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Oman: Expat Business Information

Is working in Oman as an expatriate a valid career move for you? Get prepared with the InterNations guide to working in Oman! Our overview of the national economy, job hunting and opening your own business, as well as general working conditions, keeps you up to date.
The petrochemical industry is one of the largest employers in Oman.

Choosing Your Field of Employment

If you are interested in working in Oman as an expat, there are some niche occupations to realize your plan outside a traditional intra-company transfer. In addition to such flourishing fields as the petrochemical industry and tourism, other growth sectors to consider include: construction and logistics, infrastructure projects for water conservation and irrigation technologies, energy creation, waste disposal and recycling, medical equipment, bio technology, and healthcare services, as well as electrical machinery.

Furthermore, you should pay particular attention to companies based in free zones, like those in Sohar and Salalah, or in the Knowledge Oasis Muscat, where the local HQs of IT companies like Microsoft and Oracle are located. The “Omanization” quota is lower for the staff of foreign-owned businesses in free zones. This means less job insecurity for you when you have started working in Oman.

Resources for Job Hunting in Oman

To research a particular sector, professional field, or company, you could try the English-language dailies Oman Economic Review and Business Today Oman. Once you have decided to go forward with the application process, the following job search engines come in handy:

If you are searching for a job in a particular industry, there are also specialized websites like Go 4 Construction Jobs, Oil Careers, Caterer Global, and Jobs TEFL. Moreover, it’s worth checking the homepages of large Oman-based companies — like Shell or Oman Air — directly for vacancies advertised in their career section.

Starting Your Own Company: Preliminary Steps  

Should you prefer being your own boss to looking for employment in Oman, you should do some thorough market research first. The potential growth sectors listed in the job-hunting section above may also be worthwhile for foreign investors.

To acquire more knowledge and receive support for a planned market entry, get in touch with relevant institutions. Contact, for instance, the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, or the appropriate foreign chamber of commerce in the Gulf region.

Furthermore, it is not recommended to start your own business or make investments in Oman without previous professional experience in the Middle East. An on-the-ground presence is a must. Even if you should find a way of opening a business that does not require any Omani partners, reliable local associates and fluent Arabic speakers are just as vital.

Conditions for Setting up a Business in Oman

Non-Omani nationals who are not from either another GCC state or the US and who would like to set up a company in Oman need to meet these requirements:

  • You must apply for a license at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • You have to invest a minimum capital of 150,000 OMR.
  • Foreign investors and business people are allowed to own a certain percentage of company shares, usually 49%. The rest must be in Omani hands.

There are ways of working around some of these regulations. For businesses in free zones, a higher share of foreign ownership is possible, and you may require a lower amount of minimum capital. Certain legal business structures — a purely promotional representative office or the branch office of a foreign company — can also be established without Omani participation.

However, you should have a local agent or lawyer to help you with administrative issues and government correspondence.

How to Register Your Company

Once you have decided which legal form your company should take (e.g. general partnership or limited liability company), you can register it.

  • First, it has to be registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • For specific sectors, you need additional permission from the relevant ministry. For example, if you would like to set up an import business for medical equipment, you have to obtain a license from the Ministry of Health.
  • Then, you can register the new company with the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the municipal authorities.

Although English is widely spoken in Oman’s business world, all official correspondence with government bureaucracy has to be conducted in Arabic. This is another reason why it’s not recommended for expats to try and run a company in Oman on their own.

Taking the time to form a solid business network with good contacts will pay off in the long run, especially since personal relationships are essential in Oman’s business culture.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Francois Carpentier

"Coming with my family wasn't easy at the beginning, but thanks to the local scouts we received some excellent advice. "

Marielle Depois

"I will never forget the great support provided the InterNations Ambassador in Muscat when I came to Oman as an expat woman on my own. "

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