The Sultanate of Oman is an undiscovered gem of film locations.
The whitewashed capital Muscat is known for the Grand Mosque, Sultan’s Palace, Muttrah Souk, Muttrah Corniche, Al Jalali fort, Al Mirani fort, upscale suburbs in a modern Islamic style.
Outside of Muscat locations of interest to filmmakers and photographers include: Hajar Mountains (Oman’s Grand Canyon looks ideal for off-road car commercials in places such as Wadi Ghul and Wadi Sahtan. Alila Jabal Akhdar Resort is one of the best resorts in the Middle East), Empty Quarter desert looks, Bimmah Sinkhole, Al Mughsayl blowholes, Nakhal, Bahla and Rustaq Forts, verdant oasis city of Nizwa, date plantations, Barka fish market, Ras Al Jinz turtle beach, Al-Ansab wetland, Wahiba sand dunes, sailing traditional dhow boats through the fjords of Musandam, Masirah Island, beautiful beaches of Yitti, Seifa and Quiryat. Ayn Athum and Ayn Khor are beautiful waterfalls that flow during Khareef, the monsoon season. Considerable investment has been poured into the transport infrastructure of Oman. New roads built through spectacular arid mountain landscapes have great potential for car commercials. Oman’s Dhofar Desert is so much like the surface of Mars, scientists have used the area to field-test technology for a manned mission to the red planet.
Cost & Rebates
Larger shoots will need to bring in key crew, equipment and talent which will add to those costs. The Emirates is the closest major production centre with Muscat a 5 hour drive from Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or films shooting in Oman.
When To Shoot
The climate of Oman is extremely hot and dry, with the exception of the Dhofar region, which receives monsoonal rains from May to September. Winter in Oman (October to April) is warm and sunny. This is the best time of year to film for weather. Summer (May to September) has hot, humid conditions on the coast and very hot, arid conditions in the interior.
Crews travelling to Oman on Western passports can get visas on arrival or apply for them ahead of time at their closest Omani embassy. Western crews with a large footprint may also be required to arrive on Express Visas which take about 2 weeks to process and require project and crew information to be sent for the application.
Cast, Crew & Equipment
Oman has a very small local pool of directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Some key crew are available locally. Dubai is the closest major production centre for experienced, English speaking crews. Less expensive but still very experienced crews can be brought in from India. Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable. Oman offers mainly Arabic looking talent. The majority of Omanis are neither Sunni nor Shiite, but Ibadi Muslim. Some multicultural looks are available but lead roles are best cast abroad. Nearby Dubai has a larger selection of multicultural talent.
Some standard grip, lighting and camera equipment such as Red Scarlet, Red Epic and Black Magic cameras are available locally. DJI drones are available locally. Larger specialised gear such as the Russian Arm, Technocrane, and gyro heads, can be easily brought in from abroad. Oman is not an ATA carnet country but the process of bringing in film equipment is easy.