Oman: Dress                                                     

Men

Most Omani men wear a simple, ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves called a dishdasha. The color is usually white, although a variety of other colors such as black, blue, brown and lilac can also be seen. Its main adornment is a tassel (furakha) sewn into the neckline, which can be perfumed. Underneath the dishdasha, a plain piece of cloth covering the body is worn from the waist down.

Omani men may wear a variety of headdresses. The muzzar is a square of finely woven woolen or cotton fabric, wrapped and folded into a turban. Underneath the muzzar, some wear an intricately embroidered cap called a kummar.

On formal occasions, the dishdasha may be covered by a black or beige cloak, called a bisht. The embroidery edging of the cloak is often in silver or gold thread and is intricate in detail. Some men carry the assa, a stick, which can have practical uses or is simply used as an accessory during formal events. Omani men often wear sandals on their feet.

The khanjar (an ornate curved knife) is worn in a leather sheath at the front of the body in a special belt. The tradition is unique to Oman. It is a symbol of a man's origins, his manhood, courage and deep-rooted traditions. The national dress is not complete without it and men wear the khanjar at all public engagements and festivals. The khanjar has played an important role in Oman's history. This is reflected in the incorporation of its image on the Omani national flag. The khanjar consists of the hilt (which is made of silver or ivory in the case of the ancient weapons), the shaft (which is decorated with bands of silver or gold wire) and the blade. The leather sheath is often intricately embellished with floral filigree work. It can take up to three weeks to make a khanjar.

Women

Omani women are distinguished from their Arab Gulf neighbors by their eye-catching national costumes which distinctively vary from one region of the country to another. The choice of colors, especially in the past, was linked one's a tribe. Vivid colors and vibrant embroidery and decorations are common.

The basic components of the Omani costume comprise of a dress (dishdasha) worn over trousers (sirwal), a loose-overdress cloak (thub) and head shawl (lihaf). In public, women in large cities wear a loose black cloak (abaya) while in some more remote regions a face mask (burqa) is still worn. Omani clothing is designed to protect from the sun. The Bedu, who live in sandy deserts, wear burqas that cover the whole face, except for a strip for the eyes, to protect delicate facial skin from burning sun and wind.

Accessories

Jewelry is mostly made from gold—although the traditional metal of the area was silver. Jewelry is engraved with intricate and elaborate patterns and symbols.

Make-up

Omani women have used natural cosmetics and beauty preparations for centuries and, despite the supply of brand name cosmetics sold in department stores and supermarkets, the traditional products are still available at souqs (markets).

Henna

Many women in Oman paint their hands and feet with henna, particularly before special occasions such as the Eid holidays or weddings. The paste is applied in patterns on the hands and feet, which, when dried, leaves a temporary orange/brown design that fades after around three weeks. They are much like temporary tattoos!

Dress for Foreigners

The dress code is fairly liberal in Muscat although "decent" dress is still expected. Foreign women should wear tops with sleeves and skirts covering their knees or trousers. Men are required to wear trousers and shirts with sleeves. Swimwear should be restricted to the beach or pools.