located at the south eastern elbow of the Arabian peninsular
a relatively small number of 350,000 are expatriates
Omani Riyal (OR) There are:
- OR 0.6 = £1.00
- OR 0.4 = $US 1.00
Oman is located at the south eastern elbow of the Arabian peninsular with a coastline on both the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. With a coastline of approx 2600 kms and land area of 213,000 sq kms Oman is much larger than other coastal states such as Qatar and the UAE and consequently has a more varied geography and climate. Oman is also a country divided by the UAE whose territories split the northernmost part of the country on the Straits of Hormuz from the rest. Oman has deserts, fertile plains, sweeping beaches, and mountains and is considered the most scenically interesting of all the countries of the Arabian peninsular.
The population of Oman is approximately 2 million of which a relatively small number of 350,000 are expatriates. Due to the relatively modest amounts of oil owned and produced by Oman the Omanis have realised the need to spend revenue and budget wisely and have long had a policy of training the local population so that they can hold jobs that are the preserve of expatriates in other neighbouring states.
This keeps costs down and maintains financial resources in the economy rather than allowing revenue to flow out with the expatriate pay cheque. Here more than anywhere the expatriate, whilst being a welcome visitor, knows he is here to ultimately make Oman more self sufficient.
The bulk of the population lives along the coastal strip of the Batinah Coast which runs from the border with the UAE in the north, through the Capital to the town of Sur some 600 kms to the south. There are several other isolated centres of population most notably Salalah on the coast to the south in Dhofar region close to the Yemen border.
The Omanis are Ibadi Muslims and there are Sunni and Shia and also Hindu minorities. Indian merchants have long been established on the coastal regions and have become fully part of Omani society.
Muscat is the capital of Oman. It lies on the coast of the Gulf of Oman in the north of the country and has been the prominent city since the Mid 15th century. The population is estimated to exceed 650,000 although unlike many other large cities in the region development has been handled carefully over the last 20 years with much of the character of the city retained and new high rise development confined to previously under-utilised outlying areas. This makes Muscat a highly popular location to live and work for expatriates looking for a pleasant relaxed lifestyle. The towns around Muscat are heavily populated and the next largest town Salalah is far to the south.
The currency in Oman is the Omani Riyal (OR). The exchange rate is approximately Â£1.00 = OR 0.6 and $US1.00 = OR 0.4. There are no exchange controls in or out of Oman. Time Oman is 4 hours ahead of GMT.
As with all gulf states Oman is a combination of a relatively sophisticated capital city and a traditionally Arabic hinterland. As Oman has come late to the introduction of outside influences (centuries of trading not withstanding) the traditional attitudes are strong even in certain areas close to the capital.
Over the years of the rule of the present Sultan Omani women have been encouraged to maximise their potential and undertake education to university level. Half of all university entrants over the last few years have been women. For the female expatriate Oman is a safe place to live and work and providing the appropriate regard is given to local dress codes, especially outside of the cities, women can enjoy a lifestyle not too dissimilar to that in their home country.
Similar rules apply regarding photography and importation of banned products as in the rest of the gulf. No photographs of Muslim women or military facilities and discretion with all others. No pork products, firearms and drugs although those arriving by air are allowed to bring in one bottle of alcohol and it is on sale in larger hotels and restaurants.
Entertainment, leisure and sporting facilities of most types are available in Muscat. Restaurants and hotels are plentiful for dining out and socialising and there are the usual selection of fast food outlets. There are a number of beach and health clubs with open memberships.
International schools offering British or American curriculum are of a good quality and take children up to age 18. There are also a number of Indian schools. Pre school education is catered for.
Oman has been open to expatriates and other outsiders only for the last 30 years or so and it is only in that time that real and rapid development has taken place. On relatively limited resources (800,000 barrels of oil a day) Oman has developed a range of services and facilities second to none in the gulf. Omanis have free healthcare and schooling; there are universities and sophisticated hospitals and housing provided at very low rental. 99% of Omans revenue is derived from its oil production and efforts are being made to develop manufacturing and other industries.
Subsistence farming and fishing still produces the major income for large parts of the population. Muscat, like most Middle Eastern cities, has it’s share of western style shopping centres, as well as smaller traditional establishments and the markets (Souks). Oman has two local English language newspapers and a bi weekly entertainments guide. There are regular news programmes and western films on TV and a Radio station broadcasting in English.
The telephone systems are efficient. Tap water is safe to drink. The electricity runs on 220/240 volts with British type three pin square plugs.
Oman generally follows the patterns of the neighbouring states, hot summers from May to September and mild winters with all round high humidity although due to the size of Oman and its diverse geographical areas there are local differences. The mountain areas are more temperate, the southern region of Dhofar sometimes has temperatures of 30 degrees in the winter and monsoons in July to September. The temperatures throughout Oman rarely fall below 20 degrees in the winter. Rain falls in Muscat in January.