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Public Holidays & Annual Events in Oman

Public Holidays

The Islamic calendar starts from the year 622AD, the year of the Prophet Mohammed’s migration (Hijra) from Mecca to Al-Madinah. Hence the Islamic year is called the Hijra year and dates are followed by AH (AH stands for Anno Hegirae, meaning ‘after the year of the Hijra). There are 354 or 355 days in the Hijri year, which is divided into 12 lunar months. The Hijri year is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian year.

As some holidays are based on the sighting of the moon, rather than being fixed dates on the Hijri calendar, the dates of Islamic holidays are imprecise, with holidays frequently being confirmed less than 24 hours in advance. Some non-religious holidays are fixed according to the Gregorian calendar.

In addition to Eid Al Adha and Eid Al Fitr, another day of importance for Muslims is the Ascension of the Prophet, which is a public holiday.

National Day holidays are sometimes given a week later to make a long weekend and ensure that as many people as possible are in the country during the celebrations.

National Day takes place on 18 November, the birthday of Sultan Qaboos ibn Sa'id. This is the principal non-religious celebration of the year and includes a major pageant, a profusion of fireworks around the country, and the Sultan's annual policy speech. Armed Forces Day (11 December) is the occasion for a large banquet hosted by the Sultan for his officers, senior government officials, and the diplomatic corps. The Islamic, but not the Christian, New Year's Day is an official holiday.

Annual Events

Throughout the year, Oman hosts a number of well-established annual events, some of which have been running for years.

The Muscat Festival is a 22-day event which is designed to showcase Oman’s vibrant history and culture, in order to boost tourism. It is organised by Muscat Municipality in January and February. Traditional dances, camel races, concerts, sporting and educational events, and various activities for adults and children are held in different venues throughout Muscat.

The Rally of Oman is usually held in early April over three days on 260 km of timed gravel special stages around Muscat, with a 3-km timed spectator stage at Maidan Al Fateh in Wattayah. International rally teams compete with local talent for pole position. Family entertainment is also on offer including a freestyle motorcross competition, music concert and parachutists.

For those who are into French culture and music, the Fete de la Musique, a traditional French festival of music organised by the French Embassy, is held every year on June 21.

The Khareef Festival is held in Salalah each year, from 15 July to the end of August, to celebrate the monsoon season. There are music and dance performances from different regions of Oman, the exhibition and sale of Omani handicrafts, and sports events. It is a chance to witness rare performances such as the Zanooj dance, which involves a cast of thousands.

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