I 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.
4. 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.
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.
10. 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.