Moving to Oman
Oman’s geographical position – sharing land borders with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen; maritime borders with Iran and Pakistan across the Gulf of Oman – is one of major geopolitical importance and, along with the country’s oil wealth, elevates its status far above what one would expect from what is mostly a vast desert plain.
Historically though, Oman was once a power great enough to rival Portugal and Britain for pre-eminence in the area of the Persian Gulf. It was one of the first Islamic states and grew a trading empire which stretched from Iran and Pakistan as far south as Zanzibar. It was only in the 20th century that Oman, under the rule of Sultan Said bin Taimur and his son Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, increasingly came under the influence of the United Kingdom and the United States. The 24th largest supplier of petroleum in the world opened up its economy to free trade agreements and helped found the Washington-aligned Gulf Cooperation Council.
In recent years Oman has been struggling to diversify its economy in order to be less reliant on its dwindling supplies of oil and gas and has also embarked upon a programme of Omanisation – an effort to reduce the percentage of oil revenues being expatriated by foreign workers.
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The culture, dress and religious make up of Oman are much in keeping with its Gulf neighbours. The country is 75% Muslim with a slender majority following the Ibadi school of Islam. Sharia law is observed in the civil courts though alcohol is available to anyone over the age of 21 from licensed bars and, with a permit, from certain retailers.
While there is no personal income tax on salaries, immigrant workers must be sponsored by employers and foreigners can only purchase property within certain zones developed especially for this purpose.