Adhering to the right dress code in Oman is not only a question of respect, but also regulated by law.
Oman is an Islamic country
Eventhough the Omanis practice a particularly liberal form of Islam, it is still important to respect their culture. Unfortunately, this has been disregarded quite often in the past. I myself often had the experience that tourists – especially when they go ashore from cruise ships – don’t care about the dress code. They often trudged through the souq in hot pants and strapless tops, ignoring the feelings of the local population.
What are the penalties?
Since friendly appeals apparently did not bring any change, the Omani government passed a law in September 2020, according to which the wrong dress code is a criminal offense. Anyone who enters a mall in shorts or a top must expect a fine of 300 Omani rials. The same goes for most public areas. Those who do not adhere to these guidelines can – at least in theory – also face imprisonment. It remains to be seen whether the rules will actually apply to tourists in this strictness. Nevertheless, I recommend everyone to adhere to the guidelines and make a contribution so that tourism in Oman is perceived as something positive and not as a threat to Omans identity.
What should I wear?
The question of the right clothing is actually quite easy to answer. In public spaces, both women and men should always cover their shoulders and knees. In malls you should also use long sleeves or scarves for covering. In the mosque, women must also wear a headscarf, and clothing must cover wrists and ankles. Men must wear long pants and long-sleeved tops. In wadis and on the beach, out of consideration for the local population, you should avoid wearing bikinis and wear long clothes instead.