speed limit, trucks keep right, meter zone, turn right, and more

Right of Way

Drivers driving on the inside lane always have the right of way in Oman. For vehicles on the inside lane flashing high beams at you, it means they want you to let them get off the roundabout. Remember to signal properly as road rage is not allowed in Oman. You might be brought to the police if you show disrespect to other drivers by showing any kind of anger or even mild irritation.

You are expected to be at least 18 years old to legally drive in Oman for locals and at least 21 years old for travelers. You need to have your valid driver’s license at all times while driving in Oman. Frequent checks may not present, but you should keep them available if authorities will suddenly ask for them.

Laws on Overtaking

Vehicles can overtake while driving in Oman, but they have to be done carefully. Drivers are not allowed to overtake from the right side unless the driver in front signals to change lanes. It is now prohibited to overtake on yellow lines and the island.

Heavy vehicles and trucks must also be mindful not to overtake roads that do not permit overtaking and non-main roads. Drivers must also see to it to not overtake in the path of deceleration, acceleration, and pedestrian ramps. Such violations will yield penalties amounting to not less than OMR 10.

Driving Side

Remember To Which Side of the Road when driving in Oman. You are to drive on the right side of the road when you are in Oman. This is one of the main road rules that you need to know. If you are used to driving on the left side of the road, you need to be familiar with driving on the right to avoid accidents in Oman.

Close to two-thirds of the world’s countries drive on the right side of the road, including Oman. You must be familiar with which side of the road when driving in Oman as this is one of the basic driving rules you must not forget. Violating such a law can lead to hefty fines and the possibility of accidents on the road.

Driving Etiquette in Oman

Along your trip, it can’t be avoided that you will meet some unfortunate circumstances. From minor to major car problems to possible accidents, anything can happen on the road. You will also have to converse with the locals while on the road, so better be kind and polite.

Car Breakdown

Though you have checked your vehicle’s condition beforehand, there will be instances when you will have problems with your car. If your car breaks down, place your vehicle as far as you can from the travel lane. Call for assistance; you can either contact the police or emergency responder to help you out. Remember to use the warning triangle you brought from the start of your trip to signal incoming vehicles.

If your car breaks down at nighttime, turn on your hazard lights and use beam deflectors so you will be more visible to other motorists. By doing this, drivers will be notified ahead of an accident or a broken-down car. This will also prevent untoward accidents while waiting for someone to rescue you and help you fix your vehicle.

Police Stops

If you are asked to stop by the police, do so. Never speed away as the authority may suspect you of being a threat to the country. Instead, slow down and stop your car at a safe place where it can’t hinder other motorists passing through the roads. Police officers may have some questions for you. Stay calm and be confident in answering their questions, don’t shout or raise your voice.

If you think you violated road rules, the police will inform you about it. Ask for the severity of your violation. For some minor offenses, Omani authorities impose on the spot fines, but if your violation is severe, you might incur hefty fines or worse might go to prison. Again, never speed away as it may escalate your violation to a more serious one.

Asking Directions

Omani people are known to be warm and hospitable people. If you are lost or just want to make sure of your directions before continuing driving, you can ask them for directions, and they are willing to help you out. Remember to converse politely as Omanis are very particular with expressions of anger or disappointments. Talk with your normal speaking voice.

Checkpoints

You might pass through police check point, especially if you cross borders. There will be warning signal lights for police check point ahead, so you need to slow down and stop for possible inspections. Usually, police will ask for your travel documents such as driver’s license, passport, international driver’s permit, and visa if needed. So make sure to have them available all at once for faster inspection. If authorities ask you questions, answer them politely and truthfully.

Other Tips

Unexpected events can come your way, no matter how careful you can be while driving on Oman Off-Road. Read more below on things you need to do in case of an accident or when you need to use the phone while driving.

What if I Get Involved in an Accident While on the Road?

The first thing you need to do is assess the situation and immediately call for emergency assistance (999). Don’t move your car from the accident’s location and wait for the Royal Oman Police to permit you to do so. Driving your car from the scene may be interpreted as an admission of your fault. Never leave the location unless you need further medical attention if you incur injuries from the accident.

It is also best to contact your car rental company for assistance. If there are damages to the cars involved, other parties will likely claim damages to their vehicle. Car insurance will come into play in this situation. That is why most car rental companies require you to get insurance. But to avoid all hassles, it is best to drive carefully and defensively, especially on foreign roads.

Can I Use My Phone While Driving?

On-the-spot fines are implemented when you are caught using your phone while driving. It is prohibited to navigate your phone while you are on the road since it will divide your attention from driving. If you need to use your mobile phones, use the hands-free system.

Driving Conditions in Oman

Almost fifty percent of Omani roads are paved already, except for those in far-flung areas and smaller villages where you have to pass through narrower streets. These are the causes of road accidents in Oman. Also, locals are unable to follow strict road rules resulting in more accidents. That is why for tourists who plan to drive in Oman, paying attention to the road and traffic signs and signals is very important.

Accident Statistics

Based to the National Center for Statistics and Information, in 2018, road accidents happen on an average of one in every three hours. This accounts for 2,802 total road accidents in the same year. Though the number has decreased since 2016, Omani authorities have updated the road rules and regulations to lessen the number of road accidents even more.

Such deaths from road accidents are from serious collisions of vehicles. Overspeeding accounted for seventy percent of the total road accidents. Hence, installing more fixed speed cameras and mobile speed cameras through Omani roads and higher fines for those road rules violators.

Common Vehicles

Most cars in Oman vary from their needs. The most commonly used in Oman are four-wheel drive vehicle types, especially in mountain areas where a compact car will not be advisable. It is known that Oman has lesser public transportation, as some destinations are not accessible through public transport. Hence, the increase in the number of private vehicles each year. In 2019, there were 1.2 million personal vehicles registered in Oman.

There is an increase in the count of private vehicles in the country; however, there is a drop in the number of public transport registered in 2019, specifically excellent taxis, government vehicles, and motorbikes. The most significant decrease was with the taxis with 11.2 percent.

Toll Roads

Toll roads are being eyed on expressways of Oman. There are no official toll roads yet; however, some roads have toll plazas constructed already. You can check with your car rental for the start of effectivity of putting up tolls on expressways, and you can ask for an automatic toll reader. With this, you can pay your tolls automatically, and the amount will be charged to your credit card after returning the vehicle.

Road Situation

You can expect traffic congestion in most cities in Oman. Muscat, for example, tends to be very congested during rush hour. Some use expressways to avoid traffic in the cities. However, if you drive through Oman’s provincial roads, fewer cars are plying on the streets. It may not be a headache and can give you comfort while driving, but you also have to keep in mind speed limits and animals suddenly crossing the streets.

Driving Culture

Like any other country, you will meet some drivers who violate road rules throughout your trip; this is why you also have to be mindful when driving. Omani drivers tend to be calm and quiet while on the road. Defensive driving is still crucial when on foreign land, and since authorities impose severe fines for road rule violations, religiously follow all of them, even if the locals won’t.

Omani authorities see many road accidents and casualties in the country, hence implementing stricter road rules and some driving laws of the country amendments. Apart from these, a driving test in Oman requires a long process. This ensures that local drivers know the rules in driving and adhere to those rules while Omani roads.

Other Tips

You need to consider other things in Oman, such as the traffic signs with printed speed limits and some road infrastructure that are less passable when it rains. Read more below to know more.

What Is the Unit to Measure Speed in Oman?

Eighty-one percent of the countries worldwide use kilometers per hour (KPH) to measure speed, and Oman is one. Meanwhile, 17 countries use the miles per hour (MPH) as a unit to measure speed. You usually see the KPH with a corresponding number beside indicating the maximum speed your car must drive on certain Oman roads. It is vital to follow these traffic signs to avoid accidents on the road.

How Safe Is it Drive in Oman Late at Night?

Roads in key cities of Oman are safe for driving at night. However, if you are headed to the rural areas, some roads in the smaller villages are narrower, not well maintained, and some areas are not well lighted. You might come across some vehicles not turning on their headlights while driving. There will be instances where you get to meet some camels unexpectedly crossing the streets at their own will. These driving conditions can lead to possible accidents.

Is It Safe to Pass by Wadi Crossing During the Rainy Months?

A wadi crossing is a road built through a dry river bed. They may be usually dry, but during heavy rains, they can be hazardous. Rainwater streaming through the wadi can flood your engine, and if the current is so strong can pull your car along with it. There is a red stick on the right side of the wadi, and check the water’s depth. If you feel that the flood water is so strong, never cross and instead head back.

Things to Do in Oman

From deserts to castles to food and mountains, you can always look forward to Oman as your destination. Also, the hospitality and warmth of people here. And this country offers visa-free programs to most countries worldwide for a maximum stay of days.

Drive as a Tourist

Tourists are allowed to drive in Oman. Just make sure that you have your license with you and are at a legal age to drive. Driving without a license in Oman is never allowed and can cause you penalties, or you might go to prison. And though your IDP is not necessarily needed in Oman, it is advisable to get one, especially if your passport is not written in the Roman or Arabic alphabet.

Work as a Driver

The first that you need to secure, though, is an employment visa. You need a residency card so you can legally live and work in Oman. To qualify for a driving job, you need to take the driving test in Oman. There are necessary tests and steps you need to follow on how to get a driving license in Oman. You need to take two stages before you are issued an Omani driver’s license, so you have to pay attention to all the requirements also required with the practice tests.

Getting a driving licence in Oman for ex-pats has a similar process with the locals. An additional requirement is the application form of a learning driving permit to process a driving licence in Oman for ex-pats. You need to register at the Royal Oman Police (ROP) to get started. You need to provide a result of your vision/eye test for your driving license in Oman and set for a driving test from an instructor in Oman. Driving without a license in Oman can cause you hefty fines.

Work as a Travel Guide

The most common places where you can highly land a job as a tourist area in the country’s capital Muscat, Seeb, Salalah, Sohar, and Ibri. The average for a travel guide is about $1818; it will also depend on the company or agency you are working for. Travel or private guides should understand the history and importance of different Omani destinations and efficiently relay tourists’ information in their respective languages.

You should be good at English and any other languages like Italian, German and French, to name a few. Some travel agencies do not require their applicants for any field experience as the company will provide training. However, it will be a plus to employers if you know how the industry runs.

Apply for Residency

If you plan to relocate to Oman and work here, you need to process a residency visa as an employee; usually, you need to be sponsored by an employer or a family member. You also need to have a labor permit from the Ministry of Manpower. For GCC countries, you can enter Oman without any visa; however, if you plan to reside in Oman, you need to apply for residency.

Other Things to Do

Oman is a landlocked country, meaning it borders other countries in the Middle East. Below are some things you should know about crossing borders and what countries accept an Omani driver’s license. There are also additional provisions being laid out by Omani authorities to secure a driver’s license.

How Long Can a Foreigner Use a Local Driving License in Oman?

If you plan on driving in Oman longer than three months, you need to secure an Omani driving license. For starters, one can secure a driving license in Oman. You need to provide your residency card and a passport photo. You have to undergo a series of tests like road rules and regulations, driving tests in Oman, and eye tests for the issuance of a driving license in Oman.

How to Get a Driving License in Oman?

You can enroll at a driving school in Oman. Schools vary in the way they offer diving courses. However, they are beneficial, especially if you want to know how to pass a driving test in Oman. Driving courses also vary on every driving school in Oman regarding how long the classes would take. There’s no magic on how to pass the driving test in Oman. Drivers should be familiar with traffic signs and laws in Oman and, more importantly, religiously follow them.

Are There any New Driving Licence Rules in Oman?

Starting March 1 in 2018, Oman authorities implemented a stricter procedure in getting a driver’s license. One of the new driving licence rules in Oman is issuing a one-year preliminary driving license to those who have successfully passed the driving procedures or renewed their licenses. The new rules in Oman for driving licence address the increasing casualties due to road accidents every year.

In January 2019, another item added to the new rules in Oman for getting a driving licence was to allow men to use automatic transmission during driving tests. Previously, to secure a driving licence in Oman, automatic transmission cars should not be used by men. They have to learn to drive using manual cars. However, once the driving licence in Oman is issued, they can choose to drive an automatic car.

In Which Countries the Oman Driving License Valid?

Countries under GCC can use their driving license when driving outside their home countries. This means that your Oman driving license is valid in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, if you plan to move to the UAE, you need to replace your Oman driving license with a UAE-issued license. It pays to know if your Oman driving license is valid in which countries so you can prepare the additional documents if needed for your travel.

While you cross borders and visit places in the UAE, such as Dubai, your Oman driving license is still valid in Dubai. Make sure that your Oman driving license is still valid when you drive in Dubai. For some countries, your Oman driving license will not be valid, like in India. You may secure an IDP if you wish to go to India for tourism purposes. You can exchange your Oman driving license for the one issued and valid in India if you plan to stay longer.

The Top Road Destinations in Oman

If you are curious about how it feels to be in a desert and witness incredible mountain ranges, historical sites, warm beaches all year, and more exotic destinations, then Oman is for you. Oman is more than just a country in the Middle East. And if you are doubtful of some news you read and heard, think again! Oman is one of the safest countries globally.

Muscat Province Photo by mostafa meraji

Muscat

The best place to start your trip is in Muscat, Oman’s capital. The city has a mixture of monuments representing the Islamic culture and today’s world’s urban vibe. Muscat is an excellent place for those into Arab architecture as it is home to some of the most incredible mosques in the region. To top it all, the main souvenir shopping district is in Muscat, where you can check out some local products.

Driving Directions:

  1. From Muscat International Airport, head south.
  2. Keep right.
  3. Slight left.
  4. Merge onto Route 1.

Things to Do

You can assure that Muscat will give a pair of tradition, culture, and some city vibe while exploring the area. Here are a few lists that you can do in Muscat.

  1. Visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

    Considered to be the largest in Oman and the only mosque that is open to non-Muslims. The main prayer hall can hold 6,500 worshipers, and the women’s prayer hall can hold 750 worshipers. The mosque has a total capacity of 20,000. It also houses the world's largest chandelier and the world’s largest carpet in the prayer hall. Explore its art’s beauty through its interiors.
  2. Watch a show at the Royal Opera House of Muscat

    The opera house is the center of arts and culture in Oman. The Royal Opera House features auditoriums, gardens, retail stores, and restaurants. The building in itself is one of its kind and extremely looks beautiful after the sunset. It is made of white marble and stone, and the front facade has a myriad of symmetrical towers and pointed arches. If you have time, you can book and watch opera shows.
  3. Get up close with nature at Qurum Natural Park

    This 400-acre greenery landscape is a favorite spot for families and lovers. The park features extensive rose gardens, children playing areas, an artificial lake, and a fountain that visitors can enjoy while having a picnic or just strolling around through the walkways built through the trees. This is one of the largest natural parks in Muscat, and it is free for everyone who wants to get away and relax in the bustling city.
  4. Shop for local souvenirs at Muttrah Souq

    This shopping district in the city can get crowded with shoppers looking for some authentic Omani products. Score some great bargains from various colorful stalls selling all sorts of souvenirs, bags, headscarves, home decor, chandeliers, clothing, fresh fruit, pottery, and other wares. All these might tempt you to buy as much as you can, so it is best to bring a bag with you when shopping here.
  5. Get a glimpse of Muscat’s history from Muttrah Fort

    The Muttrah fort stands on a rocky hill and overlooks the town of Muttrah. In 1508, the Portuguese built Muttrah Fort, used it for keto keepers, and monitored the harbor operations. Previously used for military purposes but now allow visitors to visit the landmark. The fort comprises three circular towers where you can check out, and it also offers the best view of the town and its harbor.
Nizwa Fort Oman Photo by Mr MaroX

Nizwa

Nizwa previously was the capital of Oman during the 6th and 7th centuries AD. You can drive to the city and visit the Nizwa Fort that was built during the 17th century. Discover the Omani life during the 17th century with its museum. And before leaving Nizwa, check out their outdoor market and goat market.

Driving Directions:

  1. From Muscat International Airport, continue to Sultan Qaboos St.
  2. Head south.
  3. Keep right.
  4. Keep right.
  5. Follow Route 15 to Route 31 in Nizwa. Exit from Route 15.
  6. Merge onto Sultan Qaboos St‫.
  7. Take the ramp to Route 15.
  8. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Route 15.
  9. Take the ramp to Route 31.
  10. Keep right at the fork to continue toward Route 31.
  11. Follow Route 31 and Route 21 to your destination.
  12. Slight right onto Route 31.
  13. Turn left toward Route 21.
  14. Continue onto Route 21.
  15. Continue onto Route 21.
  16. Turn left.

Things to Do

Nizwa became the center of culture, art, religion, and science in Oman. Read through to get to know more about the city and the destinations you should not miss.

  1. Explore Nizwa Fort

    Your trip to the old town will not be complete without visiting Nizwa Fort. This is the centerpiece of the city, and from the entrance, you will see the huge round towers and high walls dominating the skyline. The fort dates back to the 12th century, but it was built entirely in 1650. It has a vast sand-colored complex of towers, stairwells, hidden chambers, and underground passageways.
  2. Taste the Dates

    Nizwa is the center for growing dates in Oman, so never miss visiting the dating market to taste different varieties. A building near the fish market offers dates both from Oman and other Middle Eastern territories. While you can indulge yourself with all kinds of dates, they also have honey, date syrup, and more.
  3. Witness the Goat Auction

    Have a glimpse into the lasting traditions and culture by watching a goat auction that happens every Friday morning. Farmers and herders from across the region visit the market wearing their dishdashas and bringing their animals for the auction. It can get busy, lively, and chaotic as owners and auctioneers negotiate for the goats’ price. It starts early and ends early at about nine in the morning.
  4. Visit the Bahla Fort

    The Bahla Fort sits at the town of Bahlah, which is thirty minutes away from Nizwa. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built to defend the oasis in the desert. The walls and towers are of mud brick and stone foundation built by the Banu Nabhan tribe (Nabahina) from the 12th to 15th centuries. There are three main sections in the Bahla Fort, the oldest part, the news ones built in 1624-1743, and the ones made in the 18th century.
  5. Hike in Jebel Shams

    Jebel Shams is one of the mountains in Oman that offers spectacular views. While you are in Nizwa, make this your side trip. This mountain is the highest in Oman, with an elevation of 3, 009 above sea level. With a four by four, you can drive close to the summit. From above, you can have a panoramic view of Wadi Ghul, locally known as the “Grand Canyon of Arabia.”
Wadi Bani Khalid Photo by Arisa S.

Wadi Bani Khalid

Considered as the oasis in the desert, Wadi Bani Khalid in the Eastern Region of Oman is one of the top destinations. Its stream continuously flows water throughout the year. Wadi means a narrow ravine that channels water from mountains to lowlands. Wadi Bani Khalid is composed of turquoise and emerald-colored pools.

Driving Directions:

  1. From Muscat International Airport, continue to Sultan Qaboos St.
  2. Head south.
  3. Keep right.
  4. Keep right.
  5. Drive from Route 15 and Route 23 to Sand.
  6. Drive to Seeh Al-Hail Street in Wadi Bani Khalid.
  7. Turn right.
  8. Continue straight.
  9. Turn left.
  10. Continue onto Saih Al-Hail Street.

Things to Do

Wadi Bani Khalid has been developed with a bridge, restaurant, seating areas, around pools that are perfect for swimming. Check out other things to do by reading below.

  1. Swim at the wadi

    As soon as you arrive at Wadi Bani Khalid, just minutes away from the entrance, you will come to the first and largest pool in the wadi. This is mostly crowded among the pools in the area and where tourists and locals usually swim. However, this pool is only the introduction to many pools in the wadi. Make sure to dress modestly while you swim here, especially on weekends when locals frequent the area.
  2. Hike to the upper pools/canyons

    If you find the first pool too crowded and want to explore the rest, you can hike to the upper part. Hiking through the upper pool will only take ten minutes, but you have to be careful as the white stones can be very slippery. As you go through the first small upper pool, you can swim in a small-beach-like area that is the entrance to another swimming area. You can jump off the canyon walls and enjoy a little waterfall in the first upper pool.
  3. Explore Muqal Cave

    For some, swimming through different pools in the wadi is enough, but those wanting to put up some adrenaline rush into their trip can go caving. The cave is dark, so you need to have a flashlight, and if you think you need someone to guide you, you have to secure a local to assist you. As you enter the cave, the roar of underground water flowing through hard rocks will excite you. Enjoy the beautiful rock formations inside.
  4. Enjoy a fish spa service

    After all the walking and swimming, you can enjoy some fish spa for free. Just put your feet in the water, and the fish will nibble the dead skin away. You can have a fish spa near the largest pool as you enter Wadi Bani Khalid. Small fish will surely tickle you, but just stay motionless, and after a few moments, your feet will feel relaxed after all the hiking you did all day. It’s worth the try, and it’s free!
  5. Get some snacks at a restaurant nearby

    If you forgot to bring food to Wadi Bani Khalid, you could head on to a walk-in restaurant in the area to get some refreshments and snacks before starting your adventure in the wadi. They offer food like popcorn, ice cream, small meals, and refreshments like juice. You need to take just enough food and water, since hiking under the heat of the sun can wear you out. If you are not into adventure, you can have a picnic near the largest pool in the Wadi.
Misfat Al Albriyyin Oman Photo by Arisa S.

Misfat al Abriyeen

This is a unique mountain village positioned 1,000 above sea level on Al Hamra’s foothills in Al Dakhiliyah Governorate. Houses in this village are unique in a way that it is made of mud and stone, making the colors and shades of orange and brown from afar. Narrow lanes prevent cars from passing through going to the village; you can lock your car and explore by foot through lush greenery.

Driving Directions:

  1. From Muscat International Airport, get on the Muscat Expressway.
  2. Head south.
  3. Keep left.
  4. Continue straight.
  5. Keep left.
  6. Take the ramp to Muscat Expressway.
  7. Keep left and merge onto Muscat Expressway.
  8. Drive from Route 15 to Ad Dakhiliyah Governorate. Exit from Route 15.
  9. Merge onto Muscat Expressway.
  10. Take the exit toward Route 15.
  11. Keep left at the fork and merge onto Route 15.
  12. Take the exit.
  13. Take Izki Way - Farq‬‎, Route 21, and Bahla Al Hamra Road‬‎ to your destination in Misfat al Abriyeen.

Things to Do

If you want to experience the other side of Oman and just relax with the quiet the village gives, this is a must-visit. See the list below of activities you can try in Misfat al Abriyeen.

  1. Explore the unique houses of the village

    Some houses here have already been abandoned. However, decaying mud houses are one of the most interesting things to look at. These houses reveal the sticks, grass, and stones used to build the buildings. Other houses are well maintained and still lived in today. The villagers install painted gates that are unique from each house. Each family has a chosen style and color, which they replicate for all their homes’ doors.
  2. See the village’s rich vegetation and date groves

    The towering palm trees and lush greenery of the village are striking while you walk down the narrow roads. As you proceed up to the village, you will see patches of well-cultivated land ready to be harvested vegetables. The date groves in the village are a must-see with rows of palm-bearing dates of various sizes and colors. Avoid picking the dates; the villagers make a living cultivating and selling fresh produce.
  3. Stay at Misfah Old House

    The old house is built in Al Hamra style and features a breakfast room that overlooks a sea of date palms and a set of shared and private terraces. It is the closest you can get to an Omani homestay with home-cooked Arabian food, including soup, vegetables, fish, hummus, and cake. While you are here, listen to stories of the valley that date back three hundred years ago. Even the house has withstood three family generations.
  4. Visit the Al Hoota Cave

    Al Hoota Cave is about 25 minutes away from the village and while you are in the area, check out this cave, which is about two million years old, that has four naturally formed lakes. You can meet a marine species called the blind fish that has evolved adapting to the cave’s dry condition. You can walk through specific columns and curtains of stalagmites that took hundreds of years to form.
  5. Hike to Al Mazare

    If hiking through the narrow lanes of Misfat al Abriyeen is not enough for you, then you can take your hiking experience to the next level and explore Al Mazare. This is not for the faint-hearted and those inexperienced hikers. The seven-hour hike begins at the village, where you can follow the marks (white, yellow, and red flags) to route W9. The trek requires you to hop, wade, and climb to get across boulders, uphills, and shallow pools.
Sand Dunes Photo by Christian Weiss

Sharqiya Sands

Don’t miss the desert when you visit Oman. Sharqiya sands were formerly called the Wahiba Sands. It is home to the Bedu people. If you are a tourist who searches for authentic and traditional Oman, then Sharqiya Sands is for you. The area has been of scientific interest after the Royal Geographical Society documented its diversity with 16,000 invertebrates and 200 species of other wildlife and 150 species of native flora.

Driving Directions:

  1. From Muscat International Airport, continue to Sultan Qaboos St.
  2. Head south.
  3. Keep right.
  4. Keep right.
  5. Drive from Route 15 and Route 23 to The linker.
  6. Drive to your destination.
  7. Turn right.
  8. Turn left.
  9. Keep right.

Things to Do

The desert has an area of 12,500 square kilometers, so you will not run out of fun things to do here. Read below to know more.

  1. Experience Sandboarding

    No one leaves a desert without surfing your way through the sand. This might excite children more, but this fun activity is enjoyable for every visitor coming to the Wahiba Sands. You can bring your boards or use a makeshift slider to shoot down the dunes. Locals can also provide you with sandboards and guide you on which dunes are the best to sandboard in.
  2. Drive and go Dune Bashing

    If you are into the adventure in the desert, ride on a four-by-four and drive through the dunes. There are also skilled drivers in the area who can give you both a fun and exhilarating experience as the car negotiates the dunes’ steep ups and downs.
  3. Stay overnight at campsites

    You can choose to stay at accommodations offered near the desert or set up a tent while enjoying a thousand stars above. The weather in the desert is hot all year round; however, temperatures during the night can go down, and the weather can get chilly. Make sure to pack some thick clothes when planning to camp, or bring an insulated sleeping bag for a comfortable sleep.
  4. Go on a Camel Safari

    Your desert experience will not be complete without trying the camel safari. Some would suggest a camel safari is a once-in-a-lifetime, magical experience. Discover the desert regions and enjoy the beautiful view of the dunes and sunset while riding a camel. Locals will be happy to give you a lift to ride the camel and will be with you the whole time through the safari.
  5. Visit the Bedouins

    A remote village in the desert lives the Bedouin families amid the desert’s dry landscape. Visitors here can get a glimpse of the traditional Bedouin life that is slowly disappearing. The families live a regular and nomadic life raising livestock. Get to know the Omani culture through these locals here over coffee and dates, learn about their lifestyle, and admire their colorful handicrafts.

Taking a self-drive road trip is one exciting activity for all. It gets more exciting if you're doing it outside your home country. Exploring new cultures, history, people, and the country’s top destinations. Remember that Oman is a Muslim country, so dress appropriately as they are very strict with dress codes. Shorts, short skirts, tight or body-revealing clothes are not allowed. And finally the documents you need to bring to drive in Oman.

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