OMAN

Updated: 6 April 2022

Arch Rock at Qantab Beach, Muscat, Oman

BACKGROUND & CULTURE

A BRIEF BACKGROUND

Oman has been considered to have one of the richest histories for over 100,000 years and is considered as the oldest independent state in the Arab world.

The region was occupied by the Ottoman Empire from the 16th centuries. While there was not a full control over Oman, the Omani’s forced out the Portugese out of Oman.

Around the 18th century, the Omani Empire stretched from present day Oman down the east coast of Africa. By the early 19th century, Oman and Great Britain signed a Treaty of Friendship, which guaranteed the Sultan’s rule. After a crisis in the Omani succession, the Sultanates Oman and Muscat were divided from the Sultanate of Zanzibar, afterwhich Oman and Muscate became a British Protectorate.

The Sultan Qaboos bin Said changed the name of the country from the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman to simply Oman in 1970, beginning a new chapter in the history of Oman’s development.

CULTURE

Oman is a Muslim country but has around 13% hindu population. Oman is mainly resident to Arabs, but also has around 25% of the population as immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Filipino.

As with all Muslim countries, it is important to respect the culture, including dressing appropriately such as not wearing tight or revealing clothing. Only at resorts and hotels, can beachwear be worn.

Crime is very low in Oman. The Sultanate is a religious and traditional state, its laws efficiently carried out by the Royal Oman Police. Due to the strict punishments, the country is a super safe place to visit or reside.

RAMADAN

An important cultural observation is the period of Ramadan when muslims practice strict fasting from dawn to dusk. The month changes every year and falls on the 9th month of the Islamic calendar.

For non-muslims, it is required to respect this Holy month by not eating or drinking public. Many restaurants and cafes are closed during the day, or have closed sections for non-muslims to eat out of sight.

WOMEN

While it is a Muslim country, non-muslim woman do not have to wear headscarves (other than when entering a mosque) and may find separate areas for women and children as those for men. For example, many waiting areas and queue lines such as hospitals and government departments are separated by gender.

Dressing in Oman is more conservative than the some other more liberal Muslim countries such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Non-muslim women must wear more loose clothing, covering the shoulders and arms to respect the culture of the Sultanate.

ALCOHOL

There are many licensed restaurants and hotels that serve alcohol. You may also have alcohol in your home, however these residents must hold an alcohol licence, obtainable from the Royal Oman Police. The legal age for drinking is 21.

WEATHER

Oman is a subtropical desert with dry climate and summer monsoons contrasting hot, dusty winds. Average annual temperature ranges from : 10°C to 12°C (north) and 16°C to 18°C (south) and night, up to 25°C to 30°C during the day in the winter months (December – February). As expected, the summer months between (May to September) temperatures can hit 29°C to over 40°C. Annual average rainfall ranges from 150mm to 300mm in the north while ranging from 50mm to 150mm in the south with the monsoon season from mid-June to mid-September.

ARRIVING & GETTING AROUND

ON ARRIVAL

ON ARRIVAL

Ensure you have a correct visa prior to travelling, other than for citizens of member GCC Countries (Gulf Cooperation Council). The official portal to apply for a visa can be done online at Oman eVisa.

DRIVING

It is possible to drive to Oman from neighbouring Middle Eastern countries such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi taking around 5 hours. The road turns from sandy rivers of expansive desert, to arid rocky and and extreme mountains of Oman. The roads are safe and well sign-posted, however having access to GPS is imperative.

FLYING

While on the smaller side, the airport is clean, modern and well-appointed with shopping and food outlets. It was recently expanded to include a second terminal. You may want to consider flying to Dubai as there are more options available and are cheaper.

BY SHIP

If you want to try an new adventure and a different way to visit Oman, it is interesting and possible to take a cruise to Oman. There are various major cruise lines that tour in the region and worth considering! 

GETTING AROUND

There is very little public transport in Oman, so having access to a car is quite important. 

Taxis can be expensive as they are mostly unmetered but are easy to find. Best to negotiate rate before getting into the taxi.

The best way to see Oman is in your own car, whether it is renting, or purchased.

DRIVING

Petrol is affordable. Driving laws need to be observed despite there may be erratic driving by others on the road. 

There are plenty of new and second-hand car retailers across Muscat, so you’ll have no difficulty in buying a car. You will need to be a resident of Oman and have a valid Omani driving licence before you can buy a car, and you can only have a maximum of three vehicles registered under your name. If buying second hand, registration of the transfer must be made with the Royal Oman Police.

 

HOME & FOOD

HOUSING              

HOUSING

There is a variety of styles of homes in Oman, from villas (free-standing homes), to townhouses and apartments, many in secure compounds. Domestic support is easy to find and affordable.

Many compounds have good facilities of pools, gyms and play areas.

HOUSE HUNTING RESOURCES

The main website for properties are Just Property, OLX and OpenSooq.

As usual, engaging the assistance of a relocation agent would help a great deal in increasing your knowledge of the local areas, which are more desirable and efficient locations for schools and work.

RENTAL INFORMATION

Many expatriate appointments include housing to be provided, or at least incorporate a housing allowance.

Leases can be negotiated for short term or long term upto 7 years. Do read the lease conditions carefully as giving notice and knowing the notice period is adviseable to avoid extra charges. When finalising the lease, it then must be registered with the municipality or Ministry of Housing. The Muscat Municipality is a helpful start.

As with Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Oman requires advance lump sum payments. Deposits are almost always required, commonly 2 months’ rent. Furthermore, utilities such as water, gas and electricity are normally included in the rent price quotation but best to carefully review the rental lease conditions.

FOOD

Local food is cheap and browsing through markets is an experience. Buying imported meats, even pork (in separate sections in the supermarkets ) is also easy, but naturally more expensive.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman

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