Since Oman has a high ratio of medical facilities (both public and private) to residents, it is generally very easy to obtain care. However, for rare and extremely specialized procedures people sometimes need to travel outside of Oman. Wealthy Omanis often seek minor care abroad as well, traveling to hospitals in London or the United States. Interestingly, many Omani doctors and nurses are actually foreigners who have come to Oman to take advantage of the high salaries.
American Mission Hospitals, which used to operate on a part-private (for those who could afford treatment), part-free (for those who couldn’t) basis, played an important part in the development of medical services. They can still be found today, though they no longer offer free treatment.
Oman now has a public health service providing free or very low cost health care for its nationals. These facilities are also available to foreigners. Tourists visiting Oman should have travel insurance that includes cover for private medical treatment, though they will have emergency access to state medical facilities regardless of whether or not they are insured.
Common expatriate health problems include alcoholism (particularly among bachelors, who frequently suffer from loneliness and depression) and respiratory problems caused by sand and dust in the air. The dust problem is aggravated by the construction projects that are common throughout Oman.
Hard work and long hours in the country´s extreme heat take a toll on the human immune system, and manual labroers can suffer sunstroke and sunburn. Your employer should excuse you if the temperature reaches 50oC (122oF), though since these conditions are common (especially in summer), you may find him ignoring them instead. Summer humidity causes added discomfort and leads to common eye infections.
Dehydration is a potentially lethal threat that can affect anyone spending time outdoors, including doctors. Make sure to have plenty of water on hand if you will be spending time outdoors.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Gulf States & Saudi Arabia. Click here to get a copy now.