Working in Oman
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Expats planning on working in Oman will find that the country's recent history of dependence on skilled foreign labour has paved the way for a smooth transition into business culture. Over a quarter of the country's population is comprised of expat workers, and the Omani workforce is not only accustomed to the presence of foreigners but also sensitive to their needs and supportive of their talents.
Job market in Oman
Although expat jobs in Oman are not as widely available as they were five or 10 years ago, the job market for skilled foreign workers is still healthy.
Thanks to the government's policy of Omanisation, which aims to see fewer expats within the local workforce, Omani authorities need to be convinced that a local worker could not adequately fill the position concerned before issuing an expat employment visa.
Although this can negatively affect mid-level or younger employees, those with particularly impressive qualifications or years of experience of working at the top level in their chosen fields should not struggle to find an attractive job in Oman.
The most common jobs for expats in Oman are in the oil, gas, petroleum, teaching, medical and construction industries. Engineers, IT specialists, project managers, teachers and language instructors are in particularly high demand.
Finding a job and changing jobs in Oman
One of the sharpest double-edged swords for expats working in Oman is the issue of finding and changing jobs.
Since it is illegal to work in Oman on a visitor’s visa, expats must have a firm job offer before even arriving in the country. Expats will be hired on a fixed-term contract basis, and their Omani hiring company will even appoint a 'sponsor' to help organise an employment visa. Omani employers are accustomed to providing attractive expat salary packages, often including transport, accommodation and schooling stipends.
However, the downside to this setup is that since the hiring company must invest a significant amount of time, effort and money to get an expat to Oman, changing jobs once in the country is extremely difficult. Expats who leave a position often have to leave Oman for two years before returning to take on another position.
There is one way around this problem. Expats can get a clearance letter or No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their Omani employer, but this can be difficult and they may still need to leave the country.
Work culture in Oman
Expats in Oman are unlikely to find the work culture especially alienating or challenging. Oman's reliance on foreign labour over the past few decades has meant that expat workers are now an established feature of the country's professional milieu. However, in recent years, through its policy of Omanisation, the government has introduced stricter immigration rules to lower the percentage of foreign workers it allows into the country.
Those relocating to Oman to work in the business sector should familiarise themselves with Arabic business culture, which differs from Western business culture in certain respects. Expats will discover that the Omani workforce upholds a strong work ethic and values loyalty, honesty, humility and the ability to foster personal relationships between co-workers.
Expats will be expected to work hard in Oman, and to remain at all times respectful of the tenets of Islam, which play a significant role in the day-to-day life of Omani colleagues.
Attitudes toward women in Oman are generally far more progressive than in any of its neighbouring countries. However, although women do comprise a significant portion of the Omani workforce, it is not impossible that female expats will encounter a few individuals who retain antiquated and prejudiced beliefs.
The working week in Oman will typically be between 40 and 48 hours, depending on the industry. In general, the working day starts at around 8.30am or 9am, and finishes at 5.30pm or 6pm. Note that weekends in Oman are on Fridays and Saturdays.