Oman resides at the mouth of the Iranian gulf in the Middle East. Its neighbors include Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Its economy depends on the limited oil reserves beneath the sand. Its currency trades under the letters OMR. The decimal system is as follows: 1,000 baisa equal 1 rial.
Oman was once an important trading center. As such, coins arrived for use in the country from Iran, Iraq and India. The first actual coinage in Oman, date from AD 708. They came from the local Umayyad government. These were the typical Umayyad coins in silver. Oman imported currency during the times of the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphs. There was also local coinage from the 9th century Ibadi imams. In the 10th century, coins appeared by or from the local Wahijids and the Buyids of Iran and Iraq.
Changes had also occurred in the Port of Muscat. Muscat fell under the domination of the Portuguese in the 15th century. It stayed in their hands until the 17th and early 18th centuries. At that point, it changed hands, falling under the jurisdiction of the Safavids of Iran. By the late 19th century, copper Iranian coins were making their presence strong in Oman.
In Faisal, A British treaty was in effect for 1893. The coinage, here was British-Indian. In the late 19th century, however, some coherency of currency started to occur. The imam of Muscat and Oman began to produce copper coins with Indian denominations. They also adopted a new system of numbering. By 1940, a formal system of coinage was in place under the Sultan Sa’id ibn Timur (1932-1970). It incorporated the Baisa with the rial (or ryal).
Banknotes also made their appearance in 1970 under the king’s son, Sultan Qabus ibn Sa’id. All coins began to feature the crossed swords and dagger motif in the series struck for both the province of Dhofar and the rest of Oman. The money varies little, today, from the 1970s. Coins consist of 5, 10, 25 and 50 baisa. Banknotes come in 100 and 200 baisa and ½, 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 rials.
Obtaining Omani Rials
You can exchange your currency for the local money at banks and moneychangers. The rates may vary so check for the daily rates. It is not difficult to locate either source in the urban areas. Most towns and cities have banks. They also have ATMs.
Protecting Your Currency
Crime is not a serious problem in Oman. The crime late, even for petty crime is low. It is advisable not to travel alone or at night, especially if you are female. Take the usual precautions. Do not flash your cash or show signs of affluence.
Using Your Omani Rials
If you decide to go shopping in a local souk, take your cash. In Oman, you can purchase items in one of the several modern shopping malls, but it is more fun to wander into and bargain at a souq. In Muscat, head for Mutrah Souq. There is also Little India, the Ruwi Souq. Be sure to buy trademark gifts. These include incense, particularly frankincense. To round the gist off, you should also purchase an incense burner. Besides incense, consider such things as dates, Bedouin necklaces of silver, traditional knives or khanjars and spices. To round off a sensual experience, you should buy some perfume – expensive but worth it.
Travel Tips and Warnings
- Women should take care when travelling alone.
- Be aware that certain public areas may be for men or women only and not both.
- The law forbids people from using aggressive, abusive or obscene language in public.
- Visit the Old Walled City of Muscat. Take time to see the National Aquarium, the Oman Museum and “Little India.”
- Stop at any of the beautiful beaches of the Sharqiya Region.
- You can also go to the Western Hajar Mountains with the MasjidMazin bin Ghadouba Mosquein in Samail or to Nizwa Fort.
- There are the battlements of Bahla and Jabrin Castle.
- Try any of the coastal beaches of Salalah or head to the venerated Job’s Tomb.
Oman is a Middle Eastern country with one major source of income – oil. It is currently prosperous with a high standard of living.
Current currency: rial
1,000 baisa equal 1 rial
Coins: 5, 10, 25 and 50 baisa
Banknotes: 100 and 200 baisa; ½, 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 rials