All you need to know before moving to Oman

 

 

Despite being located at the center of Middle East, The Sultanate of Oman remains a peaceful oasis that continues to enjoy economic, social and political stability.

The financial crisis did not spare the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), but Oman stands strong with its stable economy, backed by a robust production and export of oil and natural gas. Oman’s GDP reached $79.66 B in 2013.

Expatriates, which accounts for 39% of the total population, play a big role in the Omani labor market, although, the government is giving a greater emphasis to "Omanization" of the labor force. Omanization is a program by the government that aims to replace expatriates with trained Omani personnel. Moreover, fixed Omanization targets were set by the government to six areas of the private sector mainly Transport, Storage and Communications (60%); Finance (45%); Industry (35%); Hotels and Restaurant (30%); Wholesale or Retail Trading (20%); and Contracting (15%). Companies meeting the Omanization targets and those who comply with the eligibility criteria are awarded a "green card," and are given preferential treatment with the company's name published in local newspapers.

The country holds great potential in tourism, however, unlike Dubai, Oman's desire to develop the tourism sector only to the extent that it does not conflict their conservative society. Muscat, the capital, dubbed as "Arabia's Jewel," contrary to being pigeonholed as part of a desert country, it is a green city with manicured roads of green lawns and trees. Salalah, with its world-class port and infrastructure, is the country's leading industrial hub. Oman's diverse topography consists of mountain ranges, arid deserts, and fertile plains, occupying a total area of 309,500 square meters. Located in the southwest of Asia, the Sultanate lies on the southeast corner of Arabian Peninsula with neighboring countries like Republic of Yemen to the southwest, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the west and the United Arab Emirates to the northwest.

Beyond its spellbinding majestic mountains is a land of friendly faces, as the expatriate population is rapidly increasing in Oman even with the Omanization policy. Oman is the oldest independent state in the Arab world. Its official religion is Islam, however, under Oman's Basic Law other religions are tolerated in the country. Most of the citizens are Ibadhi Muslims or Sunni Muslims. Christian communities like Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and various Protestant congregations are mostly centered in major urban areas of Muscat, Sohar, and Salalah. Oman's patriarchal culture combined with conservative religious norm has an intense impact on women. Traditional Islamic values look onto men as the breadwinner or providers while women are considered merely as homemakers. Western workers served as a catalyst for Arab women to widen their career fields and defy being stereotyped only as a teacher or a nurse. Today, opportunities for women continue to arise in fields of hotel management and airline industry. Like any Arab countries, Omanis strongly adhere to the teachings of Islam and the official language, Arabic, is widely used. As an expat living in a Muslim country, one must wear modest clothes in public especially entering mosques. Women must wear appropriate clothing that covers their upper arms and legs to the knee. Men should wear long trousers and shirts.

While in Oman, expats are cautioned to conform to Omanis customs and laws. One should note that Omanis find it insulting if a person expresses frustrations verbally or through hand gestures; it is considered as a personal defamation, which can be even filed against an individual.

As Oman takes essential steps in executing its economic strategy based on a series of five-year plans, it will continue to play an integral part in the world economy.

Essential relocation information

 

 

Located at the southern point of the Arabian Peninsula, the Sultanate of Oman is not as popular to expats compared to its neighbours Dubai and UAE (United Arab Emirates). Beyond its façade of vast desert plains, Oman is a treasure chest overflowing with dramatic landscapes, pristine beaches and majestic mountain ranges. Its humble reputation belies the country’s prospering economy as one of the largest oil producers in the Middle East. This country is full of surprises and opportunities. So if you’re already decided to seize your moment in Oman, here are some guidelines that will help you out.

Preparations

Expats are not allowed to purchase or own a property in Oman, but you don’t have to worry because there are enough accommodations in the housing market. There are several ways to find the best rental in the country, like ask around your colleagues and other expats if they have any referrals or look on English newspapers for advertisements. The best and most practical way for you is to hire a local realtor. Aside from educating you about the neighbourhoods and having a wider range of options, they will also provide your means of transportation while searching around the city.

Most landlords charge extra for utilities like gas, electricity and water. In Oman’s central cities, the average monthly cost of these necessities is €55. Your internet connection with a minimum speed of 10mbps is around €50 per month while local mobile prepaid calls are charged €0.11 per minute.

House and Apartment Hunting

The two most common types of housing in Oman are apartments and villas. Some are inside gated communities or compounds. Based on your planned length of stay or contract in the country, you have the flexibility in choosing between a short term and long term rental agreement. Most expats are living in Muscat, Oman’s capital and centre of corporate offices as well as the commercial market. It is also the most developed part of the country. An unfurnished one bedroom apartment is roughly €700 per month, and a three bedroom unit is around €1400/ month. You can also find lovely villas in the metropolitan. The monthly rent for a 2-3 bedroom villa starts at €1600 while the price for a four bedroom villa starts at €2000.

International and Local Schools 

The government of Oman pays great importance in improving the country’s educational standard where oil is the biggest financial contributor. Most state schools are controlled by The Ministry of Education like the Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat which is the only public university in Oman. You can also enrol your child in international schools like the Muscat International School where most expat children in the country are studying.

Moving Your Belongings

Moving your belongings abroad takes a lot of time and work. To ease the hassle, most expats hire shipping and removal companies who will facilitate the whole moving process. The average shipping time to Oman by sea is 18-22 business days, depending on your country of origin. All containers entering the country’s territory are received in the Port of Salalah where local customs officers will conduct an inspection of the cargos. For more information about Oman’s import regulations, click here.

If you are going to take your pet to Oman, you need to get an import permission endorsed by The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Animal Health Department as well as a Veterinary Health Certificate for Oman from a licensed veterinarian. You pet also needs to be vaccinated against rabies between one month and six months before its import date.

There are only two types of public transport in Oman: taxis and baizas (small buses). Most expats find it more convenient to drive a car but as of 2015, foreign nationals can only import one car per year. Here are some of the important documents that you need to prepare for customs purposes:

  • Vehicle’s Current Registration
  • Insurance Policy (from an Oman car insurance provider)
  • Valid Driver’s License
  • International Passage Register (for a 6 months permit)

Moving abroad can be a bit scary even for experienced expats, but as you move to Oman; you will eventually find yourself being a part of its vibrant multi-cultural community. So once you arrive in the country, breath in and appreciate its beauty because as the famous Arab saying of the locals goes, Insh’allah (god willing); everything will happen at the right time.

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How to live like a local

 

 

Situated in the south-eastern end of the beautiful Arabian Peninsula is the Kingdom of Oman, a Muslim country famous among spiritual enthusiasts and adventure-seekers. Though Oman doesn’t have the same touristy flare of the United Arab Emirates, it is still a great destination for expats who are searching for a clean and safe country inhabited by friendly residents.

With a population of 4.7 million, Oman takes pride in its strong international relations. It is a registered member of the Arab League and the United Nations which ensures a safe and secure foreign agreement when it comes to expats frequenting the country. Muscat, the capital, is where 50% of the population and most expats live. Oman is also blessed with diverse landscapes. From coconut groves, banana plantations to pristine beaches and sand dunes, this country has it all.

Exciting Leisure Activities

Expats who will live in Oman will not run out of activities to do during their free time. This country boasts coastal areas that are ideal for swimming especially during the hot and humid days. Aside from the alluring pristine waters, the beaches of Oman are also known as major breeding locations for different species of sea turtles that your kids will surely love to see. There are also lots of private sports clubs where members can participate in sports such as sailing, fishing and water skiing.

Expat parents who want their kids to have fun while learning about Oman’s culture and history can visit the world-renowned Nizwa Fort which is one of the best attractions in the country that displays the old Omani architecture. There is also the Oman Oil and Gas Exhibition Centre, a top destination for children who love interesting facts about science and technology. Other favourite past time activities in Oman include trekking, rock climbing, dune bashing and climbing specially in the mountaintops of Jabal Shams (Sun Mountain) and Al Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain).

Local Banking in Oman

Standard banking services are available in the wide array of banks in Oman. International bank transfers are reliable and convenient in Oman. Funds are not declared upon entry and there are no restrictions on the inflows and outflows of funds. However, charges and procedures vary from one bank to another whereas the fastest system is usually the most expensive. Bank commission charges add up to the cost as well.

Rial is the official currency in Oman and expats must know that this country is the society is mostly cash-based. Only large purchases are paid via cheques or credit cards. Savings and deposit accounts may be opened in Oman. Generally speaking, anyone who holds a residence visa is allowed to open a bank account in any of the banks in the country. Other requirements that expats must bring when opening a local account are:

  • Passport-sized photos
  • Photocopy of the passport data page
  • Letter of No Objection (issued by the employer)
  • Proof of Residence (tenancy agreement)
  • Certification of Salary (issued by the employer)
  • Utility Bills

Outside the banking system, there are several money-changing companies. Rates are usually better, but utmost care must be considered, as these are not regulated businesses. Currency exchanges and banking facilities are also offered at major airports, but the rates can be expected to be unfavourable compared to banks. Aside from the Central Bank of Oman, other reputable banks that expats can consider are National Bank of Oman and Bank Muscat. There are also several international banks such as HSBC, CitiBank and Barclays Bank.

 

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The Omani Culture

Aside from its attractive natural beauty, expats also love Oman considering that it is the most liberal Middle-Eastern countries where restaurants and hotels are allowed to serve alcoholic beverages. Though Oman is a Muslim country and the principles of its people and society are based on Islam, this nation is also slowly embracing the Western culture and the influences of its growing international community. Expats in Oman should still be respectful and sensitive towards their neighbours who practice Islam to ensure smooth relationship.

Omanis are quite laid-back and open minded when it comes to fashion or the way people dress. However, Muslim women still need to wear a head-scarf and/or traditional clothes. Though expats are not required to adhere with the dress codes of Islam, it is still best to avoid clothing that are too clingy or those that show too much skin particularly when going to places near a Mosque. It is also important for expats to show sensitivity during the holy month of Ramadan. Most restaurants, offices and establishments are closed during the day. Drinking, smoking, eating and chewing gum in public places are prohibited during Ramadan.

 

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