Oman is a vast country that offers a variety of landscapes and tourist attractions to foreigners, from coastal towns and waterfalls to mountains and the desert. However, public transport (especially for medium to long distances) may not be as frequent and efficient as some tourists are used to back home.
That is why many visitors think that the best way to explore Oman is by car. This allows great flexibility, comfort, and makes for an adventure that will leave travelers with plenty of memories to bring back home.
On this page, readers can find a complete guide to driving in Oman for foreigners, including regulations to keep in mind, the necessary documents, and advice for drivers.
Can Tourists Drive in Oman?
Tourists are allowed to drive in the Gulf country. It is also legal to rent a car in Oman for citizens of other countries.
Documents required to rent a car in Oman
Foreigners will need to provide a series of documents in order to get a car in Oman, including:
- A valid passport or other accepted form of ID
- An eligible driving license
Tourists can use a foreign driver’s license in Oman for up to 3 months. However, if the document is written in a non-Roman nor Arabic alphabet, it may be better to get an international driving permit before traveling.
It is important to remember that the police may also require non-Omani nationals to provide a current visa for Oman should they be stopped while on the road.
Please note that most rental companies only accept drivers who are 25 years of age or older. Some allow people aged 21 to 24 to rent a vehicle but apply a sizeable excess payable in case of an accident.
Allowing to take the car to another country is up to the rental company. Usually, driving to the UAE is more likely to be allowed than Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
It is advisable that foreigners purchase insurance in order to avoid issues and hefty fees.
Road Regulations in Oman
Tourists must become familiar with the driving regulations of Oman before sitting at the wheel. A list of rules and advice can be found below:
- Vehicles must move on the right-hand side of the road
- Street signs follow the ISO (European) system and the numbers are in dual form, with the Arabic numbers at the top
- Running a red light is punishable with fines and one night in jail
- Speed limits should always be respected, Oman speed cameras and bumps make sure that the rule is followed. The limits are: 120km/h on motorways, 90km/h on open roads and between 40km/h and 80km/h in urban centers
- Remain calm. Insults and obscene gestures directed at drivers and pedestrians will not be tolerated
- On tortuous mountain streets, it is customary to honk before a turn
- At traffic circles, drivers should yield to those already in the circle
- Designated lanes are often present at intersections with traffic lights in order to make it possible to turn right even when the light is red
- Minors under 4 must travel in a car seat for children
- It is illegal to use a mobile phone while at the wheel in Oman
- The local authorities apply a 0-tolerance policy in case of intoxicated drivers
Is It Safe to Drive in Oman?
Oman is a very safe country with low crime rates, especially against foreigners. Omani roads are generally modern and in excellent condition. However, tourists may consider renting a 4×4 if they plan to travel to rural, mountainous, and desert areas.
During the monsoon season, foreigners should be aware that heavy rains can cause flooding. Far from main urban centers, animals such as camels and goats can be found crossing the road unexpectedly so travelers should pay close attention at all times.
Most of the Omani highways and freeways are long, straight routes. It is easy to lose focus and become tired and it is important to stop frequently to rest and stretch the legs as well as making sure to carry enough water and food.
Compared to other countries in the region, traffic is generally low and manageable, and unlikely to cause delays. However, it can become intense in Muscat, especially around the Mutrah Souk.
In case of an accident, tourists should leave their car and call 999, the local police phone and emergency number.