Living in Oman

Iyna Bort Caurso

On the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula is the sultanate of Oman, an emerging economic force in the Gulf region.

It is a monarchy that has made modernization a priority over the last few decades while still managing to retain its cultural traditions. A pipeline of infrastructure projects, coupled with political reforms and real estate expansion, has led to the kind of stability and economic diversity that’s drawn ex-pats in significant numbers.

A government focus on tourism, a major contributor to the economy, is also helping to raise Oman’s international profile. The country’s topography of desert plains, mountains and just over a thousand miles of coastline offers abundant recreational opportunities including rock and cliff climbing, sand skiing and, thanks to wrecks and coral reefs, some of the top scuba diving spots anywhere. Dozens of shipwrecks are accessible from the capital of Muscat.

Except for a brief period between 1507 and 1650 when Oman came under Portuguese control, it has largely been autonomous. Its history dates back more than 5,000 years. Fortification and watchtower ruins are proof of an ancient culture, a time when Oman was a powerhouse trading partner, well known for it export of frankincense. A region known as the Land of Frankincense in the southern city of Salalah is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for the vestiges of an ancient Islamic city on the Arabian Sea coast and the trees from which frankincense is extracted.

Masqatis a low-rise city with a waterfront promenade, colorful open-air markets and buildings of significance like the Royal Opera House, an architectural gem that balances modern forms with traditional Omani ornamentation.

Older structures have survived in Masqat mainly because modernization efforts didn’t take off until the 1970s. Even then building codes were passed to ensure a uniformity of traditional design that featured arches, curves and tiled courtyards. 

To encourage international real estate investment, zones designated as integrated tourism complexes (ITCs) allow freehold property ownership by non-residents. Properties in ITCs are in high demand by both nationals and non-nationals and represent some of the most prestigious addresses in the country.