Culture Oman

13 Clues You’ve Been in Oman Too Long

May 1, 2017

13 Clues You've Been in Oman too LongI just crossed my six year anniversary living in Oman, and I continually waffle back and forth if it’s time to move on to something new or not. So, I created a list to help anyone to decide if it has been too long in Oman.

1. You end every sentence with “inshallah”

Inshallah, also written as InShaAllah, in sha Allah, and insha’Allah translates to “God willing” or “if God wills it”, and is used in spoken form all the time in Oman and across Arabic speaking countries. It’s probably the first word of Arabic you learned because it’s used so frequently. Here’s an example; You to your colleague: “Tomorrow let’s get lunch together, inshallah.” Your colleague: “Great! I’ll see you tomorrow, inshallah.” Colloquially, inshallah is also used as an affirmation. Here’s an example. You: “Aisha, can you please turn off the lights?” Aisha, “Inshallah.” If you do this, it is time to start packing, inshallah.

2. You can measure your “wasta”

Wasta loosely translates to “influence” or “clout” and is basically nepotism, who you know, and the level of influence you have all rolled into one to gain favoritism outside of merit or to get things done. Someone with super-wasta can get traffic fines waved, backdoor service, and jobs they are not qualified for. If you are like me, not even the cleaning staff pay special attention to you.

3. You own more camping furniture than home furnishings

The hardest part to keeping small quantities of camping gear is when your friends depart the country for good and “generously” bequeath to you all their goods they could not sell. Six chairs, three tents, four cool boxes, five mattresses… Yup, I can definitely open up a small camp for tourists.

13 Clues You've Been in Oman Too Long4. You forgot how to pump your own petrol  (or use the word petrol instead of gas ??)

You are not allowed to pump your petrol in Oman. I tend to like this because the attendants are usually quick, friendly, and it makes for a safer visit to the pump. Go back home, however, and punching in your pin number, zip code, selecting a grade, and pulling a leaver becomes strangely arduous.

5. You use the word “haram” outside of its religious context

Haram is the Arabic word for “forbidden” and directly refers to any act that is forbidden by Allah. However, informally “haram” can be used in a teasing way. Example: “Sorry, I forgot to tell you I couldn’t meet you for coffee.” “Haram! You should have called, I was waiting for you.”

6. You are offended by western tourists’ dress

I grew up in a beach community in Southern California, so don’t get me wrong. Bikinis and shorts don’t faze me at all. However, it’s a little different in the Islamic world and tourists (and a lot of expats) don’t often get it. If you spot a tourist walking down the corniche wearing dolphin shorts and feel the urge to yell “Haram” at them from across the way, there’s positively no doubt you’ve been in Oman too long.

7. You can have a full conversations with other drivers using only your high beams, low beams, turn signals, and four-way flashers

Hello. Your lights are on. There’s a cop ahead. There’s a speed camera ahead. There are animals ahead. Go ahead. Prepare to stop. Thank you. You are welcome. Your camel is beautiful. It is safe to pass. It is unsafe to pass. These are a few of the conversations one can have while bombing down the highway or cruising across town. If you know what combination of lights match the phrase, then it’s time to start packing.13 Clues You've Been in Oman too Long, driving learning

8. You are comfortable tailgating the driver in front

Basically, this is how you coax the driver in front of you to move out of the way when they decide it’s texting time in the fast lane. Leave a normal gap, and they will stay put, blocking your progress. On the other hand, if you close the distance to three meters (three yards) or less, the sight of three tons of cold steel will entice Mr. Text to gently drift out of the way.

9. You have a box tissues on your kitchen table

In Korea you use toilet paper for napkins, but in Oman you find boxes of facial tissues substituting for napkins. Once this practice permeates into your home, or worse…. into your car, you are definitely one more step closer to gaining that Omani passport.

13 Clues You've Been in Oman Too Long, pay phone10. You carry two or more mobile phones

How else do you text and talk on the phone at the same time?

11. You take afternoon naps

I was amazed how late Omanis stayed out on weeknights when I first arrived in the sultanate. “How is it possible to stay out until 1am and still make it to work on-time at 730am?” The secret lies in the afternoon nap. Two hours is all you need to party like a local.

12. You overindulge in pork while on holiday

While we can buy pork in Oman, I rarely ever do. Strangely though, I find myself scanning restaurant menus for the dishes with pork ingredients while on vacation, and choosing between those options. Maybe it’s just the novelty of it. Or, maybe it’s the taste. Either way, it can’t be healthy.

13. You get “creative” with how you park your car

Finally, this is my personal favorite. I even have a photo series called: How to Park Like an Omani Local, check it out. Basically, there is a lot of freedom with how, and where one can park their car. If you think triple parking your Land Cruiser while blocking a walkway is acceptable practice, then you’ve completely lost it.

So, how’d you do? Too long in Oman? Let me know in the comments below, Inshallah:


Rub' al KhaliIf you like this post, you will probably also like my podcast about Oman called Sultanate. Each month, I bring you along on my adventures across the kingdom to share with you something truly unique. From the unwritten history of Muttrah Souq to the endangered “tigers” in the Dhofari mountains, we cover it all. Click the play button to listen ⬇︎

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  • Reply Skyler May 22, 2017 at 1845

    99% for me!!! Except number two cause I obviously didn’t have the right kind of wasta lol

  • Reply Marina May 22, 2017 at 2043

    Guilty of all except 2 – but much of my experience has been gained in UAE. Now I have moved to Oman I am working on #2 but will need a little time before I gain full marks! Will share this on my fb page (the desert diva: living life to the full in the empty quarter). Thank you for a really great blogpost!

    • Reply D. Michael May 23, 2017 at 1009

      Thanks for the share Maria, the diva of the desert! It’s challenging to gain wasta, but the more you dive into the culture, more opportunities present themselves. Do you need more wasta here in Oman or the UAE. I hear it’s very challenging to start companies in the UAE, despite their friendliness. Where in Oman it’s easier.

      • Reply Marina May 28, 2017 at 1322

        Thanks for the feedback! Need more wasta in Oman – just moved here in December, though not quite officially here yet. Been visiting Oman since 2007 and lived in UAE since 2009. Everything in Oman takes a little longer, and as an impatient person I find the wait a bit challenging. But there are so very many plus points to being here and Oman really is the most amazing country.

        BTW – point number 7, often drivers toot their horn when going past me and now I know why – they are telling me that Rahhal, my azawakh/saluki, he who sticks his head out the window whenever we are on the move, is beautiful!

        • Reply D. Michael May 29, 2017 at 1225

          Marina, what do you find the most amazing here in Oman? The time it takes to get things done is definitely not amazing, but what can you do? Just enjoy the simple way of life, and make friends in high places. The best way to gain wasta.

          Ha, horns… don’t get me started.

  • Reply Steve Hendry May 23, 2017 at 0835

    Been here 6 years almost to the day so ticked every box! Particularly the tourist dress sense. Don’t know who gets more offended, me or the locals!

    Moving to Kazakhstan next week and will miss Oman tremendously…

    • Reply D. Michael May 23, 2017 at 1012

      I’ve been spying on your move on FB Steve. It looks just as exciting! You can always spend your holiday here… especially in the winter ;)

  • Reply Carina May 24, 2017 at 2029

    I ‘m sitting in a rehearsal with a bunch of grade 10’s, burst out laughing! I lived in Oman for 11 years and as the others said, all of the above is true – except I never reached number 2! Thanks Michael for the giggle and bringing back fond memories! You can never get enough of Oman!

    • Reply D. Michael May 24, 2017 at 2239

      NEVER! – I’m so happy to bring a laugh to you today. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Nicole May 24, 2017 at 2117

    Lol can totally relate to most of this, outside of the driving ones since I don’t drive here in Nizwa :-).

    • Reply D. Michael May 24, 2017 at 2238

      Ha, it’s never too late! Glad you like the post.

  • Reply Cameron May 25, 2017 at 0005

    D., you should add one more.

    14. You clicked on the link in number 13 and, having read the previous 12 clues and totally related to the point of LOL, you waited with bated breath to view some fuuuuuny photographs. But then when they came up, for more than half the photos, you can’t figure out the problem with the parking…

    • Reply D. Michael May 25, 2017 at 0009

      I like that Cameron… and one more: 15. You spot your car!

  • Reply Louise May 25, 2017 at 0839

    Here’s another for your list. When you always carry long sleeved cotton driving gloves in your car, for when the steering wheel is a touch too hot , and to stop your arms from burning to a crisp whilst driving. But that probably just a ladies thing.

    • Reply D. Michael May 25, 2017 at 1228

      That’s a good one! How many pair do you have?

  • Reply Sal May 25, 2017 at 1557

    One of my friends posted this on Facebook.. it intrigued me, being Omani, to see what your article will entail. I gotta say, it shared some of your points with friends over lunch.. beautifully funny and true.. I think if someone gets #7, they should get the passport :)

    • Reply D. Michael May 25, 2017 at 1703

      Hi Sal, السلام عليك,thanks for your comment. I’m pleased that my Omani friends find it enjoyable. Would you add something?

  • Reply Frank May 25, 2017 at 1641

    Ha very good. Only been 15 months but getting through the list.

    Add one more, when you don’t shake your cup and keep drinking the Omani coffee and cant stop eating the dates.

    • Reply D. Michael May 25, 2017 at 1711

      Hi Frank, That is a good one too. If you watch the video from President Trump meeting King Salman at the airport in the first Majlis a few days ago, you will see King Salman teach President Trump the subtle cup shake that we all know about. I loved watching that, a real humanizing moment between two powerful people, but I don’t think anybody picked up on it. – Welcome to Oman Frank! You are officially experiencing your second summer. Mabrook!

  • Reply Grey May 26, 2017 at 1937

    I like this post! Hi there, I am also a travel blogger working here in Oman.

    • Reply D. Michael May 28, 2017 at 0754

      Hi Grey, Why so few posts about Oman?

      • Reply Greycee May 28, 2017 at 1244

        Still had a lot of things to write D, Michael. I don’t want to lose fresh memories of my recent travels and find it hard to write about it. Still catching up because I just recently I decided to come up with my blog to inspire others to travel. I will write about Oman also but your blog seems to have a lot of it already and are all very informative and well written.

  • Reply Paul Mc May 26, 2017 at 2357

    Oman, Masha’Allah!

  • Reply Henry Lewis May 28, 2017 at 0256

    I lived and taught in Sohar, Rustaq and Salalah for more than EIGHT years and # 7 is hilarious!!!

    • Reply D. Michael May 28, 2017 at 0752

      One of my favorite too. Thanks for sharing. Where are you now?

  • Reply Ashli May 28, 2017 at 2202

    Amazing blog! There’s gotta be something worked into this list about becoming obsessed with shisha, “coffee shops”, and the toilet sprayer. Hehe

    Btw, if you need a good American hygienist teeth cleaning, come see me at American Dental Center! Yep, just did that! :)


    • Reply D. Michael May 29, 2017 at 1123

      Thanks for the positive feedback Ashli. I’ll come see you if I can’t get my favorite hygienist at your competitor. Every time since the first time she’s been unavailable, and I’ve been totally disappointed with her colleagues.

  • Reply Arjun June 3, 2017 at 0256

    To the exact pointers out here Michael. Brought me back to Oman in thoughts and spirits. I miss Oman from deepest part of my heart. Trying to find a way back to beautiful and Incredible Oman.
    Keep up the great work and keep describing Oman in some manner!!

    • Reply D. Michael June 3, 2017 at 1821

      Hi Arjun, Thanks for the kind words, and I am glad that you enjoyed the post.

      What type of work did you do when you were working here in Oman?

  • Reply jona joy March 13, 2018 at 1430

    i love your article. i’ve been living here in Oman for 7 years now:)

    • Reply D. Michael March 13, 2018 at 1442

      Hi Jona Joy, I’m 7 years now too! Glad you enjoyed it.

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