Phillip in Oman: "It is a beautiful country with many hidden gems"

Expat interviews
  • Phillip in Muscat
  • Phillip in Muscat
  • Phillip in Muscat
Published on 2016-10-05 at 00:00 by Veedushi
Phillip comes from South Africa. He moved to Muscat four years ago following a job offer. In this Interview, he talks about his everyday life in Oman and shares his passion for traveling and photography.

Where are you from, Phillip, and what are you doing nowadays?

I'm from sunny South Africa. I have been a teacher for the past 11 years and I still love my job to bits!

Why did you choose to expatriate to Oman?

My friends came over the year before me and told me about this amazing country. I thought to myself, why not check it out. I took the leap from a permanent position in South Africa and don't regret the move at all. I've been in living in Oman for nearly 4 years now.

What were the procedures you had to follow to move there?

You apply for the position and then there are a few procedures. They do security and health checks as well as the credibility of your qualification. The school I work for is well organised, so it was a painless process for me. As long as your paperwork is in order and the ministry is happy with your credentials, you should be fine.

What has surprised you the most at your arrival?

Phillip in Muscat

The humidity in the summer months are definitely something to get used to. I came in August and it is still quite hot over here that time of the year. The Middle Eastern building styles surprised me also a lot. The friendly and helpful Omanis were a great surprise and made my first glance of Oman a memorable one!

Was it difficult to find accommodation there?

Luckily, my friends offered me a place to stay for a month. But there are a lot of possibilities here. There are excellent hotels for a start till you find your perfect place. There are two and three-bedroom flats available, and then if you are a family I would suggest villas which have more rooms and space, and even a garden.

What are the local labor market's features? Is it easy for an expat to be hired there?

There are many blue collar workers here in Oman, from construction to shop assistants. Qualified workers can apply at a variety of the major companies. The labor market caters for a variety of work opportunities.

How do you find the local lifestyle?

It really relaxed and safe here. Crime is a minimum and you feel safe wherever you go. You have a lot of shops from the major chains like Starbucks, Carrefour and a huge variety of clothing brands. So that makes living easy here in Oman. The Omanis are very welcoming and will easily invite you for a local delicacy meal or a quick Arabic coffee.

Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?

Phillip in Muscat

Yes I did. Luckily for us, we are a big South African community here in Oman, so we can get together and have a great time. It takes a while to get use to all the customs and do's and don'ts. The key here is not to offend anybody and showing respect plays a big role. If you respect their culture and traditions, you will have the time of your life here.

As an expat, what does your every day life in Oman look like?

It doesn't really differ from my life in South Africa, although I am more relaxed here and have more time to do some exploring and get together with friends. I basically go to school and some afternoons go for a quick gym session after school. We might go for a coffee and cake at our favourite spot in the mall and then go home and do some preparation for the next school day. They have a good TV package called OSN and you can watch all your favourite series right here in Oman.

Any particular experience in the country you would like to share with us?

A camping session on the beach or in the desert is a must! You can basically set up your tent anywhere and have a ball of a time. You need to experience the silence of the desert or the crushing waves at your tent's doorstep.

What is your opinion on the cost of living in Oman? Is it easy for an expat to live there?

The cost of living in Oman can be a bit high, especially in the capital city. Food prices are also quite high because a lot of the produce needs to be imported from other countries. It is really easy to adapt here and to have a good, balanced lifestyle. If you get used to the culture and customs, you will fit right in. They are really friendly towards the expats and appreciate your input in their country.

How do you spend your leisure time?

Phillip in Muscat

We make time to go to the movies and play some tenpin bowling. We love to meet up with other friends and have a cup of coffee with a tasty piece of cake to compliment it. As we are close to Dubai, we sometimes visit it for a long weekend or during the holiday. Camping on the beach or in the desert is a fun activity that we do in winter months.

What has been your best travel experience so far?

My last trip to Europe was great! I saw a few countries and fell in love with their architecture and way of life. I also went to India which was a bit of culture shock, but it was a totally different experience for me. It is great to experience both end of the spectrum while travelling. Here in Oman, we went up to Jebel Akhtar and spent the night high in the mountains. It was freezing cold but it was an awesome experience.

Your favourite local dishes?

I love the chicken shawarmas and kebabs. Their rice dishes are also very tasty. We love to visit the Turkish restaurant for an affordable and delicious meal.

What do you like the most about Oman?

I love the freedom and safety! It is a beautiful country with many hidden gems and there are many things to explore here. You can drive a few kilometres and then you are in the desert or in the mountains.

What do you miss the most about your home country?

Phillip in Muscat

Family is the biggest thing we miss when living overseas. You miss all the birthday celebrations or weddings that you can't attend. I miss my favourite restaurants and the food that you don't get here in Oman. I miss a wood fire and a proper South African steak. I miss hearing my language from the mouth of a school child in front of my class, the witty jokes and the South African way of dealing with daily issues.

What has motivated you to write your blog “Saffa Travels”? How does it help?

I thought it would be a great way for my family and friends to stay in touch with all the things I'm doing here in Oman. It is also great platform to display my photography to a variety of people. I love sharing my travels to other people.

What would you advise to soon-to-be expatriates in Oman?

Prepare yourself for the heat, but you get somehow used to it. All the buildings are air-conditioned. Don't over pack your bag when you come the first time. Everything is available here and you can buy it at many shops. I would suggest that if you are big build, buy enough clothes in your home country. Their sizes can be very misleading.

What are your plans for the future?

I don't have definite plans at this moment, but I would like to teach in Europe someday. I would love to teach in The Netherlands as it is a country that is close to my heart. Our language is also quite similar to theirs. But for now, I'm happy in Oman and want to explore more of what this country has to offer.

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