Public Holidays in Oman for 2013
The following are dates of Oman public holidays for the upcoming year. These are usually non-working public holidays and banking holidays, but it’s best to double-check with Omani authorities in the interest of travel information, as always.
Oman is one of the more liberal Islamic countries, and many of its holidays are linked to the Islamic faith, and to the celebration of important dates for the ruling royal family, particularly for His Majesty the Sultan of Oman. As such, travel and merry-making is conducted in a more relaxed atmosphere, but it is also best to confer with the local authorities or your hotel personnel for the unspoken rules and traditions of the places you are staying in.
January 1: New Year’s Day
Expect that there will be celebrations that are divided between events meant for foreigners who are staying in Oman, and for those who are citizens. Before preparing anything alcoholic, it’s best to clear it with Omani authorities before even purchasing anything. This applies to all celebrations.
January 24: Milad un Nabi
Traditionally celebrated as the date of the Prophet’s birthday, this public holiday is marked with a festive atmosphere, involving processions, prayers, and decorations for the home and the mosque. Poetry and stories about the Prophet are often told during this time. Charity to the less fortunate is an important part of the day’s to-do list.
June 5: Lailat al Miraj
This holiday commemorates the Prophets travel to the farthest temple to lead believers in prayer, after which he was taken up to heaven where Allah conversed with him and taught him how the faithful should pray. Prayers and processions mark this holiday, combined with keeping lights on at night.
July 23: Renaissance Day
This is the anniversary of when the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, ascended to the throne. He is of the 14th generation of founder Al Bu Sa’idi’s dynasty.
August 8-11: Eid al-Fitr
This is the end of Ramadan, and is one of the most prominent festivals of the year. The long period of fasting, reflection and sacrifice is ended with the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which emphasizes the faith, prayers, charity, and family reunions. In some neighborhoods, this may extend to “open house” invitations to partake of food prepared by the hosts. In others, it is large family reunions are the norm, and celebrations where the less fortunate are invited to eat and be merry.
This is definitely one of the best times for foreigners to visit the country. However, be mindful of the times for prayer, and it is best to ask discreetly about local customs before celebrating with friends.
If foreigners do come in while Ramadan is ongoing, then do plan for night-time activities, as the period of fasting is for the day – believers can more or less eat normally at night, though other devotional actions may extend to the night.
October 15-18: Eid al-Adha
This public holiday commemorates the faith of the prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael. Men, women, and children are usually dressed in their best clothing for prayers on this day. The more fortunate sacrifice their best halal animals, and divide the portions into three – one for family, one for relatives, friends and neighbors, and the last third to the less fortunate. There is also a community effort to make sure that the needy will be able to celebrate the holiday. If a family cannot sacrifice an animal, they will usually give to charity.
November 4: Islamic New Year
This national holiday commemorates the start of the next year in the Islamic calendar. This event marks the migration of Mohammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina.
November 18: National Day
This day marks the birthday of His Majesty, the Sultan of Oman.
Reminders to foreigners about celebrating holidays in Oman
Once foreigners find a place to stay, the very first thing to ask is when are the official public and bank holidays. This will be important, as the last thing one needs is to have money concerns while enjoying a stay in the country.
Be very respectful of the public holidays, if they are of religious significance. Oman is one of the more liberal Islamic countries, but this also means that visitors should know their limits, particularly if their ways of celebrating may be different to the culture or frowned upon by the Islamic faith.
Travel information is very important. Other public holidays do involve celebrations for His Majesty the Sultan, so it would be best to clarify where travel plans for the duration of one’s stay.
Non-working holidays can definitely affect service for certain areas, as people will go and visit their families, particularly during religious festivals.
Food plays a big part in many of Oman’s festivities, and the Islamic faith includes charity for the less fortunate (as mentioned earlier). If one wishes to help the needy, or to help in charitable projects during a stay in the country, please do make sure to confer with the proper people on how to go about it, to make sure that tradition and cultural norms are observed.
It is possible that smaller areas of the country will celebrate more worldwide public holidays, but the celebrations may be muted or be specific to local communities only.
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