In Oman, public holidays are usually announced at the start of the year. This means that many residents take the time to explore the city or go out and visit their friends and family.
From a tourism standpoint, public holidays can increase the number of people visiting attractions in Oman. Most government offices are also closed.
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In the sultanate, public holidays follow a rule of thumb, which is that if a holiday falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the following day automatically becomes a holiday.
Although New Year’s Day is not a public holiday in Oman, most residents will be celebrating it. Below is a list of official public holidays in the country.
- January 1 – New Year
- January 11 – His Majesty the Sultan’s Accession Day.
- February 18 – Isra and Mi’raj (The Prophet’s Ascension)
- April 20-21 – Eid Al Fitr Holiday
- June 28 – Eid Al Adha Holiday
- July 18/19 – Muharram, or Hijri New Year’s Day.
- July 23 (Saturday) – Renaissance Day
- July 30 – Islamic New Year
- September 26/27 – Rabi’ al-Awwal, or Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
- November 18-19 – Oman National Day
- Public Events and Festivals in Oman
Listed below are public holidays observed in Oman:
- January 11: His Majesty the Sultan’s Accession Day.
- February 18: Al Isra’a Wal Miraj (Rajab 27).
- April 20-21: Eid Al Fitr.
- June 28: Eid Al Adha.
- July 18/19: Muharram, or Hijri New Year’s Day.
- September 26/27: Rabi’ al-Awwal, or The prophet’s Birthday.
- November 18-19: National Day.
January 1 – New Year
Oman’s New Year celebration is a yearly event that people look forward to. It signifies the beginning of a new year and the expectations of one’s life.
The tradition of welcoming the New Year with a bang has always been associated with celebration. For many individuals, coming together for this occasion is a way to remember the previous year.
One of the most stunning places in Oman to celebrate the New Year is the city of Muscat. This is a great place to have a party and enjoy some great moments with your friends.
The city of Muscat is often visited by foreign tourists for its stunning view and various attractions. However, it also has various other activities to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Others use this opportunity to escape to a luxury resort or to travel abroad. There are plenty of events and parties in Oman that will keep you busy.
January 11 – His Majesty the Sultan’s Accession Day.
February 18 – Isra and Mi’raj (The Prophet’s Ascension)
Isra’a Wal Mi’raj is a Muslim holiday that recalls the journey of Muhammad. It falls on the 27th day of the Islamic calendar.
It refers to the night journey that Muhammad took when he left his sleeping quarters in Mecca. He traveled to the “furthest mosque”.
It is believed that the mosque in Jerusalem was the Dome of the Rock. Others also believe it to be located elsewhere in the city.
According to some sources, after reaching heaven, Muhammad was given instructions on how to pray and talked to various prophets.
In Oman, Isra’a Wal Mi’raj is observed by studying the Quranic passages at home or in a mosque.
April 20-21 – Eid Al Fitr Holiday
Customs around Mi’raj and Isra vary depending on the traditions of an Islamic community.
They can also decorate their homes and communities with candles and electric lights. They can also prepare food together.
In some communities, children are also included in the festivities. They make a special effort to explain the story of Mohammad to them.
The prophet Mohammad lived in various locations in Saudi Arabia during the 570 CE to 632 CE period.
According to Islamic tradition, God took Mohammad on a journey of two years around 620 CE. The first stop was Mecca.
Some Muslims believe that the mosque in Mi’raj is a far-away place from Mecca, while others believe it’s located in Jerusalem.
It’s believed that during the second phase of his journey, which is known as Mi’raj, he was shown heaven and hell.
Following his instructions, Mohammad returned to Mecca and received Islamic prayer. Some scholars consider his journey a spiritual one, while others believe it’s a physical one.
June 28 – Eid Al Adha Holiday
Eid al-Adha is a public holiday in Oman. The exact date of its celebration is determined by local moon sightings. It falls on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijja.
Eid al-Adha is a four-day festival that occurs after the official date of Ramadan. It also marks the end of the Hajj season.
It is believed that during the time of Eid, Ibraham sacrificed his son Ismail on Mount Moriah. An angel then appeared and asked for the animal’s sacrifice.
During this occasion, Muslims are known to sacrifice animals to commemorate the sacrifice of Ibraham.
Aside from the sacrifices, people also attend prayers at the mosque and exchange gifts with the poor during the festivities.
Eid al Adha is a day that is associated with the memory of the great Muslim leader, Hazrat Ibrahim.
Eid Al Adha is the day when people celebrate the sacrifice of animals. The event gives people a grip on the order of the God.
Through the Creator of this universe, Allah, all Muslims must fulfil his orders.
When Allah ordered Hazrat Ismail the slaughter of his son, he promised that this Sunnah would be remembered by all Muslims.
Since this event is a public holiday, most establishments and schools in the area remain closed.
Oman’s date and time for Eid al Adha 2023 are determined by the moon’s faces. This year’s event will be celebrated on the 10th day of Eid al Hijjah.
July 18/19 – Muharram, or Hijri New Year’s Day.
July 23 (Saturday) – Renaissance Day
The day when Sultan Qaboos Bin Saed acceded to the throne, is known as Renaissance Day.
Oman is an absolute monarchy that is under the authority of its sultan, who is also referred to as the ruler.
Qaboos’ rise is widely celebrated on this day, which started in 1970. It is due to his modernization program, which has greatly affected the nation.
Sultan Qaboos is one of the longest-standing rulers in the country’s history. He first became the country’s ruler in 1970.
For him, the goal was to give Oman a new beginning, which he immediately initiated.
Through the modernization program, Oman has gained numerous modern facilities such as hospitals, schools, and roads.
The modernization program was mainly implemented due to Oman’s massive oil wealth, which the government claimed had the potential to end the country’s isolation from the rest of the world.
During Qaboos’ reign, he changed the country’s name to simply reflect the unity of the nation.
When communist rebels from Yemen spilled over the border, Oman was forced to ally itself with the other Gulf States to put down the uprising.
Since 1979, Oman has maintained strict neutrality toward Iran. It has also had more normalized relations with Iran than the other Gulf States.
July 30 – Islamic New Year
On the first day of the Islamic New Year, which is also known as the day of prayer, Muslims in Oman will celebrate this occasion.
Awal or Muharram is an uneventful Muslim holiday in Oman. For most of the Muslim world, this is a time to reflect on the faith and pray.
The Islamic New Year is observed on a yearly basis. It occurs on the 11th day of the Gregorian calendar.
The exact date of this event is never known, as each country has its own lunar dates. In most cases, the Islamic New Year begins at 6pm.
On this day, Muslims commemorate the tragic martyrdom of the grandson of the prophet Muhammad.
Different Islamic denominations and cultures mark Muharram differently.
On the 10th day of Muharram, Muslims fast to mourn the death of their grandfather. Some of them also offer free meals at their local mosque.
In Iraq, some Shi’a Muslims visit the Imam Husayn Shrine. In Iran, they perform taziya.
During this period, people reenact the Karbala battle. In south Asia, this event is referred to as marsiya.
In Trinidad and Tobago as well as Jamaica, they call it Hussay or Hosay. This religious tradition is attended by people from various cultures and religions.
Many Shi’a Muslims in different countries, including Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, participate in memorial processions and matams.
Some Shi’a Muslims also beat themselves with zanjir, which is a metal chain that’s fixed to their bodies.
Although this practice is not allowed during the Islamic New Year, it is still practiced by some individuals.
On the day of Islamic New Year, Muslims in different countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates celebrate by attending public festivities. Observances and activities include:
- Although it’s not a national holiday in most countries, some Islamic establishments and organizations in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK may have altered their opening hours.
- This year’s Islamic calendar lasts for about 354 days. During this period, which is the first month of the year, Muslims commemorate the death of their grandfathers.
- Not only are Muslims not allowed to fight, they also refrain from performing other religious activities during this month.
September 26/27 – Rabi’ al-Awwal, or Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
On the day of Mawlid al Nabi, which is also known as the birthday of the prophet, Muslims in Oman often celebrate it as a public holiday.
On the 12th day of the month of Rabi al Awwal, Oman observes the birthday of the prophet. This holiday falls on the Gregorian calendar.
The exact date of the holiday in Oman is never known until the moon-sighting committee officially announces it.
Different people celebrate the occasion differently in Oman. Some go to a mosque to pray, while others watch public events and give gifts to the poor.
On the 12th day of Ramadan, which is also known as Rabi’ al-awwal, Muslims honor the birthday of the prophet Muhammed by observing his birthday.
There are many different ways to celebrate Muhammed’s birthday. Some people believe that it’s a worthy event to praise.
Others believe that celebrating his birthday is contrary to Islamic law. They cite the Hadith, which refers to the events that happened during his life.
In some countries, people participate in large street parades. They also decorate their homes and mosque with vibrant colors.
For some, this tradition involves reading poems about the events that happened in Muhammed’s life.
It’s also believed that Muhammed was born on a Monday. This means that fasting during the days of daylight is also a tradition to celebrate his birth.
Muhammed was born in Mecca in 570 BCE. Although it’s not clear when he was born, both Shia and Sunni Muslims observe his birthday on the 12th and 17th days of the Islamic month of Riya’ al-awwal.
In Sudan and Egypt, the term Mawlid refers to the day when thousands of local and national Sufi saints were born.
Many of Muhammed’s birthday celebrations are attended by people from various countries. One of these is the one held for Ahmed el-Bedawi.
The last known resting place of Ahmed el-Bedawi is under the mosque of el-Said el-Bedawi. This site draws millions of visitors annually.
The term Milad, which is derived from an Arabic word for birth, refers to the day when Muhammed was born. In other words, it’s the anniversary of his birth.
November 18-19 – Oman National Day
Note: Traditionally, most holidays in Oman are based on moon sightings. As for other religious occasions, they are announced as soon as moon sightings have been confirmed.
Public Events and Festivals in Oman
If you’re curious in how citizens in the Sultanate commemorate holidays and big events, you may check out this list of public festivals and descriptions to get a better idea of the key events that you can celebrate in Oman as an expat and resident.
1. Muscat Festival
This festival is one of the most important events in the country, combining the efforts of various private, public, and official sectors.
These festivals are held annually in the beautiful Sultanate to celebrate its rich history and heritage. They are also held to preserve its cultural traditions and customs.
The festival usually takes place in January and February in Oman. It provides an excellent opportunity to shop and visit various attractions.
The event is held at the largest heritage village in the country. This village features various cultural and artistic activities.
The annual Muscat Festival is the highlight of Oman’s cultural calendar. It’s a celebration of the country’s history, culture, and traditional arts.
The fair and concert are held each year at the same event. It draws visitors from all around Oman and the nearby Gulf countries.
The Festival typically begins in January and runs for a month.
2. Salalah Tourism Festival
On November 18, 2018, it’s celebrated as Portugal’s independence day. This event involves various festivities and displays of national flags.
Salalah Tourism Festival is held every year from July to August. It is part of Khareef, which also includes other festivals.
The highlight of the festival is the various activities held at the Salalah Tourism Center. These include the Balloons Carnival and the Samahrem Tourist Village.
The objective of the festival is to promote tourism in Khareef Salalah. Families can visit the area from all GCC countries.
The festival features various cultural, art, and sport activities. It’s also known as the family meeting place.
The Ittin Road is the main road during the Salalah Tourism Festival. Families from all around the region come to this area to enjoy the festivities.
Salalah’s residents go to the Ittin Road festival complex for its various attractions. These include the cultural villages, shops, restaurants, and funfairs.
3. Lailat Al Mi’aj
Lailat al Miraj, which means “the night of the prophet,” refers to the time when Muhammad ascended to heaven after leaving Mecca.
On the Islamic calendar, the day of Ramadan is marked by the sighting of Lailat al Miraj. This event usually takes place on June 5, although the observance begins at sundown on June 4.
The story of Lailat al Miraj begins with the prophet Muhammad’s visit to the Kabaa in Mecca.
Upon reaching Jerusalem, he is carried by Buraq, a winged creature that’s believed to be the inspiration for the phrase “Farthest Mosque.”
After reaching heaven, he is told to pray five times a day. This second part of his journey is referred to as the Miraj.
Details of Lailat al Miraj’s life are presented in a chapter of the Quran. It’s called “Sura Al-Isra” after the prophet’s ascension to heaven.
Lailat al Miraj is a significant event in the history of Islam. Muslims can commemorate it by attending a mosque or reciting special prayers at home.
- Sultan Camel Race Cup
The Sultan Camel Race Cup is an annual event organized by the Oman Camel Racing Association. It is a celebration of the ancient and traditional sport of camel racing.
During a race, the camels can reach velocities of around 64 kilometers per hour on tracks made for the event.
Although horse races are commonly held in the US, Oman has taken it to another level by holding camel races. These races, which are usually held on the Sultan’s behalf, involve the skillful use of trained camels.
Having an idea regarding the list of public holidays in Oman would help you plan out your vacation earlier, and get an idea regarding when you can rest from work & spend time with your friends or family. We will update the list above as necessary. We hope you now have an idea of how you can plan ahead as you work in the sultanate.
As you can tell from the above list, most of the holidays observed in the sultanate are either religious or historical. Thus, if you are not a Muslim, you might find it unusual to celebrate such holidays among residents. Still, this is one of those things that you need to learn to adjust to if you wish to have a successful, if not an enjoyable stay, in this country.
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