Destination Oman

Our little corner of the world is situated in the southeastern quarter of the Arabian Peninsula. The Sultanate of Oman is bordered by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the west, Yemen to the southwest, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the northwest. A country of vastly diverse landscapes, Oman is dominated by stark mountains and expansive deserts, and is punctuated with verdant oases, lagoons, and farmland. About 1700 km of coastline stretches from Musandam in the north – known as the “Norway of Arabia” for its fjords – to the tropical greenery of the Dhofar region in the south. The capital city, Muscat, is home to approximately 16% of Oman’s total population of 4.97 million. Of the country’s total residents, approximately 60% are Omanis and 40% are expatriates.

For its size, Oman boasts an exceptional number of UNESCO classified World Heritage Sites, including Ras as Hadd, home of the rare green turtle, and the Bat tombs, which date back over 3,000 years.

Under Oman’s leadership, the Oman Renaissance has flourished. With membership in the United Nations, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and a free trade agreement with the United States, Oman enjoys pride of place with the world’s progressive nations while guarding its heritage and character.

We hope that the topics below will answer many of your questions and provide helpful information. Once a new staff member is hired, TAISM will be happy to match you with a present staff member who can answer specific questions you may have during your transition.

Fast Facts For New Residents
  • The official language is Arabic, but English is widely spoken in the capital area.
  • Dress modestly. While there is no need for women to wear head coverings, it’s more respectful of Oman’s culture if shoulders and knees are covered (men and women) when out in public. Be especially observant during the holy month of Ramadan.
  • The official religion of Oman is Islam. Mosques are found almost everywhere for Muslims. Other worshippers can practice their religions in several churches and temples around Muscat.
  • Electricity is 220/240 volts and 50 cycles.
  • The unit of currency is the Omani Rial (RO) comprising 1,000 baizas (bz). One RO is equal to about $2.60 USD. See www.xe.com for daily conversion rates.
  • A liter of regular gasoline costs about 217 bz. (as of October 2019)
  • Seat belts are required for all drivers and front-seat passengers in Oman.
  • Cell phone use is prohibited while driving in Oman.
  • Refrain from taking photographs of military or government buildings. Most “No Photo” zones are posted as such.
  • There is a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for drinking and driving, which is strictly enforced, and will mean immediate jail time for the offender.
  • Visitors can drive in Oman as long as they have a valid international driver’s license. As a resident, you will need to obtain an Oman driver’s license. This usually requires a vision test and, in most cases, does not require a road test.
Omani Culture

With its well-deserved reputation for hospitality, Oman welcomes visitors and expatriates with open arms. Characterized by its warm, friendly people, Oman is also distinctive among many Gulf countries for its tolerance. While Oman is a Muslim country steeped in tradition, expatriate residents enjoy a progressive culture as illustrated by a modern infrastructure and acceptance of religious differences and social habits. Foreigners are free to practice their own religion, alcohol is served in major hotels and restaurants, and the dress code is relaxed but appropriate. Women are not only able to drive and go out in public unescorted, they are a significant part of Oman’s workforce, and even populate Ministry and Consultative Council positions in the government.

Cultural Pursuits

Are you an avid historian, a cultural explorer, or just curious? There is a lot to love about getting to know Oman. Under the guidance of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman has managed to preserve its remarkable past while infusing the best of the modern world. Museums, Cultural Events, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Grand Mosque and examples of Oman’s defensive history are all available for inquisitive residents. The Omanis are fiercely proud of their country and heritage, and you’ll be hard pressed to find any citizen who won’t take the time to answer a question about this beautiful country.

Muscat & Beyond

"Oman defies expectations. It shouldn’t according to the cruel logic of the world, exist - but it does, and it’s incredible.” - Anthony Bourdain, world renowned chef and host of culinary and cultural adventure programs. Explore Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" about Oman HERE or read the Most Memorable Lines from the show.

National Geographic Highlights Oman's Coastal Wonders
In a region of the world abundant with expansive deserts, Oman has some of the best beaches in the world. The "Top Five" are highlighted here, and all of them are accessible from Muscat!

Oman, where skyscrapers are illegal and hospitality runs deep...
Travel and Leisure magazine describes Oman as one of the most beautiful countries in the Arabian Peninsula, and consistently ranks us in the top 50 places to travel in the world. Imagine living in a country so beautiful that no skyscrapers are allowed to obstruct your view!

Beyond Muscat: 9 reasons to visit Oman
Oman is opening to tourism, and some of its greatest treasures are found only a day or so away from the capital. Here’s a pick of highlights when touring one of the top destinations for 2015. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!  See what the UK’s Sunday Times has to say about our singularly magnificent corner of the world…

Dunes and Drama on a Drive Through Oman
An expanse of desert about the size of New Mexico at the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman, population three million, is safe and friendly, its roads beautiful and empty. Best known for centuries-old forts, frankincense and the careful stewardship of its heritage, Oman holds two aces for aficionados of the open road: sizable portions of the Empty Quarter (the 250,000-square-mile region that is the world’s largest sand desert) and a braid of highway that traces the country’s desolate southern coast all the way to Yemen. NY Times: February, 2013

Oh, Man! Living the High Life in Oman
Oman, which sits on the toe of the Arabian Peninsula, was a compromise. A safe and stable country that barely flickered during the ferment of the Arab Spring, it promised to be a relaxing place for a first family sojourn. But it also presented the opportunity to explore a relatively new and increasingly popular destination with grand ambitions. The Tourism Ministry’s target of enticing 12 million tourists a year by 2020 would put it in Egypt territory, big dreams for a state of 3 million people that many would struggle to identify on the map. Washington Post:  May, 2013

Flaming Dune:  An Epic 10-day Tour of Oman
Grand canyons, ancient castles, and wild-camping in the desert. Explorer Kari Herbert enjoys a thrilling taste of Arabia on a new grand tour of Oman’s beautiful landscapes. The Guardian: April, 2013

Oman ranks, according to the international experts

Bloomberg's Report on Global Wellness for 2019 tells us that smaller countries are becoming the healthiest. And Oman sits at #2 in the world in the Healthy Nation rankings! The index grades nations based on variables including life expectancy, spending and overall happiness. It also takes into consideration environmental factors including access to clean water and sanitation. 

The UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) represents a push for a broader definition of well-being and provides a composite measure of three basic dimensions of human development: health, education and income. Oman’s HDI is 0.821, which gives the country a ranking of 48 (up from 52 in 2016) out of 188 countries with comparable data. This places Oman squarely near the top of the UN’s category of High Human Development - well above the average for countries in Arab states. 

The World Economic Forum, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. It is an independent, impartial, not-for-profit organization that includes in its mission a commitment to improving the state of the world. According to the WEF’s 2018 Global Competitive Index Report - which focuses on threats such as organized crime, terrorism, homicide and the reliability of its police force -  Oman ranks as the 4th safest country in the world. We're proud to be in good company, sharing the Top Five ranking with Finland, Singapore, Iceland and Switzerland. 

The Global Peace Index consistently puts Oman in the top tier of the Middle East’s most peaceful countries. The 2019 GPi report puts us 69th of 163 countries with a State of Peace rating of High. That’s way ahead of most nations, including the U.S., which ranks at 128. Factors considered include the level of respect for human rights, relations with neighboring countries, and political stability.

Doing Business 2019’s Ease of Doing Business report positions Oman in the top five of the Middle Eastern and North African countries – and 68th of the 190 countries evaluated. That's up ten ranking points from 2018! A high score in this index indicates that the regulatory environment is conducive to the operation of businesses.

The World Health Organization ranks Oman at number 8 of 190 countries - a ranking well ahead of North America, the UK and Australia. Under the auspices of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the country’s health system has improved by leaps and bounds. WHO is Oman’s major health partner and plays a critical role in extending technical assistance to health programs and in brokering health partnership in the country. 

Learn about all things Muscat from those who know first hand! With 3.7 million members worldwide, InterNations is the world's largest global expat networking organization. A recent InterNations survey asked 20,259 expats representing 182 nationalities living in 187 countries to provide information on various aspects of expat life, finally ranking 64 expat destinations around the world. The result? 96% of expats feel safe in the Sultanate, compared with 81% globally. Friendliness is another sub-category in which Oman ranks first worldwide. 87% think that the attitude towards foreign residents is welcoming, and 90% find the population generally friendly. Ahlan wa Sahlan! 

Other useful tools

Travel to Oman where Beauty Has An Address

Y - Pulse of Oman - Available in print and through social media, Y is a free weekly publication designed to showcase and inform about Oman, with articles and links that offer currency and a glimpse into everyday life and events in the region. A great place to start your exploration of this wonderful country and what it has to offer.

The Muscat Mums network promotes a sense of community and friendship for families living in Muscat. Their aim is to provide a range of useful resources including playgroups, support groups, libraries and social events that can enrich the experience of raising a family in Muscat.  

Moving abroad represents a big change for everyone in the family. The Mission of Detective Mike: Moving Abroad  is one of a number of books available to help young children understand the relocation process. If you have teenagers in your family, here are some coping strategies to help make it easier for your teen - and for you!