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    This tiny country has overcome the desert and has found a way to thrive, like this tree on al Jazair Beach. Explore Bahrain!

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Culture & Identity of Oman

Introduction

Omani Culture - Fish Market
Mutrah Fish Market

The way of life in Oman has vastly changed over the last century. in about 1900 most of the people lived off the land in an oasis, the desert, or along the coast. The people had little in the way of education and traditional life ruled the region. However, with the discovery of oil and more recently with educational, infrastructural, and other political changes, the culture and way of life has vastly changed.

Today every child in Oman has access to education and this is an important part of life. Many people have also moved to cities as modern amenities in these growing coastal communities make life much easier than it ever was. Advanced healthcare has extended lives and infrastructure makes transportation much easier.

Today the way of life in the country is a balance between the modern conveniences of the world with the clothing, traditions, and culture of the past. With each passing year there are more jobs in the services and industrial sectors, moving people from a living based off the land and seas. These new occupations also offer more regular working hours as most people tend to work from about 8:00 am to about 7:00 pm, but with a long lunch break during the hottest hours of the day, from about 1:00 to 4:00 pm, when nearly everything shuts down.

However, the traditional dress and culture still exists and one of the most important aspects of this culture is religion. Most of the people are Muslim so the weekend in the country ran from Thursday to Friday, since Friday is Islam's holy day. However, in 2013 the country shifted their non-working days to Friday and Saturday to match neighboring countries, again a balance between modern work and tradition.

Despite the modern amenities and high wages in the country (compared to many countries in the region, although generally lower than that of the Gulf Coast countries), the people remain tied to tradition. The dress from centuries past remains, traditional foods have not been replaced, architecture must be built in a traditional style, and family and religion are the center of the lives of most people. Although the work day hours have changed and camels have been replaced by cars for most of the people, working, education, and everything is done for family and God.

Identity

Omanis proudly wear their "national dress" and can be spotted throughout Arabia, yet they view their "Omani" lifestyle as simple and humble and live in much the same way. Oman has been influenced by others and others have influenced Oman, making the people open to different views and opinions, making them welcoming and inquisitive, yet they don't seek change, but rather listen intently as they remain confident in who they are. This past diversity and changing world around them have made the Omani identity more firm in what it is as it is truly based on the lifestyle and culture of the people. Ethnicity is not a significantly important factor as Oman is incredibly diverse, but religion (Islam) is important and helps contribute to the lifestyle and culture of the people in many ways.

This page was last updated: May, 2014