Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ministry warns of open season on Tourists and Expats

Here’s an announcement I didn’t see in the newspapers, funnly enough, about how its no longer OK to go wadi bashing just anywhere in this beautiful country.

"the ministry [of tourism] again calls upon all tourism agencies and hotel establishments in Oman to ensure that tourists are informed of any sites where photography is prohibited. Moreover, these tourism companies must not organize tours and activities near restricted border areas, oil establishments or other sensitive sites."

Helpfully the Ministry don’t really specify where these sites are, or how far from the border constitutes sensitive. Great.

I heard of some Expat off-road motorcycle enthusiasts who were out enjoying the winter weather a few months ago near Lekhwair, at least 10km from the border with Saudi and well away from any oil installations. As they were going merrily along, unbeknown to the riders the Oman Army were hot on their trail and actually opened fire on them with automatic weapons, narrowly missing one rider but hitting the bike’s engine. They were then all arrested. It seems the Army lads were a bit frustrated they couldn’t catch up with them, and so opened fire!

So, just be careful out there. It seems the army, and the Oil & Gas Installation Protection Squad (a paramilitary unit of the ROP) have got beefed up instructions, and shooting a few innocent citizens is an acceptable price to pay. Whether this relates to a specific increase in terrorist threats or is just a better safe than sorry approach, I don’t know.

But don't take them lightly. They will shoot, and may kill you. Or in beautiful example of Omani symantic PC language, cause 'unnecessary complications'.

PDO announced this gem in a warning to their staff:
These instructions are also applicable to those who travel off-road in Oman without tourist guides or tourist agents. We have had reported incidents, which resulted in unnecessary complications, mainly because staff were not fully aware of these instructions. Non-compliance could result in exposure to injury or arrest.


  1. Ow no! I was planning on an off-road trip with the guys after our exams but this is really frightening.

    We will have to look into the details of these "sites" before getting our self killed.

    Although, getting shot at would make a great Blog story :p

  2. I think you'll be OK in the Oman mountains or Wahiba sands. But the Saudi and Yemen borders seem to be even more sensitive than normal lately.

    And stay away from the US Base in Thumrait!

  3. Sorry man, this is unrelated to the topic, feel free to delete this after you've read it.

    I want to contact you on something but you haven't provided any means to so so.
    Please contact me on: almaawali90@gmail.com.


  4. No prob. I added my email to my profile on the right hand side. I don't put it in usual format 'cos otherwise the spam spiders find you really quickly.

    Look forward to the email.



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