Sunday, January 3, 2010

Feature: Ask an Omani! This week, Foreigners...

In our semi-regular feature here at Muscat Confidential, "Ask an Omani", courtesy of blogger Omani Dreamer. This week's question:

"What do Omanis find most annoying about foreigners?"

Now, I would love to say that you guys are just perfect expats in Oman for the sake of looking good, but that would be a lie. Nevertheless, it took me a while to think of the most annoying thing Omanis, in general, find in foreigners.

So, when it came down to it, I had to think hard.

I mean, yes, to many of us it is annoying to see foreigners half naked in the beaches, or foreigners showing a lot of affection to their significant others in public. Even those with tattoos (crosses, satanic tattoos, or just tattoos) showing on their arms and backs are many times annoying. Some Omani women become annoyed when they see their Omani guys hanging out with gorgeous female foreigners. Yes, annoyed though some are jealous too.

But many don't care about any of the above.. We are all glad that you guys are here and spending money!

So, when do you see all Omanis agree and grunt at all foreigners? It is when foreigners are earning more money than their equal Omani co-workers solely based on them being foreigners. I remember someone was telling me about his experience. This Omani guy had 20 years of experience in some field; he had a PhD from one of the best Universities in the world. He knew more people and visited so many places in his field that you would lose counting. He was hired by the government, a good job nevertheless and with huge responsibilities. However, this government agency hired a couple of foreigners with inferior experiences and qualifications, but offered them three times more income!

So, foreigners are annoying in Oman when the country and companies make them seem better than the hard working Omani.

Photo: Omani money is a big draw for expats, and they usually earn more than an equally skilled Omani

Thanks Dreamer. I know it must seem unfair when expats earn more. Partially that can be explained by several factors I think. There may not be enough Omani with suitable experience and qualifications, and the extra expats (especially Western Expats) will need more money to come here and work than an Omani. Plus they are generally expected to work a little harder (no funerals/weddings/eid part-time, etc), and they may leaven the local staff by bringing some outside experience very few Omanis have, for example. Plus, remember expats here tend to get less money than in, say, the UAE or Kuwait, Qatar etc because Oman is seen as being a nicer place to live.

And of course, the blue suited foreigners get a lot less than an equivalently skilled Omani worker...

But a good honest answer.

Please email any burning questions to undercover(dot)dragon(at)gmail(dot)com !!


  1. I have a comment, the thing that annoys me most about foreigners in Oman is when they start acting as snobs.. When they start generalizing about Omanis and put down their Omani colleagues and Oman as a country.. Oman obviously is not perfect, but no country is.. As a foreigner you should respect the cultural & social differences and live with it!

    Btw BD this is not directed to you! But I do know a couple of expats who are like that!

  2. I agree with 'r'. Some foreigners are snobs and come to Oman thinking it's going to be like Dubai and sometimes look down upon Omanis. I hate it when expats form their own little social groups and never take time out to get to know the locals. They then complain about Oman not having enough entertainment, alcohol, etc, and fail to see the bigger pictures of why we love our country and what the good things are. I'm not generalizing. I'm talking about 'some' expats. Enjoy Oman as it is. We don't want to be another Dubai. We like our quiet life.

    As for the job-related thing, I worked in recruitment for a while and I could definitely see a huge different in compensation packages for foreigners and Omanis. Huge difference. It's not fair.

    1. I am an expat from new delhi and i like muscat and the people here. i have many friends who are omanies men and women(less). I want to be friends with women here because since i am a woman i would feel free to be with women about knowing many things without hasitation. What u have written i agree the expats here only knows enjoyment in the club, drinking and dancebars...rather taking interest in the food, lifestyle, language and the rich culture of oman.

  3. Hmm.. I don't know how common this is, but here at Uni I feel that some foreigner lecturers don't expect much from us, Omani students. I have been accused of plagiarism twice or thrice when I was a second year. A few days ago, a neighbour here at the dorm told me that her lecturer accused her of plagiarism because a scientific report she made was grammatically free of errors.

    Sometimes it is worse than that and they don't care whether we got the correct info or not. My two elder brothers at Uni told me once that they think it's true, accroding to their experiences. I have suffered with a lecturer saying contradictory things all the semester, and I couldn't do anything but believe that he did that deliberately and on purpose. He left us puzzled even at the small things we have been exposed to in that course like the language of bees. I got a B in that course because I figured out the way he thinks and had to read a lot and discuss some of the contradictory linguistic issues with my online Belgian friend, who is also specializing in linguistics and translation. The whole class got either C's, or D's or F's. It's unfair.

    Am I saying something that would cause me trouble??.. =p

  4. I am an expat but I do dislike the following attitude of expats

    (1) Taking innocence of the Omani people and trying to overcharge them in aspects of pricing. Some chain store run by expats price items like vegetables at more than 50 percent higher than the market rates. Similarly since Omanis donot bargain they end up paying higher price.

    (2) Expats especially in the area of finance and accounting are more intersted in preserving their jobs.They are not intersted in preparing an Omani suitable for that job because it will ensure that their visa is not extended .Over a period of time the Omani youth lose their self confidence as they cannot penetrate the expat network in middle and top management.

    I have a suggestion for the senior officials of the Govt. I hope some of the readers especially Omanis would convey this to the people in authority in the manpower department.
    - Divide the salary of the expats into two parts.
    one part may be 60 percent for professional work
    - other part namely 40 percent for mentoring a young and aspiring Omani in the company. The evaluation of this should be conducted by board manned by Omanis

    -Do not give more than two visas at a time continuously.Let there be a break and the organization rejustify its need for visas
    -Stop visas for those who have stayed for more than 10 years.They need to go to country of origin.If a person stays for more than 10 years and still not created a Omani to take his place then he deserves to go home.

    As per my observation Omanis are currently doing well in running IT services,business management and trading.

    The expats have failed to pump in confidence in the Omani members but have tried to label them as lethargic or leisure loving.

    If you want a person to swim,he has to be pushed into water.Time has come for Omanis to break into so called exclusive expat jobs.
    Only expats which omanis would require for all time is the poorly paid blue collar workers. They need to be paid more as they have contributed to the growth of the country than any other group of expats.

  5. I think it's incredibly naive if not ignorant to classify all ex-pats as the same breed with the same faults! An Indian compared with a Brit! Any European compared with an Asian?

    C'mon, get a grip, get a life, we are all different.

    Hey honey, lets go down the beach and look at the aliens, we'll take the kids and show them how to be offended.

  6. thats fair enough anonymous!!!

    what yor are talking here is completely unrealistic

  7. under cover dragon mentioned that expats are generaly expected to work harder and thats why they deserve a better payment. I say that like wise, omani's are not motivated to give it all in their field of work when an ausy or kiwi next to him doing the exact same job and performance with the same level of experience is paid three times more.

    A very clear example is the air traffic control salary payment. Every epxat that is recruited has an equal experience to most omani's or even less, but of course paid tripple. The expat is expected to perform at his fullest when he knows at the end of the month a crazy four figured number is displayed in his ATM machine while the omani has already splitted his salary untill nothing is left before even recieving it.

    Now if motivation is vital for maintaining the safetiness in this highly stressful delicate job, and $$ is a key factor to can guess what would happen if this goes on!!!

    People have to understand as well that the expats are not the ones to blame for this unfairness. hell...if i got a job somewhere else that'll pay me tripple the local ill take it for sure, so would anyone else.

  8. I'm an Omani, living in Europe.
    I've just moved here on a temporary contract to consult for a firm here and I plan to return home soon.
    Dragon's response missed the point of what Dreamer was getting it (I think..)
    The most "annoying thing" (although I don't think this qualifies as a matter of annoyance, but more of a matter of justice), is that Westerners have an air of superiority. Due to having the better salary, etc, and let's be serious a far higher standard of life than "they" would have in their native countries. Dreamer points out that in Oman, we have shunned concepts of a meritocracy, in exchange for a crypto-caste system (much like most if not all of our GCC cousins). On the top comes the Westerner (yes higher than the Omani---when talking about work, not about legal status). The implication being that by virtue of being Western the job is better done. The saddest part about this whole story is something that Dreamer choses to glide over, and that is; this mentality is enforced by the Omani government, and business (foremost). We have this complex of (probably left over from our post-colonial days) that the "West is Best". and by proxy, the Western we bring to do this job, will be far better than any other nationality.

    In conclusion, love this blog, you bring up some great points/subjects that need to be addressed, and are often neglected by the local news/op eds.

    So more power to you, my Western, over paid friend.

  9. Hello guys, I'm doing a report about 'Foreign staff and managers in Oman' anyone willing to help, please contact me on facebook


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