‘Where?’ is usually the response to ‘I live in Oman,’ or ‘Ooh, how exciting, what’s Jordan like?’
‘Not Amman. Oh-man.’
Of course, some people give up the good fight and just tell people they live in Dubai. Everyone knows Dubai. I couldn’t possibly. I used to describe Oman, quite specifically as being ‘South of Saudi, beside Yemen; at the Eastern tip of the Arabian peninsula.’
‘Oh. So quite close to Dubai then?’
Which it is, of course.
I didn’t know very much about Oman when I accepted a teaching job there. In fact, that was part of what attracted me to the position in the first place.
Now, having left after spending two years in the capital Muscat, the Omani Tourism Board should pay me for the sheer raving I do about the place.
‘Of course it’s safe! It’s actually safer than Dubai really, Omani’s are very welcoming towards Westerners and pretty liberal. No I never had to cover! We have everything you have at home- Starbucks, Zara. Yes we have pubs. And beaches!’
Beaches, deserts, mountains, wadis- yup, Oman has it all. It’s an absolutely wonderful holiday destination, if a not particularly cheap one. It’s a gorgeous hybrid of new and old Middle East; there’s no Dubai-style high rises here but plenty of old school Gulf charm alongside low key but modern malls and hotels.
It’s not all rosy of course; no country is. In the coming weeks I’ll have two posts about Oman, one highlighting the reasons why it’s an excellent place to live or visit and a second about the slight downside to living in the Gulf region in general. Keep an eye out!