By Omani custom and law, expressing frustration either verbally or through otherwise innocuous hand gestures is considered insulting and abusive. Any individual, regardless of citizenship and residency status, may file a personal defamation charge, and accusation of wrongdoing is sufficient to initiate a legal process. While not commonplace, the incidence of U.S. citizens charged with personal defamation has been on the rise in recent years. These cases are normally resolved by a formal apology and a payment of damage to the aggrieved party, but one U.S. citizen's case went to trial in 2008. Omani law typically does not permit a foreigner accused of a crime, including defamation, to depart the country while legal proceedings are ongoing. Confrontations leading to defamation charges occur mostly on Oman's roads, and visitors should exercise caution when dealing with difficult drivers.
Dual Nationality: Oman does not recognize dual nationality. Children of Omani fathers automatically acquire Omani citizenship at birth and must enter and exit Oman on their Omani passports. Omani authorities have confiscated U.S. passports of Omani/U.S. dual nationals in the past. This act does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Muscat. In addition to being subject to all Omani laws, U.S. citizens who also hold Omani citizenship may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of Oman.
Notarials: Oman and the United States are signatories to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents. Under this convention, all foreign public documents (i.e. Birth, Marriage, Death, Divorce, academic records, etc.) from signatory states need to be apostilled for use in Oman. A list of designated authorities in the United States competent to issue an apostille is available at http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=authorities.details&aid=353. Similarly, Omani public documents must be apostilled for use in foreign countries signatory to the Hague Convention. The Attestation Office at the Omani Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the designated authority to apostille Omani public documents.
Employment in Oman: Omani employers sometimes ask that expatriate employees deposit their passports with the company as a condition of employment. While to an extent still customary, this practice is contrary to Omani law. The U.S. Embassy in Muscat advises U.S. citizens to exercise caution on the issue of permitting an employer to hold their passports, since this can operate as a restraint on travel and could give undue leverage to the employer in a dispute. U.S. passports are the property of the U.S. government.
Contractual/labor disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Employees who have any problems or disputes with their employing company are strongly advised to make an initial attempt to resolve their dispute privately between themselves and their employer. If this fails, the Consular Section can provide a list of lawyers, but cannot intervene in a labor dispute.
Immigration: Royal Oman Police Immigration strictly enforces the Sultanate’s immigration laws, and penalties for immigration violations can include fines and/or jail time. U.S. citizens are encouraged to ensure that their passports and visas are in order prior to entering Oman. In 2011 and 2012, at least six individuals or families were detained and later deported from Oman for immigration violations.
Codes of Behavior and Dress: Islamic ideals provide the conservative foundation of Oman's customs, laws, and practices. Foreign visitors are expected to be sensitive to Islamic culture and not dress in a revealing or provocative style, including the wearing of sleeveless shirts and blouses, halter-tops, and shorts. Athletic clothing is worn in public only when the wearer is obviously engaged in athletic activity. Western bathing attire, however, is the norm at hotel pools and beaches. While alcohol consumption is permitted in hotels, bars, homes, and some restaurants, the Sultanate of Oman maintains a zero-tolerance policy for public intoxication and/or driving under the influence. The penalties are stiff. Public intoxication is punishable by imprisonment of 10 days to one year and/or a fine of up to OMR 200. Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to OMR 500. If the DUI results in an injury or death, it is punishable by imprisonment of one year to five years. Manufacturing, importing, trading, or dealing in liquors without a license from a competent authority is punishable by imprisonment of six months to three years and a fine of not less than OMR 300. A U.S. citizen was recently imprisoned for one month for public intoxication.
Consensual same-sex sexual conduct is illegal in Oman and is subject to a potential jail term of six months to three years. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender persons should read the State Department’s LGBT Travel Information page.
Cultural Heritage: Like many countries, Oman prohibits the removal of what it considers cultural heritage items, including archaeological treasures, meteorites, rocks, and stones. Anyone suspected of engaging in such activity may be prosecuted under Omani law. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to check with Omani authorities before removing anything that may fall into this category. Two U.S. citizens were found guilty of removing stones and imprisoned in 2011.
Money: The exchange rate is fairly constant to the U.S. dollar. Money exchanges may be done at banks, or using ATM machines. There is no black market for dollars, and no prohibition against exchanging money informally. Please note that many Omani individuals and businesses may not accept U.S. bills printed before the year 2006.