Everything you need to know about marriage in Oman

14 Apr 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Oman 01

Every year, over 18,000 marriages are performed in Oman, both civilly and religiously. Oman is an Arabian country popularly referred to as the Sultanate of Oman. Oman is an Islamic state, and both the marriage and general civil laws are conducted in accordance with Sharia law. Over 90% of the total population of Oman are Muslims, while the rest of the people living in the country are Hindus and Christians. The most popular type of marriage in the country is a religious marriage—an Islamic marriage, to be precise. Of course, the reason for this is the large number of Muslims in the country. 

Civil marriages are also performed in the country; however, religious marriages are the main form of marriage practiced. Secular marriages are not very popular in Oman, and couples who try to conduct this type of marriage will eventually have to register their marriage legally in the country. The minimum legal age for marriage in Oman is 18 years old. This age applies to Omani nationals and foreign spouses. Even though Oman is guided by Islamic principles, the act of giving out girls for marriage before they reach puberty is not practiced. The minimum marriage age is followed by spouses in the country, and over the years, the rate of child marriages has greatly decreased. 

Foreign spouses who want to get married in Oman must be able to show that they have permission or eligibility from their home country. This may be in the form of an affidavit or a certified document showing that such a person has the freedom to marry in another country (Oman). Performing a religious marriage is the norm in the country, and civil marriages are mostly conducted by non-religious or foreign spouses. The rest of the article will touch on the popular marriage traditions in Oman. Let’s get started.

Civil marriages

Civil marriages involve the registration of a marriage at the civil registry or court in Oman, and it is officiated by a state-authorized notary or registrar. These types of marriages are recognized and protected by law, and they are mostly performed in conjunction with religious marriages in the country. Civil marriages are typically not performed in the country, and couples who want to perform this type of marriage due to having no religious affiliations may contact their embassy or consulate to do so. Couples who wish to perform this type of marriage must meet certain requirements. 

In Oman, the minimum marriage age of 18 years must be attained by both spouses. Underage spouses are not allowed to perform civil marriages or even any other type of marriage in the country. Under special circumstances, a 16- or 17-year-old may be allowed to marry in the country; however, there must be a provision for parental or guardian consent. In most cases, a written format of the consent is required. Couples who wish to marry civilly must ensure that they are not related by consanguinity or affinity. Close relatives are not allowed to get married, and this includes immediate family members and descendants in general. Both spouses must have the freedom to marry in Oman before doing so. In the country, foreign spouses are required to provide evidence that they have the freedom to marry. What this simply means is that a foreign spouse must be permitted by their home country to conduct a marriage before they are able to marry in Oman. 

A document stating this fact is usually requested by the authority during the marriage registration. Oman is one of the countries where spouses are allowed to marry multiple partners. The civil registration process must, however, be performed before each marriage to ensure the legality of the marital status of all partners involved in the marriage. The spouses must obtain the specific marriage documents that are required from the notary office. The directives must have been provided by the Ministry of Justice. 

All the required marriage documents must be submitted by both spouses before they are able to receive a marriage certificate from the county. Documents that are issued by foreign authorities or at the embassy must be apostilled and notarized to prove their legitimacy. The official language in Oman is Arabic, and documents submitted must be legally translated by an authorized translator. The documents that my spouse must submit during the marriage registration are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A copy of a valid means of identification must be provided by both spouses. The Oman ID or valid copy of a passport must be submitted by both spouses.
  • Both spouses are required to submit evidence that they currently have no existing marriages in Oman or any other country abroad.
  • Divorce and death certificate This applies to previously married spouses who legally terminated their marriage as a result of the death of a former spouse or separation.
  • A marriage agreement may be required by the spouses getting married. This marriage contract will carry all the marriage terms and responsibilities of both spouses.

Religious marriages 

Religious marriages are the most widely accepted and recognized types of marriage in Oman. The major religions in the country are Islam and Christianity; however, the country is a predominantly Islamic nation, and the Muslims in the country make up over 90 percent of the total population of Oman. The largest Muslim denomination in the country is Ibadi Islam. Most marriage ceremonies are concluded under the principles of Ibadism. 

The other Muslim denominations in the country are Sunni and Shia Muslims. In Oman, Muslim religious marriages are performed in Sharia courts. The spouses are required to bring valid means of identification as well as copies of their passports. The spouses must also provide two witnesses who must be present during the Nikah ceremony (signing of the marriage contract) with some family members and friends present.

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Marriage traditions in Oman

Dowry

Dowry payment is traditionally a pre-wedding ritual performed by the groom's family. The groom and his family go to the bride's family to officially ask for her hand in marriage. The two families interact during this process, and the bride's family performs a sort of inspection to ensure the groom and his family are a good fit for them. Muslim marriages are not just between spouses but also between the two families. After the two families agree, the groom receives a dowry that involves a set of items or an amount of money to be paid before the marriage takes place.

Wedding Ceremony

Oman wedding ceremonies are usually glamorous events. The custom is for two separate ceremonies to be held in the respective houses of both families. Generally, the wedding ceremonies are usually attended by hundreds of guests, as preferred by the spouses, and they may span several hours or even two days. Different traditional foods and drinks are served during the course of the ceremony.

Wedding Reception

The wedding reception is an important aspect of marriage in Oman. During this time, both families are able to celebrate the newlyweds with each other as well as other family and friends. Unlike most other countries where the wedding reception is held after the marriage, in Oman wedding receptions may be held several days after the religious ceremony is concluded. Some couples may even decide to have their wedding party in a foreign country where various traditional music styles are played. The couple also has a dance and receives various gifts from guests during the party.

Same-sex marriages 

Same-sex marriages are illegal in Oman. A man or woman is not allowed to enter into a relationship or marriage with another person of the same gender. There is also no legal validity for the same-sex status of same-sex sexual activities in the country. Spouses who engage in this act or any form of union, partnership, or marriage will face up to three years in prison.

Polygamous marriages in Oman

Polygamy is recognized in Oman. The country is a predominantly Muslim state governed by Sharia principles, which allow a man to have more than one wife at any given time. Omani men are allowed to have up to four wives. These wives must be treated equally and fairly by the husband, and they all have the same entitlements and rights in the marriage. Polygamy is not as popular as it used to be in the past; however, it is still practiced in the country.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

Across the world, before marriage can be contracted, the laws and rules guiding marriage must be respected and obeyed by those who wish to enter into marriage. Oman is a predominantly Muslim country, and the laws guiding marriage are according to the dictates of Sharia law. According to the laws of marriage in Oman, all citizens are allowed to contract marriage provided they have reached the legal age, which is 18 years for both men and women. Under special circumstances, a judge can authorize the marriage of persons who have not reached the legal age. Marriage is prohibited between people who have any affinal connection; couples who want to marry must be unrelated in any way, whether by blood, marriage, or adoption. 

The couple must be capable of contracting marriage; they both must be in a sound state of mind to be able to enter into marriage. Express consent from both parties must be obtained; the couple must not be under any form of duress or fear while giving consent to marriage. Marriage must be contracted voluntarily; therefore, the use of force or coercion to contract marriage is forbidden under the law. The woman needs the consent of her legal guardian, also known as a "wali," to be able to contract marriage. Divorced or widowed women can contract marriage without a wali. Couples who wish to be recognized as husband and wife without any formal marriage are prohibited from doing so. 

De facto unions are not recognized under the law. Same-sex activity in the country is illegal, and culprits are liable to face a jail term of up to three years. Polygamy is allowed in Oman; a man is allowed to marry more than one wife and up to four wives, provided he has the financial and mental ability to treat them all equally. The concept of polyandry is taboo. In Oman, women are only allowed to marry one husband; therefore, the concept of couples being single at the time of marriage only applies to the woman. Women, foreigners, and irreligious persons who have been previously married must submit proof that the marriage is non-existent in the form of a certificate of death if one of the spouses is deceased or a certificate of divorce in cases of separation. 

In Oman, due to the nature of the law, religious marriages are also recognized as civil marriages; however, foreigners and citizens who do not have any religions are allowed to contract a civil marriage only at the embassy. Foreigners must obtain permission from the Ministry of Interior Affairs before they are allowed to contract marriage in Oman. Christians and other religions are allowed to contract marriage according to their respective religious laws.

Rights

According to the laws guiding marriage in Oman, couples have access to equal rights; however, a number of inequalities are recorded when it comes to exercising certain rights in the home. A man has the right to divorce his wife with or without reason; he has the absolute right to divorce her even in her absence through talaq by uttering "I divorce you" three times. The woman's right to file for divorce is limited; it has to be for specific reasons, which she has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to the appropriate authorities. In Oman, a man may marry more than one wife, with or without the consent of his previous wife or wives. The woman, on the other hand, is not allowed to do so. 

Both the husband and wife have the right to work and gain meaningful pay without any form of restriction; however, the husband has the unilateral right to stop his wife from working if he believes it is making her neglect her duties in the home. They both have the right to raise children according to their respective beliefs. The man has the right to marry whoever he wishes, even if the person is not a Muslim; while the woman is not allowed to do so, the man must convert to Islam before such a marriage can be allowed. The husband is considered to be the legal guardian of the children; therefore, he possesses the right to exercise parental authority. 

The woman has the right to receive maintenance from her husband, and if he fails to do so, it could be grounds for divorce. The right to decide the residence of the family resides with the husband; he has the final say when it comes to matters affecting the health and comfort of the family. They have the right to decide under which marital property regime they wish to contract marriage. By default, they are under a joint community of property where the property obtained during marriage is jointly owned. They also have the right to own individual property, such as personal properties, etc.

Costs

Omanis are known to celebrate weddings in grand styles, which makes the cost of getting married expensive. Traditionally, the husband is required to bear the cost of the celebration and the dowry, which is often extravagant. A wedding celebration for at least 700 guests at a very expensive location costs around 38,000 rials, which is approximately $99,000. The dowry paid varies depending on the amount required by the bride's family, which would be paid directly to the bride. Dowries cost as much as 15,000 rials in Oman. 

Many couples have to save for years; some even take out loans to be able to meet the requirements of marriage in Oman. The long list of guests and a need to meet up with societal standards have been a major cause of these lavish wedding trends. The average wedding budget would include the venue, attire of the couples, food and drinks for invited guests, souvenirs, music, photography and videography, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses that cannot be excluded from the list. Wealthy families often use this opportunity to show off their wealth and often spend a lot on weddings due to their stable financial ability.

Duties

The duties of the husband and wife in the home are not equally divided due to the largely patriarchal status of Omani society. The duties of the husband and wife are based on gender roles. While the woman is obligated and responsible for the running and management of the home, the husband's sole responsibility is to provide for the family. Women are often reminded of their roles in the home, even if they're also contributing to the financial well-being of the family. The husband has a duty to provide for the welfare of the family; the woman is only allowed to help if she has the means to and is allowed by her husband. 

They both have a duty to provide a proper educational and moral upbringing for the children. The woman has an obligation to always obey her husband and not question his authority; she is also obligated to take care of her husband and his family members. The husband therefore has a duty to ensure that his wife is not disrespected in any manner by strangers or even his family members. The woman is tasked with the responsibility of carrying out all her matrimonial duties, and she is responsible for the management of the home.

Conclusion 

Oman has a unique way of celebrating marriages, and most of the ceremonies held in the country are under the Islamic flag. To get married as a Muslim Omani, both spouses must provide witnesses who will be present during the signing of the marriage contract.

Intercontinental Muscat, Crowne Plaza Muscat, and Al Bustan Palace are popular wedding venues in the country. Most times, civil marriages are only performed by foreigners in Oman, and the marriage processes are concluded at the embassy in Oman. The country also allows a man to have several spouses legally. The article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Oman.

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