Understanding cultural etiquette and how best to dress for the weather and attractions when visiting Oman can be tricky.
If this is your first visit to the Middle East – or to a Muslim country – you might, understandably, be a little confused about what to wear as a visitor to Oman.
The key is to dress considerately rather than ultra-conservatively. 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!
Before you dive in, 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
In a country steeped in tradition, locals in Oman wear traditional clothing for the region.
In a predominantly Ibadi Muslim culture, men wear a traditional long gown referred to as a dishdasha and a muzzar (head covering).
Local women in Oman wear a full-length abaya and a hijab or Shayla covering their heads. It is uncommon to see women in Oman in a niqab (full face and body coverings).
You will find that dress in Oman is more conservative in rural areas beyond Muscat. Women in Oman also dress with more colour than in other parts of the Gulf – i.e., it’s not strictly black abayas and shaylas!
The same dress code is not expected from tourists in Oman, 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 or head covered. The only time this is required is if you are visiting the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (or any other religious building), where you will be provided with an abaya, including a headpiece, to hire for a small fee.
The rest of the time in Oman, women should dress respectfully for the culture but be mindful of the weather and the activities they are undertaking.
Although not as hot as its northern neighbours on the Arabian Peninsula, you will still find the temperatures near the coast in Oman extremely hot in the peak of summer – expect over 40°C/104°F.
The mountains of Oman, though, can bring much cooler days and even reach 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 historical towns to wandering local markets – see more itinerary ideas here!
Woman’s Packing List for Oman
With this in mind, practical outdoorsy clothing is the best bet for women to wear to Oman. Think about packing:
- Cargos, chinos or cotton trousers
- Knee-length shorts
- Sensible and sturdy footwear
- A sandal or espadrilles for evenings
- 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, here are some basic wardrobe choices to bear in mind:
- Stick with breathable materials, avoid anything transparent or too clingy
- Aim to cover knees and shoulders
- Do not show excess cleavage, and make sure underwear is covered
Will I see people wearing less in Oman?
Yes, there’s always someone. Just remember, even if wearing much less in Oman 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 condition in Oman, 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?
Wearing a bikini in Oman is only appropriate in a resort setting by the pool or beach. If you are in the common areas of the hotel or at a public beach or wadi in Oman, be mindful that there are local families there, too, who may find this little clothing inappropriate.
Local women and Muslim visitors will 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 Oman wadis (natural swimming holes) in Oman, there are signposted minimum dress standards 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?
Whilst a Shayla is not required, it can still be wise for women to pack a headscarf for Oman. More so for the weather conditions than religious reasons.
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 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.
Men visiting Oman are by no means obliged to be fully covered and follow a dress code (eg, shorts are acceptable). However, do think knee-length and sleeves rather than tight shorts and tank tops.
As with women, you can get away with flip-flops at the beach, but otherwise, some more sturdy footwear for outdoor activities is recommended, along with hats and sunglasses.
Full-length trousers are required for men if you are visiting religious buildings such as the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
What should children wear in Oman?
There is no set dress code in Oman for children. You should feel free to dress your children to suit the weather in Oman.
Muslims generally dress their children more conservatively with long sleeves and trousers on boys and girls, no matter what time of year. There is no problem, though, with visiting children and expats wearing shorts, t-shirts and dresses.
It’s always best to have kids in swimwear at the pool or beach in Oman, 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 towns and markets.
Any sloganed t-shirts or hats should be kept culturally appropriate.
Family Packing List for Oman
Helping you prepare for a family trip to Oman, we’ve included for you here a detailed family packing list. Simply print out, then cross off any items not applicable and get packing!
* If you’ll be making the land border crossing from UAE to Oman, there are a few more things to think about packing here to get you over the border with ease.
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 Oman travel guides we have to help you plan your family trip to Oman:
- Top 10 Best places to visit in Oman – a great way to start drawing up an itinerary for Oman with inspiration on where to visit
- Best of Muscat with kids – highlights from a trip to the capital
- An Oman highlights tour with kids – adding to our Muscat itinerary, tour the east coast highlights of the country
- The best time to visit Salalah in the south (not just during khareef!) – understand the different microclimate of the south coast and sensational things to see and do in Salalah
- The best time to visit Salalah in the south (not just during khareef!) – understand the different microclimate of the south coast and
- Visiting the Musandam Peninsula of Oman – an Omani exclave that sits in the Persian Gulf, why you won’t want to miss this remote but exceptionally beautiful governate off your itinerary! Along with our guide Muscat to Musandam by air, sea & road to see how exactly you get there!
We also have further dress code guides if you are continuing your journey to other parts of the Middle East region:
- What to wear in Abu Dhabi & the UAE
- What to wear in Doha, Qatar
- What to wear in Egypt
- What to wear in Jordan
- What to wear in Saudi Arabia