Find A Job
Oman is a popular destination for expat workers, although this is likely to be in the construction and oil industry and there are restrictions on how far overseas personnel can integrate into Omani society: foreigners are not granted citizenship and also cannot own property. The government is currently prioritizing Omani nationals over foreign workers, but still needs expats in some sectors, so it may be worth persevering with the bureaucracy.
You need a work permit before you can work in Oman legally and it is a good plan to set this up before you relocate. You also need a sponsor, who can either be your employer or someone else (such as a business partner): they will be responsible for you while you are in the country and will need to find you accommodation, open a bank account and so forth.
As with a number of other Middle Eastern states, because your employer is often your sponsor and is the person/company who has arranged your work permit, changing jobs can be difficult and some employers require a 6 month waiting period if you leave their employ before you can gain another job. Some may issue you with a No Objection Certificate stating that you are being permitted to seek other work.
Generous employment packages and the concomitant expense generally mean that employers are reluctant to lose you at the end of the contract, given the significant investment that they have made in you.
The Ministry of Manpower must issue a permit for your company to bring you over. This Labor License will depend on:
• the company being compliant with Omanization rules, i.e. the maximum quota for foreign employees in that sector has not been reached
• the number of foreign staff is appropriate for the company’s operations
• that you yourself have the appropriate qualifications for the job
Your employer will then need to submit:
• an Omanization plan, describing the positions that will be filed by Omani nationals at certain times
• a list of expatriate employees required, including yourself, disclosing your position and gender
• a copy of your passport
• attested copies of your qualifications
• an attestation from Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your home nation
• an attestation by the Oman Embassy in your home nation
You may need to submit the results of a medical check.
Once permission has been granted to hire you, your employer will need to submit a visa application to the Immigration Department of the Royal Oman Police. You or your employer will need to submit:
• a copy of your passport with at least six months’ validity
• a copy of the Labor License
• your letter of invitation or job offer from a registered company in Oman
• a medical certificate if required
• 2 x passport photos
• proof of qualifications
You or your employer may also need to pay a processing fee and a fee for the visa itself.
The construction industry has been a major player in the Omani economy, so if you have engineering qualifications you may find employment with relative ease, particularly if you have specialist skills. A shortage of skills in the construction sector still afflicts the Omani economy.
There is also a demand for well-qualified TEFL teachers in the private sector: the curriculum in some private schools is taught in English, so you may find work in subjects other than English if you have the relevant qualifications. Oman has not hitherto been seen as a main destination for TEFL but there are significant opportunities here and the sector is growing. Salaries are competitive and the cost of living can be relatively low, so if you want to save, there are opportunities for doing so.
Typical working hours in Oman are between 40 and 48 hours per week, and run from 8.30/9.00 a.m. – 5.30/6.00 p.m. Your company may operate shorter working hours during Ramadan but this may apply only to Islamic personnel. Friday is the Islamic day of prayer so this will be your main day off, along with Thursday or Saturday.
If you have been working for your employer for 6 months, you will be entitled to 30 days’ paid annual leave. You will also have 2 days off per week, and 7 national holidays.
The minimum wage is currently 225 Omani rials per month (US$592) plus an allowance of 100 rials per month (US$263) but this will not apply to you as a foreign worker. It is only applicable to Omani citizens and you will need to negotiate your salary with your employer.
If you are having a baby, you will be entitled to maternity leave of 50 days at full pay during your pre- and post-maternity period. This cannot be used more than three times during your service with the same employer.
Your spouse will be allowed to come into Oman with you, but if they wish to work, they will need to apply for a separate employment visa.
If you are working for a company with a branch in Oman, then secondment is an option. Otherwise, you will find a number of jobs boards online which cover the Gulf and you may also wish to approach a recruitment agency.
It is also normal for job seekers to make direct approaches to companies.
Applying For A Job
It is advisable to have your CV/resume translated into Standard Modern Arabic if you are applying to a local rather than an international company.
Bear in mind that Oman is an Islamic state and thus will not cohere to Western cultural norms or working culture. Omani law does not permit discrimination between citizens, so there is some provision for protection under law. However, homosexuality is illegal in the Sultanate and although gender-based discrimination is prohibited in law, it may still manifest in practice.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
Oman is a popular destination for expat workers, particularly those who work in the construction and oil industries, but there are restrictions on how far overseas personnel can integrate into Omani society. For example, foreigners are not granted citizenship and cannot own property. If you are looking to visit Oman, you will need a visa. Please read on for further information.
You will not need a visa if you are travelling to Oman from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, or New Zealand.
If you are not from one of the above nations, you will need a visa. Therefore, if you are from the EU, Canada, the UK, the USA, or Australia, you will need to apply for a visa before you travel.
If you have a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) passport or residency permit, you can obtain a visa on arrival at any Omani border posts, by filling in a form at the border. Note that GCC citizens do not need a visa, but GCC residents do.
The easiest way to apply for an entry visa is online. For a tourist visa, either single- or multiple-entry, Oman has now introduced an electronic visa. You will no longer be able to apply for this type of visa on arrival.
When applying for an electronic Oman tourist visa, you will need the following:
• A passport valid for at least six months upon arrival
• A valid hotel reservation in Oman
• A return ticket
• A valid email address, as the visa will be sent to you via this method
To complete your application, you must upload a scan of your passport and submit an international passport standard photo.
The single-entry eVisa (a.k.a. 26B tourist visit visa) is valid for 30 days from the date you arrive in Oman. It must be used within six months of being approved. If it is not used in this time period, the travel document becomes invalid.
The multi-entry eVisa (aka 36B visit visa) is valid for one year from the date you arrive in Oman. It allows multiple entries of a maximum of one month each time. It also must be first used within six months of its approval.
You cannot extend your eVisa, but must instead leave Oman and reapply. If you want to live and work in Oman, you will need a residence visa and a local sponsor. See below for information on how to obtain a work permit.
Oman has a number of other forms of visa:
• Employment visa (see below)
• Family joining/residence visa
• Student visa
• Investor visa
• Transit visa
You can check which visas are available on the website of the Royal Omani Police, who are responsible for issuing them.
An eVisa should have a maximum turnaround time of 24 hours. In practice, some are issued within a few minutes.
A tourist visa costs 20 riyals (US$52).
You will need a work permit before you can legally work in Oman, and it is wise to set this up before you relocate. You will also need a sponsor, who can either be your employer or someone else (such as a business partner). They will be responsible for you while you are in the country, and they will need to find you accommodation, open a bank account for you and so on.
As with a number of other Middle Eastern states, because your employer is often your sponsor and has arranged your work permit, changing jobs can be difficult. Some employers require a six-month waiting period if you leave their employ, before you can get another job. Others may issue you with a No Objection Certificate, stating that you are permitted to seek other work. Generous employment packages, and the concomitant expense, mean that employers are reluctant to lose you at the end of your contract, as they have made significant investment in you.
The Ministry of Manpower must issue a permit for your company to bring you over. This Labor License will depend on:
• The company being compliant with Omanization rules, i.e. the maximum quota for foreign employees in that sector not having been reached
• The number of foreign staff being appropriate for the company’s operations
• You yourself having the appropriate qualifications for the job
Your employer will then need to submit:
• An Omanization plan, describing the positions that will be filled by Omani nationals at certain times
• A list of the expatriate employees required, including you, which discloses your position and gender
• A copy of your passport
• Attested copies of your qualifications
• Attestation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your home nation
• Attestation by the Oman embassy in your home nation
You may need to submit the results of a medical check.
Once permission has been granted to hire you, your employer will need to submit a visa application to the Immigration Department of the Royal Oman Police. You / your employer will need to submit:
• A copy of your passport with at least six months’ validity
• A copy of the Labor License
• Your letter of invitation or job offer from the registered company in Oman
• A medical certificate, if required
• Two passport photos
• Proof of your qualifications
You / your employer may also need to pay a processing fee and a fee for the visa itself.
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
The steady influx of foreign nationals coming to Oman has put a considerable strain on resources, leading to a sharp rise in the general cost of living, in particular with regards to the cost of rental accommodation. Reforms in local laws have been implemented in a bid to curb these costs.
There are many accommodation options available to expatriates in Oman, ranging from high rise condominium apartments to luxury villas and townhouses. Most forms of accommodation are situated in secure housing compounds and are usually very well maintained. The most common types of accommodation for expats are unfurnished rentals, but some furnished options are available too.
Many condominium complexes include gyms, swimming pools, and laundry rooms, while villas normally have maids’ quarters and a garden. Some of the more high-end complexes may offer additional amenities, such as onsite restaurants, shops, tennis courts, and sometimes even golf courses.
Many employers in Oman provide accommodation for their expat employees or include a housing allowance as part of their employment package. Rental agreements are typically done on an annual contract, but this is often negotiable. Utilities, such as water, gas and electricity, are not commonly included in the rental price advertised, so it is important to seek clarification if you are unsure.
For those seeking to rent privately, without assistance from their employers, the safest option is generally to use a real estate agent, but there are also websites and forums available. Popular websites include Savills, JustProperty.com, and OpenSooq. Popular estate agents include Engel & Voelkers, Cluttons, Savills and Better Homes.
The main areas that are popular with expats in Oman include Ruwi (East of Centre), Qurum, Al Khuwair, Bausher, and Al Mawella (East of Centre). According to online database Numbeo, renting a one-bedroom apartment in a city centre location costs approximately 218.29 RO (equivalent to roughly £450 or $567) per month, while an apartment of the same size outside of the city centre costs roughly 145.50 RO (£306 or $377) per month. A city centre apartment with three bedrooms costs approximately 408.86 RO (£860 or $1,062), with its suburban counterpart costing roughly half of that price.
It it is illegal for unmarried couples, or anyone of the opposite sex (who are not immediate family members), to live together in Oman. Appropriate immediate family members are defined by law as parents, children, siblings, cousins, or in-laws. Some people still do it, but that doesn’t make it any less illegal.
It is also worth noting that Omani authorities only recognise certified marriages, not civil partnerships. In addition to this, if you are already legally married and you are found to be living with someone of the opposite gender, who you are not related to and who is not your spouse, this would likely be considered adultery, which could lead to even stronger legal repercussions.
Up until relatively recently, foreigners were not permitted to buy property in the Sultanate of Oman. Nowadays, the government is actively encouraging foreign investment and has lifted restrictions on foreigners when it comes to purchasing property and land. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of purchasing property in the Gulf is that you pay relatively low income taxes. For example, all rental revenues are charged a flat rate of 3%. As an individual, you do not pay capital gains tax on your property. Inheritance tax also does not exist in this country, and as a property owner you are entitled to leave your property to anyone in your will.
If you are a foreigner in Oman and wish to buy land, there is a stipulation that you must build on it within four years of purchase. However, before undertaking any construction or renovation, you must obtain formal permission from the correct authorities, along with building permits.
When you sign a contract, you will usually pay a deposit of 10% of the property purchase price. Purchase contracts with a developer are usually drawn up by an independent lawyer, and the developer will hand over the title to you after payment. The buyer is also liable for a registration fee of 3% of the property purchase price, stamp duty (a further 3%) and any application and legal fees. The best option for expats looking to buy property is to enlist the services of a real estate agent, surveyor, and independent lawyer, in order to ensure that the process runs smoothly, the contract is watertight, and that there are no obvious issues with the property.
There is no value added tax or capital gain tax involved in purchasing properties in Oman. In certain circumstances, there is a “buy off” plan available, which involves a holding deposit and regular payments until construction is completed.
The Oman Ministry of Housing states that the following documents are required in order to purchase a property:
• Copies of passport or ID of both the owner and the purchaser
• Copies of labour cards if applicable
• Copy of the commercial registration of juridical persons
• Declaration stating the number of the purchaser’s family members and the full names and addresses of “first degree relatives” (immediate family members or next of kin)
• Statement of properties owned in the Sultanate of Oman by a non-Omani purchaser
In addition to the above, if you are female, you must show:
• Legal affidavit stating your social status
• Copy of the valid passport and or ID of the applicant’s father
• Employment or non-employment certificate, whichever is applicable
• Copy of marriage contract
Oman is divided into five regions (mintaqah) and four governorates (muhafazah). If you are looking to purchase land or property that is located in a region that you do not descend from, belong to, reside in, or work in, further documentation will be required:
• Birth certificate
• Study certificate for four consecutive years
• Rental contract for the two years prior to application
• Birth and study certificates of any children
Once you buy property in Oman, you gain residency automatically and should apply for necessary visas. The residency visa is only issued after the sale is completed and the title deed has been transferred into the buyer’s name. The buyer may subsequently also apply for visas for their family members.
Omani and international banks offer home loans, and foreigners can receive up to 80% cover of the value of the property they wish to purchase, payable over a maximum period of 25 years. Interest rates fluctuate and depend on several factors, such as your nationality, your credit history, and the property you wish to purchase. You can typically expect to pay a minimum of 7% interest on your mortgage.
Arab mortgage providers include Alhi Bank Oman, Bank of Beirut, Bank Muscat, Bank Dhofar Oman, and the National Bank of Oman. You can also obtain mortgages through international banks, such as HSBC. Each bank has its own policies regarding foreigners and home loans, so it is worth doing some research and, if possible, booking in for some mortgage consultations.
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Oman health insurance
Oman has an excellent standard of healthcare available to both native Omani people and expats. With the exception of one or two conditions that may require specialist treatment, most people can be treated at one of the hospitals in the country.
There is a high ratio of facilities to citizens, so it is very easy and quick to get the care you need. There are also no worries about the language barrier, as a high proportion of medical staff are actually English speaking. Many of the private hospitals actually use English as a first language.
There is a public health service which provides most services free of charge to Omani residents, although some services may incur a small fee. It is advisable for expats and tourists to make sure that they have private medical insurance, although they would be treated in an emergency regardless of insurance cover.
All cities have modern hospitals with top of the range equipment, although in some poorer areas the facilities may not be so new. All hospitals have accident and emergency units, although if you call an ambulance you are likely to be taken to one at a public facility rather than private. It is also worth noting that most ambulance services are private so you may find it easier to make your own way to the hospital.
Finding a dentist in the country should also be easy. As with doctors, most will have trained abroad or be expats themselves and treatment is usually very fast and reasonably priced.
Some medications are available over the counter at a pharmacy, though you may find that what was easily available in your home country is restricted in Oman. If you require specific medication it is a good idea to check with the authorities before you arrive to ensure that what you need is readily available, otherwise you may have to discuss alternative medications with your doctor. It is also not easy to obtain anti-depressant medication as most are banned in the country. If you are travelling and have a restricted medication with you, it is advisable to also carry a letter from your doctor to confirm that you actually need it.
Some of the most common health risks in the country include sun burn and sun stroke. Some expats are unprepared for the extreme temperatures. Sun block and hats are a must-have. If you are working outdoors and the temperatures soar too high your employer should excuse you from work. Dehydration can also be a problem and newcomers to the region should be vigilant about taking enough fluids.
Open A Bank Account
Only those who have a residency visa are able to open a bank account in Oman as you have to be able to prove that you have the right to be there. You must also be in possession of a ‘no objection certificate’ from your new employer. This will tell the bank your salary details so that you have evidence of how much you will be regularly paid. There are some banks that may ask to see a copy of your tenancy agreement as proof of your address. If you are in Oman as the dependent (spouse or child) of a worker then you will need his permission to open an account as he is officially your sponsor.
There is a general mistrust of cheques in Oman and most retailers and service providers prefer to take cash. For this reason a current account is essential for dealing with payments. A cheque is not a guarantee of payment in Oman, but if you write a cheque without having enough funds to cover it you will find yourself in a great deal of trouble. Not all current accounts will issue holders with a cheque book, so if you want one you may have to ask for a type of current account that does. Cheques are available printed in either English or Arabic and other paperwork from your bank can be issued in either language.
You can also choose to pay bills by direct debit or standing order as both these services are available at most banks. Some banks charge a small fee per transaction, but there will be a certain number of transactions each year that are free of charge. The number of transactions and the fees involved will vary from bank to bank. It is worth checking with a few different banks to find out their charges prior to opening an account.
Cards for cash machines are automatically issued on accounts and ATMs can be found at nearly all bank branches and in major shopping areas. There are daily limits on withdrawals from ATMs and these will vary from bank to bank, but can be much higher than in most other countries. Credit cards are available although credit limits will depend upon your personal circumstances and your relationship with your bank. Some banks also offer a ‘web shopper’ card, which is for using solely for online purchases and cannot be used in an ATM.
Most banks in Oman are able to handle transactions in foreign currencies, but paying in cheques in another currency can be a lengthy process while they are being cleared. Overdrafts are available on current accounts but must be negotiated with the bank in advance. There are high charges for unauthorised overdrafts and you may be called into the bank to discuss any discrepancies. The banks in Oman are careful with their dealings with expats as it is fairly common for them to have difficulties with expat account holders.
Savings accounts can be opened with any bank and offer a better interest rate than a current account. They are fairly easily accessible but for higher interest rates it may be worth considering a fixed term savings account, which limits access to the funds. Accounts can also be opened in other currencies, which is ideal if you are expecting regular money transfers or payments from abroad and most banks will offer both telephone and online banking facilities.
Local banks include Bank Muscat SAOG, the National Bank of Oman SAOG and the Oman International Bank SAOG. Foreign banks that have a presence in the country include Barclays, HSBC and Citibank. If you have an account already with one of these banks it may be worthwhile talking to them in advance of your move to the country to see if they can help you to set accounts up before you go, although you will still be subject to the same regulations and checks.
Banks are usually open from 8 am to 12 pm and from 2.30 pm to 6 pm from Saturday to Wednesday. Thursday opening hours are from 8 am to 11.30 am. These hours will alter during religious festivals.
If you should have problems with your bank then there is a banking ombudsman that can help to resolve any issues.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Learn The Language
If you are intending to relocate to the Gulf state of Oman, you may be wondering how easy it will be to communicate. What is the official language of the country, for example, and will you need to master it in order to work effectively in the region? Or can you get by in English? We will answer some of your questions below.
Oman is Arabic-speaking, although there are various forms of the language spoken in the country. For example, Omani Arabic itself – the easternmost Arabic dialect – is spoken in the Al-Hajar Mountains and some coastal areas. It has dialects of its own, including Shihhi Arabic, spoken in the Musandam Governorate, and Dhofari Arabic used in the Dhofar Governorate. Bahrani Arabic (also known as Bahrani and Baharna Arabic) is also native to Oman as well as being spoken in Bahrain itself.
Baluchi, a Northwestern Iranian language written with the Urdu Arabic script (related to the Semitic languages used in Ethiopia and Eritrea), is also spoken by the people of the Balochistan region, on the Iranian Plateau on the borders of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and also the Arabian Peninsula. Around 312,000 Baloch people are resident in Oman. Some South Arabian languages such as Mehri and Shehri are also spoken in the country, reflecting Oman’s rich linguistic heritage.
In addition, a number of Indian and Pakistani languages are spoken in the region, a result of immigration in the 1980s and 1990s. But the second most widely spoken foreign language in Oman is English: most road signage and notices are written in English as well as Arabic, and you will find little difficulty in communicating in your workplace if you are a native English speaker. English is the language of commerce and is taught to Omani schoolchildren.
In 1798, Oman and Great Britain signed a Treaty of Friendship. A succession crisis in 1856 resulted in the Omani Empire becoming divided into the Sultanate of Oman and Muscat and the Sultanate of Zanzibar. In 1891, Oman and Muscat became a British Protectorate. Thus the UK and Oman have historical links which result in the widespread use of English as a lingua franca.
If you plan to be in more rural areas, it is advisable to master some phrases in Arabic in case you encounter people who may not be fluent in English, particularly among the older generation. It is also polite to learn the language of your host country.
If you decide to learn Arabic formally, you will find plenty of provision in Oman, either in private language schools or with one-to-one tuition. The Noor Majan Arabic Institute, for instance, provides language classes and cultural tuition at all levels, from beginner to advanced speakers. Some language schools can arrange homestays for a fully immersive experience.
Be aware that Arabic is a complex and very diverse language group. Many schools focus on Fusha, or literary Arabic, which includes classical Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic. This is ideal if you are going to be reading classical Arabic texts but not so helpful if you just need conversation for the street. So do consult with your teacher and make your linguistic needs clear, in order to find a class that is right for you.
You may be hoping to find work as an English teacher in Oman. There is a demand for well-qualified TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teachers in the private sector: the curriculum in some private schools is taught in English, so you may find work in subjects other than English if you have the relevant qualifications.
Oman has not previously been seen as a main destination for TEFL but there are significant opportunities here and the sector is growing. Salaries are competitive, around US$1600 – 3100 per month, and the cost of living can be relatively low, so if you want to save, there are opportunities for doing so. You may also find that some schools offer accommodation.
It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). The existing level of proficiency in English in Oman means that it is a competitive TEFL environment and educational institutions can afford to hire the top teaching staff. If you are a female teacher, remember that the Sultanate is a conservative Islamic country and you will be expected to adhere to local dress regulations.
It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA. You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as business and finance: there is scope for teaching business English to adults in Oman.
It will also be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree as most language schools require this: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work.
You need a work permit before you can work in Oman legally and it is a good plan to set this up before you relocate: it is really necessary to secure a job before you come out. You also need a sponsor, such as your employer: they will be responsible for you while you are in the country and will need to find you accommodation, open a bank account and so forth.
Choose A School
Oman is Arabic-speaking, and there are various forms of the language spoken in the country. English is taught in Omani schools. Education in Oman is free up until secondary level but attendance is not compulsory.
Pre school education is provided to children under 10 years of age. Basic education is divided into two cycles: the first covers grades 1-4 and the second cycle covers grades 5-10. Students must take the GED (General Education Diploma) at the end of their secondary education. This enables students to graduate from school and begin university courses in the region, and allows students to progress onto a foundation course in a UK university.
Schools in the second cycle will be single-sex, but education is co-ed in the first cycle.
Since the language of instruction is Arabic, most expats chose to enrol their children in international private schools and you will find some excellent provision here. Oman has a number of grammar schools offering Latin and Greek, Sanskrit, Hebrew and Arabic.
The private educational sector in Oman is one-fifth of the size of the public sector but is growing quickly. The Sultanate now has 1,068 public schools and 574 private schools. The Ministry of Education also governs the Private Schools Rating Office: this rates private schools according to their quality and efficiency in providing educational services.
The American International School Muscat (TAISM) is an American curriculum international school founded in 1998. This is the single American-only curriculum school in the country and teaches children from early years through high school (3-18). Fees are as follows:
• early childhood Year 1 & Year 2: RO 5,150 (approximately US$13K)
• elementary school – Kindergarten, Grades 1 – 5: RO 8,250 (US$21400)
• middle school – Grades 6 – 8: RO 9,505 (US$24600)
• high school – Grades 9 – 12: RO 9,970 (US$26000)
The British School Muscat (BSM) is a non-profit, co-educational, British international day school for pupils aged 3–18. The school follows a version of the English National Curriculum, aiming at success in Key Stage 2 SATs, GCSEs, and A Levels. Fees range from just under US$10K for earlier years through to US$24K for later schooling.
The American-British Academy (ABA) is a non-profit, co-educational, international day school, providing kindergarten to 12th grade and is an English-speaking IB school. Annual fees range from around US$10K – 22K depending on your child’s level.
The Muscat International School also offers GCSE/A Level provision. Tuition fees range from US$5K – 13K per annum depending on your child’s level.
You will also need to purchase school uniforms and may need to pay an enrolment fee. Enrolment procedures themselves will depend on the individual school but in general you will need to submit your child’s passport, school reports, a medical test and proof of residence. Acceptance is not guaranteed and may depend on whether places are available: you may need to pay a reservation fee in order to reserve a place for your child. Children will obviously need to be fluent in English if they are attending an English-speaking establishment.
Some schools offer sibling discounts, and some have the option to pay fees in instalments, but this will vary depending on the establishment. Term dates may also vary but usually run from August – June. Holidays will depend on the Islamic calendar and since Oman is an Islamic country, the school week runs from Sunday – Thursday. Classes start early, at around 7.30 am, and run through to 2 pm (earlier for younger pupils).
You may wish to see if your selected school is accredited by COBIS (the Council of British International Schools), the association for British schools in the Middle East which provides a quality-assured network adhering to British standards and which runs its own accreditation system, or an analogous American organisation such as the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), both of which accredit American schools abroad.
Homeschooling your child may prove difficult: some expats report that it is prohibited, but you should contact the Ministry of Education or your local Omani diplomatic mission in order to see whether this is actually the case or whether you need approval from the education authorities to do so.