Living in Oman
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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