Wednesday, November 7


This blog is the summary of my 1 year experience as an expatriate in the sultanate of Oman. Depending on your interest, I give you below my recommanded links to explore my blog :

Expat :
You're an expat in Oman or you are about to become one
-> expat thought : what is it to be an expat in Oman ?
-> cost of living in Oman : how much it will cost you to live in Oman
-> women expats in Oman : If you are a woman, or if your wife is coming with you in Oman

Tourist :
If you're coming to Oman as a tourist, you should first browse the following categories
-> tourism - places to visit : the places that you must see when visiting Oman
-> luxuruous hotels : where to stay if you have some budget
-> trekking : there are definitely some good treks to make here

Misc :
Funny facts about Oman
-> alcohol : how to drink alcohol in Oman
-> poo-poo trucks : If you see a puddle in the city, beware
-> The sultanate of oman, a revolution in trompe-l'oeil : statistics facts about Oman

Saturday, November 3

Oman : final review

After almost a year in Oman, it is time for me to go back definitely in my country. I would like to thank all my readers, and all the people that I've met in Oman and that brought me so much. Even if I won't be able to create a lot of new posts in the future, this blog will remain a helpfull guide for futur expats and tourists to Oman.

I think it is time to give my final review about Oman :
In brief, Oman is great country. It is a calm and welcoming state, whose people are very friendly. You have great places to visit around the country : beaches, mountains, canyon, wadis... As a tourist it is a wonderful place to spend one or two weeks. Even for the expats there is always something to do during the week-end : diving, driving a 4x4 in the desert, trekking or camping...

The problem for people who live in Oman for a long time, is that it is a small country with only a small community of expatriates. Consequently, the activities in town quickly become repetitive, as well as the people you met (especially in places where you can go out at night). If you are in Oman as a family it should not be a problem, but as a single person or an couple without children, Oman can become boring quickly enough.

One final point, which for me was very serious : it has been impossible to get a high-speed internet connection at home in 10 monthes! Considering that you sometimes feel isolated from the rest of the world in Muscat, it would have been of great value.

and you, what is your final review of Oman ?

Tuesday, October 30

Turtle beach

Turtle beach is a marvelous place located 30 minutes away eastward from Sur. The place is supervised by the authorities, and you can only access after recorded at the point of control.

The turtles come here all year long, to lay during the night and they leave just before the rising of the sun. in early morning you can see baby turtles fighting to reach the sea.

You can sleep at the turtle beach resort that we recommend, or go to the Ras al Hadd resort which is just on the turtle beach itself.

Note : Avoid going there during Eid holidays because there is too many people and the authorities just don't know how to handle the crowd.

Sunday, October 28

Blue city

- edit : according to latest comment : Blue City officially closed down the project end March 2011. -

"Blue city" is an $20 billion project which the aim is to build a new luxurious 35km² city, 1 hour away to the west of Muscat. It reflects very well the transformation in progress in Oman and the ambitions of the sultanate for the future.

This project is so huge that it has been divided in 10 phases. The phase1 (only 5,5km²) should be finished only in 2013

Some people already consider the purpose of "Blue city" is to become the new capital of Oman... I think I will come back in Oman in 20 years just to see how the country has evolved and if Muscat is still the capital ;)

more info : official website, wikipedia...

Thursday, October 25

The sultanate of Oman, a revolution in trompe-l'oeil

It does no harm just this once, I will speak about a new french book, named "Le sultanat d'Oman, une révolution en trompe-l'oeil". I wish I could have read this book at the beginning of my expatriation, it would have help me to better understand the country where I've lived for almost a year now.

In this book, the author (a french researcher, Marc Valeri) describes the history of the country (including the war of the Dhofar, 1965-1975), with a great freedom of speech, and then explains how the Sultan Qaboos since 1970 has succeeded in unifying the country by putting in place a welfare state (thanks to the petrol incomes) and by creating an Omani identity. It explains also very well the different categories of population that composed Oman, their relations, and the possible tension between them... At the end, the author gives us his view of the young Omanis mentality, and the futur issues the sultanate will have to face after Sultan Qaboos era.

This is a very exhaustive book, full of details about the Omani society. I give you below a few things that struck my mind :

  • The life expectancy was 40 years old in 1940, and is now 74,5
  • Their is a guaranteed minimum wage for the Omani : 140 OMR
  • in dec. 2006, 52,6% of the Omani working population was in the public sector
  • 38,9% of the Omani are less than 15 years old, 53,7% less than 20 years old, and only 3% over 60 years old.
  • Officially, 35% of the marriage are between cousins. But if you take into account larger blood relations, it can be 55%.
  • 6,3% of Omani live with several wifes (16% in the Dhofar).
  • 80% of the Omani think that censoring the local or foreign television programs is good.
  • For those who wonder who will succeed the sultan, it has been reported that the Sultan has declared having identified 2 possible successors, and has put their names in sealed envelopes hidden in two different regions of Oman. Note also that the Sultan has been married in 1976, but he has divorced in 1980.
  • some rare cases of excision have been reported in rural area of the country.

Tuesday, October 23

Wadi Shab

Wadi Shab is located just next to Wadi Tiwi. You have to park at the entrance of the Wadi and continue by foot. The path and goes inside the gorge and is very lovely, even if Gonu has destroyed a lot of palm trees...

on the path you will find several small natural pools where you can swim. But the big fun is at the end of the wadi (after 1hour walking) : you can access a little cave by swimming, and then you can climb the rocks and make enormous jumps in the water !

NOTE : Too many people are going to Wadi shab and wadi Tiwi during Eid Mubarak holidays. You should definitely avoid this period to visit these places.

Friday, October 19


As Dubai is only few hours away from Muscat, it's not hard to go there for a long week-end if you get bored with Oman. You will need between 4 and 6 hours to reach Dubai from Muscat by car : it depends on how fast you're driving, the traffic jams and the time you'll spent at the border post (If you have a Omani hire car, you will need also to get a 12 OMR insurance policy extension at your rental agency).

Dubai is so different from Oman : you have a lot of towers, it is a crowded city with traffic jams and you have a lot of activities to do in the city ! You can check the Sheikh Zayed road with its hundred of towers (including the Burj Dubai, the tallest tower in the world), you can go to the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah beaches, you can also visit some old typical houses in Bur Dubai (even if they look as new as the towers because of their recent renovation)...

There a lot of Souqs as well, and a interesting Dubai museum. Also you can make some skiing in the Mall of Emirates (which is a change from the heat of the city !) or spend the day in the water amusement park "wild wadi".

In brief, I've spent 3 days in Dubai during the Eid holidays and it has been a real enjoyment and a big change from Muscat. However, more than 3 days I don't know what I could have done more (maybe more shopping ?).

Monday, October 15

Happy Eid Mubarak !

Ramadan Kareem is over since last saturday, so happy Eid Mubarak to everybody !
Ramadan has been a quite a boring period for all the expats in Oman, because bars and clubs were closed, and it was not even possible to drink wine in the restaurants, so it is quite a relief that it is over !

There is now 4 days of public holiday and the ambiance in Oman is very festive, you can see a lot of people in the streets greeting each other. it is also not unusual to be invited by Omani to take kawa and eat alloua, or even have dinner with them.

Friday, October 12

Mutrah Fish Market

Every morning, until 1pm, stands the fish market in Mutrah. To find it, just follow the big smell which spreads around the place. The fishermen are grouped together in a big building and sell their freshly fished items directly on the ground. You can find a lot of kinds of fishes : tuna, shrimps, octopus and even shark sometimes !

Besides the fish market stands a big vegetable markets and some butcher's shops.
If you haven't been to this place yet, you should definitely go for a walk there because it is typical, and you can buy some fresh food at the same time :)

Saturday, October 6

Grand Hyatt in Muscat

Posting about Safari pub, I realised that I didn't write yet about the Hyatt hotel ! This hotel is one of the top luxury of Muscat. It is located in Shati-Qurm, about half way between the airport and the Ruwi, not far from the Intercontinental hotel.

(photo from Flickr)

In the same way that the Chedi excels in a elegant minimalism design, The Hyatt excels in a exuberant Arabic style ! The main lobby is just impressive with its 'rococo' decor, but the rooms are more simple but elegant.

There is one large leisure swimming pool, and an outdoor jacuzzi. The hotel is also located in front of the sea on the main Muscat beach. Of course, the hotel is equipped with a small health club, tennis courts, sauna, Haman and so on...

Inside there are several restaurants, one buffet in the ground floor and one Italian (the Tuscani) which is very good and not too expensive. I recommend this hotel if you like eccentric design and you want to be well located in Muscat.

Note :
There are two other luxury hotels in Muscat : The Sheraton (located in Ruwi which could be considered as the city center of Muscat) and the Al Bustan Palace (which is known has the most splendid hotel in the gulf). But presently they are both closed for renovation, and I don't know if they will re-open before the end of the year.

Monday, October 1

Safari pub in Hyatt

The Safari is a bar in the Hyatt complex. Although this place is completely closed presently because of the Ramadan, I write this post to continue my series about nightlife in muscat. You can compare this place to the Al Ghazal pub, but here the decor is more "exotic" as you could expect with such a name.

There is a live band almost every night after 10pm, and some people are dancing. But when the band is playing the sound is way too loud to chat with your friends. I prefer to come to this place after work to have a beer and play pool downstairs. You also have TVs that broadcat sport events or music clips.

Below the Safari pub, there is nightclub called the "Habana Café". And above the Safari pub, on the terrasse, there is the "Grill House Restaurant" which is very good and has a menu with all-you-drink ! I hope to write a post on these places after Ramadan.

Saturday, September 29

Wadi Bani Awf

Bani Awf (or Bani Auf) is a wadi that links Rustaq to Nizwa. The road in this wadi is really made for 4WD cars : some part of the tracks are flooded and you need an elevated car to go on. also at the end of the track it goes very (very) steep.

The main point of interest of this track will be the "Snake canyon", which is 300 meters deep, where you can go canyoning or via ferrata but better to have a guide to do these dangerous activities, moreover you need a specific equipment.

There is also the "little" Snake Canyon which is more accessible where you can walk and swim in
You will cross 3 or 4 small villages. The Palm trees of these villages will make a good spot for picnic or camping.

Note : you can do this wadi yourself referring to wadi bani awf in the Oman off-road explorer guide

Thursday, September 27

100th post !

The 100th posts is always a milestone in the development of a blog, and I'm very happy to reach it ! I would like to thank all my readers and all the people that left me encouraging comments ; you are about 50 to 70 visitors each day to read this blog. I'm in particular very pleased to see that a lot of Omani enjoy reading my blog.

Don't hesitate to leave comments on my blog, I will always be pleased to answer you and if you have a blog yourself or a website please add a link to my blog to increase my visibility on the web.

here is a selection of my favourite posts :
- Muscat vs. Paris round1 and Muscat vs. Paris round2 : the pros and cons about Oman.
- Women expats in Oman : discover the point of view of a french woman expat in Oman.
- Cost of living in Oman : my personal opinion about the cost of living in Oman.
- The poo-poo trucks : a funny fact about Muscat.
- The Sultan Qaboos highway : you take this road each day in Muscat, better to be prepared.

Monday, September 24

Trekking in the Sayq Plateau (Jebel Ahkdar )

This trek is 2hours long (one way) and goes across 3 small villages lost in the mountains of the Sayq plateau. The altitude is 2000m, that ensures you a certain coolness even during the summer.

The trek is not difficult but there are a lot of stairs that make it sporty ! But it is worth the effort because the view is amazing

To access Sayq plateau you need to have a 4wd otherwise you will be stopped at the military checkpoint at the beginning of the road going into the plateau.

Note : you can do this trek yourself refering to the trek number w18b in the Oman trekking explorer guide

Sunday, September 23

The restaurant

"The restaurant" is actually the name of the Chedi restaurant. From my opinion, this is the best restaurant in Muscat. The decor is very sober and classy, you have a pianist with a grand piano, and several kitchens that can be seen behind their glass walls...

Each kitchens correspond to a kind of regional cooking : Asian, Arabic, European... The dishes are very well presented, and of course very tasty. prices are about 15 OMR for a main course. if you include the tax, the total price for 2 person is 50 OMR with a starter and a main course (without the wine).

Note : During Ramadan, The restaurant applies the law which is to only serve alcohol to the guests of the hotel. This law is very irritating because suppose you're eating with friends who are guest at the hotel but you are not : the waiter will refuse to serve you any wine. what's the point ? I mean if you are not Muslim and if every people around you drink wine, why can't you order alcohol ? Moreover, when you're french you are used to drink the appropriate wine to accompany a meal. not having this possibility makes you only half-enjoy your meal. So I am in complete disagreement with the Oman law on this point.

Sunday, September 16

Oman dive center

The Oman dive center is located between Qantab and Barr Al Jissah, 10 minutes away from Ruwi. It is basically a private cove lost in the cliffs with a nice beach, a swimming pool and a restaurant (which is opened all the day, during Ramadan only alcohol is not served).

Different activities are proposed in the center :
- You can just pay the entrance fee (3 OMR) and enjoy the private beach and the swimming pool (there is also a beach volley court)
- You can take diving course, just for an introduction or to get your padi (140 OMR)
- You can go for a boat trip to do snorkeling
- You can rent a kayak or catamaran (but at the time I was there, they were still waiting to receive their kayak, and the catamaran was crappy).

There are also a equipped hunts if you want to spend some nights there but I didn't get inside. Basically, I recommend this place to spend some good time on the week-end but you have to know that prices can be sometimes expensive for the activities. offical website with list of prices here.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Friday, September 14

Ramadan in Oman

Well, today has begun the Ramadan in Oman and it will last until mid-October. During this period it is not allowed to eat, drink or smoke in public by respect to the Muslims fasting during the day.

Most restaurants and small shops are closed during the day (even the fast-foods) but re-open after 6pm. Also, all the bars and clubs are definitely closed during this period (including the bars I've started to describe in nightlife).

Another consequence is that during the day Muscat seems very quiet (I mean very very) and there is 2 times less cars in the streets.

Monday, September 10

Al Ghazal Pub

The Al Ghazal Pub can be found inside the Intercontinental hotel. It is the best pub in Muscat, and when you enter the place you cannot avoid to say to yourself "welcome to england". Indeed, the clientele is predominantly english.

There is a large bar, surrounded with private loges. you have also 2 pools (always busy) and even darts.

Almost each night there is an activity, like a "Quizz night", I think there is also a "Bingo night". On the week-end there is generally a live band playing loud (rock) music, but the dancefloor is not really full (cause this place is not meant to dance i guess), and sometimes you have special events like the "Kylie Minogue double night"....

I like this place to go after the work with my collegues, or to start the night as a "before". An important information is the price of the beer : pint is around 2,5 OMR

Sunday, September 9

Rock Bottom

My first post since my holidays and it will be also the first one of a serie about nightlife in Muscat.

"Rock Bottom" is club located in Qurm, not far from the Crown plaza. You can book a table to dinner before clubbing if you want, the food is not excellent but at least it will avoid you to pay the 10 OMR for the entrance to the club.

Once inside, it looks like a small regular club (compared to the one in Paris I mean), you have a central bar and a small dancefloor. The club is generally crowded after midnight, and there is a chaos of cars wanting to access the parking outside...

The music is various. The time I was there it was like house music before midnight, then you have a band playing live recent 'groovy' hits and at the end a the DJ comes back and plays all sort of music.

the dancefloor is generally crowded (not like on my picture above) but the purcentage of women is way too low for me to have fun in such a place (I'm not specifically looking for picking girls but I like to see women around me in this kind of place). But this problem is not specific to the club, I have the same feeling in all the places where you're supposed to party in Oman.

Thursday, August 23

On holiday again

I'm going on holidays again to Paris until September 3th and I will eat a lot of "croissant". Meanwhile you can read, or reread, the most popular categories of my blog :

  1. cost of living : discover how much you need to live in Oman if you come in expatriation.
  2. expat thoughts : what have been my interesting thoughts living as an expat in Oman so far...
  3. supermarket : it seems a lot of people are looking for information about Oman supermarket in google and often they reach my blog
  4. restaurants and food : discover some of the restaurants I've tested so far in Muscat (I need to complete this category after my vacations with the Golden spoon, the Tomatoes...)
  5. tourism - places to visit : this is the definitive category to know what to visit in Oman. But I recommand you wait the winter to visit these places...

Monday, August 20

Yemeni restaurant

This small restaurant is located just in front of the Sultan qaboos sport complex in ghala. It represents very well the kind of small arabic food restaurants you can find in Muscat, which serve correct food, quickly and for cheap prices. Some would say they are the traditional arabic fast-foods !

The meal you can see below has just cost 2 OMR and it was excellent ! And you eat with your hand. The technique to eat rice with your hand is simple : roll some rice up into a ball, and push it into your mouth using your thumb.

You're sitting down in small compartments and you close the curtain, then you eat on a carpet and food is put down on a plastic paper.

Friday, August 17

Women expats in Oman

I've seen a lot of people wondering how is the life for a woman expat in Oman. Well, I've asked my wife to write a post on her resentment toward her situation here, here is the result :

"The good points that have surprised me compared with what I was expecting before leaving to Oman :

  • Women are pretty free in Oman : they can drive and work as a man would do.
  • There is no obligation to wear a veil for a non-muslim woman.
  • Other men look at you but rarely bore you.
The disadvantage for a woman expat in Oman are :
  • You have to be prepared to the fact that men (omani and especially some indian men) are looking at you most of the time, but not especially in a mean way. It becomes an habit and quickly you don't pay attention anymore. Also, when you're walking alone in the street (which is not often, because you are almost always using your car in Muscat) some cars honk at you (and I'm not speaking about the cabs)
  • clothes problem : basically you can wear whatever you want but it may be taken as a mark of disrespect by Omani people if you wear things too bare. You have to respect their beliefs and at least cover properly your breats and legs under the knees.
  • For some reason, it is difficult to go to a popular beach in swimsuit because women there, if they go for a swim, they will go with all their clothes on. But you can still go to more quiet places, like Qantab coves or beaches in front of the big hotels... But most of the time the western ladies register to the club of the intercontinental hotel and use its swimming pools"

If you want to share your experience as a expat woman in Oman, please leave a comment !

Monday, August 13

Sultan qaboos sports complex

In the ghala district of Muscat, just in front of the Majan hotel, is the large Sultan Qaboos sports complex. This complex has many facilities : a giant football field, tennis fields, multi-sports gymnasium...

I've tried the swimming pool recently. There is a olympic size pool, a 25meters pool and a diving pool. Actually we were only 2 using the olympic pool ! It was a very different experience compared to the parisian overcrowded pools :)

This sport complex is not meant for tourist but more for local people. However you can access the facilities for very low prices. The membership for swimming pool is about 0,5 OMR a month ! However women are not allowed inside except at certain dedicated period of time in the morning...

Friday, August 10

Salalah - part3

To finish, some unusual facts about Salalah :

yes there are cows in Oman ! In fact you can only found them in Salalah region, and most of the milk produced in Oman is coming from here.

On This picture you can see a grouping of blue tents : These kind of camp are actually "camel drivers" who live in the valley during the monsoon. a lot of grilled meat seller s are here also, spreading a sweet fumet around the camps...

Monday, August 6

Salalah - part2

Driving around Salalah, you wil see a lot of interesting spots :

here on this picture is the lovely water spring of Jarziz, which was unfortunately dry beacuse of the rain shortage of the previous monthes.

On the way to the beach, you can see this impressive canyon

The splendid beach was a little bit ruined by the weather (too much fog !) but it was still nice to swim in this deserted sea :)