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Moving to Muscat
What to know if you're moving to Muscat
Moving to Muscat can be quite exciting; however, while it’s usually not difficult to obtain a tourist visa, work visas typically take a bit more effort. In this article, we introduce you to the city of Muscat, as well as include visa information for Oman and tips on how to best get to Muscat.
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Relocating to Muscat
About the City
Muscat is the Sultanate of Oman’s capital city. It had a population of roughly 1.2 million people in 2014, with the greater metropolitan area spanning across 1,500 km². The city is divisible into three main areas: West Muscat, Central Muscat and East Muscat.
- Central Muscat includes Madinat Al Sultan, Al-Khuwair, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Qurm, Shati-Al Qurm and Ras Al Hamra.
- West Muscat comprises Bawsher, Udhaybah, Al-Seeb, Ghala and Al-Ghubbrah.
- East Muscat includes Ruwi, Kalbuh, Wuttayah, Matrah, Old Muscat, Al-Bustan and Sidab.
Most of the buildings in Muscat are low rise, with few exceeding five stories. Most have white facades and many imitate historical styles. Muscat is also quite a green city, surprisingly so for the region, with lots of trees and public green spaces.
Visas for Oman
Many citizens from Western countries, including the UK and USA don’t require a visa before traveling to Muscat. It is possible to get a visitor’s visa on arrival, irrespective of whether you arrive by air, sea or land. Tourist visas are valid for one month and typically cost 20 OMR. They can usually be extended relatively hassle free, for another fee of 20 OMR. Six-month passport validity requirements usually apply.
All non-Omani citizens seeking to work in the country need an employment visa. The only way to get this visa for moving to Muscat is by having an Omani employer sponsor you. There is a fair bit of paperwork involved but most of the responsibility lies with the employer. It is extremely difficult for expats to change jobs in Muscat. This is because expats require a No Objection Certificate from their employer and these are seldom given. The only other option is to leave Muscat for at least two years and then make a new work visa application. To be eligible for a work visa you must be between 21 and 60 years old.
For more detailed information, please take a look at our dedicated article on Moving to Oman.
Getting to Muscat
Muscat is increasingly accessible with a wide range of airlines now flying into the country. They include Oman Air, KLM, Emirates, Etihad and British Airways. Overland travel from Dubai is also relatively simple and inexpensive, with the bus being a popular option because of the affordable price. However, bear in mind that the trip takes around six and a half hours.
Oman also borders Saudi Arabia and Yemen. However, cross-border overland travel is difficult and, in the case of Yemen, potentially unsafe. If you are traveling overland, including within the UAE, it is important to check with the Royal Oman Police which crossings will admit foreign visitors.
Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.