Lifestyle in Oman

Situated in the southeastern quarter of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is widely considered to be the friendliest Gulf state to live and work in. As such, the expat population comprises almost a third of Oman's total population.

Muscat is the most developed and Westernised city in Oman with lots of shopping malls, restaurants, bars, sports clubs and entertainment venues. There is a particularly large expat population in the city and many expats run social clubs or organisations for their compatriots.

Towns in the rural areas are less cosmopolitan, and shopping, cuisine and entertainment experiences are likely to be less Westernised. However, even small towns often have large expat groups and expat social events.

Outside the main towns and cities, Oman's diverse range of geographical features, including rugged mountain ranges, unspoilt wadis and desert sands, also allow expats to enjoy a range of adventure activities like camping, swimming and dune riding.

Work-life balance in Oman

Working life in the Gulf is known for a peculiar phenomenon known as the split shift. Many businesses in Oman prefer to start work early, break for a long, three-hour lunch, and then return to work for a late afternoon session. Split shift timings are usually 8am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm. Not all organisations follow this system, however. Government institutions will usually work from 7am to 2pm, and private companies with a Western ethos will usually work a full shift from 7am till 4pm.

The official weekend in Oman is Friday and Saturday. Public holidays are determined by the government, and most are religious holidays determined by the Hijri calendar and the moon. The holiday can’t be declared until the new moon has been spotted by the Moon Sighting Committee.

During Ramadan, all Muslims and people working in government organisations have reduced working hours – six hours instead of eight – in accordance with Oman's labour law. Some private-sector companies also reduce working hours during Ramadan for both Muslims and expats.

Nightlife in Oman

Muscat offers the best opportunities for nightlife in Oman, but expats may find their choice of nightspots is still somewhat limited. For one thing, this means the few places one can go to are invariably quite busy, even on weekdays. Many nightclubs are linked to hotels and cater to a range of eclectic musical and cultural tastes.

Restaurants in Oman

Smaller towns in Oman are often extremely limited when it comes to the choice of restaurants on offer; expats will probably have a choice of Asian or Turkish cuisine. But for those who enjoy a diverse range of dining options, one can get just about any cultural food experience in Muscat.

Expats craving something familiar will find a number of global franchises, particularly in the capital city, but also increasingly in smaller towns.

Thomas Boughey Our Expat Expert

Thomas Boughey was born in Sana'a, Yemen and raised in the Middle-East and South Africa. Having completed his tertiary education in Grahamstown, South Africa Thomas has recently taken up a teaching post at the University of A'Sharqiya in Ibra in Oman.