After you arrive to the restaurant or your host's (and be on time) you may encounter
a number of situations so be prepared to follow your host's lead and direction.
As a Muslim country, and more importantly, with various degrees of orthodoxy, dining
rules vary greatly. Conservative Muslim families will require that men eat separate
from women and children and some may even insist that their guests eat before they
do. This is particularly true for young single locals at dating age. In more liberal
families, which is more common today, everyone will dine together and at the same
Once the dining guidelines have been established there are a few rules that everyone
must follow in Oman. First, the obvious, in a Muslim country
never eat or ask for pork products or alcohol; both are forbidden and even liberal
Muslims in Oman follow these rules. Also common in many Middle Eastern countries,
don't cross your legs or put your feet up in a way that the soles of your feet
could be facing another person; this is very offensive and rude. Finally, a couple
actions that may seem innocent, like placing objects on the table (like a purse
of briefcase) and touching your hair or hat, are not allowed. Both are considered
unclean and touching or placing these objects on the table is inconsiderate.
Once eating only use your right hand to eat and take minimal quantities for your
first serving. You will most likely be offered food for seconds and even thirds,
but don't ask for more since this is inappropriate.
Finally, remember that the person who initiated the dinner (if at a restaurant)
is expected to pay, but always offer to contribute. Or if dining in a local's
home send a hand written thank you note for their hospitality.
Tipping is not common in Oman. Nicer restaurants and hotels
will expect a little extra money for dinner, however elsewhere it is not commonly
seen. Leaving your excess change after a meal is a polite, but an unnecessary and
at times a confusing gesture.
Celebrations & Events
Oman's, and the region's major food holiday is Eid
al Fitr, which takes place after Ramadan, a religious holiday that requires
fasting for 30 days. To celebrate the end of this fast Eid al Fitr is filled
with numerous foods, which differ by region, although the general basis of these
dishes is rice, fish, and lamb. This three day festival and generally the foods
served include: harees, which is wheat and meat; mishkak, which
is grilled meats; and shuwa, which is the national dish, made of an entire
cow or goat.
The second major food holiday is Eid al Adha, which is only celebrated
after a pilgrim returns from haj, the mandatory journey for every able
Muslim to go to Mecca. Again, this festival contains a large number of rice and
meat dishes, including many of those served during Eid al Fitr.
The most traditional beverages in Oman are laban,
which is a salty buttermilk drink, and khawa, which is Oman's version
of coffee, although it is a fairly strong version of coffee.
As a primarily Muslim country, alcohol is rarely consumed in Oman,
although technically it is legal. Despite this, there are almost no vendors that
sell alcohol; even hotels catered to tourists rarely sell alcohol, although some
The tap water is safe to drink in Oman. However, many people
may have trouble adjusting to the local tap water, as it will most certainly be
different from what your system is used to.