A great air-route to take between some European airports and Malaysia, is via OMAN, formerly known as the Sultanate of Oman and/or Muscat and Oman , until July 1970. It is a happy. prosperous and politically-settled arab country of 1.5m. population, which welcomes all visitors without concern for race or religion – a boon in these present times.
Oman Air is an example of the new Gulf airlines increasingly (and cheaply) serving the East-West-East routes via their extravagant airport hubs in the former dunes and inhospitable terrain of the desert, now built up and planted with parks, trees and fine turf. Muscat, Oman’s capital, is well worth a few days’ stop-over for the dedicated plate-o-phile, and visiting vehicles from the other Gulf states are often to be seen, as a spotter’s bonus.
The background colour is what differentiates the many types of Oman licence-plates, from yellow for private vehicles, red for commercially-used vehicles of all sorts, mid-blue for export plates, white for officials of all types save the dark blue for police, to turquoise for dealers and temporary plates. The military units, royal protection and palace household maintenance fleets each have their own series.
Private vehicles use black on yellow, a serial number and a one- or two-lettered serial, having no coding. Not all the letters of the alphabet are used.
D 31516 .. Bentleys are less seen in Oman than in the nearby UAE states. Brumby archive 2014.
HD 68 .. Low numbers can be bought for a premium if not previously allocated. then kept for transfer to new cars later. ( Not much later, in the oil-rich Gulf countries….) Brumby archive 2014
There are few motorcycles. Those seen all carried the letters LK, indicating a defining code. Brumby archive 2014
L 1966 .. This seems to be a supplementary plate carried by learner-drivers of motorcycles, until they pass their test. Brumby archive 2014
Commercial plates are red:
The red plates distinguish vehicles used for hire and reward – a few are coded, including this K-prefixed example for Taxis. K, KA/B/C etc. Brumby archive 2014
Hire cars use the ‘T’ prefix, starting with a single ‘T’, to 9999, then TA/B etc. Current issue is TB/ at Feb. 2014. Brumby archive 2014
Minibuses with multiple seats, and which can take some cargo, use code KK and are little seen in the main town of Muscat. Brumby archive 2014
YB 9439 .. standard truck plate on a heavy 6-wheeler. Brumby archive 2014
Parked nearby, we see the current Bahrain plate, in dark blue on white, with striped figures, 281422. (You can double-click on images, to enlarge them.) Brumby archive 2014
TRADE PLATES & TEMPORARY
21930 .. Turquoise dealer plates are a common sight in Mutrah and Muscat. The number of this 2014 current, annual-issue seems rather high. They are issued, re-dated, each year. Brumby archive
February 2013 interim/temporary .. Trade plates with a month number preceding the year are issued as temporary registrations – or were – as only this one, 422 from 2013, was seen. Perhaps the series is discontinued? Vic Brumby archive
Government ministries have great fleets of vehicles of every type. From Ministry 31 comes reg.666. Brumby archive
The Ministry of Public Works (54) registers some motorcycles for transport of gardeners to the far reaches of the towns, to the parks, highway verges and floral roundabouts. Here an inspector checks on a Tamil labourer near the airport. Brumby archive
54-1678 .. A closer look at the Oman Ministry of Public Works (54) motorcycle variant dimensions.
This Ministry plate could be the Minister/Chief of department no. 366. The script reads MUSCAT. All such are seen on mighty, new cars; the lucky fellows riding in the back must all be very good at their jobs……. Brumby archive
THE ROYAL HOUSE
The Very Top Banana has a number of specially-plated Very Grand Cars, one of which we find parked near the palace, un-manned, so open to photography. Among the World’s most handsome plates?? Brumby archive
VIP 900 .. The Sultan seems to have two sorts of mates, to whom he hands slightly different VIP plate designs, which seem to have replaced the former types shown in RPWO. Brumby archive
Another sort of close friend or relative? Brumby archive 2014
THE HIRED HANDS
The staff of the palace and grounds’ vehicles are plated separately, so that when the butler has to dash to the soukh to fetch more tomato ketchup, he can park with impunity. Brumby archive 2014.
1028 .. Royal Household staff.
8209 .. another variant yet unidentified – and the only one seen. Taken by subterfuge, under the gaze of officialdom. Brumby archive 2014
The Palace Guard has a few light vehicles around the Big House, closely watched by soldiers, albeit cheerful, but zealous in their guardianship. You have to join the army to get a decent picture. These chaps have a system other than the regular army, using up to 3 numbers, a shield and a symbol, in cream on a mid-brown field. Brumby archive 2014
POLICE (Handsome plates)
The well-made insignia of the Omani police plates. Brumby archive
The stencilled insignia of the Omani army plates. Brumby archive 2014
4999 .. Army Land-Rover. Brumby archive 2014
The Oman navy insignia………
…..carried on light bus 437. Brumby archive 2014
1/16 .. Oman Dip. plates have optional US or Euro dimensions, the differences seen here and below: 1 indicates an unknown embassy, favouring the 12×6-inch (?) yanqui measurements . Brumby archive 2014
Embassy 16 seems to be ROK Korea, as it was parked outside their tent. Brumby archive 2014
Several 8-coded cars were parked outside the Saudi-Arabian embassy.
A United Nations car was seen, bearing identical black/white plates, but with U.N. in place of C.D. In the ensuing chase, I neither got the picture nor noted the registration…….. But I did back in to a bollard during the turn-round, which lost me a few seconds, and quite a few rials when Europcar received it later for exchange. Well – all hobbies cost something, don’t they?
A roving Kuwaiti in Muscat. The series number 6 is part of the batch 1-49 allocated to private vehicles and which are always black on white. Brumby archive 2014 Oman
Export plates are normally seen OUTSIDE their country of issue, but this was a lucky find at the main port Al-Qaboos.
From inception in Trucial Oman (year unknown) Muscat and Oman, as it became, had owner-supplied plates, usually painted, with an arabic serial number over the arabic ‘Oman’. This lwb Land Rover travelled out-of-state to be photographed in London during 1964, and had to mount a white translation plate for that purpose. The low number 667 illustrates the absence of proper roads and the very few vehicles. It’s 1960s (C) British re-registration is coded YU for London and a number between 10 and 99 usually indicated a used-import re-registration. Brumby archive 1964
464 .. A similar M&O plate from the Bernt Larsson archive 1960s
336 .. The only sand-cast Omani plate recorded is part of the World Collection of Mister Music, Jim Fox. This is also from the 1950s-circa 1972 original series.
From the 1970s until 1986, the few vehicles in Oman carried officially- pressed black on yellow plates for private – and white on black for commercial usage. And not very well painted………. Brumby plate 1973
12814 .. Seen in Britain in the late 1970s is an on-car shot of the circa-1972-1986 private series, from the Terry Gray archive
- 1970s-86 commercial vehicle, using white on black pressed, thin alloy plates. Brumby plate c1980.
BLD 3252 .. The odd Saudi is seen in Oman, via a magnificent cross-desert motorway to the border………… Brumby archive 2014
……..and mixed UAE plates, including exports. Brumby archive 2014.
Finally, Dubai sent over a couple of plates, to improve the set. The dating seems to give expiry at March 2nd. – but which year, Cedric?? Brumby archive 2014
N 27443 .. The current Dubai 2004 series is not very thrilling, in my view, partly due to the dreary font they chose – a bit like the font which Sweden introduced, then withdrew, through lack of interest! Brumby archive 2014
SO – Oman’s worth a visit…………………..
Now on to Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia)