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Thanks to government investment in the national health service over the past few decades, Oman boasts high-quality healthcare, with the largest and best facilities located in Muscat.
Most of Oman’s medical doctors and staff are expats themselves but, with the government’s policy of Omanisation, this is slowly changing and Omani nationals are being encouraged into the medical field.
Medical treatment in Oman can be expensive, adding to the cost of living, and facilities may expect payment upfront. Expats should ensure that they have comprehensive private medical insurance to cover any healthcare issues during their stay in Oman.
Public healthcare in Oman
Omani nationals and those from member countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (still colloquially referred to as the Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC) receive free medical treatment in public hospitals in Oman. Employers must pay a contribution to social security for Omani employees and this goes towards public facilities.
Expats are expected to pay, though rates may be subsidised. Occasionally, expats are only permitted to use public hospitals in the case of an emergency or where diagnosis or treatment of their ailment is not immediately available in the private sector.
Foreign nationals working in the government sector and their dependants may also receive free medical care in public hospitals. The most respected public hospitals in Oman include the Royal Hospital of Oman and the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, both in Muscat.
Private healthcare in Oman
Expats generally use private healthcare facilities in Oman. There are several excellent private hospitals in Oman, with many of them being compared to five-star hotels in terms of services and facilities – the costs are comparable to this as well.
Muscat Private Hospital is the largest private hospital in the city and is staffed by Western and Asian trained physicians. Starcare Hospital and Atlas Hospital are two other popular private hospitals in the region.
There are private medical facilities in Oman which specialise in homoeopathy, Chinese and traditional Hindu Ayurvedic medicine.
Health insurance in Oman
Companies in Oman are not obliged to provide health insurance to their expat employees, though many do. If this is not negotiable as part of an employment package, we recommend expats working in Oman get private medical insurance. Medical expenses can prove costly and those who don’t possess a comprehensive insurance plan or the means to settle any medical fees may be prevented from leaving Oman until all their bills are paid.
When finding a most suitable insurance plan, check that it covers an array of healthcare needs, including mental health, dentistry and emergency care.
Pharmacies and medicines in Oman
Pharmacies are widely available in Oman with a range of Western medicines. Many pharmacies are open 24 hours a day and hospitals also have pharmacies operating around the clock.
Painkillers and cough medicines are usually available in supermarkets, while for prescription medicines, expats should visit a pharmacy and keep the receipts for any prescriptions if intending to claim back from their medical aids.
Health hazards in Oman
Due to the extreme weather temperatures in Oman, heatstroke, exhaustion, sunburn and dehydration are common medical ailments affecting expats. New arrivals should be warned that the heat may be unlike anything they have experienced before and should always keep well hydrated.
It's important to note the safety hazards in dry river beds (wadis) and along the coastline during tropical storms due to the risk of floods and drowning.
Emergency services in Oman
In case of an emergency, dial 9999 for medical assistance and to call an ambulance. Although most emergency personnel can speak English, it’s wise to learn a few key phrases in Arabic.
It’s not uncommon for Omanis and expats to use their vehicles or a taxi to get to a hospital in an emergency, but trained healthcare professionals in ambulances can provide speedy and appropriate assistance.