Are you excited and a tad bit nervous about moving to Oman? Not sure what to expect once you move to the Sultanate? This guide will give you all that you need about living and working in Oman as a healthcare professional.
Here you can find:
- A quick introduction to the Sultanate
- The job market, eligibility requirements and visa criteria for overseas healthcare professionals in Oman
- Challenges faced by healthcare professionals aspiring to move to Oman
- And, finally, the top reasons why you should consider moving to Oman
A Quick Introduction to the Sultanate of Oman
The Sultanate of Oman, shortly known as Oman, is often referred to as the lesser-known, slightly more traditional cousin of the UAE. Bound by the waters of the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, Oman is a diverse nation with a large immigrant population (over 45% of all residents are immigrants).
The capital of Oman, Muscat, is a large thriving metropolitan city with over 1.3 million residents. Besides Muscat, Salalah is the other big city that is home to a large number of immigrants. Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said is the sovereign ruler of the nation. He came to power in 1970 and is currently the longest-serving ruler in the Arab world. Though Arabic is the official language of the country, English is also widely spoken.
Employment in Oman for Overseas Healthcare Professionals – What should you know?
Oman has one of the best universal healthcare systems in the world, and the country offers free primary healthcare to all Omanis and subsidizes care to foreign residents.
- The healthcare sector in the country is overseen by the MoH (Ministry of Health) and the Central Quality Control Laboratory.
- At the end of 2016, the MoH had 74 hospitals in the country with a total of 6589 beds – that is equivalent to 14.9 beds per 10,000 people. Besides these hospitals, the MoH also is in charge of 266 primary health centers, pharmacies, and clinics, as well as 1105 private clinics. The other clinics in the country are operated by the Royal Oman Police, the Royal Armed Forces, and the Sultan Qaboos University.
- All medical specialists – doctors, dentists, nurses, medical technicians, etc. – aspiring to work in Oman must get certified by the OMSB (Oman Medical Speciality Board). They have to take the Oman Prometric Exam along with obtaining a license from the MoH.
- Healthcare professionals – doctors, registered nurses, medical technicians – looking to take up employment in Oman can do so only under the visa sponsorship program. To qualify for this program, the applicant must be aged between 21 and 60 and must have a confirmed job offer from a hospital/clinic in Oman. The employer is the visa sponsor.
- Once you are selected for the job, the employer must obtain a clearance from the Ministry of Manpower. The employee must meet several approval criteria – clearance from a professional healthcare association, meeting the Omanization quotas (this is the minimum number of Omani nationals that a company must employ), and more.
- The duration of the work visa issued to all foreign workers – including healthcare professionals – is two years from the date of entry.
Challenges faced by Healthcare Workers moving to Oman
#1: Lengthy and complicated Application and Visa Process
All medical specialists looking to work in Oman have to cross three major hurdles:
- Clear the Oman Prometric Exam – This is one of the toughest medical examinations in the world and requires extensive preparation.
- Obtain a license to practice from the MoH – Applying for a license can take anywhere from a few weeks to even six months or more. Additionally, applicants may be denied a license even when they have successfully cleared the Oman Prometric Exam.
- Obtain a Sponsorship Visa from the Employer – In Oman, it’s the employer who sponsors the visa of the employee. Employers have to get clearing from the Ministry of Manpower before they can bring on-board an overseas employee.
How to overcome this challenge? Aspiring healthcare professionals can overcome these challenges by partnering with a reputed overseas healthcare consultant like Dynamic Healthcare Staff. With years of experience, helping our students land lucrative jobs in several countries, we walk you through the entire process, helping you complete the application process efficiently.
#2: Increased Omanisation
Oman, like other Arab nations, traditionally depended on the immigrant workforce for all sectors, including healthcare. However, of late, there has been an increasing drive for Omanisation both in public and private sectors in healthcare, leading to a lack of job security for overseas workers.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) continues to hire more Omani nurses to reduce overseas nurses and other healthcare professionals. The MoH earlier this year announced that it would be replacing 200 foreign nurses with local Omani nurses across all the governorates in the country. As per the latest figures, overseas nurses working in the Sultanate under the MoH have fallen from 6113 in 2015 to 5531 in 2017.
How to overcome this challenge? Though there is an increase in the drive to Omanisation, there are plenty of opportunities still available for overseas workers. According to the TimesOfOman, the sultanate will require 13,000 additional doctors by 2040. The MoH is planning to meet these numbers by hiring a mix of Omanis and expatriates.
You can boost your chances of selection by taking an additional professional course, higher specializations, etc.
#3: Moderate Winters and Scorching Hot Summers
One of the initial shocks for expatriates moving to Oman is the extreme climate. Oman has a typical desert climate with hot days and cold nights, especially when you move further inland, away from the coast. Be prepared for humid days.
The average winter temperatures in the Sultanate range around 25◦C. Temperatures can reach up to 40◦C or even more in the summer months of June to September.
Make sure to pack long-sleeved light cotton or linen clothes to keep you cool during the day and a light jacket or shawl to keep you warm when the desert wind blows in the evenings.
Now, that we’ve seen the major challenges of working and living in Oman, let’s turn the spotlight on the benefits of moving here:
Easy Availability of Accommodation
One of the biggest benefits for foreign healthcare professionals moving to Oman is that you can easily find a wide range of accommodation suiting all budgets. Most ex-pats live in the city of Muscat in the areas Ruwi, Mutrah, and Qur’m. You can choose from apartments, townhouses, and even villas, depending on your budget. Housing in Oman is safe, and all housing complexes have high-levels of security.
World-class Working Environment
Hospitals in Oman are on-par with the western world. A traditional working week is around 40 – 48 hours and is from Sunday to Thursday, with the weekends on Friday and Saturday. Just like other Arab nations, Friday is observed as an Islamic holy day, and Jumu’ah prayers are conducted. The majority of hospitals in the Sultanate are equipped with the latest medical equipment, imported from overseas.
English is widely spoken and a Big Expat Community
Though the official language of Oman is Arabic, non-Arabic speakers are in plenty. Nearly 45% of the Omani population comprises foreign residents, specifically from countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nepal, and Ethiopia. English is widely spoken and understood, especially in the cities and at workplaces.
Oman is Safe
Even when other nations witnessed political unrest during the Arab Spring, Oman remained stable and peaceful. Violent crime is rare in the country, and Oman even ranked as the 6th in a list of 65 countries for the ease of settling in.
However, it’s highly recommended that ex-pats respect the local religion and culture. Ibadhism, a conservative branch of Islam, is the local religion, and overseas residents are expected to respect its traditions like no eating, drinking, and smoking in public during Ramadan, wearing modest clothing in public areas, etc.
Low Cost of Living
The cost of living in Oman is comparatively low when compared to other popular ex-pat destinations like the UAE, UK, and other European countries. According to the Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Muscat was ranked 117 in the 209 cities surveyed, making it one of the least expensive cities in the Middle East.
Simplify your Move to Oman with Expert Guidance with Dynamic Health Staff
From securing a job with a handsome pay package to getting your work visa, there is plenty to be considered. Make sure to seek the help of reputed career consultants like Dynamic Health Staff to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.
With years of experience in helping healthcare professionals – nurses, midwives, technicians, and doctors – land the best jobs in the Middle East, we can help you begin your career in Oman without any hassles. Get in touch with our team to know more details about the latest healthcare vacancies in Oman.