Oman Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
Oman Road Rules
Oman drives on the right and you can use the photo licence of any country to drive here for up to 6 weeks ,providing it’s written in Arabic or English. Drivers from other countries should bring their own licence and an International Driving permit. After 6 weeks you need to apply for an Oman licence. Speed limits are 120kmh on highways, 60-90km on rural roads and 40kmh in urban areas.
Roads in Oman
Oman has a well maintained road network comprising of 62,000km of roads, half of which are paved.
Main routes in Oman are –
Highway 1 – The Batinah Expressway 256km route running along the North coast from Muscat to the United Arab Emirates border at Khatmat Malaha
Muscat Expressway -runs parallel to the Batinah Expressway for 56km.
Highway 31- desert road from Nizwa, South West of Muscat heading inland to Haima then Salalah on the coast.
There are currently no toll roads in Oman but some roads have toll plazas constructed and it seems tolls could be introduced at some point in the future.
Driving in Oman
Main roads are generally well maintained and in good condition in Oman, with many multi-lane roads around major urban areas. The good roads can however lead to speeding and dangerous and aggressive overtaking. Traffic signals are generally obeyed but you should still expect erratic behaviour from some road users. Driving in the desert and on sand is one potential hazard you’re likely to encounter in Oman. Many places of interest to the visitor involve going off-road, for instance going through wadis (dry river valleys), up mountains tracks or to the desert. For this reason, it’s recommended to use a 4×4 and if possible to drive with more than one vehicle (at least to more remote spots). Even when not planning to go off-road you never know when you will find an unpaved section, or a flooded road after rain, so it’s safer with an off-road type vehicle that can go anywhere. One popular destination, Jebel Akdar, is only accessible by 4×4 which is checked by the police.
When driving outside Muscat you need to be cautious of animals on the road, especially goats and camels. The driver is legally responsible if an animal is hit during daylight hours and will have to pay compensation to the owner of the animal (quite a lot in the case of a camel!). However, after dark the owner of the animal is responsible.
Although it doesn’t rain often in Oman, when it does there are usually flash floods as the water pours down from the rivers to the sea. The wadis flood and often sweep vehicles away and cause deaths through drowning. So the rule is to never camp in a wadi, and to avoid driving in wadis if it is cloudy/raining or rains are forecast.
There are a several tourist camps in the Wahiba Sands which is the most likely desert destination for visitors to Oman. Some are easily reached along a well-used track and could be driven to by an inexperienced but prepared sand driver with some research and precautions (eg tyre pressure needs to be reduced), though often the camp staff will arrange to meet tourists to accompany them through the sand to reach the camp. Other camps are further into the desert and involve more challenging driving to reach them which should not be attempted by one vehicle alone if inexperienced. Signposting is not very clear if existing at all and a GPS is advisable (also as a safety precaution). If going off the track, do not attempt to drive in the desert without a suitable vehicle, appropriate recovery equipment, GPS and in a group of at least 3 vehicles, as well as having some knowledge of sand driving.
Signposts are a bit erratic and not to be depended on so a satnav pre-programmed with local roads is recommended. Also be aware that the spelling of Arabic place names in Roman letters doesn’t follow a consistent system with the result that the same place can be spelt differently on each sign on the same road or the GPS spelling doesn’t match the road signs. This can be confusing!
Thanks to DriverAbroad.com user Clare Jones De Rocco for some great insights into driving abroad in Oman.
Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.
Oman Car Rental –
Sixt ,Hertz, Europcar, National, Avis, Budget,Dollar, Thrifty, have outlets here.
We currently have no local car rental partners in Oman. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on DriverAbroad.com please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on ADriverAbroad@Outlook.com
Oman Self Drive Rules-
Seem to be vary by company. Hertz and Sixt don’t allow any cross border driving. Budget allow cars to be taken to UAE for an additional charge. Europcar mention restrictions on driving to certain countries but don’t say which. Avis, are ambiguous and say nothing.