What do you need to know before you bring your family to Oman? In this post we’ll look at all the important info you and your family will need to know before making a move to Oman, covering everything from its culture and its climate, to the visas you will need to apply for.
First and foremost, where exactly is Oman? Enjoying a strategic position on the Persian Gulf, the Sultanate of Oman is located on the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula, between Yemen and the UAE. Inland, it shares a border with Saudi Arabia, which runs through Rub’ al Khali, the largest sand desert in the world.
In terms of land mass, Oman is slightly smaller than Poland, and slightly larger than Italy. Within its borders, it has four governorates (muhafazah) and five regions (mintaqat), which are made up of 61 districts (wilayat). As Oman is a desert country, its population is focused around its cities, with statistics revealing more than 75% of all Omani residents live in or around a city.
Most expats choose to settle either in Oman’s capital, Muscat, or in Salalah, in the southernmost province of Dhofar.
Muscat itself forms an entire governorate, sprawling over 1,500 square kilometres. It is made up of six districts or walayats – Muscat, Muttrah, Bawshar, A’Seeb, Al Amrat, and Qurayyat – and a variety of neighbourhoods. Muscat’s metropolitan area is home to a population of around 1.5 million, made up of around 950,000 expats.
Unsurprisingly, as Oman’s capital, Muscat is the country’s commercial and financial centre. Located along the country’s coastline, it is also a trading hub with a busy seaport. This port is currently undergoing a transformation, moving away from commercial operations and more towards tourism, making way for more cruise ships.
Set in the heart of Dhofar, Salalah is another of Oman’s largest cities. Located in the country’s south, it is has a sizeable expat community, mostly due to its free zone and cargo port. Offering easy access to the sea, desert and mountains, Salalah is also an important hub for tourism.
Oman’s People & Languages
Despite its size, Oman’s population is relatively small, home to just over 5 million people. As the expat community makes up around 45% of Oman’s residents, the foreign labour force is an important part of the Omani economy.
Most expats arrive in Oman from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, however, there is also a number of European and US expats who live in Oman as well.
Oman’s official language is Arabic, but, as you would expect from a country with such a significant expat community, a variety of languages are spoken here, such as Farsi, Swahili, Baluchi, Sindhi, and Urdu. English is widely spoken and understood, especially in Muscat and within the business community.
In terms of Oman’s climate, this can vary depending on where you go. Throughout the Al Batinah coastal plain, temperatures range from 22°C to 25°C in winter, and reach up to 40°C in summer. Typical of a desert climate, temperatures can vary hugely between day and night, particularly the further inland you go.
If you choose to settle in Oman’s south, you will find Dhofar to be a tropical region rather than desert, like the rest of the country. Influenced strongly by the monsoon (charif), this region sees heavy downpours that transform it into a green oasis.
One of Oman’s most appealing attributes has to be how safe it is. According to the Global Peace Index, Oman is the most peaceful country in the Middle East, offering a stable political situation that makes it an attractive option both for expats and foreign investors.
According to the Expat Insider 2019 Quality of Life Index (1), Oman took the top spot for ‘safety and security’, moving up 17 places on the previous year. The study revealed that 96% of expats surveyed appreciated Oman’s peacefulness, while 86% said they were happy with its political stability.
As for ‘quality of life’ overall, Oman gained nine places on the index, being ranked at number 35, putting it way above countries such as the US and the UK. However, Oman did not do so well within the categories of ‘leisure options’ and ‘travel and transportation’, where it placed 47th and 46th respectively.
Omani locals are described by expats as friendly and hospitable, showing respect for foreigners who choose to live among them. In turn, you should always show respect to Oman’s people.
As a non-Muslim living in Oman, that means being respectful of Ibadhism, the local religion and a moderately conservative branch of Islam. At all times, you must dress conservatively. Outside of beaches and pool areas, men should avoid shorts and sleeveless shirts, while women should wear clothing that covers their shoulders, and skirts or shorts that come to at least calf length. During Ramadan, you must not eat, drink or smoke in public.
Visas for Oman
To find out more about the various types of visas needed to visit and settle in Oman, read our post on the subject here.
One visa that may be of interest to you is the Family Joining & Family Residence Visa. As a resident of Oman, you may apply for this visa to allow your spouse and dependent children (aged under 21) to join you from home. It is a multi-entry visa, valid for two years.
Check the Royal Oman Police website for more on this visa and its conditions.
Alternatively, call Fusion today. Fusion can assist with all aspects of your move to Oman, making the transition as smooth as possible. Find out more by chatting to one of our experts and arranging your no-obligation consultation.