If you see the currency code OMR from this point on, you will know it refers to the Omani rial. Oman is the only country to use this currency and instead of being divided into 100 subunits as many currencies are, it is divided into 1,000 subunits. These are known as baisa.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
All the coins for this currency are denominated in baisa. They are the 5, 10, 25 and 50 baisa coins. Perhaps unusually you can also get two banknotes denominated as baisa – the 100 and 200 baisa notes. This is largely because there is a high number of baisa to each rial.
Aside from this there are several other bank notes you will see in circulation. They range from the ½ rial note through to the 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 rial notes.
From past to present – the history of the rial
Oman has been through a few currencies in the past few decades, although the rial has been in use since 1973. Before this the rial Saidi was used, which was a completely different currency to the more familiar Saudi riyal. Before that the currency in circulation was the Indian rupee.
How to get hold of the Omani rial
You will be pleased to know the rial is a fairly easy currency to find when you need to. You can get some rials before you leave home but since it is one of the less-requested currencies people ask for, it is probably best to order it ahead of time.
You can of course pick up more currency in the country itself, although it is wise to remember that cash machines are not dotted around everywhere you go. The capital of Muscat is pretty easy to manage in, but other locations can prove challenging when it comes to finding cash machines. Furthermore not all cards are used in all machines. You should check ahead of travelling to make sure you take the best card; either that or take more than one with you. Remember to notify your bank or card issuer that you are taking your card abroad as well, so you have less chance of it being stopped when you try to use it.
Another option is to take some of your own currency as well. Ideally you should take either the US dollar or the British pound as banks and exchange centres will be quite willing to exchange those for rials. Don’t forget you can also pay by card in many places.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Omani rial
You know how to do this I’m sure – just find a currency converter, although it should ideally be one that updates several times a day (or ideally several times an hour). You’ll be able to choose your own currency followed by the rial (look for the letters OMR to find it easily) and to see what the current exchange rate is.
At the time of writing the Embassy of Oman was in the process of creating its own website. However you can find out more about the country by visiting the UK government website at https://www.gov.uk/government/world/oman.
Travelling safely with Omani rials
You shouldn’t experience any problems when visiting Oman but it is wise to check on the latest situation there prior to visiting. The UK government advises visitors to avoid crowds and demonstrations. These do not take place all the time but it is advisable to be aware of your surroundings.
Crime shouldn’t present any problems although there has been the occasional incident where a tourist has been targeted. For the most part you shouldn’t have any worries if you stay alert to your surroundings and you don’t present yourself as a target. For example you wouldn’t walk around at home flashing large amounts of money so you probably shouldn’t do it in Oman either! Most of the safety advice here is common sense, so think sensibly and don’t present yourself as a convenient target and you should be just fine.
Where to spend your rials in Oman – and what to spend them on
Oman is in southwest Asia. It is situated on the coast and has the Arabian Sea on its south-eastern coast line. The north-eastern coast line is facing the Gulf of Oman. Over to the north east the border is shared with the United Arab Emirates and below that to the west is Saudi Arabia. Finally Yemen shares a border with Oman to the south-western corner of the country. There are also two much smaller exclaves called Musandam and Madha which can be found in the northern part of the United Arab Emirates.
We have already mentioned that the capital of the country is Muscat so let’s start there, shall we? One of the most impressive sights here is Muscat Gate and you can also visit the Muscat Gate Museum. It has only been open since the very early part of the 21st century but it provides a wonderful insight into the history of the entire country. Indeed it starts in Neolithic times and brings you right up to date. If a trip to Muscat is how you are going to start your visit to the country you could do far worse than to start here. It is an amazing place to go.
There are other museums in the city too, not least the Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum. As the name would suggest this gives you the chance to explore the military history of the country. Everything you can think of relating to the military can be found here.
Of course since you are in this part of the world you can pretty much expect good weather. Oman’s coastline means you can also expect some good beaches, and you certainly won’t be disappointed in this respect. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of miles of coastline and much of it is well worth seeing. If you do visit Muscat you should definitely check out Qurum Beach. This is a wonderful beach and it comes with lots of activities and facilities as well. Anyone wanting to indulge in some water sports won’t be disappointed, but it is lovely simply to walk along or to sunbathe at too.
Elsewhere you could try Qantab Beach. This can be found at the village of the same name and there is an opportunity to go on a boat ride here too, to get another view of the area from the water.
If you like the idea of getting closer to nature you should definitely set aside some time to go to Ras al-Jinz. If you haven’t heard of this you may not be familiar with the Ras al-Jinz Turtle Reserve. This offers a great beach and a reserve and safe place for turtles to hatch their young. If you have always wanted to learn more about turtles and their way of life here, now is your chance to do so.
There are of course other attractions in this country, such as Wahiba Sands. This is a desert area and you can cross the desert by camel on an organised trip if you wish. There are also camps in the area so if you have ever wondered what it would be like to camp in the middle of the desert, now is your chance! You can even enjoy a four wheel drive experience through the dunes, so there is plenty to do here even though you may not think so at first glance.
With deserts and beaches in Oman you might be surprised to learn this country also has a mountain range. It is called Jebel Akhdar, although there are a couple of other similar-sounding names it is sometimes called as well. As you might expect there is some desert here but there are terraces on the mountains that aim to make the most of the rain the upper areas do get each year. It is usually best to visit in the summer as it tends to be a little cooler then, giving you the chance to explore in more comfort.
Oman may have come as something of a surprise to you. When you know where it is located in the world you may have thought of beaches but you may not have expected mountains and other attractions. As you can see though there are a number of great destinations you can head for if you want to make the most of your time in this country.
You will soon become more familiar with the currency too. It helps to have a certain amount of cash on you for tips and for smaller purchases, even if you intend to use card payments for much of the time. There are lots of opportunities to see and do things in Oman and once you get there you will definitely want to make the most of where you choose to stay. Why not start planning that next trip now?