Things You Should Know Before Moving to Oman
The Sultanate of Oman is perhaps Dubai’s lesser-known and more traditional cousin, a stunning country with some of the most dramatic geography and architecture you’ll ever come across in such a compact area. The country enjoys thousands of kilometres of unspoilt beaches full of exotic sea life, staggering mountain ranges (including the highest peak in the Arabian Peninsula) and plenty of beautiful nature reserves to visit and enjoy. Make the most of this beautiful country while you can – sadly it may not be long before Oman is overrun with golf courses, casinos and hotels.
No PDAs please
Needless to say, this is an Islamic country and it’s rare to see a man hold hands with his wife in public, let alone enjoy a cheeky kiss or cuddle in front of the public’s prying eyes. Expats have witnessed faintly amorous couple on beaches being arrested for indecency, which can be both embarrassing and costly. So if you want to stay out of jail with your integrity intact, get a room (literally).
You’ll get used to this phrase very quickly in Oman, which in Arabic means ‘god willing.’ When the saying is uttered in discussions about future plans and timings of things, it can suggest that you may be in for a wait. Omanis tend to take a relaxed approach to timings and plans, so it’s better to leave your watch at home and just roll with it. Before long you’ll be saying it too…
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Don’t underestimate the fact that you may look very different to many of the locals when you move to Oman. Whether you’ve got blue eyes, freckles, pale skin, fair hair – your looks may attract curiosity and glances from people, but try not to take too much offence to this. Dressing modestly when out and about will certainly help divert unwanted attention. Female expats recommend having a spare head scarf in your bag at all times for impromptu situations where more extra modesty is required by local customs.
Oman is a beautiful country and there are lots of activities you can get involved in to help you meet people outside of work. This is especially relevant if you’re moving to Oman for your partner’s job, or if you aim to find work once you arrive. Lots of expats live in compounds when they move to Oman, and whilst they offer a standard of very comfortable living and safety, they can feel a little insular at times. Stand up paddle boarding is becoming big in Muscat, for example, and some of the world’s best scuba diving can be found here too. Sign up and try out some new stuff while you’re here.
When out and about, women should dress conservatively and ensure that their chests and ankles are covered – and their arms and head too if visiting a mosque or Omani friends at home. Having said this, there is no obligation for a non-Muslim woman to wear a veil, and women are relatively ‘free’ in Oman – to work and go out unaccompanied. Men should wear three quarter length trousers socially and full length trousers when visiting the mosque, the Souk, or people’s homes. Oman is thought to be up to twenty years behind Dubai culturally, and many visitors to Oman make the mistake of assuming that this country is as modernised as its neighbour. Inland areas tend to expect more modest dress, with many Omani women entering the sea fully clothed too.
Your working week in Oman runs from Sunday to Thursday. Your weekend is Friday and Saturday, partly because Friday is a holy Islamic day when Jumu’ah prayers take place. This is the same as neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Yemen.