was our first destination in the Middle East and the desert terrain was a real
shock after the lush green countries of Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives and
other tropical countries.
Oman is an oil-rich country with a first world
infrastructure, Bedouins still herding camels, and an Islamic culture, run by an
enlightened and benevolent Sultan. We found it very interesting and very
safe place to visit.
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In/Out Procedures (as of 2003)
- These are the procedures we followed in 2003 to follow to check into Oman
Call Salalah Port Control on Channel 16
when you are about 2 miles out and again when you reach the
breakwater. Port Control may direct you wait outside, if there is
traffic in the port. Once you have been granted permission to enter,
proceed to the small boat anchorage - the second area on the port-hand
side. (Be careful not to anchor too close to the port side of
the anchorage as the Oman Naval patrol boat tied up to the seawall leaves
several times a week to patrol the coast and needs lots of room to maneuver.
They back all the way out of the anchorage.) Once anchored Port
Control will arrange for the Port Police and Immigration to visit you.
You must wait on board until you have been cleared in. Sometimes they
are busy and either forget you or involved in something else, so if you
gently remind Port Control, they will call them again. They will
The Port Police will visit the boat
and examine your boat papers, zarpe (Clearance from your last port), and ask
for a crew list. The boat master will be required to fill out several
forms. They take and hold your passports for the duration of your
stay. If you apply for a visa, your passports will be stamped and
returned to you; otherwise there will be no stamp in your passport.
Once cleared, visit the Port Police office to get a shore pass that allows
you to leave the port and travel into town and the surrounding areas.
They usually issue you a 3-day pass with 3 stamps on it. For longer
stays visit the Port Police to have more stamps added to the pass. If
you say that you plan to stay longer than 1 week, and you ask nicely, they
may issue a pass with 7 stamps. Some cruisers were issued a 1-day pass
and had to go to the Port Police office daily to get a stamp. This is
really a problem because often the person who issues the pass is not there
and you must wait. This is especially a problem on Fridays (the Muslim
equivalent of the Christian Sunday). The Port Police office is
supposed to be open 24 hrs./day, but we found that they were there from
about 8-11 am and then 4-9 or 10 pm, so best to go early.
With the stamped shore pass, you may
leave the port and travel to Salalah and surrounding areas, but not
through any border checkpoints. When leaving or entering the Port
gate, show your pass to the military guard - some may get to know you and
wave you through. If you are in a car, they may ask you to open the
trunk (boot) to inspect it. Jerry cans of fuel or groceries (normal
stuff), have not been a problem. At night, turn off headlights
when approaching the gate, so you will not blind the guard. The
military guards are in uniform and armed but are usually very courteous and professional.
Check-out - These
are the procedures that you follow to check out. Take your boat papers,
crew list and all shore passes with you.
Visit Customs and Immigration first.
The offices are located on the other side of the port by the container
cranes about 1-1/2 km. away from the anchorage, so try to get Mohammed or
another cruiser who has a car to give you a ride. Customs will issue a
Take the sailing permit and your shore pass
to the Port Police office. They will then take the pass and return
your passports. They will ask when you are going to depart and you
will be required to leave on or before that time on the day you checked
out. If you need to return for mechanical or other problems (as we and
others did) that will usually not be a problem. If you do not leave
the boat, you will not be required to check in. But if you do need to
come ashore, you must check in again.
Call Port Control as you leave the
harbor and give them your departure number from the sailing permit.