Muscat, Oman Report of what it's like to live there - 01/11/22

Personal Experiences from Muscat, Oman

Muscat, Oman 01/11/22

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This was our first overseas posting, but I have lived in other countries and travelled for work.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC. Many flight options but Qatar Airways or Emirates are the easiest. Straight shot to the Middle East and then a short flight to Oman from one of the bigger hubs like Dubai or Doha.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What years did you live here?

2017-2019.

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5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We had one of the oldest houses in the housing pool. It was an old house, but the facilities team was amazing and they fixed everything very quickly. They would go above and beyond to make sure the house was as good as it was going to get. After we left, they actually completely renovated the house, which was also great to hear.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Lulu's and Carrefour have everything you'd want. If there isn't something, you can get that through DPO or pouch. We had APO at that time, which was also great. I don't eat pork so living here was not as issue, but I know that was the one thing other folks did find hard to find.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. Muscat has everything.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

The restaurant scene is not as vibrant as some other posts in the area. However, there is plenty to chose from, French, Indian, and a good steak. It is all available at varying prices. Kargeens was very popular among the expats.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We had some gecko problems that facilities quickly fixed.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We had APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We only had part-time help once a week, for just three hours. It was very inexpensive. Many people had full-time help, and it was affordable.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

I attended a lot of Zumba and other fitness classes at Juthoor Studios. It was wonderful. For example, the cost was comparable to US prices at spinning.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There were a few churches that embassy families attended regularly. The Sultan Qaboos mosque is beautiful for practicing Muslims.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much at all, but it was always appreciated if you spoke a phrase or two, or made any effort. As with anywhere else...

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, I believe so.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

I think they were okay. We didn't have to use them.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

If you are into camping and all, bring a 4x4. Otherwise, a sedan is just fine.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, it was good! The Embassy social sponsor set us up with a router until we could get our diplomatic ID cards and apply for service. It was a bit of a pain and confusing, but eventually it worked out.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I just used the scratch cards to add money into my account and use as needed. It was waaaaaaay cheaper than any cell phone service I would pay in the States. You do need to have your passport to get the SIM card.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There were plenty of EFM jobs available at the embassy, both full-time and part-time.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are various organizations you can volunteer with, related to different topics. It is quite widespread.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business. You can wear dresses if you are a female and it is not an issue.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I always say this and I mean it...this was the safest place I have ever been to/lived in and probably will in my life. There are security cameras everywhere. Crime is taken very seriously.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The air quality was amazing and for the first time in my life, I had no allergies. Medical care seems to be inadequate from what I heard.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Amazing. It is truly the cleanest place I have ever lived in. In fact...if you don't believe me, read this: How Oman's Rocks Could Save The Planet: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/04/26/climate/oman-rocks.html

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

There is something for everyone here.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

I think some people miss weather changes, but I did not.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot, hot, hot. But, there are a few months in winter when it is just perfect.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I have heard the international school was amazing. Everyone I knew loved it.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It was fairly large for a small place. You make friends with all the other embassy folks and expats. Lots of British folk!

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

So many. Fitness classes, games, yoga, kid stuff, there are so many ways!

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Not a good place for single people but there were still options to go out if you wanted to. It is an AMAZING place for families and also for couples who like to do outdoorsy stuff!

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Omanis are a little reserved at first, but yes, eventually they will open up and they are very sweet.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Nope. I've never seen this many females in a Middle Eastern country drive by themselves...

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Everything. Mountains. Beaches. The warmth of this country is hard to describe. It is truly a hidden gem.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are so many cute little places to visit. You can get lost and love every second of it.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

You can find lots of trinkets at Mutrah Souq and other Souqs in smaller towns.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It is great for your mental health! This is a very relaxed post. People want to enjoy their life here. If you want that, go to Muscat.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That it was going to be all downhill once I leave...lol

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter gear...but not all...you'll actually need a hat or gloves for winter mountain camping ;)

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4. But don't forget your:

water stuff....snorkels...scuba...beach things....

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Anthony Bourdain had a fun episode on it, aside from all the stuff google will provide you!

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This was an amazing tour. The embassy community was really lovely. The Facilities/GSO team was outstanding. The roads are clean. The people are sweet. Life is simple and fun. We loved every second of it and wish we can go back one day again to serve there!

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