Following the other passengers out of our plane, we joined the crowd already waiting. Setting foot in the middle east for the first time, we are ready to be entering Oman and we are excited to see what it brings. Although, at the same time we are cautious and not sure exactly what to expect. Generally, we are pretty good at going with the flow.
Here in Oman, we quickly discover that the process varies depending on which passport you hold.
Process for entering Oman on a foreign passport
For us, as travellers on New Zealand passports, it is a three-step process. First, we purchase a 10-day single entry visa, next we clear immigration, and finally, we pick up our luggage and then clear customs.
It sounds simple enough, and step one goes off without a hitch. We simply pay the fee and are issued an entry visa.
Visa and passport in hand, we wait for an immigration officer, an all too familiar process from our international travels, whether we are going somewhere new or returning home. We are familiar with the basic rules of immigration which seem pretty much the same everywhere. Be somewhat serious, and don’t take photos inside immigration.
It takes about 30 minutes to reach the front of the queue, which feels fairly normal. And still quite familiar, Jeff hands the immigration officer our passports.
When entering Oman became not so straightforward
However, here is where it all changes.
Rather than opening and processing them one by one, as we are used to in other countries, and what seemed to be the process with everyone in front of us as well as those visitors in the other queues, our immigration officer just holds our passports and simply stares at them.
His expression is blank, offering us no clue as to what to expect. At first, I wonder if I am imagining it, has my overactive sense of drama and fiction run away with this story?
But I know better than to question the immigration officer. It’s another of the unwritten rules that I follow to avoid drama.
So, instead, we wait quietly. His empty expression remains unaltered.
Our immigration officer finally speaks
When our officer finally speaks, it isn’t to us but rather to a second officer at the head of a different queue.
We don’t speak Arabic, but can understand the frequently repeated words “New Zealand.”
. . . . New Zealand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New Zealand . . . . . . .
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice some movement in the crowd, but I don’t really give it much thought.
The first time I wonder if I will be entering Oman
Then, from behind Jeff, we hear, “Come with us, sir, and bring your family.“
I’ll be the first to admit this threw me a bit, but not as much as when I realized they had sent not one but five officials to lead us away.
Clearly, this was not the way we had hoped to be entering Oman, but thankfully, it was not the drama it appeared to be, either.
The clear leader in the group turns to Jeff and asks, “You are from New Zealand?”
Cautiously he replies, “Yes.”
Suddenly smiling, he continues, “Well, I have good news. Your minister of foreign affairs was here yesterday. And now, New Zealand doesn’t have to pay for visitor visas any longer. Now I will take you to get your money back.”
What you need to know about entering Oman
- Wikipedia has an outline by country of requirements. However, I would check before I arrived, as these things change.
- Here is current information (as of the writing of this page) for citizens of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- If you’re a New Zealand citizen, here is the list of visa requirements by country, including Oman.
- There are so many places to visit in Oman. After exploring Muscat, we took a side trip to Nizwa that included Jabel Shams to admire the Grand Canyon Oman, a traditional mountain town of Misfat al Abriyeen, plus Bedouins, Dhows, Sink Holes and Camel Riding.
More from our first afternoon in Oman
Sorry, no photos of immigration or police – taking either is against the law. Here are a couple more photos from day one after entering Oman.
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Gosh I bet your heart was beating fast as the police escorted you away. All’s well that ends well lol. Oman sounds like an interesting place.
Oh yes, quite fast. And, they only talked to hubby, the girls and I just followed along.
Trekking with Becky
What a relief! It’s nice to see honest officials. 🙂
LOL – It was only scary for the first moments when they pulled us from the queue.
Pinay Flying High
That is hilarious! My husband had a problem with his passport when we entered Oman last year, it was a very complicated story which involves his company. The immigration officers helped us and even fought with the husband’s colleague who did a mistake on his visa just to scare the wits out of the poor guy and do the necessary adjustments immediately. They were very very kind to us and helped us in every way! I’m glad you had a good experience with them too. :p
Love your story too, and glad mine was a bit simpler. We found the Omani people, as a whole to be some of the most friendly in the world.
Well that was a relief. I bet you were expecting the worst for a few minutes.
Debbie gets really fed up when we enter the USA as she always gets pulled aside, having had visa issues 4 years ago. It’s so frustrating having to spend 2 hours in a back room waiting for them to get to you…
I agree with Aysha, must have been scary. I love the photo of the coastline.
That was quite a scare at the airport..I was glad it was just to get your money back 🙂 Have fun..the pictures look good.
Gulf countries have always excited me. One my friends works in Oman and I would one day love to visit this beautiful place. Do keep updating us.
How exciting! I would love to spend time in some of those markets
Wonderful photos. I noticed the western wear of the girls and wondered if one would be expected to cover hair as women.