Oman has been a major tourist attraction in the Middle East and for visitors from across the world. In recent years the number of tourists attracted to Oman’s friendly people, culture and heritage has jumped tremendously that more hotels are needed to handle the large volume of travellers coming to the country.
For many of the visitors, they enjoy learning the traditions of the country they are visiting. By learning some of the old practises, it give them context and is able to appreciate what makes it different from there own.
Even up to now, there are still many Omani traditions that only few people in the country know about. Old-standing traditions blend seamlessly with modern day living and some worries that overtime, many of these will be totally forgotten.
Despite the many changes that had happened in the last two decades, some traditions are fighting to remain eternally in the Omani culture. Here are a few of them that lasted to this day thanks to the continuous practise of the current generation.
Hospitality through coffee and frankincense
A very important part of Oman culture and tradition is hospitality. If invited into an Omani house, a visitor is likely to be greeted with a bowl of dates, qahwa (coffee with cardamom) and fruits. The coffee is always served with the right hand and in a small cup. For the guest, the cup should be shaken after three servings to show that you have finished.
As an expression of hospitality to a visitor leaving the house, the host should bring the guest incense and perfume. It is however impolite to bring it in the middle of the visit because it gives the idea that you are rushing the visitor to leave.
when to catch up on the latest news
In some parts in al Batinah governorate, it is not polite to ask the guest “What’s up?” or inquire about his family and the changes that are happening in his life when he first comes to the house. You have to offer him qahwa and fruits and leave him to rest before initiating a conversation. But, in most parts in al Dakhiliya, you have to sit with the guest first and exchange news and later they offer their hospitality.
shoes/Slippers stay out
It is impolite to enter the house with your shoes or slippers on. Old people consider this to be seriously inappropriate. For more traditional families, it is also very impolite to shake hands with people while you are wearing shoes even if you meet someone in the streets. Some old people still remove their shoes first before greeting anyone.
palm leaves for weddings
During weddings, old ladies are still maintaining a particular tradition of bringing greenness and prosperity to the marriage life. They usually bring a palm tree branch and ask the groom and bride to each step on it. With feet on the palm, they then pour rose water as a means of wishing for happiness.
More Traditions on weddings
There are a lot of things about “traditional weddings” that many expats in Oman do not know about. When the male decides to get married, he asks his mother and sisters to find him the “right girl.” The family always takes into account tribal issuesa and other family-related situations.
After choosing the girl, the relatives of the man goes to the girl’s house to propose. They give the girl’s family from two to three weeks to reply. After replying yes, the man’s family goes again to the girl’s house to agree on the dowry and other arrangements.
The man invites all his friends, relatives, neighbors and tribe members to a big ceremony called “malka”, in which they declare the marriage and the names of the groom and bride in public. The ceremony is followed by a big feast to the guests. After a period of two months to six, the wedding is set.