Oman is one of the most stable and developed countries in the Arab world. Alongside its rich history, Oman is known for its pristine beaches, beautiful deserts and mountains, and wadis, oases of lush plant life. From Muscat’s bazaars to off-the-beaten-path gorges, Oman has much to offer residents.
Thanks to an excellent tax-free salary it is easy to enjoy the spoils of this culturally rich country. Muscat offers many lively souqs (open-air markets), a buzzing harbour area, and ancient forts and castles a short drive away.
Nearly a quarter of Oman’s population is made up of expatriates, so locals are tolerant and enjoy engaging with foreigners. Women are treated respectfully no matter their vocation, and the country has a fairly liberal attitude towards alcohol, which is served in restaurants and bars. While Oman is progressive, it is also Muslim, and foreigners should be aware of respecting the culture at all times.
As in other Middle Eastern nations, business relationships are based on trust and friendship. Hospitality is important and engaging in small talk will help establish a warm working relationship. Networking is critical. Oman is a small nation, and reputation is important.
Oman has strict labour laws which means fair treatment by all employers. The working week is between 40 and 48 hours, with office hours between 8:30 am and 6:00 pm. In the Holy Month of Ramadan, the working day is often reduced to six hours. Friday is a day of rest. The weekend is Friday and Saturday.
Punctuality is expected of foreigners, but expect that locals may run late. Appear patient and calm even if things feel out of control.
Salaries are tax-free and housing is provided in spacious apartments. The low cost of living means that it is easy to save money.
It is easy to live a Western-style life in Oman. A lively expat scene means that a good time is always on offer. The pace of life is relaxed.
Year-round sunshine means Oman is ideal for outdoor activities. Barbecues, parties, camping on the beach, and sports such as tennis and football are common pursuits. Summers, however, can be brutal, with temperatures at 45C and above. Open-air restaurants and cafes tend to close in the heat, and many people plan their annual leave in these months.
Alcohol is widely available in Oman at the airport, in hotels and bars, and at licensed liquor stores. Non-Muslim expats are allowed to purchase alcohol but must hold a liquor license. Alcohol is forbidden during Ramadan.
Women are offered opportunities to work in Oman, though they are expected to dress appropriately. That means loose clothing covering the arms and shoulders, and skirts must be below the knee. Any harassment of females is frowned upon, especially if women dress conservatively.
Healthcare is to a very high standard, though insurance is highly recommended, as all foreigners must pay for private treatment.
Omani schools are for Omani children only, so all young expats must attend private schools. These vary widely in curriculum and fees, but teachers are of the same standard as in Western cities.
Most expats buy or hire a car for the duration of their stay, as public transport is nonexistent and roads are in excellent condition throughout the country.
Oman’s many beautiful regions mean that residents are spoiled for choice. The rugged Hajar Mountains offer excellent off-road 4×4 driving experiences. The Sumali Gap is a lush natural pass along the old Silk Road. The Musandam Peninsula and Masirah Island offer peaceful retreats amongst awe-inspiring scenery. For the adventurous, dune-riding and sand-skiing are popular pursuits.
Oman is served by numerous airlines for those wanting a trip further afield.