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LIVING IN SALALAH, OMAN??????
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lionbrian



Joined: 26 Apr 2003
Posts: 136
Location: Micronesia

PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 11:03 am    Post subject: LIVING IN SALALAH, OMAN?????? Reply with quote

Dear all Oman expats,

What is teaching and living in Salalah? Good place? Good savings than Muscat and other cities? Any info regarding living in this city?

Thanks in advance!
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16125
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well Lionbrian,

It looks like there is no one around who knows anything about living in Salalah. I'm no use either Embarassed sorry.

VS
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carnac



Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every teacher I know who has lived/worked in Salalah says the same thing: they were bored to death after the first week (or less). Yes, you can probably save money since there is nothing to spend it on. What can we say that's positive about Salalah? Well, it's greener than the rest of Oman because of the monsoons; it has a lot of very attractive camels and goats. Being close to Yemen, it has a lot of guns(I am told you can pick up a nice semi-automatic at the suq). It's where the Omani military sends people who screw up in Muscat.
The roads are supposed to be not very good.
Oh, yes, another nice thing about being close to Yemen are the cross-border car thieves who will grab your car if it's 4WD and launch across the desert to Yemen, avoiding the roads and border crossings, and sell it for you.
Yes. I hear it's a really fun place. Seriously, I have been told it's worth perhaps a weekend visit but that's about it. Teachers I know avoid it.
Maybe there is someone else who can post something more positive, but I doubt it.
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lionbrian



Joined: 26 Apr 2003
Posts: 136
Location: Micronesia

PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 1:23 am    Post subject: THANKS A MILLION! Reply with quote

Dear Veil & Carnac,

Thanks again for the input. According to Carnac, I do not think I will fit in Salalah's scenery.

Then, which place would you recommend? By priority!
Sohar, Sur, Ibri, Nizwa or Rustaq?????????

Thanks in advance!
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veiledsentiments



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Carnac!! That was quite the description of Salalah and I must say that I don't doubt a word of it!! Shocked

lionbrian,

As to your list, they are all rather small and much more limited than the capital area. If I were forced to choose to live in any of them, I would choose Nizwa or Sohar. I believe that they are the largest of that group and they are closer to either the Emirates (Sohar) or Muscat to provide some entertainment and change.

Check out the post on Nizwa by Princessofquitealot here on the Oman board. The new college opening there means a bit of change - at least more expats to chum about with when one wants to.

Anyone have other ideas?

VS
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carnac



Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nizwa. Of the choices given, Nizwa.
A larger town, a little more to do, arguably the best suq in Oman with better prices than Muttrah Suq in Muscat. Good for finding things for the apartment, momentoes of your stay, gifts to bring home to friends and family.
And, only a couple of hours from Muscat on good roads all the way.

Sohar is nice. You can spend hours watching the dates ripen on the palms. Very stimulating.
yawn.

All of this is, of course, unfair. None of these places is truly bad in any evil way - after all, lots of people live in them. Including teachers.

If one is self-contained, self-possessed,self-starting, then one may be content anywhere. It's entirely possible that if you went to Salalah, something there might strike some resonant chord in your heart and you would love it. Really.

But I would simply suggest that if it's your first time in the country you might be happier becoming acculturated in a larger venue before going off to more solitary environs.

Bear in mind: almost wherever you go in Oman, the people are the most welcoming, friendly, generous, polite people you can encounter. Many teachers here have taught all over the Middle East. They are unanimous in saying that Oman is far above the other countries around here, in terms of having a good life and living in peace. Yes, certainly there are problems: with school administrations,with locations, with living conditions - but these things are by no means universal.

Be careful with the contract and you will be fine.
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veiledsentiments



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Carnac is right on the pros and cons. Oman is definitely the nicest place I have lived and worked - and nice people... I loved my Omani students. But, it is not the most exciting place in the world.

The description of Sohar made me laugh, but it does have the advantage of being about the closest place in Oman to the bright lights of Dubai. Smile (around 150+ kms or so, I believe?)

So lionbrian, if you get some offers, be sure to run them through here to check out the situation. Sounds like Carnac knows the hinterlands much better than I - who only knows them from weekend outings from Muscat.

VS
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carnac



Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lionbrian -
Just noticed you have been asking similar questions since April 2003.
What's up?
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lionbrian



Joined: 26 Apr 2003
Posts: 136
Location: Micronesia

PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 12:36 am    Post subject: RIGHT ON! Reply with quote

Dear Carnac,

Thanks for noticing.

I guess when someone stays in one country over 6 years, he/she will end up looking for a change, and this is my case. Also, when someone has a stable & secure job, it is usually hard to leave that country. All in all, I have been looking for a possible relocation to Oman as my next destination since 2003 (Saudi: No thanks!).

P.S: By the way, thanks (Veil as well) for your input, and asking questions is always a good thing to do before deciding on anything (DIFFERENT PEOPLE & DIFFERENT OPINIONS).

Thanks again!
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carnac



Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear lionbrian -
Assuming that contract negociations and living and teaching variables fall in place, I see no way anyone could regret coming to Oman. In fable, Oman was the home of Sinbad. In fact, there is something about Oman that is truly magical, an observation not merely my own but also of friends and family who have come here to visit and who have been enchanted from the first day. Hey, I work, I teach every day. Normal stuff. But, right now, the air is scented with jasmine, I think; the birds are returning after escaping the heat of summer; people are planting flowers everywhere. Ramadan starts tomorrow and we will all be serious for a month, Omanis and expats both. Then we will party for Eid and continue normal lives.
I've visited Dubai numerous times. Lots of money and development and multi-national corporations everywhere, highly visible, teeming hoardes thronging the streets. First world. Yahoo!
I am always so, so happy to return to Oman and sanity, to real people and real life. A country where, for instance, there are now over 100 women driving taxis and trucks. Where the fish you buy at the market was caught just a few hours earlier. Where the home-grown vegetables in the supermarket have dents and blemishes and you know they weren't produced by some factory. Where you really can choose your life: cloister yourself with other expats, or really meet the Omani people and come to know them as unique in the Arab world and as friends. The smallest effort to learn a few simple words in Arabic is rewarded by an effusivily warm response in appreciation that you took the time to learn how to say some small thing.
You might go to google and enter [oman history] or [oman culture] or [oman food]. Go to the CIA website and look up Oman ( http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/mu.html ). Do some serious research, as I did before I came here. You will be rewarded by the amount of information on the internet. Since I came here, I learned that the rarest honey in the world comes from the mountains here called Jebel Akhdar, and that the most expensive perfume in the world is sold/produced here. (Bought the first, not the second) Little things, like when you swim at night, you swim in stars from the plankton that fires off sparks of light when disturbed. (Talk about magical!) Little things, like getting lost walking around in some small town and ordinary people trying everything they know to help you. Sure, there are some not so nice things, but bad things exist everywhere in the world. In Oman, there are fewer.
You will read many things in this forum about problems with the jobs, and housing, and government. If you can navigate your way through all this, and it's not all as difficult as some may seem to say, I predict that your stay here will be rewarding beyond your dreams.
You may have noticed that I love the country. Maybe I should try for a job with the tourism ministry?
Best of luck. If you decide to come here, I predict that 20 years from now you will look back and say it was one of the greatest experiences of your life.
Unless you have more questions, I will end my participation in this thread.
Bye.
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KiteBiker



Joined: 13 Oct 2004
Posts: 85
Location: In front of the computer ...

PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 8:25 pm    Post subject: Been there ... done that ... Wanna do it again! Reply with quote

I've worked in Salalah for the Teacher's College from 1999 to 2003. Had my family there, too. Lots to say. Most of what I've read in this tread is accurate, the rest is subjective and open to personal opinion.

If the opportunity were open again, I'd go back in a heartbeat. It was my first posting outside of our insulated existance in Canada. It was hard at first, but attitude and approach is crucial in making it a positive experience.

My wife will never forget the wedding we were invited to, the dance I participated in and [secret] goings on in the bride's house with all the women present; my little girl will never forget riding that camel for her birthday, going to the Khareef festival, or attending both the British and Indian schools. And I will never forget the local Omanies I had the pleasure of working with. They are the true Felix Arabia.

If you need any details about the area or people, let me know. I'll help in any way I can.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16125
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2004 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'm sure you're wondering why I have called this meeting of the Oman Fan Club - of which I am a charter member. Razz

But, I must also tell lionbrian that there are people who didn't care for life in Oman, but few are the people who hated it there. In fact, like KiteBiker, most of the people that I know who left soon admitted that they quickly came to regret it. I found that the ones who were the least happy were single people - 30 years old or younger.

But, KiteBiker...

Do tell us about life in Salalah. You mentioned flats in the other thread. What about shopping? Are the beaches nice? Is there diving? Are there many other Western expats? Are they many other expat teachers? Are there schools for kids? What did you do for entertainment? Hotels? Hash House Harriers? Can you head up into the hinterlands and camp and bash wadis? Can you get into Yemen easily?

Inquiring minds want to know!! Cool

VS
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KiteBiker



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2004 2:11 am    Post subject: More on Salalah Reply with quote

Shopping: Toronto and Wal-Marts this is not. Prices are usually how much the local businessman can risk in asking and is always negotiable. To a normally bred Canadian, whenever we encounter a situation like this and a deal is made, we usually felt "dirty" or "taken advantage of" because the vendor accepted the deal which was probably way over the normal percentage we find back home. LuLu's is different. They try a Western approach and stick to the price indicated on the merchandise. So does Spinneys, but they are now closed. They were the only vendor in town that had any food remotely resembling what we were used to [at a steep price]. The Khareef is advertised as a wonderful shopping experience. This is a classic marketing falsehood. There is a silver and gold souk which is nice and glittery - especially at night. The showcase of Salalah is the Frankincense souk. Lovely examples of local pottery and incense burners as well as locally harvested frankincense.

Beaches: they are world class. I've been to Florida, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, PEI [don't laugh, they have a very unique red clay/sand mixture found only in 2 or 3 other places in the world], and last but not least Wasaga. Salalah beats them all. Only Sur has beaches that comes close to Salalah and their big advantage are the sea turtles that come laying eggs this time of year. There are no huts, no crowding, no tourists [except for the small reserved spots for the new Crown Plaza and the Hilton]. Miles upon miles of open beaches and dolphins surfing the waves. The occassional whale can be sighted breaching further north past Taqah.

Diving: there is diving but it's not developed like it is in Muscat. We did a little snorkelling and my daughter was able to get her first "certification" [bubble maker] in Muscat. There is nothing like that in Salalah, although there are grand plans for Mirbat to have an SAS Radisson do that sort of thing. There is diving for abalone for the locals during a short stretch of time. The abalones themselves are world class and fetch astronomical prices in Japan.

Western expats: they are few and far in between. They are mostly military. Very few teachers. My school had 2 or 3 western teachers and they are slowly being winowed away and replaced by Arab native speakers teaching English. There seems to be a large Canadian-Indian contingent of English teachers in Salalah but they came after my departure and I heard there were visa issues with them.

Schools: there is a British School and an Indian SChool, both teach in English,. There is also an Egyptian School and a Pakistani School but they teach in their own language. The British school is very small [1 to 2 teachers for 7 to 15 students]. The Jackmans were the teachers there when my girl attended. Now they are gone and I don't know who replaced them. The fees are high, the resources small and second hand. One on one attention to educational needs was very good. The Indian school was much larger [1,200 students] and much cheaper [1/3 the price of the British school]. The curriculum was Indian and teaching methods are the same ones used 70 years ago. Strict discipline but kids act out in outrageous ways. Their English is heavily accented so that my girl had a difficult time understanding them [so did we].

Entertainment: the name used on this site is not accidental. I became devoted to flying kites [stunt kites, power kites, traction kites] and riding my FSB mountain bike everywhere I could. The old Holiday Inn had cheezy entertainment [East European girls doing suggestive moves in "Arabic" get ups to Arabic music], the Hilton tried to put a classier spin by having "talent" come down and do their thing in a darkenned bar. The Port has the Oasis which serves very good cheap food with alcohol and is the center of the British expat social life. The movie houses are smoky, dangerous, and uncomfortable. Any kind of Western entertainment you will find is rare and inferior in quality in Salalah. However, since we moved away from Canada in order to escape from this kind of life, we didn't miss it all that much. The Khareef Festival is gay, and brightly lit. Don't let your kids on the Carny rides. They are woefully under-maintained and inherently dangerous. Never go on the go-karts. The hospital fills up with children full of burns, scrapes, and broken bones during this season because of that activity. They learn how to drive they way they do from a very early age. The Hash House Harriers did have a good group going. My dream was to get a similar situation going for mountain bikers. There was only one other mountain bike in the region. Camping and bashing wadis are possible but one should be escorted by a local. There was a civil war there not too long ago and they still remember the British straffing them from the air. From a distance, in the scope of a high powered rifle, we look awfully British. Be aware. Be sensible. Keep a low profile. Mind you, the trek we took to visit Ubar and the Empty Quarter with local guides was fantastic. and the archeological digs at Samharam and Al-Balid are exquisite.

Yemen: never go there without an escort from a tribe that has influence in the area. There are kidnappings [but no beheadings. They are quite civilised about such things there]. They "force" their hospitality upon you and "request" that you stay in the most urgent manner until a ransom is paid for your release. You are trespassing on their land without their permission. The central government is weak and disorganized. Occassional attempts at rescues sometimes lead to bloodshed and the hostages are killed. Best not to go there. I wanted to and almost made arrangements for it because they have some fantastic scenery and history, but my wife made it very clear that upon my return I would prefer to have been kidnapped and rescued by the central government rather than face her wrath.

That's all for now. If you wish for any elaboration I would be happy to comply.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
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Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2004 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great summary, Kitebiker... thank you so much. It sounds like it could be a choice for a year or two for people who are interested in a rather unique experience off the beaten path.

Does the Ministry have a teacher training location in Salalah? No native speaker teachers there? I seem to recall that there was an ad running at one time.

VS
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KiteBiker



Joined: 13 Oct 2004
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2004 10:09 pm    Post subject: Salalah Tra-la-la-lah. Reply with quote

You are most welcomed, VS. I've been lurking on this site for quite a while and Lionbrian finally tipped me over the edge. I had to sign up.

Yes MoHE has a school there for training teachers. They were considering closing down several teacher's school and Salalah was one of them. Thinking of converting it to an IT college or some such thing. I helped plan out their IT infrastructure. DSL worked very there as an option in so long as they don't demand too much from it. SQU and their 10mgb fibre optic cable to every PC this is not.

There are a few native speakers there. Ross was the last one I know of at my old school. There was someone running the Arabic Institute that replaced the old British Council school. She was married to an Omani policeman and was very good at what she did. Now I believe they have moved back to Muscat. I think they are trying to convert the Teacher's School English Unit into an English Department. They have attempted to do this in other Teacher's Colleges. I don't know how successful they were.

For me, the best thing in Salalah were the beaches and their Katabatic winds for kite flying and the local people. The worst thing were, sadly enough, the expats who end up there. Mostly military with a condescending colonial attitude. Calling Canada and Australia colonies is not the best way to reach out and make friends. This was not an isolated case. This was quite standard. Sane, sensible expats were the exception. Most long term expats had obviously lost their grounding and perspective, leading to outrageous acts and saying horrible things that could only be construed as neurotic. The 1999 HHH On-On at the British School was a case in point. I felt ashamed to be there and have Omanies witness how base Westerners could behave. We need better people over there. We need to go there with our very best foot forward and lead by example and learn from their style of civility. Especially these days with the kind of politics the West is applying to the region.
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