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A Quick Guide to: Oman

July 10, 2017

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Thinking of moving to Oman or seen a job that has taken your interest? Read our quick guide to get a snapshot of the area.

Quick History

The beneficial geographical position of Oman has meant that trading material goods and fresh produce to other countries has been a mainstay for centuries. Up until the eighteenth century, ownership of the country was turbulent with different nations, tribes and dynastys invading and occupying Muscat for years to further enhance their power. At one time, the Omani empire stretched as far as Zanzibar to the Indian sub-continent. The leader of an Omani tribe took control in the late 1700’s and started the current line of ruling Sultans. A new era began in 1970 when Sultan Qaboos bin Said changed the name of the country from the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman to simply Oman. The Sultan is still the ruler of Oman at this present time.

Interesting Facts

  • Oman is the oldest Arab state in the world
  • Muscat, the capital, is by far the largest city housing almost 50% of the population
  • In 1981 Oman became a founding member of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council with a view to coordinate tighter economic, political and military matters with other members of the region

Job Market

In comparison to neighbouring UAE and Saudi Arabia, Oman’s oil reserves are modest and estimated to be the 25th biggest in the world. Aside from oil exports, the fastest growing industry in the country is tourism. Current economic conditions have seen the government place more importance on agriculture and infrastructure.

James Kinney, Operations Manager at NES Global Talent Oman, provides the following insight: 

The government's policy of Omanisation aims to see less expats within the Omani work force, which has lead to a dedicated effort from NES in developing a pool of Omani Talent ready to deploy on projects throughout the region. Despite this, the job market for skilled foreign workers is still healthy and there are plenty of opportunities to be found within the oil and gas and construction industries for nationals or expats with the right experience; there are several large projects on the horizon in Duqm and Sohar which will require talent from across the globe and our assignment support teams are on hand to assist with any mobility needs.

Weather

The climate of Oman is generally hot and dry all year round with average highs of 40°C. The hottest months are May, June and July with the coldest being January at a pleasant 21°C average.

The heaviest rainfall normally occurs in January and February, at a mere 3cm. The exception to this is the Dhofar mountains in the south which has a tropical climate. The geographic position of the mountains leaves them subject to monsoon rains and wind from the Indian ocean. These conditions also have a tendency to cause heavy fog in the area.

Culture

The culture of Oman is steeped in the religion of Islam. Oman has developed its own subsect of Islam, known as Ibadhism, however other strands of Islam such as Sunni and Shi'a are also practiced. With this in mind, the Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan, and other Islamic festivities are very important events in the Omani culture. Modesty in ones conduct and dress sense is of the utmost importance. However, Oman is generally considered as one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East and the legal system is based on a combination of Islamic Sharia law and English common law.

Interactions between men and women are governed by social expectations that differ greatly to those of many western cultures – this rule is relaxed in certain scenarios however you should not be offended if your handshake is refused for example.

Cuisine and Alcohol

As a country there is no overriding national dish however Indian-style curry is very popular. Cuisine tends to be simple, consisting of chicken, fish or lamb, aided by subtle spices and marinades.

Islamic law prohibits Muslims from eating pork so many hotels and restaurants catered to international guests may offer pork substitutes such as beef sausages or veal rashers. Some supermarkets may sell pork, but it is sold in secluded sections.

Whilst drunkenness is not tolerated, non-muslims can drink in licensed bars and are allowed to drink it at home. However, it is illegal to carry alcohol on your person unless it is being transported from the place of purchase to home – ensure you keep the receipt to prove that you have the right to transport the alcohol.

Where to visit

Renowned for its outstanding natural beauty, Oman boasts a vast array of landscapes from rocky mountain ranges to sweeping golden beaches and deserts.

  • Batinah Coast - the northern coast features an abundance of forts.
  • Job’s Tomb - located in the Quara Mountains near Mughsail, it is a site of great historical value.
  • Nizwa - the capital of Oman until the 17th century. There are multiple attractions here such as the Jabrin Fort, (renowned for its elaborate décor and secret passageways) and the castle at Nakhl
  • The Wahiba sands - stretching for 180km, there are plenty of organised tours across the sands and it is not recommended that an inexperienced driver should attempt to cross the sands without help.
  • Wadi Shab – the wadi (‘ravine’) offers turquoise pools, waterfalls and terraced plantations and there are certain pools that you can swim in and duck into a partially submerged cave