The singles scene is not exactly swinging in Muscat and if you are single you may find yourself doing the rounds at endless family barbecues where everyone is married with children. But you never know – true love may be round the corner. It is not common for expats to stay in Oman to get married – the expense of flying all your family and friends out for a posh party in one of the many five-star hotels puts most people off. However, if you choose to have an Oman wedding, there are numerous options at your disposal.
The wedding packages at the Al Bustan Palace range from RO 25 per person to RO 50 per person. (based on a minimum of 300 guests but the hotel can arrange different packages for smaller weddings). Packages include a buffet with soft drinks, a wedding cake, a red carpet and a dance floor. The happy couple can enjoy a complimentary dinner on the night of the wedding as well as a two night stay in the executive suite with breakfast. However, there is no Bentley – or any car in fact – to transport the couple in style!
If you’d rather save your money for the honeymoon, you can have a civil service at your embassy or consulate and a more modest reception in a hotel ballroom or restaurant (depending on number of guests).
There are Catholic and Protestant churches in Muscat (Ghala and Ruwi) and Protestant churches in Salalah and Sohar. Protestants should contact the pastor at the office in Ruwi for an appointment (24 799 475/24 702 372). Both partners should be resident in Oman and must provide proof of their marital status, which can take the form of a letter from their sponsor or embassy. Partners from different countries must provide evidence from their respective embassies that they are free to marry. Widowed or divorced people must produce appropriate original documents indicating they are free to marry. Four witnesses, two from the bride’s side and two from the groom’s, must attend the wedding ceremony. Copies of the passport information page and visa of each partner must be provided. The church requires at least one month’s notice to perform the ceremony and premarital counselling is recommended. The marriage certificate must be attested by both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (consular section) Attestation Office and by the couple’s respective embassies. There is no fee for the ceremony but a donation is welcomed. To marry in the Salalah or Sohar Protestant churches, contact the pastors (23 235 677 in Salalah or 26 840 606 in Sohar).
Catholics should contact the priest at the Catholic Church of Saints Peter & Paul in Ruwi (24 701 893) or at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Ghala (24 590 373). The couple is expected to take instruction before the wedding ceremony takes place. You will need your original baptism certificates and a no objection certificate from your priest stating that you have not previously been married in a church. A declaration of your intent to marry is posted on the public noticeboard of the church for a period, after which, if there are no objections, the priest will fix a date for the ceremony. The parish priest will advise you of his fee accordingly.
Couples wanting a non-religious ceremony should contact their local embassy or consulate, as they may have regulations and referrals to arrange for a local civil marriage, which can then be registered at their embassy. Many people opt to hold their wedding receptions in Oman’s plush hotels. Several hotels offer facilities for hosting weddings.
Marriages should be registered at the Department of Notary Public in Al Khuwayr within 30 days. To register your marriage, you will need a completed application form and the marriage notification (from the Ministry of Justice) or a marriage certificate authenticated by the Oman diplomatic mission in the country where the marriage took place (if not in Oman). If one of the newly-weds is an Omani, they should produce their resident card or passport and ID card, as well as an approval letter from the Ministry of Interior. A marriage can be registered by the husband or the wife, or by their fathers. Although the Department of Notary Public is part of the Ministry of Justice, it is not located in the same building in Al Khuwayr. The Ministry of Justice is located on Ministry Street, but the Department of Notary Public is located in Dohat Al Adab Street, one street down from the Radisson Blu Hotel. The phone number is 24 485
795, although few employees speak English, so it might be better to go in person. Opening hours are 07:30 to 14:30.
When it comes to finding the perfect dress, there are literally hundreds of tailor shops dotted around Muscat. The best way to find a good one is to ask around, and it’s always a good idea to try them out with a smaller job before you hand over your priceless fabric.
For a list of wedding items such as stationery and florists, see Shopping and, hair and make-up.
Two Muslims wishing to marry should apply at the marriage section of the Shariah Court in Wattayah. You will need two witnesses, both of whom should be Muslims. The woman does not need the permission of her father or brother to marry, unlike in some other Middle East countries. Passports and passport photocopies are required and you may marry immediately. The Shariah Court is located just off the Wattayah Roundabout, next to the Royal Oman Police (ROP) football stadium.
Hindus can be married through the Shiva Temple (24 737 311), the Darsait Temple (24 798 548) and the Indian Embassy (24 698 291). Contact the Indian Embassy for further details.
Unless you are married to an Omani, you may find it simpler to get divorced in your home country. Whether you choose to carry out the divorce in Oman or back home, you should contact your embassy first for guidance on the procedures and laws that apply to separation of assets, custody of children and legal status. While they may be able to provide some guidance, you should also contact a good lawyer in your home country, who will be able to advise on all aspects (for a fee, of course).
All divorces occurring in Oman need to be reported within 30 days from the date of the event. You will need a completed application form, divorce notification from the Ministry of Justice or divorce certificate authenticated by the Oman diplomatic mission in the country where the divorce took place. If one of the married couple is an Omani citizen, their resident card or passport and their ID card should be produced, along with an approval letter from the Ministry of Interior. Divorces are finalised at the Department of Notary Public (24 485 795).