Reduce your rates by using a local SIM.
Oman is one of the most interesting countries in the Middle East, rich in culture with a diverse history. Using your home phone network there can be expensive, so consider switching over to a local SIM card to take advantage of better deals and plans. Oman has some of the best prepaid SIM cards in the Middle East, with deals that could reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data from Oman’s leading telco provider for as little as OMR1 (AUD$3.32). So, whether you’re planning a short trip, longer stay or tour of the Arab nations, check out the best SIM card options on finder.com.au.
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Telco providers in Oman
There are only two operators in Oman: Omantel and Ooredoo. Both operators go through a strict approval process before being allowed to operate, and each competes with the other to offer the best deals. Their services have all been tried and tested by both locals and travellers, and can be trusted. According to OpenSignal’s connectivity report, Oman has a good phone network on the shoreline and in main towns and cities. Signals can suffer the farther out you head, but this will happen on any phone or provider you use there.
Both operators offer prepaid SIM cards, and you can buy them from corner stores, supermarkets, kiosks, drug stores and official outlets, as well as at the Muscat International Airport. 2G, 3G and 4G plans are available on all networks for unlocked GSM phones. You can buy a SIM card by showing your passport, and your telephone number is already active when you purchase the card.
To add credit, there are several prepaid card machines around various towns and cities, and vouchers are stocked in stores and supermarkets. Just like most Arab countries, Oman has restrictions over some of its content, and it censors some websites. Please be careful about what you write on social media while in the country, as it is monitored by the local authorities. VoIP calls are still blocked in Oman, so you won’t be able to use WhatsApp or Skype to make calls. If you download a VPN that places your location in another country, in the UK or US for example, then that should allow you to browse all websites and make VoIP calls.
Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what’s available during your visit to Oman.
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Omantel is the state-owned and largest provider in the country. It offers the best network coverage and has well-priced packages. 2G, 3G and 4G services are available on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and the SIM must be registered by showing your passport as a valid form of ID. Credit can be purchased from almost anywhere, including supermarkets, corner stores, service stations and online.
It offers good voice and data packages, and also has some great promotions to further bring down costs. The best place to purchase your prepaid SIM card is at the airport when you arrive, to get it out of the way. There is a 24-hour shop open at Muscat Airport, and the store assistant will set everything up for you to save time, stress and hassle.
Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased under the name of "Hayyak". The basic price for the "New Welcome Pack" is OMR2, which comes with 1.5GB data, valid for 10 days.
Credit vouchers can be purchased in the following denominations: OMR1, OMR3, OMR5 or OMR10, and each is valid for 6 months. Dial *100# to check your balance. You can also use the app to add credit and manage your account online.
There is also the "Hayyak Your Way" combo pack available, which includes data and voice packages. Dial *280*1# to select one of these packs. Unlimited WhatsApp can also be added to all prepaid SIM cards by dialling *280*6#, which is a free promo at the time of writing this.
|Your Way 7||Your Way 10||Your Way 15|
|"Favourite mobile numbers"|
|5 numbers||5 numbers||5 numbers|
|Social networks data pack||1GB||2GB||4GB|
|Unlimited WhatsApp data||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Package valid for||30 days||30 days||30 days|
|Data price over included allowance||1GB for OMR2||1GB for OMR2||1GB for OMR2|
|Bonus credits preloaded||OMR2||OMR2||OMR2|
The standard data rate is charged at OMR0.05 per KB. The following packs are also available:
|Package type||Included usage||Subscription fee||Dial to activate||Dial to disable||Dial to check balance|
The above-mentioned packs can be activated multiple times. To double check the 4G services are working, text “4G” to 91221.
As well, you can purchase data vouchers that come in the following options:
Dial *101*1*<voucher PIN># to add credit. Each is valid for 30 days.
|Voucher||Daytime data||Nighttime data||Validity|
Omantel's APN: taif, and website: www.omantel.om
Ooredoo is the only other provider in the country and is operated by the Qatar-based company of the same name. It offers good network coverage and reasonably priced packages. 2G, 3G and 4G services are available on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official outlets and approved resellers, and the SIM must be registered by showing your passport as a valid form of ID. Credit can be purchased from almost anywhere, including supermarkets, corner stores, service stations and online. Ooredoo offers several roaming deals with its other locations throughout the Middle East, so if you plan to undertake a tour of the Arab nations, then this provider is the better option for you.
Its "Mousbak" prepaid SIM card is probably the best option for tourists. Starter packs can be purchased for OMR2, which comes with the same amount of credit. Dial *141*116# to activate the SIM card. WhatsApp use is free up to 1GB of data usage.
Credit can be purchased in the following denominations: OMR1, OMR2, OMR4 or OMR8 by purchasing credit vouchers, uploading credit online or through the app. You will receive a 20% discount bonus for the first amount topped up, and OMR1 per month will be debited to your account for continuing to use the prepaid service.
The standard data rate is charged at OMR0.5 bz (baisa) per KB. The following data packs can also be added, and each is valid for 1 week:
|Plan||Included data volume||Tariff||Activation||Cancellation|
|2 days||2 GB||OMR2||*141*4*48#||*141*4*48*0#|
50 MB data plan
|50 MB||500 Baiza||*141*4*50#||*141*4*50*0#|
The following monthly packs are also available:
|500 MB||OMR3||30 days||*141*4*500#||*141*4*500*0#|
|1 GB||OMR5||30 days||*141*4*1#||*141*4*1*0#|
|3 GB||OMR10||30 days||*141*4*3#||*141*4*3*0#|
|6 GB||OMR17||30 days||*141*4*6#||*141*4*6*0#|
|10 GB||OMR24||30 days||*141*4*10#||*141*4*10*0#|
|30 GB||OMR49||30 days||*141*4*30#||*141*4*30*0#|
Dial*141*1*40# to activate 4G services. Dial *141# to check data usage and balance. Customers will receive SMS updates regarding their data usage, along with final notices at 80% and 100% capacity.
The following data reloads are available:
Dial*102*3# or *141# and follow the prompts to check the balance of the above-mentioned data packs. Dial *141# to activate 4G.
As mentioned earlier, Ooredoo offers roaming packages for use across the Middle East. Its prepaid SIM cards can be used in the following countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE. The following packs are available for use across the Middle East:
- Valid for 1 day: OMR2 - GCC 50MB *141*42#; UAE 100MB,*141*204#
- Valid for 2 days: OMR5 - GCC 200MB + 10 minutes *141*41#; UAE 400MB + 10 minutes *141*205#
- Valid for 1 week: OMR10 - GCC 1GB + 30 minutes *141*61#; UAE 2GB + 30 minutes *141*206#
Dial *141*77# to check your data allowance.
Ooredoo’s APN: Ooredoo, and website: www.nawras.om
- The official language in Oman is Arabic. If you don’t know the language, then download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. English is a second language, and 95% of the population can speak it.
- Locals call a SIM card a “SIM” or “chip”.
- Ask the retailers to set up the SIM for you, because they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to get advice.
- Remember, it’s always better to get things done early, before the shops get too busy. That way you are more likely to receive better assistance and avoid the crowds!
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
While it’s well known for reviews, booking hotels, flights and holidays, TripAdvisor also has many user comments that can help guide you through what SIM cards have been tried and tested in Oman.
“There are lots of SIM card offers available for Omantel SIM packages which include data, with top-ups available at shops and supermarkets.”
“The way that it works is that you buy a SIM card, usually costs around OMR5 or so and it comes with some credit on it. You probably want to buy a recharge card worth a couple more rial as well, you just buy the card and enter the code in the phone, it adds the credit immediately.”
“It's very easy. Take your passport to an Omantel or Ooredoo shop (they are in most shopping malls and retail areas) and you can get it immediately. Omantel's prepaid option is called Hayyak, I think the Ooredoo one is Mousbak. I personally preferred Ooredoo, but I know that Omantel has better reception in the rural areas.”
Pros and cons of Oman’s top telco providers
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone. To double check you have this phone, or whether it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you leave.
- Good value for money
- Oman has good coverage
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in stores
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Tough rules and regulations can make using or purchasing a SIM card complicated
- Signal can suffer in the rural areas
More questions about finding the best SIM?
Q: Can Oman SIM cards be used throughout the Middle East region?
A: Oman SIM cards can be used in other Middle Eastern countries, subject to additional roaming charges, but that defeats the object of purchasing a local SIM card to avoid using your home phone network abroad. We advise you to only use the SIM card in Oman to reap the full benefits of what it can offer. If you plan to travel around the Arab nations, it would be better to purchase a SIM card from each country to cut costs. Ooredoo offers some great roaming deals around the Arab nations, so if you don’t want to start swapping SIM cards in every country you visit, then that’s definitely the best option while in the Middle East.
Q: What about other SIM card providers in Oman?
A: There are two mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), Friendi mobile and Renna mobile, which both run through the base providers we have highlighted above. Although you may find slightly different deals and plans, we feel it’s always best to stick with the main providers. However, if you do find a better deal on one of these operators, they can be trusted.