On arrival, you will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel, where you will stay for 2 nights for orientation in Muscat. During your stay in Muscat, you will be taken to CfBT’s head office and training centre for the orientation process, which will be an opportunity to meet future colleagues, ask any questions not covered in this document and deal with some of the documentation. A visit to the Ministry will be required by each individual to fill out additional documentation to complete your paper work to start work.
Following the Orientation, you will be driven to the town where you will be working and taken to your temporary shared accommodation . Either the day you arrive or the morning after, you will be taken to the college to meet the Dean and the Head of Department, see your office and begin to discuss your programme. You will be given ample time to settle in before you start your lesson plans.
Properties in Oman range from flats to small villas.
All accommodation are fitted with air-conditioners, you may also be able to get partial or fully furnished accommodation. Single and two bedroom flats are common.
In general properties are let on the basis of a fixed term agreement which cannot be repudiated within the time period of the contract unless parties to it mutually agree. In the event you wish to end the contract upon its expiry it is required that you give three months’ advance notice. In general the above condition is enforced by many landlords and it is in your interest to notify the landlord in writing.
- Power is 240 volts with both English and European plugs. Adaptors are widely available.
- Water is generally treated and is drinkable, although it can taste heavily chlorinated. Bottled water is available at local supermarkets.
- Gas comes from a gas cylinder, which is provided with your flat. Replacements cost RO.3 – 4 depending on where you live. Refills are readily available from trucks that drive around residential areas. Once you have found a supplier you can take his phone number and arrange for delivery as needed.
- Rubbish is collected weekly or more often – you must place your rubbish (ideally in plastic bags) in one of the metal rubbish bins you will see along your street. Re-cycling is not yet practised in Oman.
Telephone service and Internet
Connecting to a telephone landline is quite easy as long as there is a line connection already in place. You will need to complete some forms, get a letter from CfBT, pay a fee and in a couple of weeks you will have a line. You can also get a connection to the Internet through this system. Connecting the telephone and Internet takes about 2-3 weeks. You may decide just to use the email facilities at your college, rather than have a landline
Even if you were previously not a mobile phone user, you will be converted as soon as you arrive in Oman. For your mobile phone, getting set up is also easy. A passport or ID copy is required to apply for prepaid mobile service. Currently there are two mobile service providers in Oman, Omantel and Ooreedoo. We suggest opening a line with Omantel if you were to work in towns outside the Muscat area.
Shopping is varied. There are several shopping centres and malls in Muscat that provide a variety of clothing, furniture, etc. There is no “town centre” as such in Muscat; shopping is spread over several centres. The Spinney’s, Carrefour and Lulu are supermarket centres in Muscat where you can find all types of western and Asian food to suit all tastes. Sometimes, with any given item, the range may not be as wide as you are used to and specific goods may be out of stock. For books, “Borders” bookshops in Muscat has a limited selection and the “House of Prose” has an excellent system for exchanging second-hand books. You could also receive online orders to our postal address.
A reasonable range of leading brands of cosmetics and toiletries can be bought in supermarkets and chemists or an acceptable alternative can usually be found. If you insist on one brand, it would be a good idea to bring a supply with you.
The Mutrah Souk in Muscat is a must, where you can bargain over Omani silver and artifacts, spices, incense, clothing, shoes and Omani wooden chests, not to mention the gold in the numerous gold shops.
Shops located in the malls are open from 10am-10pm. Stand-alone shops open at 10am – 1pm, close during the afternoon then re-open at 4.30pm-10pm. Supermarkets are open from 8am-11pm daily. You may find an occasional supermarket and pharmacy open 24hrs.
The weekend in Oman is Friday and Saturday.
During Ramadhan, both working and shops hours may change.
Transport and driving
There are plenty of taxis in Muscat and in the towns, but public transport is limited. There is a regular bus service within Muscat. There are minibus drivers with whom you can arrange to be taken to work and back. There are also “baisa buses” – minibuses, usually very crowded, which ply the roads and stop when waved down. Western women do not usually feel at ease using these. Sharing taxis is also common, but again many women prefer not to share. Single women are advised to occupy the back seat of a taxi, unless it would mean sharing it with a male passenger.
Taxis are not metered, so you should ask the fare before you begin your journey. Ask friends/colleagues for advice on typical fares; westerners are usually expected to pay more, but often come to a very reasonable monthly arrangement for daily transport to work and back.
You are permitted to drive hired cars on your current licence for approximately six months then you are required to convert to a local licence. You will need to request an official signed paper from CfBT and we will help you through the process, which is quite straightforward. It involves going to the local police station and having an eye test. They will also ask you your blood group. Driving licenses cost around RO 20. You will need to produce your valid licence from neighbouring Gulf countries, Jordan, USA, Canada, the EU, Australia or New Zealand. Driving licences from some countries are not recognised by the Royal Oman Police (eg Cyprus, India, Pakistan, Philippines ) in which case you will be required to take a driving test to obtain a driving licence.
Buying or hiring a car
There are many car-hire firms in Muscat and several in the smaller towns; hotels can also arrange this for you. A small saloon car costs approximately OR 150 per month to rent. Before leaving your home country, ensure you hold a valid International driving licence to use initially in Oman.
Second-hand cars can be bought through dealers, supermarket notice-boards, newspapers and word-of-mouth. New cars can be bought on hire-purchase and there are often good buy-back deals.
Owning a car is a necessity rather than a luxury and we strongly recommend that you buy or hire one. Certainly, most teachers need a car to get to work and non-working spouses will find they need a car to go shopping.
Driving in Oman
Using your phone whilst driving is prohibited unless you are using a hands-free device and if you are caught you will face 24hrs in prison plus a fine.
You must carry your driving licence always and failure to present your licence if requested will result in a fine.
Drinking and driving is illegal in Oman. If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident and there is alcohol in your bloodstream your insurance will be invalidated and you will face a large fine and a jail term.
The use of seat belts is compulsory in the front seats of cars.
Due to the hot climate, all classrooms, offices and shops are air-conditioned, but the souks are not. Your body may take time to adjust to the fluctuation in temperature indoors and outdoors.
There is no reason to be especially worried about your health in Oman; given a pleasant climate and an interesting life, it can, in fact, be even better than it is at home. Serious illnesses and accidents do occur, but because of the lifestyle and length of time abroad these tend to be the same kind of illnesses you would get at home, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
In the short term, it is common for teachers in their first months in Oman to experience minor coughs and colds as you would at any time when you make major changes to your home and work environment. It takes time to develop immunity to new strains of bacteria or virus.
The laws on possession of all banned, illegal or non-prescription drugs are severe. It is a serious offence to be found guilty of trafficking drugs or in possession of even small quantities. Any CfBT member of staff found in possession of drugs will be dismissed immediately.
The ambulance service in Oman is new and the fleet of vehicles with trained staff is relatively small. This means that response times may be less speedy than hoped. The key rule is not to attempt to move an injured person, but in places where the response time is slow you may need to weigh up the risks of moving and decide if it would be better to transport the person to a hospital in your own car.
Dehydration is a risk in such a hot climate in the summer months so you do need to make sure you keep drinking water throughout the day. When possible coconut water is an excellent source of hydration.
There are many pharmacies in Muscat and the regions and medication could be obtained over the counter. Certain drugs are only provided on a doctors’ prescription.
Places of worship
Oman is considered one of the the most tolerant counties in the Middle East. People are allowed to practice their faiths freely and their rights are protected doing so.
- The Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul- Ruwi
- The Protestant Church in Oman (PCO) – Ruwi
- Devi Kalaka Temple (Hindu) – Muscat
- Shiva and Bajrangbali Temple (Hindu) – Ruwi, Muscat
- Shree Ganesh Temple (Hindu) – Ruwi
- Shree Govindryji Temple (Hindu) – Muscat
- Tamil Full Gospel Church (Protestant) – Ruwi
- Salalah Christian Centre – Salalah
- Holy Spirit Catholic Church – Ghala
Registering at Your Embassy
One of the first things you should do when you arrive in Oman is to register with your embassy or consulate. You will find the nearest embassy on your country website and in most cases, there is an online form that can be completed and forwarded to your embassy. Some embassies/consulates are in Oman, but others are in either Dubai or Saudi Arabia. Check out your country’s website.