In recent years, the economies of several countries have been rough, pushing many people to look for decent paychecks abroad. Others are simply looking for exciting international careers, which has been made possible thanks to globalisation. One of the ideal destinations for kick-starting your international career is Oman. There’s no shortage of jobs in this country thanks to the thriving natural gas industry. Besides its employment opportunities, Oman offers lucrative salary packages, tax-free income, low crime rates, breathtaking landscapes, a stable political climate, not to mention, the country is well-connected to the rest of the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia. While all this sounds amazing, let me guide you through a few important things you should know before relocating to work in Oman. Note that 1 Omani Rial (OMR) = 2.60 US Dollars (USD) as of December 14, 2019.
What is the average salary in Oman? Expect to earn an average gross salary of $4,631/month or $55,590.64/year. The average hourly wage is $25.98 an hour. As there is no personal income tax in Oman, workers will enjoy a high net pay as well. The highest salaries are found in the capital city at an average of $4,904/month, but it also has the highest cost of living in the country.
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With an estimated population of 4.97 million, the labour force participation rate in Oman is currently at 72.2%. Given that almost a third of Oman’s population are expats from around the world, it’s safe to say that they occupy a good percentage of the labour force market. Most foreign workers in this country work in unskilled labour, but there are also a good number of highly specialised jobs and executive positions that go to qualified expatriates. Oman is considered the friendliest Gulf state for foreigners to live and work in. But, as with any destination, living and working here has its ups and downs. That’s why I’ve created this guide, which covers up-to-date information about Oman’s economy and job market to ensure a smooth transition into this country. Let’s get started:
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Average Salary in Oman
As mentioned earlier, the pay in this country is high –usually similar to, or even greater than what’s offered in Western countries. To give you a better picture of what you can make working in this country, here’s a look at some common professions together with their monthly average pay in Oman:
- CEO – $10,310
- General Manager – $7,672
- Secondary school teacher – $3,511
- Lawyer – $3,925
- Human resource manager – $5,966
- Hotel manager – $6,415
- Sales representative – $2,856
- Healthcare general practitioner: $4,670
- Accountant: $3,260
- Receptionist: $2,420
- Administrative assistant – $2,291
- Engineer – $4,027
- Software developer/programmer – $3,860
- Nurse – $3,709
- Pharmacist – $5,116
- Waitstaff – $2,760
The labour force market
The majority of Oman’s population used to work in the fishing, agricultural, or artisanal sectors. Large petroleum reserves were then discovered in 1964 and the country has since become an important oil-producing country. A huge percentage of the labour force currently works in the natural gas and petrochemical sectors. The country welcomes specialists to help in exploiting its natural gas reserves. Given the geological difficulties in extracting oil from this country’s soil, the demand for such specialists might increase further in the future.
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Thanks to the thriving natural gas industry, other sectors such as infrastructure, healthcare, construction, irrigation technology, biotechnology, recycling, and energy are also flourishing. The government is also running various initiatives to diversify the national economy by investing in other sectors. This has led to increased job opportunities in education, tourism, logistics, and several other sectors.
Apart from looking for employment in the above flourishing fields, you should also pay attention to companies based in free economic zones such as those in Salalah, Sohar, and the Knowledge Oasis Muscat. Some of these international companies are big IT firms like Oracle and Microsoft.
Like most countries, the government puts more emphasis on hiring Omanis over foreigners. For this reason, it might be a good idea to secure a job before travelling to Oman.
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Working in Oman
To be able to work in Oman, you must obtain a visa and work permit. To apply for a work permit, you must be between the ages of 21 and 60 years. You’ll also be required to present several personal documents, as well as a job offer from an Omani employer.
Omani employment contracts usually come with several perks that will delight foreign workers. In addition to an attractive salary, it’s quite common for a contract to include health insurance, a company car, and even free accommodation.
You’ll also benefit financially working in Oman given the fairly generous tax laws. There’s no personal income tax, VAT, fringe benefits tax, gift tax, or wealth tax, which enable you to make the most of your salary.
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Should you prefer to be your boss as opposed to seeking employment, you should conduct some thorough market research first. The growing fields listed above, which are potential for job hunting, may also be worthwhile for foreign investors. Keep in mind that there are a few conditions for non-Omani nationals who want to set up a business in Oman. For starters, foreign investors can only own a certain percentage of company shares, usually 49%, while the rest must be owned by Omanis. Having reliable local associates and affluent Arabic speakers is also vital for doing business in this country.
Oman Average Household Income
The National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) recently completed the Omani Household Expenditure and Income Survey, which targeted 5,660 Omani and expatriate families across the country. The data will, however, be available to the public during the first quarter of 2020. That being said, the previous survey for the period 2010/2011 recorded Oman’s average household income at 1,172.25 OMR ($3,044) with an average household spending of 605 OMR per month. The Muscat governorate is home to more than a quarter of the Omani families and was reported to have the highest average household income at 1,459 OMR/month, while the average monthly household expenditure was 930 OMR per month.
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Minimum Wage in Oman
Oman has a National Minimum Wage (NMW), which is the lowest amount an employee can earn for their work. Employers who pay less than the NMW will be subject to punishment by the government. The minimum wage for Omani nationals is currently set at 225 OMR/month with an additional allowance of 100 OMR/month. This brings the total minimum wage to 325 OMR ($845) per month from the previous value of 200 OMR ($520) per month. The law doesn’t prescribe a minimum wage for expat workers though.
This minimum wage applies to full-time employees in the private sector. Most workers who earn minimum wage work in low-level administrator jobs or the retail sector. For those earning more than the minimum wage, note that there’s no maximum legal limit in salaries. Your real wage will be an agreement between you and your employer while taking into consideration things like qualification, work experience, and so on.
With that being said, many feel like the current minimum wage doesn’t reflect the current rate of inflation, and are calling for an increase to help keep up with the rising costs.
In addition to minimum wage, the law provides for a maximum 45-hour workweek or 9 hours a day. Working hours for Muslim employees are often reduced to 6 hours a day during the holy month of Ramadan. Overtime is optional and employees can be compensated either in the form of additional time off or 1.25-2 times their hourly pay.
Employees are also entitled to 30 days of paid annual leave, 50 days of maternity leave, 10 weeks of annual sick leave, emergency leave, and special leave in case an employee reasonably requires additional time off.
Average Salary in Muscat
Muscat is the capital of Oman, as well as the largest city in the country. It is home to a wide variety of multi-billion dollar industries and modern infrastructural facilities. This has created several job opportunities for residents.
The Omanis contribute about 60% of the city’s total GDP, while foreign workers contribute the remaining 40%. The job market for skilled foreigners is healthy. And, while these jobs are not as widely available as they were a few years ago, there are a good number of industries where foreign workers should be able to find work easily. Jobs for expatriates in Oman are typically found in the construction, healthcare, banking, education, and tourism industries just to name a few. The following professions are particularly in high demand: project managers, engineers, teachers, language instructors, and IT specialists.
Now that you have an idea of where to look for a job, how much can you expect to get paid to work in Muscat? Well, salaries in this city range from a minimum gross of $666/month to a maximum gross of $21,745/month. The average gross salary, on the other hand, is $4,910/month or $58,930/year for salaried jobs and $28.61/hour for hourly jobs. These figures are simply guides; as such, salaries will differ between professions, employers, and an employee’s qualifications among other things. Muscat offers the highest salaries in the country at around 6% higher than the average salary in Oman. High salaries and comparatively low tax rate enables residents to have a relatively high standard of living while working in this city.
Cost Of Living in Oman
The overall cost of living in Oman is on the rise, but more reasonable than that of many neighbouring GCC countries. Prices are highest in the capital and can be lower outside of the city centres, but it all depends on the kind of lifestyle you wish to adopt in Oman. Here’s a look at the average cost of common household expenses in Oman:
There’s a wide variety of housing options to suit every budget. For starters, a small apartment in the city centre will cost you around $600, but one further from the centre will cost $420 per month. An unfurnished 3-bedroom apartment will average at $1,025/month. Rent here is generally paid annually in advance, and not monthly. This is a huge lump sum and expats may have to take credit from their employers to cover this cost. Buying a house is also an option but under certain conditions. Mortgages are also available to help finance your property.
Food is generally affordable, especially if you’re willing to consume local produce. Buying imported food, on the other hand, can get costly. Where you shop will also affect your overall cost of food. Lulu is the best value supermarket, Carrefour is mid-range, and Al Fair is the most expensive although it has the highest quality products. Eating out can be very costly, depending on what establishments you visit. A basic meal in a cheap restaurant will set you back about $5.19, while a combo meal costs $6.23. Expect to spend an average of $300 per month on food.
The general lack of taxation makes cars much cheaper in Oman than in Europe. This, together with the low cost of gasoline at around $0.58/litre, is why nearly everyone drives. The running cost of an average family car is $100-150 per month. This will cover basic maintenance, gasoline, and third party insurance (excluding credit purchase costs –if any). Those who want to save even further can use public transportation. A one-way ticket will cost you around $0.78 and a monthly pass about $38.96. Taxis are also good value, but they are rarely metered.
Other costs you’ll need to budget for include utilities, communications, clothing & footwear, personal care products, health insurance, entertainment, etc. On average, a single person spends $522 on monthly expenses, while a family of four spends $1,959. Both figures don’t include rent/mortgage payments.