Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What to wear in muscat, Oman. for all'ya'all tourists

I've had about five emails in the past month asking for a bit of guidance on what exactly constitutes "conservative dress" or "appropriate attire" in Oman.

I think that is awesome, because it shows that a lot of tourists are concerned that thier idea of Conservative dress Jives with our expectations for what is appropriate.

I thought I would post my take on it, which is mostly excerpted from a recent email. Addtional toughts are welcome, in the comments section.

  • We are free to wear anything we want here, but conservative dress makes a statement that you're not a totally ignorant tourist, and for the ladies it makes life easier.
  • Everybody stares here, don't let it get to you. It's just looking, and there's generally nothing implied.
  • The dress code for men is pretty simple, long trousers always, and a tshirt or oxford. Longish shorts are fine when the occasion calls for it. For swimming, board shorts are where it's at. Everybody laughs at the guys who wear those little speedo man panties.
  • For the ladies, the following guidelines generally apply, but dress for the occasion. A long skirt isn't practical for a mountain bike ride, loose jeans just don't work for snorkeling... etc... That's all cool.
  • If you are Blonde, you will encounter a hundred times more hassle than if you are brunette. I have yet to figure out why.
  • Out in public during the day, and in the evening, it's usually elbows to ankles, no low cut tops. a loose, hip lenth top is ok with tightish jeans, and a tightish top is ok with a long, loose skirt.
  • Wearing shorts, capris', short skirts or tank tops in public, is not the done thing.
  • Evenings at bars, restaurants that serve alcohol, or night clubs you can wear short skirts, and plunging tops. I usually cover up for the walk from the car to the venue, and always for the taxi rides. A trench coat or really long scarf is handy then.
  • Private (hotel) beaches you can wear whatever swimwear you chose. No topless or nude sunbathing.
  • At public beaches I usually swim in a long dress or tshirt and long shorts over my swim suit and cover up once I'm out of the water.
  • In the interior, and smaller villages outside of muscat it's nothing tight, ankels to wrists to neck, generally, again, suit yourself to the activity you'll be engaging in.
  • If you go to the Grand Mosque, Save yourself the hassle of finding something appropriate and just go to Lulu and buy a 9 rial Abaya. It will make a great souvineer. Have one of the lovely cashier girls show you how to properly cover your hair, so none is showing. Wear sandals.

My take on the dress code is slightly more conservative than most, Do what feels right for you. It's your holiday.

Tomorrow a less boring post Chock-full o' humour.


Blue Chi said...

I think that people do not know 'HOW' different Oman is from Saudi. Hope many people reach your guide before coming!

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

LOL, "man-panties"...banana-hammocks should be outlawed in a UN-backed resolution!

Anonymous said...

One time a Singapore lady asked me "if there is anything in Omani culture which discourages people to practice? Like not to use some certain colors or signage because of some bad meaning or whatever?"

Maybe because the Eastern cultures have many of the discouraged signage.
I couldn't think of a clear answer, I said wearing too bare or drinking in public in the day of Ramadhan :|

Amjad said...

Great post, suburban. Quite useful for tourists I suppose.

I remember last year in school we had to write something similar to this for an English assignment.

Um Khalid said...

Haha, Suburban, we really need a kind of guide for Omanis too.

One explaining what is normal and what is across the line, for example, if tourists were winking at Omani girls, could it mean that they're just being nice? Or do they need to be beaten by the girls' brothers too?

Arabesque said...

good post - read more on Muscat http://blog.omanholiday.co.uk Oman here

Anonymous said...

Thank you - just have a few hours between flights so very useful

Anonymous said...

wow,am loving it,i also thought oman is more like saudia but am relieved,coming over this friday...so useful information,thankyou.

Anonymous said...

Its nice that people respect the dress codes when visiting the middle east, its a shame they don't return the favour when in Europe and let people see their faces!

Veraaah said...

Hey, I am going on a trip to India but have a really long transfer at Muscat international airport. I am not planning on leaving the airport, because I am travelling alone as a woman, but I was wondering if the guidelines as the airport are different? Can I wear skinnier jeans or a skirt above the knees?