Friday, February 28, 2014

'Oil Corruption Case' Verdicts Announced

No comments:
Muscat Appeals Court

(Over a bribe for a contract in favour of Korean Company concerning Oman Petrochemical Aromatics Company/Sohar)

CEO, Oman Oil Company, Mr A Wahibbi, 23 years jail, 4M restitution, permanent dismissal

Ex minister of National Economy, Mr Raisi, 10 years, 4M fine

The Korean national involved, 10 years, 4M fine, life-long deportation

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Remittances (10% of Oman's GDP flows outward) / Private vs Public Sector Jobs in Oman

Oman's remittance outflow is about 10% of the GDP according the World Bank. 

As reported by the Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011 put out by the World Bank, Oman has a remittance outward flow of 5.3 billion USD which is 10% of Oman's GDP.  According to rankings, Oman is 3rd in the world in outward flow remittances as a percentage of GDP and 12th in dollar amount. 

One may ask the question, has the outward flow become a drain on Oman or do the benefits of migrant labour outweigh the financial depletion? The inward flow is only 39 million USD. A few months ago, there was discussion of taxing remittances at 2%, but the thought has been put on hold for further study. One area where remittance issues and jobs intersect is in the private sector. According to figures in Gulf Business:

'Out of 1,533, 679 private sector employees, Omanis constituted around 224,698 of the workforce while the number of expat employees rose to 1,308,981 as of 2013, according to the Ministry of Manpower.'

If you calculate outward remittances with total expat workforce of about 1.2 million, the remittance per expat is about $4400 per year.

Some of the migrant labour hold jobs in construction or domestic help earning salaries in the range of 100 to 250 USD per month plus accommodation which is much less than the average expat remittance per year. This unskilled labour force most likely adds to the economy as construction projects can be built cheaply while most Omanis would not take such jobs. They also for the most part live separated from society in labour camps without much leisure time in what Westerners may classify as 'slave like' conditions even though the horrible reality is that the conditions for them back home may even be worse.

In addition, the jobs for highly qualified experts involving specialized skills in engineering, medicine and finance which expats often fill due to a lack of number of qualified Omanis most likely brings a value-added benefit to the economy and society especially in sectors such as oil and healthcare. 

However, many of the jobs for the skilled workforce in the private sector are held by expats especially those from the Indian subcontinent. According to the 2010 census, 657,443 or 80.6% of expats hail from India, Bangladesh or Pakistan. These are the jobs which are becoming in contention. Many Omanis are now qualified for these jobs with the improvement of the development of education in Oman. However, many Omanis leave the private sector or prefer only to work in the public sector. An exception may be public employees who retire and then take a senior level post in the private sector.

This is a symptom of some real dysfunction going on the private sector in regard to how to attract the Omanis with the skills and how to develop and retain them which seems to be failing in the private sector with the exception of larger international companies. It is unclear if the benefits outweigh the negatives in bringing migrant labour for the jobs Omanis can effectively handle when many Omanis are unemployed or are recent graduates and need to join the work force. 

Many of the expats have made significant contributions to the development of Oman over the last forty years as Oman ramped up its education and infrastructure.  One issue that is not discussed much openly is that some expats in the private sector are resisting the influx of Omani workers from taking the skilled jobs in the private sector and from doing well in indirect and overt ways. Sometimes, people remark that the Omanis are 'lazy',  'unskilled' or other such negativisms which may be true in some cases, but many Omanis are skilled and come out of school excited wanting to progress and do try hard.

"The World Bank report on Sustainable Growth and Economic Diversification for Oman stated, “private sector expatriate employers have revealed a tendency, for linguistic or cultural reasons, to favour their own nationals over Omanis when hiring new workers.” "

This seems a natural progression as the job has been the expat's income source (many with much higher salaries than they would receive back in the 'subcontinent'), but, now, the educated Omani is a competitor and threat to the expat's financial security and visa in Oman. Many of these expats have spent many years working in Oman and have families. This plays out in many ways in the private sector such as not training the Omani (as there is little incentive to train someone to take over one's job), backstabbing the Omani, only hiring the Omani to meet nationalization quotas but then bringing over other expats in the same position to give them a chance at earning the salary, making life difficult at the job for the Omani, ganging up on the Omani with the expat's copatriots,  etc. 

Although it's a sensitive issue, it does happen in the work force. If you ask around or just listen, you can find many Omanis who say they have experienced this and even go as far to describe the phenomena with phrases such as the 'Mumbai Mafia', etc. If one were to peruse forums such as Sablat Oman in the 'politics and government' section, one would find there is no dearth of rants on the subject.

Despite the pleasant appearances and affected smiles, underneath it all it seems rather doggie dog for survival for some of the expats which rarely people talk about publicly. There are reported cases where lecturers have paid bribes to recruiters in India to place them in a lucrative teaching position in Oman which is totally counter productive to Oman as it totally forgoes any chance of getting the highly qualified teachers based on merit. There are, of course, many expats not engaging in such behaviors.(

In addition, it is not uncommon for the expat's salary to be higher than the Omani's salary in the private sector for similar work for mid-level or entry jobs (not necessarily in high level positions). Even if, at first, the Omani is less qualified but then catches up, his or her salary is still less than the expat's. This may be considered unfair and does not inspire work cooperation.

Even in primates, it has been shown that equity is important; two monkeys will do the same trick for the same treat. But, when one monkey got a better treat such as a grape in the experiment,  the other monkey refused to do the same trick again, threw his lesser treat back and banged on his cage. ( /  Time 12:45)

Fairness seems deeply embedded  in the human psyche, so if it were your country and you were getting less than the outsiders for the same work while making sincere efforts on the job front; it would be understandable one might 'bail' on the private sector and would get a job in the public sector where there is job security, schedule of promotions, more 'perks', status and a majority Omani workforce where Arabic is the main language spoken. 

Public sector jobs are becoming more costly to the Omani government in terms of the budget. It seems through programs such as Omanisation and limits on expat visa numbers, the Omani government is trying to increase the number of Omanis in the private sector; however, indicators show the number of expat workers have been increasing.

Sometimes, officials ask Omanis through press releases to 'do their duty as citizens' and work in the private sector, but this coaxing has not worked all that well. In general, there are more 'perks' in working in the public sector over the private sector. 10% of GDP is quite an outflow; even a partial reinvestment into the Omani economy would be beneficial. Below is a list of various factors that may contribute to why many Omanis would choose public sector. 

Public vs Private (from the best of my understanding)

In general, salaries are higher for an entry & mid-level worker (not necessarily senior positions) in the public sector. Bachelor degree holders can expect around 900 OMR; whereas is the private sector 400-650 OMR. Private sector employers may bring cheaper expat employees compared to the cost to hire and train an Omani. 

There are more observed holidays in the public sector and additional perks such as yearly 'gifts' such as turbans and  'bonuses'. The public sector has more job security as far as reliable payment and long-term viability of the government job. Private companies may struggle to pay their employees or go out of business.

Pensions may be collected after 15 years of service in the public sector but after 26 years in the private. Pensions are calculated up to 80% of gross salary (includes allowances) in the public sector, but in the private sector based upon the base salary which can be significantly lower. Some equalization is supposed to take place in the future.

Generally, based upon years of service according to a schedule in the public sector. Normally, every three to four years, one will move up a grade. In the private sector, it's subject to company rules and whims. 

Work Environment:

The public sector consists of 70-75% Omani workers; where as the private sector is 25-35% Omani depending on what statistics you look at. Expats dominate Omanis in the private sector in numbers and some Omani prefer the comfort of working with fellow citizens and the job security in the public sector. Working in the public sector may be seen as more acceptable to certain families. The private sector may pose a language barrier to some Omanis as many expats only speak English and their native languages. 

Some overall observations about the Omani workforce in both sectors are: 

1) There is system in place in which does not support employee motivation based upon merits. This leads to inefficiency and lack of innovation and initiative in the whole job market. Many jobs are promoted based upon 'wasta', nepotism and on promotion cycle not on actual merit. Even in the private sector, manager expats may nominate and support others from their same region back home completely ignoring the merit's of others at the company.  Therefore, there is no incentive to do anything more than what you are told unless the individual has an inner drive or quest for achievement greater than the repression.

 2) It is very difficult to fire an Omani at a job. Basically, unless they show up to work with whiskey bottle in hand staggering around shouting vulgarities and the evidence cannot be disputed, it is extremely hard to 'can' someone. Omanis know this, and it is ultimately a work de-motivator. This also goes to the merits, if the standard of keeping a job is so low then why bother to push the envelop or be competitive.  

3) The job training and internship opportunities are quite inadequate unless at a large international company and even then there are not enough opportunities available to the younger generation of Omanis coming onto the job scene. And, the practical job skills are not quite there yet. 

There is an idea that a certificate makes you an expert or qualified and practical experience and actual skill is well underrated. Promotion is based on certificates and seniority if not wasta not necessarily on job performance - another downer for job merits. The education is still not up to par - I think mostly due to the lack of qualified teaching professionals at the university level and lack of practical skills training.

Also, the Omani grade school curriculum needs to be re-inspired to fit the course of study at the universities and job skills.  For example, only about one subject is taught in English in Omani school, but then Omani students are expected to obtain certain scores on the British IELTs or American TOEFL English language tests or an in-house  'foundation English test' to gain entrance to the universities here. In grade school, math is taught using Arabic numbers and wording with some English translation, but then at university the math and science is taught in English causing a lot of  unnecessary failures. Furthermore, generally, the English system is used in private sector jobs. Kids that attend international schools fare better.  

Omani universities need more diversity in teaching professionals who have quality work experience in their fields. It may be more expensive to bring more qualified people, but in the long run it will be well worth it. The teacher recruiting for the university system in Oman is seriously corrupted and needs a total overhaul. In some university English departments, it is hard to find a native English speaker. Other GCC countries have faced similar challenges. Saudi has dealt with it by sending 100,000 students abroad to study, and the UAE has brought some top educators and partnered with top international universities in the UAE. (

Oman does not tax salaries in Oman, so the expats remit the money without putting money back into the public system all while using the public subsidized services such as roads, petrol, electricity, etc  for which Oman pays. About 1/3 of the population are expats, so it adds up. Many expats especially from Asian and the 'subcontinent', in general, save as much as possible and remit almost all their money to their country each month (which seriously mitigates any money multiplier effect if they spent or were taxed on the money in Oman). The interest rates on savings deposits in India, for example, are much higher than in Oman.

Oman discussed putting a 2% tax on remittances which seemed unpopular, but putting some restrictions on remittances may be in order such as requiring a percentage of the funds from workers at a certain salary level to be reinvested or held in Oman for those who remain here long term - say more than five years.  In contrast, many European expats tend to spend a larger proportion of their incomes in Oman and hold their more of their money in Omani banks while in the country. Also, many European expats tend to stay in Oman for shorter stints; whereas, other expat migrant groups tend to be 'lifers' staying in excess of 20 years or more and only returning to their countries to retire. Unlike the case in other countries with a migrant work force, expats in Oman are not integrated (probably purposely so) and keep a separate or even 'sub' existence from Omanis even if living in Oman almost their whole life which I find ultimately not beneficial for the groups. 

Overall, Oman has made enormous strides if one looks at their progress over the last 40 or so years; however, the workforce transition seems to have its challenges. Oman will need to incentivize the private sector in such a way that personal job interests of employees and expats, company aims and Oman's goals line-up better. In addition, new fair methods to promote innovation and to reward Omanis for their merits and  accomplishments at work and at school are needed. 10% of Oman's GDP is flowing outward through remittances while many Omani remain underemployed. 

Some recent comments on the issue from Times of Oman:

  • Comment (names redacted) 
    The omani people are the son of this soil and it is the basic right for each omani to seek employment in his/her own country. the expatriate who do small and medium business wants to eat away all profit and send it to their own country. they employ contract workers from manpower supply and complete their manpower requirement the ministry has to crack such people who operate internally in industrial areas .
  • Comment
    The postive side is new jobs for young generation but loopholes within laws will open backdoors for unethical activities. Proxy trading, visa selling & 5% commission is way of Omanis doing duet jobs. You can't blame them but blame the corrupted system in placed.
    • Comment
      You should first train & educate them , so they don't become burden for the organisations..supporting nationals is duty of sultanate, but not in a way that you forget the humanity. Expatriates are not alien, they shouldn't be deprived of their basic rights of earning, if they decided to work in Oman.
      • Comment
        Why are you yelling so much! You could have said same thing to your government back home...Ask them to increase job opportunity....Let me tell you onething...They will get trained once they get a job...Its their country...their home land....Will you feed outsider and keep your family hungry??..

      • Comment
        its in ur thinkung that they are getting trained, infact companies are paying to unskilled omanis by dealing with them, so they can just show to ministries that they have omanis. expats are more skilfull than them, and point here is not to remind me of my country, point is how to deal with workers irrespective of national discremination, over which u are yelling my brother.

    Friday, February 21, 2014

    Upcoming: Dutch Night, St. Paddy's Day Ball & SAGO's Ubuntu Ball

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    Please see flyers below for details of the following events:

    i.   Dutch Night - Februrary 28, 2014, 7:30 pm
    ii.  St. Patrick's Day Ball - March 14, 2014, 7:00 pm
    iii. SAGO's Ubuntu Ball - April 25, 2014, 7:00 pm

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

    Social Groups & Clubs for Expats in Oman

    1 comment:
    I am putting together a list of social groups & clubs in Oman with a majority of expat members.  Most organizations are based in Muscat, but all are welcome. Many of the groups regularly hold meetings and have planned activities throughout the year.

    List 1 - Societies & Groups

    American Women's Group Oman
    'American Hospitality - Multicultural Membership'

    Anglo-Omani Society

    ANZO Australians and New Zealanders in Oman
    'Australians and New Zealanders are friendly creatures who enjoy social activities.'

    Caledonian Society of Oman
    'Failte Oirbh!' bringing together everyone who loves any aspect of the bonnie land. '

    Crafty in Oman
    'If you consider yourself crafty and located in Muscat, Oman please do join'

    Environmental Society of Oman
    'Membership is open to anyone who has an interest in conserving the environment and ensuring that Oman's natural heritage remains intact'

    Indian Social Club Goan Wing
    'Goans have been in Oman since the early 1970’s'

    Online Expat Community that plans activities and monthly get-togethers at local hot-spots.

    Muscat Quilt Guild

    Muscat Mums
    'Muscat Mums is a voluntary, non-profit, social and support group for expecting mothers and parents of pre-school children.'

    Muscat Singers
    'The Muscat Singers began life in 1974 with a handful of music-loving expatriates.'

    Nederlanders in Oman
    'We are an association for and by Dutch and Dutch-speakers living in Oman.'

    Oman Irish Society
    'Keeping it Green in the Land of Sand'

    SAGO South African Group Oman
    'A non-profit social organisation for South Africans & friends. We organise social and gathering events'

    Women's Guild Oman
    'Now with a membership of over 2,000...'

    List 2 - Clubs & Associations

    Business & Professional

    Omani British Lawyers Association
    'To develop and strengthen legal, business and cultural links between lawyers in the UK and Oman'

    The German-Omani Association
    'The German-Omani Association is a fertile ground for mutual activities..'

    Oman Society for Engineers

    Muscat American Business Council
    '..formed to foster the development of commercial activity between the US & Oman'

    Stichting Netherlands Oman Foundation (SNOF).
    'Look around to learn more about how to do business in Oman or the Netherlands.'

    Sultan's Armed Force Association

    Sports & Recreation

    Bike Oman
    'Tales & Lies from rides - Mountain biking in Oman'

    Capital Area Yacht Centre
    'The Capital Area Yacht Centre offers Members, their families and guests the use of a beautiful beach and a Club House with a restaurant and refreshment facilities.'

    Latin Dance Muscat
    Latin Dance Muscat (LDM) is a fun and exciting social group of people who come together through our common passion for Latin dancing. We conduct weekly group classes in Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, La Rueda and Cha -Cha. 

    Muscat Divers

    Muscat Mixed Martial Arts Club

    Muscat Mountain Bikers

    Muscat Road Runners
    'Muscat Road Runners is a multi national group which get together several time a week to run'

    Muscat Rugby Football Club
    'the home of rugby in Oman..'

    PDO Club Ras Al Hamra

    Ride Oman
    'Motorbiking in Oman'


    Almouj Golf

    Ghala Valley Golf Club

    Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club

    List 3 - 'Society Balls' & Other Events Oman

    Dutch Night 'Party' (Nederlanders in Oman)

    St. Patrick's Day Ball (Irish Society)
    SAGO Ball (South African Group Oman)
    Thin Red Line Ball (British Army)
    Canadian Stampede (PDO Club)
    British Academy Ball

    ANZO Ball (Australians and New Zealanders in Oman)
    May Queen Ball (Indian Social Club Goan Wing)
    MRFC Rugby Oval Ball (Muscat Rugby Football Club)

    November /December
    The St. Andrews Ball (Caledonian Society) 
    US Marine Ball
    Crystal  Ball (Women's Guild)
    National Day Fireworks (PDO Club)

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    This Is America & The World: In the Sultanate of Oman, Part I, II & III

    No comments:
    Please see below for several documentaries on Oman. Each are about 25 minutes in length and are put out by the program, 'This is America & the World,' for public television. 

    1) This is America & the World with Dignitaries in Oman about the Royal Opera House Muscat. Part II

    ROHM Director,  His Highness Sayyid Kamil bin Fahad al Said is quite well spoken as he describes the how the ROHM will have a role in preserving cultural heritage and developing future art.


    'Host Dennis Wholey visits what is called the Royal Opera House Muscat, which combines traditional design reflecting the region's history and culture and today's state of the art technology. Dennis talks with Project Director Hamid Ghazali, members of the Board of Directors including His Highness Sayyid Kamil bin Fahad al Said and Her Excellency Dr. Rawya Al Busaidi, and Director of Education and Outreach, Dr. Nasser Al Taee.'

    2) In The Sultanate Of Oman - Part I

    The conversation with His Excellency Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, is particularly interesting. His interview starts at 11:41.


    'In Muscat, Oman, host Dennis Wholey learns about the pillars of Oman's Foreign Policy and the country's historic relationship with the United States. Dennis speaks with His Excellency Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs and Her Excellency Hunaina Al Mughairy, Ambassador of Oman to the United States.'

    3) This Is America & The World: In The Sultanate of Oman, Part III - Culture In Oman 

    Chairman of Muscat Municipality, His Excellency Sultan bin Hamdoon Al Harthy talks about Muscat Festival. His interview starts around 12:15.


    'At the annual Culture Festival in Muscat, host Dennis Wholey explores the traditions, heritage, music, art, culture and history of Oman. Dennis talks with the Chairman of Muscat Municipality, His Excellency Sultan bin Hamdoon Al Harthy and the Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan for Cultural Affairs, His Excellency Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Al Rowas.'

    Monday, February 17, 2014

    Valentine's Day Snow on Jebel Shams, Oman - more snow than Sochi

    1 comment:
    Oman, Jebel Shams, February 2014

    Recently, due to colder weather, it snowed in Oman. Some tourists enjoyed the weather on top of Jebel Shams near Niswa. Oman does get snow every few years in higher altitudes despite its regular year round warm temperatures.

    Read more at Gulf News:

    Oman Snow Photos



    Normal Conditions: Bosher Dunes, Muscat

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    Travelling in Oman Cheaply

    Muscat was signaled out a few years back for having the most expensive average hotel room cost in the world along with Tokyo by For those visitors who are looking for cheaper alternatives, here are some budget options.

    Getting There (Hints)
    Currency: 1 OMR = 1.57GBP = 2.60USD = 1.90EUR = 2.87AUD

    1. Free tourist visa. If you arrive to Dubai first and obtain a Dubai tourist visa stamp in your passport, and then travel to Oman (without passing through a 3rd country) your tourist visa into Oman should be free as part of a tourism cooperation agreement between Oman and the Emirate of Dubai. A Dubai tourist visa is free for many nationalities. Otherwise, an Omani vistors visa costs 5 OMR for a ten day visit and 20 OMR (13USD & 55USD) for up to 30 days.

    2. A bus is available into Oman from Dubai and costs about 6 OMR and it takes about 6 hrs to Muscat crossing at the Hatta border. It does not run frequently so plan ahead. or for schedule (subject to change) The bus stops for a break in Sohar, Oman and lets off in the Ruwi area in Muscat.

    3. Fly Dubai offers cheap flights between Dubai and Muscat; the more irregular the hour the cheaper.

    4. Changing money at the airport such as at the Travelex does not give the best rate. Use an ATM or a local money exchange shop. Oman is rather safe, so it is not such a problem to carry around cash.


    1. Use websites such as:

    A) to rent out local rooms and places for the short term at a reasonable rate.

    B) Or, try out to find a host and stay for free.

    2. Hotels

    A) Some of the cheapest hotels in Muscat are located on the Muttrah Cornish. The rooms may be small and noisy. However, the traditional sook, Alam Palace, parks and a plethora of restaurants/coffee shops are near by. It is possible to reserve through websites such as but you may get a better rate to negotiate directly at the hotel. Naseem Hotel gets good reviews (about 35-50 USD).

    B) Hotels which are labeled 'Hotel Apartments' also tend to be cheaper 15-30 OMR.

    C) At times, especially in the summer, major hotel chains run promotions where five star room prices are cut in half.

    D) Pick up a copy of the 'Entertainer Middle East' and take advantage of the stay one night get one night free at leading hotel chains as well as the restaurant coupons. They are available for purchase at the Book Shop in the Food Court at Qurm Centre City Mall.

    E) Qurm: Qurm Beach Hotel. This hotel is cheap for Muscat (40-50USD) and is in a good location in Qurm just down from the beach and Qurm Shatti Street. Also, it's near the Crowne Plaza Hotel. However, it is local budget hotel and a place to crash. Rating from travel sites around 6. It's pretty much a dive.

    L'Espace Bed and Breakfast. A villa turned B&B located very close to the beach (north of Embassy Row) is renting out rooms. Cash only, reserve by email. See website:

    Beach Hotel Muscat. The best part of the hotel is its location; near (as in close walk) to the Shatti Qurm Beach, Jawaharat Shopping and restaurant complex and Intercon Hotel. The rooms are said to need some attention, but are semi-satisfactory. (70-100 for basic room USD) Rating from travel sites around 6.

    F) Al Khawair: City Seasons Hotel in Al Khawair area. This hotel is not cheap, but if you are looking for something decent and up to international hotel standards, in a good location and would like to pay under $200, I would recommended City Seasons. (Rating 8+ by Agoda) It's good for business travelers. Or, pay a bit less and have something more standard but consistent at the IBIS or Waves Hotel near by., or

    Wadi Kabir: Golden Oasis (45USD). It's OK. The rooms are a bit dated and dusty. Or, Crystal Suites (65 USD) is another option. The rooms are larger and more modern. Next to the LuLu's., or
    Wadi Kabir is not centrally located. It may be better to stay
    in Qurm or Muttrah where there are more activities for tourists.
      Jissah Beach Area: Oman Dive Center Resort - Beach Bungalows - Restaurant on premise.

    G) Sohar: Atlas Hotel Apartments (50 USD). Otherwise, the Crowne Plaza Sohar, Beach Hotel, and Butterfly Hotel offer more expensive options. I would avoid the Wadi Hotel unless you want to be near Arabic bars (70-80USD).

    H) Al Buraimi: Al Salam Hotel. (50 USD) Reasonable rates; relaxing coffee house. Probably the cleanest and best option in Buraimi. There are also some Hotel Apartments located behind the Al Ain gift market when first driving into Buraimi from Sohar. Al Massa Hotel and Buraimi Hotel are just grungy. Al Massa bath tubs do not look as if they have ever been scrubbed out, and pigeons have made a home in Hotel Buraimi's pool (but there is an outdoor sheesha bar around the pool).

    If one needs something nicer, then one may need to head into Al Ain, UAE (10 minutes from Buraimi); however, you may get hit with an additional visa fee and have to go to Wadi Jizzi immigration station (40 km from Buraimi). Or, try the Crowne Plaza, Sohar located on the road to Buraimi about one hour away (no visa change necessary).

    I) Sur: Al Ayjah Plaza Hotel (50-60USD). Sur Plaza Hotel (55-100USD)

    J) Masirah Island: See AndyinOman's post,

    *Note: The hotels listed are mostly local budget hotels and not luxurious unless noted. Oman is in the process of  'developing' tourism. Most of the hotel staff are workers from abroad (not Omani) on low salaries and sometimes lack the training or service one might expect or have become accustom to in other parts of the world. It's good to keep an open mind and go with the flow and not to compare everything with 'back home' or other places but take it in and enjoy the experience as is.

    3. Camp out

    A) Save a few nights hotel cost by camping out at well known tourist spots. It is possible to pick up a tent and sleeping bags cheaply at the Carrefour or at LuLu's. Some popular places to camp are in wadis such as Wadi Shab. Also, it is possible to camp on Yiti beach about 15 km outside Muscat after Qantab. After reaching Yiti Beach village, you go through the village to where it seems the road ends into some sand dunes. Over the sand dunes is where you will find a secluded part of Yiti beach.
    23°32'4"N 58°40'46"E

    B) The Capital Yacht Club & Oman Dive Centre offer inexpensive day rates for using their beach and shower facilities during weekdays. The weekends (Friday & Saturday) and holidays are more expensive.

    Capital Yacht Club is located between Wadi Kabir and Muttrah Sook on Sidab Road near Bandar Rouda Marina. There is a gate upon entrance. It is just next to the entrance to the British Ambassador's house, but closer to Muttrah Sook. You can camp right on the beach at the Capital Yacht Club for 5 OMR a night (showers & toilets). Day rates 1 OMR weekdays, 3 OMR weekends.

    The Oman Dive Centre is located near the Shangri-la hotel. It is off the same round about of  the Shangri-la. They have beach cabins but a bit pricey. However, on can use the day facilities for 2 OMR weekdays and 4 OMR weekends.

    C) Other camping areas:

    i) Al Sawadi Islands north of Muscat. At Al Sawadi beach, it is  possible to hire a local fisherman to transport and let you off at an island (5-6 OMR).

    ii) Top of Jebel Shams. It may be a bit cooler do to the altitude. Bring all supplies (food & water) as there is not much for sale up there.

    Getting Around

    A) Unfortunately, Oman does not have much of a public transportation infrastructure and Muscat is quite spread out making the use of cars in one form or another a necessity.

    Share a taxi. Taxis are relatively cheap but you must negotiate for a good price. There are no meters and most drivers add a 'gringo' tax for picking up foreigners. Taxi sharing on local routes and between cities is common and lowers the fare. Most taxis gather around Hypermarkets such as LuLu's and at taxi stands so it is possible to negotiate a share taxi to other cities from those places. It is best as a foreign female not take a taxi alone.

    B) Rent a Car. Renting a car may turn out cheaper than taking taxis around.  Major brands have branches at the airport. However, it is possible to get better deal through a local rental shop. There are many mom and pop rental car shops especially on the service road between Qurm and Ruwi. Pay attention to the  mileage allowed and the deductible in case of an accident. You can negotiate anything at the mom and pop car rental shops. For major brands one must have a credit card to rent; for local shops it is not required. Petrol is really cheap around 30 cents a litre so 'it pays' to drive.

    My preferences for car rental:

    i) Al Maskari Car rental.

    ii) Auto Rent. 12-15 OMR for economy car. Auto Rent is a larger brand, but reliable and reasonable in price. Operated by the Nissan Dealership of Saud Bahkwan Group in Oman.

    iii) Email us: and we can arrange a local rental for about 9-10 OMR per day (25USD)

    C) Hitchhike

    1) Omanis are pretty helpful and sometimes will pick up foreigners and give them a ride. Also, if you need help they will most likely go out of their way to help you if you ask them or look in distress. Of course, there is a risk but it is less in Oman than say in most countries.


    1) Eating in local coffee shops or restaurants is relatively cheap. An egg sandwich costs 200 beza or about 50 cents. One can find many shawarma, rotisseri chicken, rice, Indian and kebabs meals on the cheap. Food from hotels and Western restaurants are more expensive than in the West in general. Most coffee shops are 'to go'; the waiter will come the the car window to take your order, then deliver the food to your car.

    2) There are many local supermarkets and smaller markets to buy food supplies.

    3) Restaurant Suggestions:

    A) Bin Ateeq Traditional Omani Food:
    Each dining party gets their own room with Arabic style seating, a fan and TV.

    B) Zanzibar Food Restaurant near the Wave (it's the knife and fork on the map)

    C) Surf & Turf Grand Hyatt Muscat **NOT CHEAP** but probably one of the best restaurants in Muscat.

    D) Turkish Restaurant in the shopping centre behind Radisson Blu Hotel in al Khawair for late night snacking.


    1) Alcohol is served at hotels and some restaurants in Oman, but not for sale publicly in stores. Hotel prices are quite steep for a beer, but there are a few dives around offering beza beer (less than 1 OMR). As you leave the immigration arrivals area at the airport, there is a last minute duty free store where alcohol can be purchased. This shop is after the X-ray of luggage upon leaving the immigration area.


    A) Hotel Golden Oasis in Wadi Kabir. Several bars including Sports Bar. Near the Post Office. 
    (1 OMR Beer)

    B) Just down the street from Hotel Golden Oasis is 'Sands Hotel'. The basement has two drinking chambers; one for smokers and one for non-smokers. (700 bz Beer)

    C) Many of the Western hotels serving drinks are located in the Qurum and Al Khawair areas of Muscat. The drinks are more expensive but there is more of an 'expat' feel to the clientele frequenting those establishments.(5+USD per beer, 2.5 OMR)

    D) Samaa Terrace Roof Top Bar (On top of the Park Inn Hotel). It's not open during summer (due to hot weather). The open air of the roof top is great. Sometimes, they run a ladies night promotion.

    D) Ruwi has some cheap drinking places, but many cater to the South Asian expat crowd and have dancers.

    E) Oman has been cracking down on drinking establishments by imposing regulations such as no live bands and not renewing licenses. Also, unless one visits one of the main expat bars at the major hotels, the bars tend to cater to almost all male customers. So, it may feel uncomfortable for a woman to drink there unless with a group.

    Final Notes

    1. Cheap Booking sites for air travel:

    A) - Offers cheap airline fares. It is run out of Russia which caused me to hesitate at first. However, due to their 'cheapness' I went ahead bought a ticket from them on Air France and had no issues during my travel.

    B) - For the best fares, one must set the country to United Kingdom on the upper right corner navigation. They use different consolidators based upon your location which gives different price results.

    C) - This site is good for booking flights originating in the USA.

    D) Norwegian Airlines: - Offers cheap flights to/from Dubai to European Cities and Florida, USA.

    E) Indigo: - If you're flying East from Oman toward India or Thailand, Indigo offers reasonable fares.

    F) Oman Air (Best Fares & Deals Page) - At times, Oman Air offers good deals on select destinations or hotel/flight deals in Oman.

    2. Hotel Booking sites:

    A) In Oman, it seems for the local budget hotels, it is cheaper to negotiate directly with the hotel. However, for the major and high-end hotel chains, the booking sites offer better rates.

    3. Tour Companies in Oman:

    A) Arranged tours tend to be expensive. However, people with a sense of adventure and a guide such as Off-Road Oman (available in Oman at Carrefour, Borders, etc) can do quite well driving around Oman to see the main sites and cities on their own. The roads in Oman are quite good and except for remote places, and one does not need a 4X4 these days to visit many attractions. English is widely spoken especially by the younger generations.

    Useful Oman travel links:









    'Wadi or Valley' OmanTourism.Gov