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This Surprising Middle Eastern Country Is Perfect For Solo Female Travelers

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The Persian Gulf isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind for solo female travel. But to ignore some of the most welcoming countries in the world would be a mistake.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi put this region on the map as popular stopover trips, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia are recently making headlines for ultra-luxury holidays.

Next to these flashy neighbors, Oman is often overlooked. But this underrated country has a leg up on its neighbors for cultural authenticity, affordability, safety, and female-friendliness. 

Solo female traveler on a boat tour in Oman Gulf region

Oman is one of the best destinations in the world for solo female travelers. With virtually zero crime, an open-minded culture, and the friendliest locals in the world, solo female travelers are sure to feel both safe and welcome here.

The hardest part of traveling solo to Oman is figuring out how to squeeze everything into your trip. Between breathtaking architecture, dazzling markets, unspoiled beaches, and desert oases, it’s a challenge to choose between all of Oman’s solo-friendly activities.

Here are a few reasons why Oman is one of the top destinations for solo female travelers this year:

Oman sea and mountains

Fifth Safest Country In The World

Shattering Western stereotypes about the Gulf region, Oman scores nearly zero on the World Terrorism Index, with no recorded terrorist events in the past 5 years. 

Oman is the fifth safest country in the world, according to the Global Crime Index. The World Economic Forum also recently named the safest country in the world for women travelers.

Street crime is virtually nonexistent in the capital of Muscat, which is ranked among the 15 safest cities in the world. But don’t just take it from the numbers; take it from fellow solo traveling women.

Virginia, an American expat in the region, described being blown away by how secure and welcomed she was while solo camping trip to Oman earlier this year.  “I felt incredibly safe traveling on my own,” she says. “I found most men I interacted with were very intentional in ensuring I felt comfortable and had space.” 

If you should encounter any problems, the uber-responsive Royal Omani Police have a rock-solid track record of protecting tourists. Extremely rare offenses like harassment are not tolerated and carry very strict penalties.

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solo female traveler woman tourist kissing camel in Oman desert

A Note About Gender Roles

While the gender norms here are different from the global West, make no mistake: Omani women hold a seriously powerful and important role in their society. 

Personal privacy and the separation of genders are part of their culture. Although it’s definitely doable, striking up conversations with local women can be a bit tricky.

Most of your interactions are still likely to be with local men, who solo female travelers to Oman report as being incredibly respectful and welcoming. British travel writer Melissa said of her solo experience, “Even in the most remote villages where I was the only woman among dozens of Omani men, nobody stared or made me feel uncomfortable.”

Conservative dress is the norm for Omani men and women. Foreign women are free to wear jeans and t-shirts, or anything else they like that covers their knees and shoulders. Women definitely don’t need to cover their hair anywhere except in mosques (as is the case in most religious sites around the world). 

Dressing modestly can help you blend in, show respect, and protect you from the intense sun here.

solo female traveler with omani tour guide looking at camera in muscat oman

Open-Minded And Tolerant

Sometimes called “the Switzerland of the Gulf,” Oman is famous for embracing new ideas and welcoming people from all cultures, religions, and ways of life. Most Omanis practice a school of Islam called Ibadism, known for its moderation and tolerance of other religions. 

If you need any further proof of how open Omanis are to women of different cultures and religions, take it from Noa Avishag Schnall. She’s a photographer of Yemeni-Polish and Jewish heritage who car-camped her way up the entire Omani coast – solo and in Western clothing. 

She recalls a dozen friendly interactions with locals in conservative rural areas of the country, who invited her for karak (sweet spiced milk tea) and meals. They shared laughs and cheerful waves across the language barrier.

Locals who learned of her heritage were not just open-minded but curious and excited – as with one middle-aged man who asked for a photograph with the first Jewish person he had ever met, all smiles.

mutrah corniche in muscat oman

Proven The Friendliest People On The Planet

That’s right; it’s statistically proven. Omanis are literally the nicest people on the planet. 

Recent polls from Internations show that foreigners experience the kindest reception in Oman out of fifty top destinations. Oman is even more foreigner-friendly than top tourist and expat favorites like Mexico and Portugal!

Solo female traveler and Oman-based expat Rahma agrees with this ranking, sharing that “Omanis are undoubtedly the most hospitable and polite people you will find in the Middle East.”

Fellow women travelers who visited Oman solo tell stories of locals pushing their cars out of desert sand, inviting them into their homes for feasts and even overnight stays, and driving hours to help them reach their destination. It’s safe to say that these kind-hearted people are proud of their country and eager to share it with you.

grand mosque muscat oman

Spectacular Solo City Break

If you’re looking for a swanky solocation, Oman is for you. Both Muscat and Oman’s underrated beaches offer an affordable alternative to Dubai. Properties like the Chedi and the Kempinski boast five-star luxury at 40% lower prices than UAE competitors.

At a mid-range price point, Muscat still makes for a spectacular city break. The architecture in Oman‘s capital is unparalleled, from the awe-inspiring domes of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque to the glistening white marble of the Royal Opera House. 

Solo-friendly activities in the capital are steeped in authenticity and history. Stroll through the open-air market, mutrah souq, and explore Bait Al Zubair. A day trip to the ancient Nizwa Fort can’t be missed, either. 

sultan qaboos grand mosque muscat oman

Amazing Outdoor Adventures

Scuba diving and dolphin spotting boats are great options for solo female travelers, as they’re easy to join and give you a great opportunity to meet other travelers. If adrenaline is what you’re looking for, Oman is also home to the world’s longest zip line over water!

Some of the best hiking in the world is between Omani wadis – natural swimming holes – hidden deep in the Hajar mountains. Jebel Shams, Wadi Shab, and Bimmah sinkhole are must-sees, even if you’re not much into hiking. The journey to Al Wakan village, on the other hand, is for experienced trekkers. Desert safaris are a more laid-back way to see Oman’s stunning terrain.

Outdoor tour companies in Oman welcome solo travelers, though they might charge about 20% more in single supplements for some activities.  

Lots of solo female travelers choose to rent a sturdy SUV to see everything Oman’s deserts and oceans have to offer. Solo hiking, camping, and road-tripping in Oman are all considered as safe as they are scenic.

Wadi Bin Khalid desert oasis in Oman

We know that Europe, Southeast Asia, and even Latin America are more well-traveled paths for solo female travelers than Oman. But chances are, if you’re a solo female traveler, easy and expected aren’t in your vocabulary.

You’re looking for unique adventures that please you, not anyone else – and you have as much experience shattering stereotypes as you do navigating new cities

Whenever you’re ready for dazzling culture, warm hospitality, and peace of mind, Oman is waiting for you.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com