Muscat is a largely trade-based economy. Important exports include mother of pearl, frankincense, dates and fish. Petroleum Development Oman is an important force in the city, as the country’s second-biggest employer. Its total production is over 700,000 barrels per day.
Muscat features a number of major trading companies. They include Suhail and Saud Bahwan. Their trading partners are major corporations like General Motors, Toshiba, and Hewlett Packard.
Mina Sultan Qaboos, which is Muscat's most important trading port, is a major trading crossroads for the Indian subcontinent, the Persian Gulf and East Asia. Yearly volume is estimated at around 1.6 million tons.
Most jobs for expats interested in working in Muscat can be found in the oil industry. However, there are also work opportunities for expatriates in banking and finance, as well as healthcare and tourism. Knowledge of Arabic is extremely useful when applying for jobs in Muscat. Make sure to also look at companies located in the free zones, like Sohar and Salalah or the Knowledge Oasis Muscat. The latter is home to a lot of international IT companies such as Microsoft. Expats have better chances of being hired at those companies because of their global focus and the lower “Omanization” quota in the free zones.
There are a number of useful job boards for job hunting in Muscat; they include Bayt, Indeed and Naukri Gulf. English-language dailies such as Business Today Oman or Oman Economic Review are also a great source to find job opportunities. If you are interested in a specific field, such as construction or language teaching, you should look for specialized websites. Moreover, contacting potential employers directly is always a good idea to find out about job openings directly and get a foot in the door.
Citizens of Oman pay very little taxation in comparison with other countries, allowing lots of expats to enjoy a higher living standard than at home. You will not have to pay personal income tax, wealth tax or VAT but will be charged business tax if you carry out any kind of revenue-generating business activities in Oman. This includes corporate income. However, there are various double taxation agreements which should prevent you from being taxed on the same income twice.
While private sector workers don’t have to pay personal income tax, they still have to contribute around 6.5% of their basic salary to go towards pensions and social security. Employers pay into this pot as well, at a rate of 9.5%. The national insurance system was first introduced in 1992. While it covers all Omani citizens, it does not extend to foreign employees. Make sure to keep this in mind when negotiating your salary and put aside a small amount for your private pension plan. In some cases, it might even be possible to keep contributing to the national social security system in your home country while working in Muscat.