Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Oman?
Oman is a beautiful country with much to explore. One of the best trips is one out into the desert, either to see the vast rolling sand dunes by day or to see the clear, starlit sky at night.
In town, driving is easy but the roads can be a little congested around peak times. Outside of them you'll find quieter driving experiences but roads that are more suited to 4 x 4 vehicles.
If you venture out into the desert, make sure you take plenty of fuel, water and a means of communication.
Seat Belt Laws
By law, everyone in a moving car in Oman must be properly secured with a seat belt.
Drinking and Driving
There is zero tolerance of alcohol in the blood of a driver in Oman as it is a strict Muslim country, so do not have any alcohol in at least a six hour period before getting behind the wheel. The penalties are severe for those breaking the law and include jail and deportation.
Must Have Documents
You will need to have a complete set of documents for driving in Oman to include the registration document, insurance certificate proving insurance was bought in Oman, international driving licence and vehicle test certificate. It’s also useful to have a copy of your passport as proof of identification.
The speed limits for Oman are as follows:
Motorways: 120 km/h
Open roads: 90 km/h
In Town: 40 - 80 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in Oman if driving a locally registered car. If you're renting a car, the minimum age is 21 but with some companies, it's 25. You may also need to pay a young driver premium if younger than 25.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Safety camera warning devices are not illegal in Oman but we’d recommend that you stick to the speed limit rather than risk a fine.
On the Spot Fines
On the spot fines are used for motoring offences but the amount of the fine is often negligible and fines can be deferred easily so many drivers flout the laws anyway.
Child Safety Rules
There are no specific laws regarding car seats and children in Oman so we suggest you follow the international regulations because of the high road mortality rates. If you are hiring a car, let us know your requirements and we’ll ensure a suitable child seat is fitted. It’s recommended that you don’t allow children under 12 to travel in the front of the car.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Oman and the insurance must be issued by an Omani company. You’ll need to be able to prove you have the cover if asked.
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• Vehicles entering a roundabout have priority
• It’s illegal to throw rubbish from a car
• If you park on the left hand side of a road at night, you must not have your lights on
All that is required is the use of common sense making sure other drivers know that you are engaged in towing and that the towed vehicle is attached securely and that you have all round visibility.
Safety cameras are common in Oman, both mobile and fixed devices. Speeding fines are small so many avoid paying them but this shouldn’t encourage you to speed.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
Using a phone without a hands-free kit is illegal in Oman although because of the small fine, many still do.
There are many strange parking regulations in Oman including that you mustn’t park in front of public buildings including royal palaces, petrol stations, fire stations and also on bridges. You cannot park outside a house, only in the drive, and you mustn’t park anywhere except in a metered bay.
Paid parking can be in garages, parking lots or in metered parking bays and nowhere else.
Enforcement of parking is done by the police and if you exceed your time or are parked illegally, you’ll find the fines are eye-wateringly disproportionate.
You won’t find any concessions for disabled drivers but if you take your badge with you and show it, you’ll find that a parking attendant will do their best to help.
Motor Way Signs
Motorway signs in Oman have white writing on a green background
Most Omanis understand English very well and you’ll have no difficulty in being understood. All signs are in Arabic and in English.
Hello/Welcome - Marhuba
Goodbye - Ma’assalaama
Thank you - Shukran
Yes - Na’am
No - La’
Sorry - Muta’assif
Do you speak English? - Tatakullum ingleezi?
I don’t understand - Ana maa afham
How much is that? - Bekam?
Where’s the nearest doctor? - Wayn aghrab tabeeb
In Oman, traffic lights follow the traditional sequence so you’ll have no problem understanding their operation. However you may sometimes find a flashing green that indicates that the lights are about to change. You cannot turn right on a red light unless there is a specific lane for doing so. Penalties for jumping lights are severe including two days in jail.
There are several toll roads in Oman and tolls can be paid by cash, card or electronic device. Tolls are relatively low compared to Europe.
Oman uses the UK’s emergency number 999 for the emergency services, a throwback to British influence in the Gulf.
What to do in an emergency
If your car has technical problems you should call the number given to you by the car rental company or make sure you obtain a number of a partner emergency organisation to the one you use at home.
In the event of an accident you should call the police on 999 if it is serious and report the accident. Don’t move any vehicles as it’s often seen as an admission of guilt. Take photographs and details from witnesses and ask for a copy of the police report.
As of August 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Oman is 19p whilst diesel is 15p. Prices can vary between Muscat and the smaller towns.
|In 2 weeks we arrive in Dubai on Canadian passports and wish to rent a car and drive to Muscat via the coast road. We would like to return to Dubai via Nizwa and Al Ain but have heard of many problems crossing the border. Also how is the road from Nizwa to Al Ain?...and will we need a 4wd? Thank you