Kingpin's Guide to Living and Working in Oman
DID YOU KNOW THAT OVER 45% OF OMAN’S POPULATION ARE EXPATRIATES?
Oman, or officially the Sultanate of Oman, is described as Dubai’s lesser known and more traditional cousin. Strategically located on the Straits of Ormuz, the country is very diverse, and you definitely won’t feel out of place.
The capital is Muscat which is also the country’s expat hotspot with over 1.3 million residents in the metropolitan area. Besides the capital, Salalah is the biggest city and attracts a large workforce due to its free zone and its cargo port.
Sultan Qaboos is Oman’s ruler and came to power in 1970 making him the Arab world's longest-serving ruler.
The official religion of the country is Islam and the most widely spoken languages are Arabic and English.
Work Life in Oman
A traditional working week is between 40-48 hours and runs from Sunday to Thursday, leaving Friday and Saturday as the weekend. This is largely due to Friday being a holy Islamic day when Jumu’ah prayers take place. Oman’s working week is also largely observed in neighbouring countries Saudi Arabia and Yemen as well as Qatar.
Public transport in Oman is relatively basic with the main means of travel being by shared taxi. If you were to book a private “engaged” taxi for a ride you would be charged considerably more, and it is far more uncommon. There are no fixed fares for taxis in Oman, instead the price is agreed upon before departure. This can pose problems for new expats or tourists in the country with them being overcharged.
It is recommended to get advice from other internationals or Omanis on what is a fair price. Intercity bus lines are available to travel between the bigger cities which are comfortable and have air conditioning. Due to the lack of a comprehensive transport system, most expats decide to use their own car for commuting. Expat women do not usually have any problems when travelling alone in buses or taxis. However, it is common for women to sit in the back of the car alone or next to other women on a bus.
There is a well-established group of expats and internationals living in Oman. A quick and easy way to get in touch with this group of people is by using online forums or groups:
Where is the best place to live in Oman? 75% of residents live in the bigger cities, those being Muscat and Salalah. There are many locations within Muscat that expats choose to live. One being Ruwi, the city’s main business district. However, well-paid expats and international managers prefer up-market residential areas like Madinat al Sultan Qaboos, Shati Al Qurm with its luxury hotels and high-class accommodation or the developing town of Al Ghubrah.
It is uncommon for expats to buy property in Oman unless they plan to live in the country long-term. The most popular option is rental, with contracts typically being paid upfront and lasting 3 months or a year. Therefore, if you leave before your rental contract is over you normally wouldn’t receive a refund. Websites such as Better Homes and Savills will aid your rental property search.
Cost of Living
Cost of living compared with New York City: 48.5% lower
Rent: $755.79 for a one-bedroom in the city centre
Commuter pass: $25.97
Domestic beer: $7.79
What Oman has to offer
The most popular attraction in Oman is Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque which is one of the only mosques that will allow non-Muslims to enter. There are strict entry guidelines, especially in terms of clothing. However, there are no fees to enter the mosque and a visit here will allow you to become acquainted with Islamic civilisation. Another popular Muscat attraction is the Royal Opera House which holds several events per month. Visiting the deserts are also common in Middle Eastern countries and a popular one to visit in Oman is the Wahiba Sands.
For more information on what Oman has to offer, visit the Oman tourism website.
Making the big move
So now you know what the country has on offer for you, what are the must-knows for making the big move? If you are moving to work in the country, then you will need a residency permit. When applying for residency in Oman it is essential that you already have a firm job offer. Your invitation to stay in the country must be sent by the employer, therefore it is them who begin the immigration process as a sponsor. The spouse of a work visa holder and any children under the age of 21 can apply for a family visa which will allow them to live in Oman but they are unable to work there.
Foreign residents in Oman do not benefit from their public healthcare system. However, most employers offer and pay for private health insurance but may not always cover various medical services such as a dentist. It is important that you either renegotiate this with the employer or alternatively pay for the supplement yourself.
For more facts on Oman and some important must-knows before making a move to the country, read our article on “Things you should know before moving to Oman”
Tax Industry in Oman
Oman is a member of both the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council. In 2018, Oman will introduce VAT for the first time at a lower rate compared to the OECD average of 19%. This is encouraging widespread interest and attracting tax professionals into the country.
International schools are the most expensive part of moving to Oman. Therefore, it is recommended to negotiate with your employer to include school fees in your perks. Due to Oman being a popular location for expats and there being limited spaces in International schools, it is advised to register your child as quickly as possible to guarantee a space in the school of your choice.
For more in-depth information regarding finding the right international school for your family, read Kingpin International’s guide to “International Schooling in Oman”.
If you are interested in a move to Oman or anywhere else in the world and would like to speak to Kingpin International about International Tax Opportunities, please contact a member of the team. Alternatively, please browse our current International Tax vacancies.