Omans transport system is a work in progress and should steadily improve in the coming years, with upgrades being made to roads, ports and airports and a new rail system being developed.
There are only two international airports, at Muscat and Salalah, with the vast majority of flights heading to and from Muscat. The capital city itself is very spread out and public transport is limited, meaning having your own car is a necessity for anyone spending a significant amount of time there. Public transport options elsewhere in the country and between the major population centres are even more constrained.
The national carrier is Oman Air. It currently serves 43 destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The domestic route network is limited to flights between Muscat and Khasab on the Musandam peninsula, and to Salalah in the southwest of the country. The well-regarded airline operates a modern fleet of Airbus A330 and Boeing 737 planes, along with Embraer E175 ATR 42 aircraft for shorter-haul flights.
Most international flights land at Muscat International airport (also known as Seeb International airport), which lies some 25 kilometres to the west of the city. As of July 2013, some 31 airlines offered a total of 728 weekly departures to 57 destinations in 28 countries, with the greatest concentration being in the Indian subcontinent. Salalah International airport is far smaller, with five airlines offering flights to seven cities in the Gulf and India.
Facilities on arrival at Muscat airport include a currency exchange desk, automatic teller machines (ATMs), a medical clinic and car rental desks. Official taxi fares to major hotels in the city start at RO8 ($21).
Arrival facilities in Salalah are more limited, but there are car rental companies along with an ATM and a foreign currency exchange booth. Official taxi fares to the main hotels start at RO7.
A second terminal at Muscats airport is scheduled to be completed by 2014 and will have the capacity to handle 12 million passengers a year. Improvements are also being made to Salalah airport and smaller regional airfields at Duqm, Ras al-Hadd and Sohar.
With a predominantly coastal population and a long history of seaborne trade, Oman has several ports dotted along its coast. The most important for international trade are Sultan Qaboos port near Muscat and those at Duqm, Salalah, Sohar and Sur (Port Qalhat). There are also smaller facilities at Khasab, Shinas and Mina al-Fahal, as well as fishing harbours at other sites along the coast.
There are no international passenger services to Omani ports, although some cruise ships do call in. The National Ferries Company operates passenger services from Muscat and Shinas to Khasab and Lima on the Musandam Peninsula, using modern catamarans.
Road conditions in Oman are generally good, although accident death rates are the highest in the GCC. Road signs are written in Arabic and English throughout the country. Anyone living in the country for more than three months needs to apply for an Omani driving licence from the Directorate of General Traffic, part of the Royal Oman Police.
Taxis in Muscat are painted orange and white and are plentiful. They are not metered so you must agree the fare before the start of the journey. It is best to ask a local what the price should be, although the amount you end up paying will depend on your haggling ability. There is also the option to take shared taxis, which are cheaper, but can take longer.
Oman National Transport Company provides bus services to major towns and cities within Oman and to Dubai, as well as a few local bus services around Muscat. Gulf Transport Company also runs buses from Muscat to Salalah and beyond the countrys borders to Dubai and Yemen.
Oman has no rail network, although one is planned as part of the GCC-wide rail system. Once complete, it will connect Oman by rail to the UAE and possibly, in the longer term, to Yemen. The first sections of track will run from Duqm to Muscat and Sohar and then on to the border with the UAE, but given that the main contract award is not due until late 2014, it will be many years before services begin.
Royal Oman Police
Tel: (+968) 2 451 0227/0228
Taxi services in muscat include:
Tel: (+968) 9 510 3152
Clever Taxi/Allo Taxi
Tel: (+968) 2 469 7997
Tel: (+968) 9 914 3222
Muscat airport taxi counter
Tel: (+968) 2 451 8780/8781
Tel: (+968) 9 660 0955