Muscat, capital of the ancient Sultanate of Oman, backs onto the ancient Al Hajar Mountains. The city’s backdrop of crumbling mountains and lush wadis (oases) spills into wild coastlines and arresting architecture to create a Middle Eastern idyll. Oman has a fantastic health service and Muscat, which houses the majority of Oman’s population, boasts a decent selection of international schools. The country owes its fairly high standard of living to its dwindling oil reserves and other mineral deposits. Moving here will require a few lifestyle changes, such as dropping bacon from the breakfast menu. A cradle of Islam, Omanis have largely (75%) adopted Ibadism, a denomination of Islam in Oman, and most of its citizens are Muslims. You can find western items in specialty shops and supermarkets, but be prepared to queue. The country’s many souks (markets) provide an alternative, more colourful shopping experience, where you can find fresh fruit and vegetables, along with a glittering array of other essential and non-essential items. Among the more stable Persian Gulf countries, notably during the recent Arab Spring, Oman’s political stability, low crime rate, unspoiled landscapes and genuinely warm people make moving to exotic Muscat a comfortable leap of faith.
What is special or unique about your city?
Geographically located in the Arabian Peninsula, the Sultanate of Oman is rich in heritage and tradition with a blend of modern lifestyle. Oman is a land of stunning landscapes, from plains to mountains and deserts to unspoiled beaches that stretch for 1700kms. The country provides a fascinating getaway, with a wide range of outdoor activities to choose from. The breath-taking and splendid attractions in Oman include various castles and forts, natural wonders, deserts, wadis, mountains, caves and much more. The climate is predominantly arid in summer and is pleasant from October to March. The Omani people are known for their extreme hospitality and generosity in both social and professional contexts.
The Sultanate has been witnessing a stable political climate, manifested through:
- Strong economic growth
- Improved transport infrastructure
- Military upgrades
- Omanisation strategy that has strengthened the Omani workforce across various sectors
- Being the leader in the Arab world in terms of environmental concerns and women’s rights
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
It’s a progressive and tolerant atmosphere, with friendly people. A high level of safety and a low crime rate are among the first things that people notice.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Not particularly. Once all the paperwork has finally been done, you can start to enjoy living here.
What is the local language?
Arabic, Swahili and English.
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Practically everyone speaks English and there is no problem if you don’t speak or read Arabic. It is sometimes quite useful, though, to greet the locals in their own language and also to know the numbers in Arabic for things like checking expiration dates on products.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Dressing too casually or provocatively will certainly offend the locals. It is not a good idea to wear revealing clothes when out in public. Women should avoid wearing shoestring straps (also called spaghetti straps), sleeveless dresses, shorts or see-through fabrics. Men should avoid vest-type T-shirts and brief shorts. It is considered particularly important to dress modestly during the holy fasting and month of Ramadan. Also avoid kissing and hugging as a couple when you’re out. Try to use your right hand when giving or receiving something, and don’t show the soles of your feet.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Winter (October through March) is superb, but summer (April through September) has to be spent mainly indoors as a result of the searing heat. The highest temperatures (in summer, usually around 45 - 50C) are between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., during which some shops are closed and many locals go home to sleep. Life returns to normal in the evening, and shops stay open till late.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Foreigners are expected to respect local customs and religious rules. For example, during the holy month of Ramadan, drinking, smoking or eating is not allowed during daytime in public places. This does not apply to young children.