Oman is on the south-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It boarders Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. Its that little country across the gulf from Iran. Most people have never heard of it or think you’re saying Amman, which, just for the record is in Jordan. When I told people I was moving here I was confronted with looks of pity. You know that weird face people pull with the squinty eyes and half grimace like they’re trying to be upbeat but secretly thanking god that it’s not them moving there? I got lots of ‘wow you are so brave’ like I was flying Aeroflot or giving up my life to wear a bullet proof vest and live under an oppressive Islamic regime. I was flying Etihad for god sake and besides being the hottest place on Earth for four straight days I had never seen Oman in the news, ever!
My dad, always the optimist, told me to get a copy of my passport (I’m pretty sure you can’t even do this) in the event ‘they’, whoever ‘they’ are, removed mine once I arrived in the country. Most hilariously, he told me to prepare for life confined to my new prison. I think he meant my home but decided not to antagonise the beast and seek clarification. His comments were annoying but he was genuinely concerned that life as I knew it was coming to an end. It probably wasn’t helped much by the fact you can’t find a great deal of information about living in Oman on the internet, just your generic cost of living and recollections from a couple of tourists who have written about the city from a holidayers perspective. Its not the same as living there. Despite all the negativity I was still feeling ready for the next expat instalment.
The flight up was decent enough, long and uncomfortable, but minimal bumps so I was free from mid air panic attacks and visions of me plummeting into the ocean….until I boarded the flight to Muscat. I had the pleasure of sitting in an aluminium tube without air-conditioning for 45mins in the middle of an Arabian summer. The most terrifying though? My plane had ash trays, ash trays! I’m pretty sure they removed these in the 80’s, or is it that they took the plane’s out of service in the 80’s? I seriously started to wonder if the tin can was even going to make the 40min flight. I always find the short flights to be the worst. You know all those sites that say accidents happen within the first 2hrs? You ascend and descend so fast you have no real time to talk yourself into being stuck there and you just want the whole thing over and done with! The descent was terrifying and I thought I was going to come down in a burning blaze of glory. Thankfully the psychic proved to be right and I lived to see another day.
When you arrive in a new country for the first time, first impressions are important. Having an airport that is clean, smells great (if you’ve been in a stinky one you would understand), and doesn’t require you standing in a customs line for 2hrs while your jetlagged children antagonise the crap out of each other can make or break your first day. Muscat International ticked all the boxes. The airport is brand new, customs was amazing and they prioritise families with small children.
It was 47degrees the day I landed. The kind of heat that smacks you in the face, takes your breath away and fogs up your glasses. We were sent a Toyota Corolla to cram into with our 10,000kg of luggage. Because of the heat you need a car with good air conditioning. This was not the car for the job. It was like being in cattle class but the car version. In all honesty it didn’t bother me that much, I was too busy staring out the window gawking at the mountains that surround the city and the amazing architecture.
Pulling out of the airport you can see immediately that Muscat has excellent infrastructure. There are main roads that run through the entire city, making it super easy and fast to get around. Speed limits are between 100-120km/hr, if you’re into abiding by the road rules. Driving is terrifying. There seems to be a blatant disregard for the road rules, but you get used to it. People are amazingly friendly, warm and helpful. The food is to die for and everything is air-conditioned for your comfort. All in all I would say moving to Oman is looking pretty good so far.