Oman has moved up from 48th to the 32nd place out of 67 countries in this year’s Quality of Life Index. The country has scored good rankings for personal safety (57 per cent say it’s very good), political stability (46 per cent) and peacefulness (62 per cent), according to InterNations, an expat insider report that surveys families of foreign nationals living in Oman. The report says Oman does a lot better in terms of personal happiness, with almost one-quarter of expatriates in Oman (24 per cent) very happy this year, up from only 13 per cent in 2015.
Responses to individual questions covered a range of reactions, with 35 per cent of expats saying locals are friendly in Kuwait, to 87 per cent positive ratings in Oman.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia are also below the worldwide average of 69 per cent, with positive ratings of 47 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.
Twenty-one per cent of expats in Oman and Bahrain say making local friends is very easy compared with the worldwide average of 12 per cent.
However, all the other Gulf states have below-average ratings
for this question.
It seems the language might also be a contributing factor.
The survey respondents across every country of the region find learning the local language less than easy.
For example, only five per cent of expats in Qatar consider it easy to learn compared with 11 per cent globally.
Most expats in the region (between 56 per cent and 74 per cent) agree it is not necessary to speak Arabic in order to get on in everyday life, especially in Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, where Arabic and English are the main business languages.
In the Working Abroad Index, the best-ranking Gulf countries are again Oman and Bahrain, both featuring among the top 20 worldwide.
The UAE comes in just above the global average, at 36th place, while the rest (Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) are all in the bottom 20.
According to the report, an interesting fact about the region is Indian expatriates constitute the largest nationality in terms of numbers, except for Saudi Arabia, where Pakistani expatriates are more in number.
The most likely explanation would be the availability of jobs, often with higher wages than in their home countries, coupled with the relative proximity of the Gulf region to South Asia.
Expats in the region say the top three reasons for relocation are financial or work related, with the exception of the UAE, where improved quality of life was another deciding factor.
However, respondents were not particularly satisfied with the career prospects offered in the region.
Only the UAE and Bahrain outperformed the worldwide average of 55 per cent positive ratings, with 62 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively.
The work-life balance (or the lack of it thereof) seems to be a problem.
In most of the Gulf states, expats work on average more than 45.2 hours a week, except for those in Oman, where the average work week is 43.3 hours, still more than the global average of 41.4 hours.
The rise in the cost of living can be attributed to the region’s impressive economic growth in the last three decades.
In the Family Life Index, all Gulf states rank in the bottom 15 out of 45 destinations, with the UAE coming in at 33rd and Saudi Arabia at 44th.
Kuwait is not featured in the ranking since the number of respondents with families was too few to be statistically significant.
When it comes to the available childcare options, only Bahrain (48 per cent) and the UAE (51 per cent) outperform the global average of 46 per cent positive ratings.