So the topic of alcohol and alcohol consumption in Oman is complex at best. In short, you’re better off not drinking, especially if having one drink usually turns into three or four and then a drunk cab ride home in many countries ’is not a big deal. But in Oman hard and “soft” drugs, including alcohol, are treated the same. So if you’re caught doing something, unsavory, while intoxicated, it doesn’t matter if you were on heroin or had a glass of wine.
You can purchase alcohol in many areas, including the airport when you land in Oman. But, many laws are surrounding the consumption of alcohol. Any airport will limit you to two servings that are either two (small) bottles of wine, or two 12-ounce cans of beer.
There are many restaurants and even bars or nightclubs where you can get alcohol. You can also purchase alcohol from bottle stores which are usually located inside hotels. Although you can purchase alcohol from these places, public intoxication is against the law. So keep in mind that walking from a nightclub to your hotel could lead to a night in jail or worse.
You must be over the age of 21 to purchase alcohol at all. Additionally, you must only purchase and consume alcohol in establishments that have a government grant or license to serve and sell alcohol. As a tourist, you can purchase alcohol from bottle stores, which are similar to liquor stores but they also have to carry a license to sell alcohol.
If someone offers you alcohol and they aren’t very open about what they’re trying to sell you, run. There are regular reports of the stores selling alcohol illegally, or small restaurants offering drinks although they do not have the proper license. Again, if the transaction seems fishy, say “no” because you can be held legally liable as well as the business.
You cannot transport alcohol. Period. The only time you can take alcohol from anywhere to anywhere else is going from the bottle store where you purchased your alcohol, to your hotel room. It’s very important that you keep your receipt because it’s proof that you have the right to legally carry the alcohol in the street, as long as it’s sealed, and that you have just left the establishment that sold it to you.
If you are intoxicated in public, it will likely result in a night spent in an Omani jail, and a series of huge fines that will ruin your vacation. If you’re in a motor vehicle accident while intoxicated the consequences are likely dire. Driving under the influence is strictly forbidden under Omani law.
No alcohol is served or sold within the holy month of Ramadan, whether you are Muslim or not.
Importing or bringing any drugs, including alcohol, is illegal and will result in imprisonment with additional charges of smuggling, possession, and trafficking.
For more details on the Oman visa, check our comprehensive FAQ section.
If You Plan On Drinking In Oman
The questions are, do you want to drink and do you plan on getting drunk? Because it’s illegal to be drunk or drink in public. It’s important that if you do want to get drunk, you do so in your hotel room. Of course, you’ll still want to be sure that you’re not disrupting any other hotel guests or acting in a belligerent manner.
If you want to have a drink with your dinner, that’s no problem. Head over the best-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor or yelp that serves alcohol and order a glass of wine.
Where to Drink in Oman
Muscat has the most licensed pubs, restaurants, and bars in Oman. But the best place to drink is usually in your hotel bar. You can visit swanky nightclubs in the upmarket hotels and downmarket you can find many English-style pubs. Without a doubt, a bar is the best place to enjoy live music, and there are usually Indian or Arabian stage shows too. Do be careful though because, in efforts to dissuade public drunkenness, alcohol is extremely expensive.
If you’re looking for a cheap drink, head on over to a local cafe that may serve coffees in the morning and alcoholic beverages later in the day, although the nightlife is typically quiet, there are a few bars that have live music and reasonably priced drinks. Great bars in Oman include the Marina and the Mutrah. For a good club try the Rock Bottom Cafe or the Copacabana in the Grand Hyatt.
As always, be careful but enjoy yourself. There are so many marvelous things to do in Oman, don’t think that you can’t have fun too.