Heather is a Scottish expat living in Oman with her husband and German Shepard, Penny. They made the big move to Oman when her husband was offered a permanent position there. It didn’t take much persuasion before Heather agreed to the move. They now find themselves living in Muscat; while Heather misses her family back home, she enjoys the quality of life and sunshine in Oman, and used to share her insights and experiences of life in Muscat on her blog, The Duncan Adventures.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Aberdeenshire, UK
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Azaiba, Muscat, Oman
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
A: I moved with my new husband and my German Shepherd, Penny.
Q: Why did you move to Oman; what do you do?
A: My husband had been working in Oman for the past 14 months on a monthly rotation; he was offered a live-in position with eight weeks’ notice to start. It didn't take much persuasion before I was packing my suitcase and the mad panic of bringing forward our wedding!
Q: What do you enjoy most about your host city, how’s the quality of life?
A: The quality of life is brilliant, the sunshine makes life so much easier! The locals are friendly with a great sense of humour, especially at my lack of Arabic skills. They are keen to make you feel welcome, show you around and help you to learn the local lingo! There are plenty of activities to keep everyone happy, a particular favourite of mine is snorkelling. You can see so many amazing things and even sea turtles!
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: Of course missing your loved ones is the thing that we all miss most but with technology these days it's not that bad. Skype is banned here but we can still use FaceTime on the iPad to speak to people or chat online for free. But other than that I really, really miss good Fish & Chips!
Q: Is Muscat safe?
A: I am the kind of person that jumps with any noise and bump in the night but here I feel surprisingly safe. No one has ever done anything to make me doubt that. The scariest thing can be the crazy drivers on the roads! You see so many people driving with children using the car as some kind of adventure playground causing huge distractions.
About living in Muscat
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Muscat as an expat?
A: We live in the Azaiba area and both love it! There are a few new expats here, no one really wants to speak to me just yet, apart from the locals, but the area is close to everything and a good place to raise a family.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Muscat?
A: We have a fantastic villa with a secure garden, all the homes round here are new and well maintained. The Omanis take great pride in their homes and having the best of everything.
Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Life is not cheap here which surprises people. The good homes are very expensive, especially if you want a pool. It is often cheaper to eat out than to buy and cook dinner! Food in supermarkets is expensive but you can get most foods that you are used to in the UK.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: I have met so many friendly locals! They invite me into their homes and offer drinks, they love to hear why we are here and all about our life. I try to mix with expats because that is what is familiar to me but not everyone is interested in meeting new friends once they are settled with children and families.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends in Muscat?
A: I joined an expat website before moving and made an appeal for friends, I am considerably younger than most expat wives so I worried that I wouldn't meet anyone. Luckily I have found some great people to spend time with which makes life much easier. I tend to be a little reserved meeting new people but being new you really just have to throw yourself into it.
Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: I am a stay-at-home wife so my visa is due to my husband’s work.
Family and children
Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A: My hubby loves his new life here in Muscat! We are lucky to be here and we both know it. We enjoy getting out of the city and exploring. He has lots of friends and hobbies here; there are many things to choose from.
Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A: We do not have any children yet but there are so many pregnant women here so I'm assuming it's a great place to raise a family.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare?
A: I have been to two separate hospitals, one for my visa medical and another for toothache. They spoke brilliant English, it was efficient, reasonable prices and short waiting times!
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: My advice would is to be open to new experiences, new people and go into it with a bit of humour. It is helpful to research the rules of a Muslim country if you are not familiar with them; you don't want to end up in trouble!
~ Interviewed October 2012