Understanding the cultural etiquettes and how best to dress for the weather and attractions when visiting Oman.
If this is your first visit to the Middle East – or to a Muslim country – you might, understandably, be a little confused on what to wear as a visitor to Oman.
The key is to dress considerately. Here we talk you through everything you need to know about the correct clothing etiquette so you can get packing ready for your trip to Oman!
You may also want to check out our guide on when to visit Oman to understand the seasons and weather you will likely experience during your visit.
Traditional Dress in Oman
Firstly, we’ll take a quick look at what locals wear in Oman. A predominantly Ibadi Muslim culture, men wear a traditional long gown referred to as a dishdasha and a muzzar (head covering), while women wear a full-length abaya and a hijab or shayla covering their head.
You will find that dress is more conservative in rural areas beyond Muscat, and that women dress with more colour than in other parts of the Gulf.
The same dress standard is not expected from tourists, but dressing in a respectful manner appropriate to the circumstances is essential.
What should female tourists wear in Oman?
If you are a non-Muslim woman visiting Oman, there is no need to dress in a full abaya, nor to have your hair covered. The only time this is required, is if you are visiting the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque where you will be provided with an abaya including a headpiece to hire.
The rest of the time, you should dress respectfully for the culture but mindful of the weather and the activities you are undertaking.
Although not as hot as it’s northern neighbours on the Arabian Gulf, you will still find the temperatures near the coast extremely hot in the peak of summer- 40c/401F. The mountains though can bring much cooler days and even each below freezing overnight in winter! Expect to dress for hot, sunny and dry throughout most of the year.
You also need to dress appropriately for the activities you are undertaking. Beyond city sightseeing in Muscat, you can expect an Oman itinerary to be packed with outdoor adventures from boat rides to wadi hikes and sinkholes, exploring forts and historic towns to wandering local markets – see more itinerary ideas here!
With this in mind, practical outdoorsy clothing is your best bet. Think about packing:
- Cargos, chinos or cotton trousers
- Knee-length shorts
- Sensible and sturdy footwear
- Cotton tops that cover the shoulders
- Long dresses for evening wear
- A sarong or wrap for throwing over any pool or beachwear
- Hat & sunglasses
To remain respectful, some basic wardrobe choices to bear in mind:
- Stick with breathable materials, avoid transparent or clingy
- Aim to cover knees and shoulders
- Do not show excess cleavage and make sure underwear is covered
Will I see people wearing less?
Yes, there’s always someone. Just remember, even if wearing much less is not illegal, it can still make your hosts feel uncomfortable. Don’t be that tourist. It’s not hard to be respectful and dress appropriately for the conditions, even if it’s a little more conservative than your normal wardrobe choices.
If you are ever asked to cover up by security, tourist police, your guide or locals, do so without complaint.
Can I wear my bikini in Oman?
Only in the appropriate setting of a resort. If you are in the common areas of the hotel or at a public beach or wadi, be mindful that there are local families there too who may find this little clothing inappropriate.
You will find local women and Muslim visitors wear a full-length burkini when at the pool or beach. There’s no need for a non-Muslim visitor to dress to this extreme, but settle on a happy medium when it comes to your swimwear, and just keep it appropriate to the setting.
At some of the popular wadi’s (natural swimming holes) in Oman there is signposted minimum dress standard and frequent reports of tourist police being on hand to enforce this. Ladies should swim in shorts/leggings and a t-shirt rather than bathers.
Is a headscarf needed in Oman?
It can still be wise for women to pack a headscarf. More so for the weather conditions than religious regions. If you are heading to the mountains, on a boat trip or into the Wahiba Sands then a scarf/wrap could be welcome against the elements, or to simply slip over your shoulders if you ever feel uncomfortable (or in a freezing shopping mall!). It’s by no means an obligation, however.
If you want to pick out a beautiful wrap for your Middle East travels, head into the Muttrah Souk in Muscat.
What should men wear in Oman?
Even if men in Oman aren’t wearing the traditional dress as described above, you will still see that they dress fairly conservatively, long trousers rather than shorts and shirt sleeves.
Visiting men are by no means obliged to be fully covered, shorts are acceptable, but think knee-length and sleeves rather than tight shorts and tank tops.
As with women, you can get away with flipflops at the beach but otherwise, some more sturdy footwear for outdoor activities is recommended, along with hats and sunglasses.
If you are visiting religious buildings such as the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, full-length trousers are required for men.
What should children wear in Oman
You should feel free to dress your children to suit the weather in Oman. Muslims, generally speaking, dress their children more conservatively with long sleeves and trousers on boys and girls. There is no problem though with visiting children and expats wearing shorts, t-shirts dresses.
Always best to have them in swimwear at the pool of beach though, even if at home you would let them just run around in diapers/underwear etc.
As for footwear, again base this on activities. Flip flops at the beach are fine but heading out for fort exploration and beyond the city, trainers or a good sturdy sandal would be much better. And, of course, hats & sunglasses to deal with the sun and heat are appropriate year-round.
When a child is reaching puberty, you need to refer to the adult dress guidance as above. There is no harm in teenage girls wearing shorts, but just be mindful of the setting of they could well face unwanted stares, especially in market places. And sloganed t-shirts should be kept culturally appropriate.
We hope this guide has helped better prepare you for visiting Oman. Drop us a comment below if you have any personal experiences you wanted to add or you can join the conversation and ask questions in our Family Travel Middle East Facebook Group.
Further Oman travel resources
Before you head off to Oman, don’t forget to check these detailed guides we have to help you plan your trip:
- Best of Muscat with kids
- An Oman highlights tour with kids
- Visiting the Musandam Peninsula of Oman
- How to drive from Dubai to Muscat and the UAE border crossing process
- Muscat to Musandam by air, sea & road
We also have further dress code guides if you are continuing your journey to other parts of the Middle East region: