Oman is a country with a rich and diverse culture. Having been at the cross roads of sea trade for thousands of years there is evidence of the Omani people’s interactions with people from China to East Africa to Europe and the Americas.
While these global influences are evident, the backbones of traditional Omani culture are hospitality and modesty. Hospitality includes everything from dates and coffee to opening up their homes and providing extravagant meals. Modesty is marked both in the humbleness of their speech and the simplicity of their national dress, the abaya for women and the dishdasha for men.
Oman has a deep history of architecture and art. This can be seen in the massive forts and castles that dot the landscape and in modern buildings like the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the Royal Opera House. Oman is also known for their beautifully handcrafted wooden doors, date palm baskets, and copper and silver jewelry.
Cuisine in Oman is also a treat to be experienced. While daily fare for many Omanis consists of rice, chicken or fish, fruits, and vegetables, weekends will often find local people barbequing on the beach or under a tree in a wadi. (A wadi is a riverbed that is either dry or flowing with water.) Oman is maybe best known for Shuwa (a spiced goat dish that is slow roasted, often underground) and for its dessert called Helwa (a sugary concoction with rosewater and saffron). Indian cuisine has also heavily influenced many Omani dishes. Shawarma is also plentiful, and fresh juices are both delicious and affordable.
Sunset over the Muttrah harbor
Traditional Omani Dhow
Royal Opera House Muscat
Ibadhi and Sunni Muslims in Oman make up the majority. There are also Shi’a communities within Oman. One of the most prominent Shi’a communities is the Lawati community located in Muttrah. Shi’a are allowed to practice particularities of their religious tradition and law, so long as it doesn’t contradict Oman’s Basic Law.
Oman is the only country where the majority of the country follows the Ibadhi Tradition. Ibadhism is an old tradition dating back to the earliest days of Islam.
Mosques are open to all Muslims, regardless of sect or tradition. It is also seen as impolite to inquire about a person’s religious sect, and it is illegal to degenerate an other’s religious beliefs.
There are four recognized Christian church campuses in Oman, two in Muscat and one each in Sohar and Salalah. These campuses are shared by Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians. Each group maintains their own buildings and worship space. The Catholic and Orthodox clergy are managed by their respective hierarchies.
The Protestant Church in Oman oversees more than eighty different worshiping congregations in Oman. Worshipping congregations are typically formed by different linguistic and ethnic groups from various protestant traditions. All protestant congregations generally stem from internationally recognized Christian denominations or organizations.
Christians in Oman come from all over the world and from all continents and are mainly guest workers and their families.
Christian church campuses are near mosques. The largest Christian Campus in Oman is located less than two kilometers from the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
There are four Hindu Temples in Oman.
The Shri Shiva Temple, located in the Old Muscat area of Muscat, is thought to be over one hundred years old. The Shri Shiva Temple also contains Shri Adi Motishwar Mahalev, Shri Motishawr Mahadev and Shri Hanumanji temples as well. Approximately 3500-6000 devotees visit the temple each week, and religious celebrations are conducted throughout the year.
The Shri Krishna temple is located in Darsait/Ruwi, near mosques and a Christian Church compound, and it also contains a Shri Ganeshji and a Shri Mataji temple on the premises. Around 4500-5500 devotees visit this temple each week.
There are also Krishna Temples located in Salalah and Sohar.
There is a Sikh Gurudwara, Gurudwara Singh Sabha, in Ghala near the Christian Church compound in Ghala in a privately owned building.
There are a small number of Buddhists in Oman. There is a Buddhist shrine on the Shri Krishna Temple compound in Ruwi and a Buddhist Temple in the Sri Lankan Embassy.
There are other various religious groups in Oman including Jains and Zoroastrians.