When exploring career opportunities in the Middle East region, many expat Quantity Surveyors are attracted to the glitz and glamour of Dubai or the sheer scale of work in Qatar perhaps. What I don't get many calls about are candidates wanting to move to Oman.
However, I wonder if this is justified or whether this is just down to a lack of knowledge and understanding of Oman?
The vast majority of professionals who I speak to that have visited or worked in Oman previously have nothing but positive things to say about the country. That includes the landscape, the friendliness of the Omani people and some of the exciting construction projects that have been completed and are currently under construction in the country.
Oman in Brief
Capital City: Muscat (Population 800,000)
Borders: U.A.E, Saudi Arabia & Yemen
Income Tax: 0%
Currency: Omani Rial (OMR)
1 OMR = 1.67 GBP
1 OMR = 2.6 USD
1 OMR = 9.54 AED
Some Benefits of Living and Working in Oman
Firstly, Oman is a beautiful country. It has over 2,000 km's of coastline with some spectacular beaches. It is arguably the most diverse landscape of all of the countries in the Middle East that Maxim regularly recruits in. It has large deserts, stunning coastlines, mountains and large forested areas which is a largely unique feature in the region. Many have described Oman as the perfect Middle Eastern location for the more adventurous amongst you, with lots to explore and some fantastic scenery as well as an ideal spot for water sports such as sailing and diving.
2. Tax Free Earnings
Like the rest of the Middle Eastern states, Oman also does not tax you on your income.
3. Cost Of Living
This obviously depends on your individual lifestyle, however the cost of living in Oman is seen to be cheaper than the likes of Dubai and Qatar where in particular property prices have rocketed over recent years. Prices of rented accommodation, utility bills and eating in restaurants all seem to be cheaper. Considerably cheaper in some instances.
Not only is the cost of living generally cheaper in Oman, but there is arguably less temptation to spend your money compared to the likes of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar where there are more large shopping centres, expensive bars and restaurants to tempt your earnings away.
As many expats are tempted to the Middle East for its tax free status and the attraction of earning more. Why not consider Oman, where you can likely minimise your cost of living and save more of your salary.
4. You can drink Alcohol in Oman
There's no doubt that some expats are put off by the 'dry' countries where they cannot get an alcoholic drink after work. In Oman, residents can apply for a License to drink at home as well as drink alcoholic drinks in fully licensed hotels and restaurants.
5. Exciting Construction & Infrastructure Projects
Oman continues to invest heavily in its infrastructure. The country is extremely wealthy via its oil production and has ambitious plans to improve the country's infrastructure. In particular Muscat International Airport is undergoing a 3 phase development to take its capacity up from the existing 12m passengers to 48m when completed. Phase 1 is due to be completed next year but has experienced large delays.
Large highways projects such as the Al Batinah Expressway have recently started construction. An 8 lane, 265 km carriageway linking Muscat to the UAE border. Expected completion 2017.
Oman is a large producer of oil and there is a large presence of specialist oil & gas companies based in and around the country such as Sohar.
Oman has a small number of local construction contractors and consultancies that have a large presence in their construction market. As well as this, there are many leading International contractors and consultancies (including British) operating in the country. Meaning many expats can join a company they are familiar with.
The one constraint on working in Oman that I have encountered over the last 6 - 12 months is that the government are very strict on issuing Visas. This is not something you should be concerned about too much if you hold a degree qualification or similar equivalent. However for candidates not holding a degree qualification, you may find it very difficult to find work in Oman due to companies being cautious about attaining a Visa for you.
Moving to any new country is a big decision, so my biggest advice to any potential expats looking to move to the region would be to do your research before you start looking. There are a number of great resources out there including 'Expat Forum'.
If you weren’t considering Oman as a potential location to move to, this article may give you food for thought.
UK & Middle East Sector