Oman Country Report
The elevation of Sultan Qaboos's cousin, former brigadier-general Sayyid Asaad bin Tariq, to the post of deputy prime minister for foreign affairs in early 2017 was widely perceived as an informal designation as successor, reducing, but not completely eliminating, the risk of infighting following Qaboos's eventual death or incapacitation. Until then, the Omani government has sufficient autonomy to function in the sultan's recurring illness-related absence. The government is likely to continue implementing stringent local-content requirements, including a foreign workers' visa freeze, to appease public pressure over unemployment. Contract alteration risks are moderate. There are no known groups operating in Oman with the intent or capability to deploy improvised explosive devices (IEDs)or co-ordinated paramilitary-style attacks against property or individuals.
Access to international credit markets and prudent fiscal management will probably enable the authorities to continue to prioritise spending on transport and logistics infrastructure despite lower energy prices. Foreign investors have to contend with an emphasis on local-content requirements, including a foreign worker visa ban at least until the end of 2018. Bribery is prevalent in the public sector, including facilitation payments and petty bribery in front-line services, but the recent conviction of senior government officials and energy-sector executives in high-profile corruption cases renders bribery solicitations less likely in higher government echelons.
Private and commercial shipping are at growing risk from Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea off the Omani coast and near the Gulf of Aden. The risk decreases to moderate the closer the ships are to the Omani coastline given the presence of a small but effective coast guard. Despite relatively robust security measures along the Omani-Yemeni border, the conflict in Yemen, where jihadists enjoy unprecedented freedom of movement, entails a moderate risk of successful infiltration by militants capable of transferring IED capability to Oman; nevertheless, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are likely to remain much higher priorities for jihadists.
Oman's key challenge is balancing its relationship with its Western allies, Iran, and other Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) member states. Oman's mediatory capacity between Iran and the United States, alongside its refusal to participate in the Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE)-led military intervention in Yemen, reduces the risk of direct military retaliation against Oman in the event of conflict involving the United States, Iran, and/or the Gulf states, or in the event of unintended escalation following minor naval incidents between the United States or other Gulf states and Iran in the Sea of Oman or near the Strait of Hormuz.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 9 months of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
The rainy season lasts from May until September in the extreme south of the country and is often accompanied by floods.
In late 2015, the country experienced repeated flooding, worsened by poor drainage systems in urban areas.
Cyclones infrequently strike the sultanate, mainly in the months of June and September as the monsoon arrives and recedes. Tropical Cyclone Ashobaa struck Oman in June 2015 resulting in heavy flooding and significant property damage.
During the summer, extreme temperatures (higher than 50°C [120°F]) and humidity can be dangerous to health.
Sand and dust storms can impact air and ground traffic.
The road network is well developed. Authorities strictly enforce traffic laws; running a red light results in automatic arrest and detention for 48 hours as well as the suspension of the offender's driving license until a judge's decision.
(Unmetered) taxis are available all over the country. In general, it is advised to discuss the price before departure.
Driving outside Muscat can be hazardous due to the presence of free-roaming animals.
The Oman National Transportation Company reliably operates bus routes between major cities.
The mobile network is good but means of telecommunications are expensive. Oman's authorities may cut the mobile network for security reasons. Intelligence services monitor all calls and many communications tools such as Skype or Facetime can be blocked by the government.
The sultanate of Oman has a Mediterranean climate (hot and dry summers, mild winters) in the north and the east, tropical in the south and west, and arid in the center. Summers last from March to October and winters from November to February. Temperatures are the highest between October and April (around 30°C). In the tropical zone, remnants of the monsoon bring rain from June until September. Humidity levels are high throughout the country (despite low annual rainfall), except in the desert regions where temperatures are relatively steady throughout the day and the night, contrary to usual desert conditions.
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