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Liberty Basics for Salalah

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1 Liberty Basics for Salalah

2 Oman in General Traditionally a sea-faring nation
Looked out from Arabia to the Indian Ocean and East Africa; once controlled a huge empire Did not look inward to Arab world Once controlled a fleet of more than 200 warships of 10+ guns Much more diverse and tolerant than other Gulf Arabs Extremely proud of being different from other Arabs Nation is neither Shia nor Sunni; they are majority Ibadhi – only place in the world Simple dress and decorations Tolerance of others

3 Oman in General (cont’d)
Country wracked by internal conflict from 1820’s to 1975; total collapse of structure during this period Sultan took over in 1970 in a coup; 10km of paved road and two doctors in 1970 for the whole country. Oil and gas are major income sources, but there is comparatively little of it; tourism small but growing Extremely proud of their military US has approx 0.5% of population in military Oman has about 2.5% of population in military English very widely spoken

4 Geography Oman is about the size of California
Mountains are incredibly rugged Oman contains much of the “empty quarter” of Arabia – just sand dunes and rocky desert Genuine Bedouin here; go to the dunes and they’ll drive you in their Landcruisers through the desert Lush valleys in the mountains; hard to find, but amazing when you do

5 Population Just over 3 million people Approx 2.15 million are Omanis
About 600,000 Indians About 150,000 Pakistanis About 100,000 Sri Lanka/Bangladeshi About 100K Philippinos, Sudanese, Egyptians Rest are Europeans; only about 1,500 Americans

6 Police Royal Oman Police (ROP) & Coast Guard (ROPCG)
Relatively professional; very detail-oriented With minor cultural differences, ROP can be rated similar to American police in terms of training and ability They can be approached for help; they will not shake you down for bribes All ROP are Omani or Baluchi (Pakistani minority group of former Omani Empire)

7 Sultan Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Saidi In power since 1970
“Benevolent autocrat” Genuinely loved by the people and his picture is everywhere Do NOT joke about the Sultan Do NOT discuss the Sultan’s private life – EVER

8 Foreign Policy “Sitting on the fence with a foot in both camps and their head beneath the parapet” Switzerland of the Middle East; friends to everyone, foes to no one Very independent foreign policy Focused on growth vice conflict Silently supportive of OEF/OIF; not an issue for open discussion though

9 Money 1 OMR (Omani rial) has 1,000 Bz (baisa) 1 OMR = $2.60
100 Bz = roughly a quarter (smallest paper note is 100 Bz) Either multiply rial by 2.6 or divide by .385 to get US dollars Exchange rate does not fluctuate; pegged to the US dollar ATMs are available throughout town and dispense rial only 38 OMR = $100 Hotel beer = 3 OMR, cheap meal 2-4 OMR, nice meal with drinks OMR A 20 OMR note isn’t $20. It’s $52 – don’t forget.

10 How to Spot an Omani Women are all dressed in abayas (“ninja suits”)
Omani men wear a distinctive normally white robe with a tassel at the collar; no tassel – not likely an Omani (more than 90% of the time they will dress this way) Will also wear an embroidered prayer cap or a tightly wound headscarf that generally will not hang down Men dressed western are probably South Asian; those with a robe and pajama pants are Pakistani

11 Proper Attire for Westerners
Women No cleavage and cover your shoulders (no bare spaghetti straps) Loose fitting clothing is best Pants or skirts to or below the knee (capris, etc.) Men Much more free reign; shorts are okay for most things, but not at places where you’re expected to be respectful & not at many restaurants Keep the clothing neat and tidy and decent If you’re on a hike or climb, wear good rugged, lightweight clothes just like you would in the West

12 Politeness Omanis are normally excessively polite
Same isn’t always true of third country nationals Personal honor and face still very important in interaction If you are rude to an Omani, you may be arrested No flipping the bird or yelling at someone who cut you off with their car American high school girl detained three weeks in 2008 because of it (in Salalah) It’s not Saudi, but be polite and they will be polite back

13 Social Notes Work week is Sunday-Thursday
Friday-Saturday is the weekend Protestant and Catholic church services are available The country shuts down from roughly for a siesta; everything but major malls close Things will open and then or so (later for restaurants and bars) People typically dine later than in the US

14 Threats Crime is very, very low, but sexual assaults can occur due to misperceptions about western women Crime is usually opportunistic (bag left unattended) Never had a terrorist attack in Oman Oman is a police state, but a benevolent one Oman takes security VERY seriously; someone is likely watching you at most times – act accordingly Police will help you in an emergency; 911 equivalent is “9999” Nearest safe haven is any government building or police station

15 Immigration In by military lift and out by military lift = no visa/passport If commercial travel is ANY part of trip, must have either passport & visa or immigration letter from Embassy (ID & orders) If you arrive by ship and are departing via CA, you must get your passport stamped at the port showing your legal entry Conversely, if you arrive by CA, you must get stamped out by customs at the port Third option is to contact us at DAO with flight itinerary and copy of ID card & orders to arrange immigration letter at airport Emergency passports can be made if it is an emergency

16 Liberty Guidelines from Embassy
Use the two man buddy system Shore patrol should be on all liberty buses and at the liberty stops Liberty for junior sailors typically ends at midnight, with SNCOs and Officers back in port NLT 0200 Overnight liberty is authorized by Embassy at the CO’s discretion Government-approved taxi rates can be seen on the accompanying spreadsheet Negotiate price before the trip The later it is, the more you pay

17 Liberty Stops (may change)
Your main liberty stops normally are Oasis Club – see information on next slide Hilton Hotel – decent hotel, pricey restaurants Lulu Hypermarket – Walmart-type store in the town center; walk around or grab a cab from here Crowne Plaza – nicer than Hilton; good beach, better nightlife; food is decent

18 The Oasis Club Exit the Port gate and walk to the left uphill, club is on a cliff to the right at the top Bowling, simple food, cheaper beer, pool/snooker, nice patio area The most crowded venue, so service is slow at peak times Expect to see many other sailors there Behave They have paintball available as well

19 Drinking Drinking is available at bars inside hotels and at the Oasis Club You’ll see Omanis at all of these venues drinking Drinking is fine; public drunkenness is a no-go Cultural philosophy here is “all things in moderation;” drink, but don’t vomit and don’t cause trouble Prostitution exists quietly and on a small scale, but it exists; no Omani woman will proposition you unless she’s a prostitute Many European tourists come here on holiday

20 Things to buy Oman is the land of Frankincense
Bags or containers of frankincense are very cheap and good gifts with a small incense burner Other fragrances smell better and families love them Buy somebody frankincense and myrrh and then some gold elsewhere for a new baby – you’ll win creativity points Curved Omani daggers (silver) and Bedouin silver jewelry/swords are excellent here but you pay for quality Scarves, table runners, rugs, and tablecloths are all good buys

21 Sample Souq (Market) prices
Small plastic container of frankincense with a small incense burner and coals = 4-5 OMR Prayer cap – 1-4 OMR depending on quality Khanjar (Omani dagger) – OMR for passable quality; much more for high quality Pashmina scarf – basic quality 4-7 OMR; top is OMR Table runners – good one = 9-12 OMR

22 Hotel prices Typically around OMR per room plus 17% tax; more expensive = fancier but not necessarily better location Day use rates offered most places to use the pool and health club – some include lunch Usually give deep discounts on meals together with rooms

23 Salalah Peculiarities
Likely to be several other Navies present in port with you Terrorist threat is lower than elsewhere in the region, but Yemen is right next door Likely will see “security contractors” doing anti-piracy escorts hanging out in the hotels; many have been to Iraq and most are British

24 Reporting Liberty incidents must be communicated to the Embassy; no “sweeping under the rug” First try to contact NCIS – NCIS will then contact USDAO; agent will provide contact info at in-brief If NCIS is not answering, contact USDAO DAO Duty NCO Phone US Naval Attaché is Col Todd Lyons, USMC Phone

25 Final notes Embassy Post One: +968 2464-3555
Remember – THIS IS NOT IRAQ, YEMEN, or PAKISTAN; you’ve never heard of Oman because they do a very good job of security and have no enemies Omanis maintain a good view of the US; do not upset the relationship

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