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Visiting Oman during Ramadan: Tips and consideration to ensure you have a fantastic holiday in Oman!

With Ramadan moving closer to the winter season over the coming years you may find yourself visitng Oman during Ramadan, and there are some local customs and considerations you should take into account in that case, this article covers those as well as some more tips to ensure you make the most of your visit to Oman during Ramadan.

With Ramadan moving closer to the winter season over the coming years, which is undoubtedly one of the best times to visit Oman, it is expected that more and more visitors (especially non-Muslim visitors who are unlikely to be observing Ramadan) will find themselves planning a visit to Oman during Ramadan and wondering if this will impact their trip. “Can I still go out to eat in Oman during Ramadan?“, “Should I just avoid coming to Oman during Ramadan and book a trip elsewhere?“, are some questions you may be asking. Of course you should still come to Oman, and it is going to be fantastic even in Ramadan! But there are some considerations and practical aspects you should keep in mind if you do plan to come during Ramadan, so read on to find out more and to

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a holy month in the Islamic calendar (which is a lunar calendar – this becomes evidently important later) where observant Muslims refrain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset (i.e. they fast). Besides food and drink, fasting Muslims are also expected to refrain from smoking, marital intimacy, swearing and ‘idle talk’ (e.g. crude language, speaking too loudly, singing, listening to music etc.). Muslims are meant to dedicate the month to spiritual reflection, prayers, good deeds and contributing to charity. Practically speaking, there is also the ‘evening prayers’, Al Taraweeh (التراويح), which is strongly observed in Oman. and both men and women go to the mosques to perform evening (isha’ العشاء) prayer followed by Al Taraweeh. Ramadan ends with an important Muslim festival called Eid Al Fitr (عيد الفطر), where Muslims celebrate by having a feast and visiting family and friends. 

Why can’t Ramadan be the same date every year?

Well, it is – in the Islamic Calendar it is the start of the 9th month in the calendar and lasts for 29 or 30 days. However, this changes relative to the Gregorian calendar every year, and it comes earlier and earlier. The start (and end, i.e. Eid Al Fitr) of Ramadan is also determined by moon sightings which have to be observed and declared, in each country. 

Yes, the start of Ramadan is not often the same in every country, so it is not a given that the first day of Ramadan in, say the UK, is the same as in Oman, as this will depend on the moon sighting by each country (or the relevant body authorized to do so). (Fun fact, when I lived in New Zealand as a student there was a case one year where the city I lived in (Christchurch) had Ramadan declared by the city’s Muslim community on a different day than in the largest city in New Zealand (Auckland) – I still don’t quite know why, but I suspect it was just two different ‘religious authorities’ in the country who couldn’t agree!). 

In Oman, the start date of Ramadan (and of Eid Al Fitr) are determined by moon sightings by an authorized committee and the dates declared officially. Practically, this means that the estimated dates for Ramadan can differ by 1-2 days, so for example if a 2024 estimate of start of Ramadan in Oman says 10 March 2024, the exact date can only be confirmed after the moon sighting a day or two before, and the start date may end being 10 or 11 March 2024.  

So when is Ramadan in Oman? 

For 2024, Ramadan is expected to be between 10-March and 9-April, with the same caveat as above on the start date.  

The Ramadan date estimates for the following years up to 203 are as follows:

  • Ramadan 2025: 28- February to 30-March
  • Ramadan 2026: 17- February to 19-March
  • Ramadan 2027: 7-February to 8-March
  • Ramadan 2028: 27-January to 25-February
  • Ramadan 2029: 15-January to 13-February
  • Ramadan 2030: 4-January to 2-February 
  • While Ramadan 2040 is likely to fall from 7-September to 6-October 

As you can see, this means that for the next half decade and more, Ramadan will fall in winter in Oman! 

OmanTripper’s Tips for Visiting Oman During Ramadan

You should definitely not let Ramadan affect your decision to travel to Oman, especially since it is going to fall in winter in the upcoming few years which is the best time to visit Oman (Oct-Feb are best times to visit weather wise in my opinion). For example, hiking in Oman during Ramadan may actually have an upside with many of the popular hiking trails and outdoor areas (e.g. Wadi Shab and Balcony Walk at Jabal Shams) not seeing as much foot-traffic from locals, who are fasting, as they would have otherwise.

However, there are also a few considerations that you should take into account if you were planning to visit Oman or need to be in Oman during Ramadan.

  • Eating in Public:
    • Eating, drinking, smoking and even chewing gum from sunrise to sunset (i.e. the fasting period) is prohibited, and it is considered extremely offensive to do that in public. If you absolutely have to do this while in public, try to ask permission of people around you first.
    • A specific situation could happen if you had hired a guide who is fasting, which I will get to further down. and you have to be with them obviously the whole day – in that case you are obviously not expected to also fast but it is important to be aware of his state and discuss with him in advance. For example, the guide may ask that he will allocate a specific slots during the tour for you to have your meals & snacks, and water, or he may be fine if you snack and drink in the car but asks that he will set-up a slot and area for you to have your lunch and he will go away in that time. I just recommend discussing and aligning with your guide in advance.
    • The situation in your hotel will vary depending on which hotel you are staying in, it is likely that higher end hotels will operate like normal, but it is better to ask when you book to make sure of their policy.
    • You may encounter some Omanis who are also not fasting (e.g. women in their period, someone with an illness etc.), and in that case you may take their lead if they invite you to eat with them (e.g. in their house or farm etc) as they likely to know and observe the appropriate culture considerations in that case.
  • Food and Restaurants
    • Most restaurants and cafes are likely to be closed during the morning hours and only open for iftar meals (at sunrise) and evening period, so if you’re touring around do not expect restaurants to be open during the day and pack your food accordingly.
    • Your meals during your trips should be planned and you should probably check areas where you can either eat in the car or set-up a picnic spot in your day to have your meals.
    • While most supermarkets and stores will be open in the morning period, many (specially the smaller ones) will likely close in the afternoon period and only open later in the evening after Al Taraweeh prayers. So make sure to plan accordingly, especially when packing water for your trips and hikes.
    • Having said all of the above, there are usually amazing iftar buffets at most restaurants that anyone can try, try to call or see the instagram page of some local restaurants to know what deal they have and it is recommended to book in advance. For these, you are expected to arrive a bit before the iftar time (i.e. the sunset time when muslims break their fast) to take your seat, but to start eating your food only once it is time (you will hear it when the prayer is said or when you see everyone else eating also).
    • You can always rely on food deliver apps during Ramadan, Talabat and TM Done are two popular services in Oman.
  • Driving:
    • Be extra cautious driving during Ramadan especially especially in the hours leading up to the iftar, as drivers on the street will be in a rush to get home or to their iftar gathering, and this is where you could encounter some unsafe driving practices!
  • People and Culture during Ramadan:
    • Please be considerate and understanding of people you interact with during the fasting time, especially in the early days of Ramadan with people adjusting to the hours and lack of sleep & coffee, so keep that in mind if you encounter someone who is cranky/lethargic/in a bad mood etc.
    • The majority of people’s sleeping habits switch during Ramadan, and most try to take an afternoon nap and stay up late even on weekdays. Most offices and places of work switch to Ramadan hours where muslim staff have reduced working hours. So while this means the city and streets can be quiet during the day, there are always big gatherings and feasts well into the night, and it is normal for people to go out and meet well after midnight.
    • Prayer timings remain the same during Ramadan, except the Al Taraweeh prayers I mentioned earlier in the evening. You will notice the streets and city becoming empty from the sunset period, Al Maghreb (المغرب) prayer until after Al Taraqweeh prayer.  
  • Customs and Clothing:
    • Oman is generally a conservative country especially in the towns and villages outside Muscat, and the respect to the customs both in terms of clothing and behaviour is even more important during Ramadan. For clothing, it is recommended to dress conservatively and cover your arms and knees (definitely avoid wearing bikinis in public in Ramadan). Also please avoid having loud music especially during the fasting period (sunrise to sunset).

Going on a Tour and Booking a Guide during Ramadan:

While generally most guides avoid working during Ramadan, this is likely to change considering it will fall during the peak winter season over the coming few years, and if you are looking to book a guide whether for a city tour or hiking tour, these are some considerations to have:

  • If you are out with the guide the whole day, you are obviously not expected to also fast but it is important to be aware of his state and discuss with him in advance. For example, the guide may ask that he will allocate specific slots during the tour for breaks for you to have your snacks, water and meals, or he may say that he is fine with you drinking in the car but may ask that he set up a specific slot for your lunch during the tour. It is just good to align and discuss with the guide in advance.
  • Considering restaurants will be closed and to avoid eating in public, you should agree with the guide in advance on where you can have your meals during the tour so that they have planned it in advance, and who will be providing them. A scenario could be that you could have packed meals from your hotel, or that the guide has prepared packed meals for you for the tour, and has a place in mind for you to eat comfortably.
  • While guides may stop for a prayer during the tour, the Maghreb (المغرب) prayer is more important as that is the time the guide will also break their fast. So if your tour is due to end prior to sunset, please understand if the guide has to ensure the tour ends on time so that they are able to have time to break their fast. On the other hand, if the sun has set while you’re with them then you should expect that the guide would want to stop to break their fast and pray.
  • Some guides may still do tours but may avoid doing tours on Friday because they like to spend time with their family.
  • Eid Al Fitr is a very important occasion for all Omanis and time to spend with family, so do not expect any guide to be able to take you on that date and if they do they may ask for a higher rate. Another consideration that could come from this is that since the exact date is not possible to be predicted, if you have a guide hired on a date in close proximity, please be aware of that consideration when the actual date of Eid Al Fitr is announced.
  • If the tour involves a lot of driving, please check on the guide to ensure they are alert and aware especially if it’s during the day and they’re fasting as they can’t have coffee etc.
  • Start and end timings of multi-day tours and camping trips may be affected with the guide, so it is important to confirm with the guide you are planning to go with in advance.

Hope the information above has been useful. If you still have more questions or concerns about visiting Oman during Ramadan then feel free to type them in the comments below or by contacting me.

One reply on “Visiting Oman during Ramadan: Tips and consideration to ensure you have a fantastic holiday in Oman!”

This is so helpful, insightful and thoroughly appreciated. Tons of great information and perspective here, thank you. I feel so much more well prepared to visit during Ramadan and am sure my experience will be better, having learned from you.

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