Custom and Culture of Oman
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Official name of the Country is “Sultanate of Oman” (سلطنة عُمان). Although Arabic is Oman’s official language, there are native speakers of different dialects, as well as Balochi, or offshoots of Southern Arabian, a Semitic language only distantly related to Arabic.
Swahili is also widely spoken in the country due to the historical relations between Oman and Zanzibar. The dominant indigenous language is a dialect of Arabic and the country has also adopted English as a second language. Almost all signs and writings appear in both Arabic and English.
Oman is famous for its khanjar knives, which are curved daggers worn during holidays as part of ceremonial dress. Today traditional clothing is worn by most Omani men. They wear an ankle-length, collarless robe called a dishdasha that buttons at the neck with a tassel hanging down. Traditionally this tassel would be dipped in perfume. Today the tassel is merely a traditional part of the dishdasha.
Women wear hijab and abaya. Some women cover their faces and hands, but most do not. The abaya is a traditional dress and it is current having different styles. The Sultan has forbidden the covering of faces in public office. On holidays, such as Eid, the women wear traditional dress, which is often very brightly colored and consists of a mid-calf length tunic over pants.
A very important part of Omani culture is hospitality. If invited into an Omani house, a visitor is likely to be greeted with a bowl of dates, qahwa (coffee with cardamom – standard Arabic) and fruits. The coffee is served fairly weak in a small cup, which should be shaken after three servings to show that you have finished. The dates are in lieu of sugar. Halwa and other sweets are often given at celebrations such as Eids.
The Omani culture is steeped in the religion of Islam. With this in mind the Islam month of fasting, Ramadan and other Islamic festivities are very important events in Omani culture.
For men the national dress is an ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves called the dishdasha. There are several accessories including a muzzar (a type of turban), an assa (a cane or stick) and a Khanjar. The Khanjar is a ceremonial curved dagger that is a symbol of male elegance and are worn at formal events and holidays.
An enduring symbol of Oman is the traditional Dhow. These dailing ships have been around for several centuries, there is evidence of an Omani Dhow reaching China in the 8th Century. the dhows are still in operation primarily used for fishing, exporting and tourism. The main ports of Sohar, Sur, Salalah and Muscat all maintain a large fleet. Sur also has an extensive dhow building industry.