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Starting in Oman in September?
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MuscatGary



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 791
Location: Flying around the ME...

PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 2:57 pm    Post subject: Starting in Oman in September? Reply with quote

Plenty has been written about the problems associated with living here but I think maybe some advice may be useful for those who are coming this September. I'm going to try to be factual and as neutral as possible. Most of this information should be given by the recruiters or during induction but it isn't.

Firstly, bring ALL your original certificates, degree(s), letters of experience and High School certificates. You will also need the transcripts for ALL of these (yes I know there's no such thing for UK GCSE/O/A Levels but they're asking for them). It is also advisable to get all of these apostilled and attestated before you come. They have been super harsh about this requirement this year and it has been extended to the agencies as well as the Ministries. If you're married and want to bring your spouse then also bring the marraige certificate, again it will need attestating.

Secondly, bring enough cash to survive until you're paid. With an agency like Hawthorn this will need to be be enough for a month as you will be given free furnished accommodation and the major furniture items and they have paid teachers after one month during the 3.5 years I've been here. With the MOHE it can take five months to be paid and during that time you will have to find your own accommodation and pay your own rent and utilities. Landlords in Oman can ask for several months deposit upfront. You will be given a soft loan ( about 1800 OMR) by the MOHE to buy furniture but may need to use a lot of this to live on and have to rough it furniture wise until the salary starts. Fully furnished private rented accommodation is rare and usually expensive. Advances may, or may not, be given by the Colleges but don't rely on it and even if given it will be small. Even with the furnished accommodation you will have to buy your own utensils etc. Don't expect any help from the MOHE in locating accommodation but other teachers are often helpful. When looking for accommodation it's important to think about how you can travel to work and back on a daily basis.

Do your homework before coming. It never ceases to amaze me how many teachers arrive and then complain about the heat. Many of the Colleges are in remote areas and this needs to be considered. If you like nightlife then check how far away from Muscat your are.

Do not expect too much. If you are coming to work in the Colleges of Applied Sciences or the Colleges of Higher Technology do not expect the students to be of Western tertiary standards. The facilities are ok but not spectacularly good and the internet is often poor. Skype is banned. Books are recycled with the answers already in them from previous students.

Do not expect anything to happen quickly. Spouse visas can often take many months to process despite assurances to the contrary. Conversely do expect them to demand that you respond and act quickly when they want you to mobilise.

If you like to read then I recommend investing in a Kindle and loading it up. Even in the capital there are no real bookshops.

There's probably more and others will hopefully chip in but following the advice above may make the first few months easier. Good luck!
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15998
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great advice MG... ought to be a sticky!!

VS
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MuscatGary



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 791
Location: Flying around the ME...

PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

veiledsentiments wrote:
Great advice MG... ought to be a sticky!!

VS


It probably needs adding to but up to the mods! Problem is that what is good advice and correct now may be wrong next year!
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omanoman



Joined: 11 Jun 2014
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll chip in two cents.....

there are book shops in Muscat, Borders in Qurum city center and Grand mall as well as Al Batra bookshop in Qurum shopping area, Al Wadi center, not to mention the famous used book shop in the same mall - House of prose - has thousands of used books and may still buy old ones off you.

It's hot but not for most of the school year and Oman has many excellent places to visit for the adventurous type, wadis, pools, mountains, beaches, desert camps etc.

I have not heard of this 5 month pay delay from anyone else other than Muscat Gary so it shouldn't be taken as a rule or a common experience. There are certainly many issues to deal with working here but that would be a real deal breaker and I, for one, would like to still be able to encourage people to come here to work so the rest of us don't have to cover the load !

Documents - all true, bring originals and have many copies stamped and attested by your Embassy and if possible the Omani embassy as well. Also, the letters of work experience are a must - if you are leaving somewhere, make sure you get one and even now, begin contacting your old employers for letters - not reference letters but just simple statements of work period and position.

Come with an open mind - there is lots to read on this board about the horrors of Omani college students but the positives never get on here and the negatives are often if not always exaggerated. How many hundreds and even thousands of teachers have come through Oman with great experiences and never posted on Daves?

Having said that, they are not well skilled and many are not motivated but there is still plenty of them that are. And if you deal with them respectfully, you often get great returns. They have a totally different view on sharing information and cheating on tests and homework - find out what your employer's policy is on that and decide whether you can deal with it or not - you don't have to be laissez faire about it but you also don't have to have a fit over it either.

know the law and what your contract should say - google Oman labor law and the Ministry has an English site with a pdf download. Most important clauses are about leaves, benefits, gratuity and sick days.

Finally, enjoy Oman! I think it's great here. I have had my share of disappointments, headaches, frustrations but that is true of anywhere, isn't it? And Oman has a rich and living history. It is developing right in front of our eyes and we are part of that.

omanoman
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MuscatGary



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 791
Location: Flying around the ME...

PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

omanoman wrote:
I'll chip in two cents.....

there are book shops in Muscat, Borders in Qurum city center and Grand mall as well as Al Batra bookshop in Qurum shopping area, Al Wadi center, not to mention the famous used book shop in the same mall - House of prose - has thousands of used books and may still buy old ones off you.

Still a very limited selection, not like a Waterstones or a Blackwells.

I have not heard of this 5 month pay delay from anyone else other than Muscat Gary so it shouldn't be taken as a rule or a common experience.

It's happened to new MOHE drect hire evry year for the last 3.5 years whilst I've been here and others have told me that it's been common for even longer. Many see it as a rite of passage, I saw it as disrespectful.

Come with an open mind - there is lots to read on this board about the horrors of Omani college students but the positives never get on here and the negatives are often if not always exaggerated. How many hundreds and even thousands of teachers have come through Oman with great experiences and never posted on Daves? But why have so many of them left so quickly never to return?

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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15998
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I loved the House of Prose. It was a life saver back in the day before Kindle. It seems that the early expats only read scifi and that covered all of the fiction section of the SQU library and the small teacher exchange book "closet" other than the classics. By the end of my 4 years at SQU I had read all the classics that I missed in college. Cool

So, House of Prose was heavy on scifi and I read a bit of it and enjoyed some of that, but haven't picked any up since I left. Does the same couple own the store? They also had a branch or two in the Emirates.

Books at the book store were so expensive then that finding a good book was difficult in the Gulf in the 80's and 90's.

VS
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Whatever will be



Joined: 05 Feb 2014
Posts: 102

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Omanoman

"Know what your contract should say.."

The recruitment agency will email a 'letter of offer' to bait you.
Once you've arrived in the country, jet lagged, with your suitcases in their car and surrounded by 3 guys in their office, they will present you with a contract to sign that is offering a great deal less. Either sign or find yourself back at the airport with no job to go to.

Oh, and yes. They will bully you into giving up your passport.
Sure, it's against the law - but the law is like everything else just something on paper. The reality is vastly different.

And for fighting in the court and insisting on your right: good luck to any fool who tries it.
My partner is going through it for the last few months. Self-representation is impossible as you need to understand, speak, read, and write Arabic. Lawyers are expensive. And get ready for a long drawn out process during which you have no job, no income and soon no work visa remaining. This means doing visa runs or paying to have it extended.

The game here is for the Omanis to wait until you're saving are used up and you are giving up in exasperation and leave the country.

It's an exercise in futility, like most of the things in this country.
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omanoman



Joined: 11 Jun 2014
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I am not sure what to say except I am sorry for your experience. In response to muscatgary above, my response would be " why have so many stayed?"

I am not denying that these things have happened, although how exactly and to what degree, we can't be sure from any anonymous forum. I certainly don't want to diminish your experience but I will continue to add my own and others positive experiences to threads like this.

Frankly, in my opinion, if you're getting bullied, stand up to it ! I have done it and certainly have seen colleagues and friends do it. Taking the passport for admin purposes (stamping) is fine and took several days but then, we all get them back by asking. Who would stand for that? If the HR clerk is really that bullying, then move up the chain and talk to someone who really matters. Quote legal policies, band together and present the issue calmly and firmly.

You are trying to paint your experience as the norm and that is simply not true. And, you are trying to paint Omanis as deceitful and sleazy and that is also wrong.
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Sleepwalker



Joined: 02 Feb 2007
Posts: 357
Location: Reading the screen

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for books, go to the Al Manahil site. You can order from Amazon UK and have your books delivered to Al Manahil for 1 OR. You then collect them from their shop.
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pooroldedgar



Joined: 07 Oct 2010
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think MuscatGary's experience has been that much of an outlier. Just yesterday I was listening to stories of the four or five native speaker teacher who quit last year (only 2 stayed) and they seamed to all leave quite angry. Their complaints were all the usual stuff; all what Muscatgary is saying. So it's not like he's totally alone here.

For me, my experience will largely be determined by my leaving. TATI has assured my that I'll receive pay checks for June, July, and August, as well as a gratuity.

If they keep their word, them I'm golden and happy. But I am worried. The means of delivery has changed three times. From bank transfer to PRO delivery to office pickup. Now I'm supposed to meet them at the airport. Obviously, that doesn't instill confidence. I've emailed two people their saying that I need time to convert into dollars, also that I don't feel comfortable carrying so much cash around, and could we please do it a different way.

They have chosen not to reply. This doesn't bode well and I'm nervous.
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Whatever will be



Joined: 05 Feb 2014
Posts: 102

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Omanoman:
I am merely reporting what I have experienced or observed first hand.

To answer your question:
Why have so many stayed?

The Indian, Filipino, Egyptian, Russian, etc. expat teachers have stayed because they have no other option. They are no native speakers and often have only Bachelor degrees.

What other county will take them? They need an income to feed themselves and their families. What other choice do they have but to put up with it?

As for myself: I rather invest my time and energy into looking for another job elsewhere than fight a system that is well entrenched and will kick you out as soon as you'll arch up.

If you're in company housing, even worse as they just change the lock. Even if your stuff is inside. Has happened, will happen again.

Again, I am merely reporting what I have experienced or observed first had.
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omanoman



Joined: 11 Jun 2014
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, then at least I object to your opinion about all non-native speaking teachers as being cowed and desperate for work, so much so that they take their lumps and carry on out of fear. It's a stereotype I think and not a good one.


Meanwhile, some of the worst teachers, whiners and aggressively prejudice ones with no cultural sensitivity are native speakers and give everyone else a bad name. All of the worst teachers I have ever come across in the GCC were western, so what shall we assume then?

The experiences that you mention are outrageous and certainly not any 'norm' here. Why not name and shame? why not put a case and refer to it in social media at least? why not have teachers support each other for these unethical and often criminal acts, go to management, ministry?

I will offer one reason. Because they are either false, highly over blown or completely one-sided. The alternative is that these teachers are too afraid or naive? I don't think so, certainly I hope not. I have a pocketful of memories myself of colleagues who have spun a tale of woe and deceit but upon further revelations, it turned out they were flat out wrong, lying or exaggerating in order to gain sympathy and abuse their employer who wouldn't put up with their behavior or performance.

I am really not trying to pick a fight with you or gloss over whatever negative experience you have had, but I have seen lots of good and I have seen lots of false and slanderous behavior too so I feel compelled to play at least the devil's advocate.
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pooroldedgar



Joined: 07 Oct 2010
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If he was saying non-native speakers are worse teachers then I'd take issue. But to point out differences in terms of the job market is simply to state the obvious. Nationality is a significant factor in the ESL game. It many countries, I believe it's written right into the immigration law. It plays a central role in who goes where. I don't think it's a breach of etiquette to note as much.
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Tazz



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 131
Location: Jakarta

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Omanoman-well 'in' with the Omani management I'd say? The observation about the non-natives is a largely factual one-not saying that the average Sudanese, Egyptian or Russian is desperate-but put simply these nationalities CANNOT work as teachers of English in most countries. Fact. Not stereotype.
"All of the worst teachers I have ever come across in the GCC were western, so what shall we assume then?"-we'll simply assume that you are guilty of the same prejudice and labeling that you presumably are attempting to negate! So all the many contributors who have outlined their negative experiences in Oman are falsifying these claims-or exagerating eh?
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omanoman



Joined: 11 Jun 2014
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just based from my experiences and observations......


No, not all are exaggerating but many have so it is fair to give the benefit of the doubt. After all, an anonymous internet forum is hardly the bastion of ethical and verifiable discourse, is it?

And clearly, the GCC is a hotbed for non-native speaking teaching opportunities so they have as many good opportunities as native speakers do. We're not talking backpackers in Thailand or school teachers in Japan.

Look, I'm not trying to run these threads into the ground and I hope I have expressed the point that I am supportive of these problems and offered some advice on how to deal with them.

No matter what though, by the numbers, the stories from a handful of posters on dave's is hardly an indictment of the country and its colleges so that is my main point and will continue to be so.
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