Sunday, September 6, 2009

Alcohol & Ramadan in Oman...

Hmmm where to start? This post is mostly for friends and family back home in Australia, the US and New Zealand who aren't aware of certain social habits here in Oman. For those of you that either live here or are of Muslim origin, please forgive any inaccuracies...


The use of alcohol is not illegal in Oman, but it is deemed socially unacceptable by most people in this region and goes against the Muslim faith. That being said, it is available and served to both Omanis & Westerners (other than during the month of Ramadan) in licensed restaurants and bars, usually the latter exist in the International Hotels around town. In saying this, alcohol is far from cheap!

You are only able to purchase alcohol if you:
* Do so via Duty Free at the Muscat International terminal (each person is allowed 2 bottles)
* Have a permit - where the amount of alcohol that you can buy is determined by your rate of salary
** (Locals cannot obtain permits, thus the need to go to bars or restaurants that serve it).


The month of Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar (which changes every year, given they don't follow the 365 day calendar), when all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This means no eating, drinking, smoking (basically putting anything in your mouth), or generally speaking - acts of indulgence...hint hint ;-)

It is ultimately a month of personal reflection (similar to a Westerner setting new goals or New Years resolutions), as well as teaching self-discipline, control, modesty, patience, giving thanks and achieving deeper spirituality or enlightenment. I believe this is similar to the Jewish Yom Kippur?

People who are exempt are: elderly, ill, children, pregnant women.

In saying this, some Muslims go CRAZY when eating/cooking in the evenings! The obsession with food is obvious and the lines at the stores are would think they would more staff on checkouts, but maybe that is just me or common sense?
When we have been grocery shopping at either of the Al Fair, LuLu or Carrefour stores, we have seen people buying really 'interesting' combinations of items, as well as trolleys FULL of:

Vimto (a berry cordial) -generally by the case...there is a tower a few metres high dedicated to this product!
Creme caramelle - people were buying it in bulk, e.g. > 20 boxes of it
Cooking Oil - by the gallons
Strawberry Milk - as if you can't get this at any time of the year!
Sacks of rice
Crates of eggs...not a dozen...crates!!!

Note: see fellow blogger "Dhofargucci's" account of the leaning tower of creme caramel pic at

Read her stories, they are hilarious and pretty informative at the same time :-)

Given the sun doesn't set not until 6.30/7pm, Muslims tend to eat in the morning before dawn (called sohohor), work shorter hours since they are fasting (perhaps 9-2), go home and sleep for a few hours until prayer time, eat a first meal (called Iftaar) with family/friends, prayer time again then eat a second meal etc etc and this could go on for hours!

Another blogger "Muscati" stated that Royal's (maker of jello/creme caramel etc) sales during Ramadan account for ~90% of their total brand sales = fascinating!!!

It begs the question - do sales of antacids, laxatives or heartburn meds increase during Ramadan too?



  1. Hi There!

    Yep, I know what you mean...mountains of Creme Caramel and Vimto, lol!!

    I'd like to suggest the week of 16 November for a ladies get-together...we live at the Wave.

  2. Jamilla sounds great, please keep me in the loop :-)