Working in Oman

Historically, Oman has been heavily dependent on its oil resources. Oil is still the country’s biggest industry, but agriculture, fishing and tourism are becoming important sources of income. Despite a focus on fostering the local workforce, expats can still expect to be welcomed with open arms.

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Doing business

In The World Bank’s 2017 Ease of Doing Business Survey, Oman was ranked 66th out of 190 countries. Although it’s fairly business friendly, salaries are good and paying tax is easy, expats are finding it more difficult to get jobs in the country.

The state’s Omanisation programme plays a big part in this. Skilled locals are being appointed to many positions traditionally held by expats, but you may still find jobs in education, medicine and the oil industry. As Oman tries to rely less heavily on oil profits, there are also opportunities in the growing service sector.

If you want to start your own business in Oman, you’ll need a local partner with a controlling interest in the company – this is common practice in the Middle East.

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Business culture

In Arabic culture it’s important to build relationships and establish trust before making a decision – so negotiations in Oman can take a long time. If you’re used to a quicker, more direct approach, you’ll have to be patient because rushing an Omani associate can harm the relationship.

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Communication style

Omani businesspeople are generally formal and conservative. You should always use a colleague’s title and maintain eye contact to build trust. Try to show humility – loud or aggressive behaviour is offensive.

Language

Although English is widely used in business, learning a few Arabic phrases is seen as a sign of respect. You should also have your business cards translated into Arabic.

Flexibility

Personal relationships are more important than punctuality – so you’ll have to be flexible when meetings are cancelled at the last minute or interrupted by phone calls and people wanting to discuss unrelated matters.

Fast facts

Business language

Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken in business.

Business hours

Usually from 8am to 6.30pm, Sunday to Thursday, with a lunch break between 1pm and 3.30pm.

Dress

Businesspeople in Oman dress smartly and conservatively. Women must cover their shoulders and knees and their shirts have to be fastened at the neck.

Greeting

A handshake is the standard greeting between male colleagues. Men and women rarely touch – so don’t offer your hand to an Omani woman unless they do so first. After shaking hands, it’s customary to ask after each other’s health.

Gifts

If you’re invited to an Omani colleague’s home, take a house plant or souvenir from your home country. Don’t give alcohol or anything made of pig skin.

Gender equality

Oman is among the most progressive Gulf countries when it comes to gender equality, but authorities are still trying to limit the number of jobs given to expat women. If a woman does get a job here, she’s respected and valued by her colleagues and associates.

Expat salaries

Expat employment packages in Oman may not be as lucrative as in other Gulf states, but you can still expect to earn more than you would back home. Executives at multinational companies have the highest salaries.

Summers are long and hot. Winter has a very nice weather. Locals are very friendly. Work culture is a bit different and need sometime getting used to.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

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All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in August 2016. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you are aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.