Banks

Where to manage your finances

There’s no shortage of banks in Omani cities, towns, and villages.

There are international, regional and local banks, all of which are well-financed, well-regulated and well-run. Although there have been one or two notorious banking scandals in the region (notably the closure of BICC bank), banks are generally healthy, with enough financing to ensure they can cope with future difficulties.

Banks fall into a number of categories. Some central banks operate as clearing banks as well as regulatory institutions. Corporate (or merchant) banks provide venture and investment capital for institutional investors. Investment banks sometimes extend their services to individual investors in addition to corporations - ‘high net worth individuals’ interested in portfolio management. Finally, there are retail or ‘high street’ banks for everyday use.

There are no savings and loan banks or mutual building societies. ´Normal´ Omani banks handle these services.

While it is highly unlikely, you may find yourself investing (or doing business) with an Islamic bank. These banks are regulated according to Islamic law, which makes for some interesting conlicts of interests. For instance, since collecting interest is forbidden (haram) by Islamic law, Islamic banks have developed numerous work-arounds to invest money and offer mortgages without collecting interest. Study up on the finer points of Islamic law if you plan on dealing with Islamic banks in Oman.

As a working expatriate, you’re likely to open a standard current or deposit account with one of the many international banks found throughout the region. Banks such as Standard Chartered, Citibank, British Bank of the Middle East and others provide reasonable service, with low charges and generous loan terms.

Some banks offer drive-in services, while others provide mobile banking facilities for outlying villages and remote areas. Large industrial complexes often have banks on site for their workers´ convenience, as do certain civil service organisations (such as police training centres).

Opening Hours

There are variations in bank opening hours throughout the region. In general, banks are open from 8:00 to 13:00, Saturdays through Wednesdays, and re-open in the afternoon from 16:30 to 18:30. On Thursdays, opening hours are usually 8:00 to 12:00.

Like other businesses, banks are closed on Fridays (the Muslim holy day).

Companies dealing in foreign exchange and money transfers usually work later in the evening, particularly those located in shopping malls and along main shopping thoroughfares. At major international airports, bank facilities are usually open 24 hours.

Banks observe the same holidays as companies in the private sector.


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