Sunday, February 6, 2011

Salalah Survival Guide - Ideas needed

Dear Readers,
I've been toying with the idea of writing a Salalah guide for newcomers to this town ever since I started this blog. Recently, Henry (name changed) moved to Salalah and emailed me with questions that all newcomers tend to ask.... where can I buy a phone? Nawras or Omantel? Where can I get groceries? Where can I find a tailor? Where do I find local handicrafts? What is there to see/do in Salalah? Where can I buy a coffee maker? Can I wear shorts? When do shops close/open? That sort of thing. I've been answering emails like his for two years, and maybe it's time I published my Dhofari Gucci Guide to Salalah?
So ...... it doesn't matter if you're an expat reader or an Omani, whether you live in Salalah or Muscat. Your help is needed. What should I include in the essential newcomers' guide? For expats, what useful info would you have liked to have been given when you first moved to Oman? For Omanis, what is 'essential Salalah'? What do you want expats to know/learn when they come here to live?
You can post your ideas as comments or email me. I'd love to hear what you think!


  1. I think my number one for me would be what is the best doctors office in town or at least which ones should be your last choice. After that is cheep food that wont send me to the doctors :D Hope that helps

  2. A meal not to miss?
    "Aqaweed" by Ateen road.

    Where to get Ice?
    Ice factory in Sa'ada area, right after Ribat round about.

    Excellent breakfast and or "Ramadan Iftar" not to miss?

    Hilton hotel, by the beach cafe.

    my 5 cents.

  3. I'm 22 from Muscat, and visited Salalah for the very first time last summer. I wouldn't have known my way around if it weren't for my Dhofari friends, and that's how I discovered Brownie's cafe.

    My suggestions would be similar coffee shops/restaurants areas.
    Also, recommendations on abaya/shaila attire, is shaila on shoulders acceptable? do women have to cover their hair or does the abaya suffice? best shopping areas for the traditional "thob" - both velvet and cotton? traditional souks similar to muttrah? best place to buy yathmad? a lot of women in salalah use home-made herbal cosmetics, where is the best place to acquire those?

    I never expected to get culture shock in my own country but it happens, and things like these could help avoid that :) good luck!

  4. A great idea! Such a guide is definitely needed.
    In case I would move to Salalah as an expat, I would like to know:
    1. in what area of town should I look for housing?
    2. where could I buy the essentials to make a home?
    3. where are the best doctors / dentists?
    4. what should I avoid eating / doing to remain healthy?
    5. what are "no-no's" to be avoided when I meet my first Dhofari's?
    6. what are great places to eat / relax in town?
    7. are there areas in Dhofar best to be avoided?
    8. what are the cultural highlights of the year, which should not be missed?

    I could go on for a bit, but you get the idea. Good luck with writing the guide. We will be keeping an eye out for DG's Guide to Salalah!

  5. Where to buy furniture and cars, places to avoid purchasing the same.

    Where to go to the ROP for civil card / driving license / a guide to getting a driving license and so on.

    Location of hospitals and recommend good doctors. Some expats may have pets, so information on vets as well.

  6. Thank you all! Keep the ideas coming!

  7. Basic rental housing costs for different areas so you know if you are being overcharged.

    Best places to get decent prices on stylish abayas (oh please just tell us even as non-expats;D). Salalah abayas are so pretty.

    Places to buy expat foods. If any. I mean, if I wanna make Mexican, can I? It is a struggle in Muscat, impossible in Ad Dhakliyah and nowhere Sharqiya, so what does Salalah have to offer.

    Definate cultural don'ts.

    How to best avoid creepy men and unwanted marriage proposals for the single gals. I have found more proposals from men from Salalah than other regions lol.

    Ettiquette for entertaining Dhofari guests in your home. Probably a little different than in Muscat.


    I guess a guide for expats of Western and more Omani cultural influences. Some of us are mixies.

  8. Doubt No 1.. are women allowed to cycle in public or parks..?

    then places to visit with its details or specialities... and whr to buy wht..@gud price & discounts..

    gud places for Fishing...(this is for my sake)

  9. Telephones - go Nawras, their staff are lovely.
    All phone and internet plans in Oman are stupid expensive and give you crap service. Too bad, no choice.

    Doctors - The Omani medical Centre in Haffa House, there is a female Iraqi woman there who is simply delightful and not antibiotic-happy as are most of the others.

    Food - learn some Arabic and go shop at the Fish Souq - especially if you like fish. Get there earlyish for the fresh vegtables. More on food - no, you probably cannot find everything you are used to. Get over it. It's one of the beauties of Salalah - you might discover some new foods (I discovered heaps and learnt how to cook lots of different dishes from my various friends and home helps). Different supermarkets have different things. Or you can go buy really expensive Western stuff at Spinneys at the airbase.
    Clothing - Men and women - Dress carefully, and cover up. It's actually more comfortable in the heat, but more importantly, it shows you respect the locals and it will get you respect. I always wear clothes that cover past my elbows and well over my knees - mostly ankle-length skirts and light trousers, and light shirts. And I look fine - I've had heaps of compliments from Westerners on how I look, and never a complaint from the locals. Please DON'T wear shorts in public. And don't wear thobes by themselves in public - I've seen some Western women walking round the streets of Salalah just wearing a thobe -it's akin to walking round in your nightdress! Look at how the locals dress and dress accordingly. If you want to bang on about your freedom to dress any old way - you should probably go home. It's such a small thing and it makes such a big difference.

    I have women friends who cycle in public. Sure, why not. You'll get weird looks but who cares. Just keep covered.

    Shopping - don't bother, if you're looking for stylish clothes. Get 'em elsewhere and import 'em.

    Vets - there are no (publically available) vets in Salalah that deal with domestic animals. If you have an animal that regularly needs vet care, you will have to take it to Muscat.

    Etiquette - don't argue with people, they don't listen they just walk away. Don't listen to the western ex-pat gossip, a lot of these people are bored alcoholics with nothing better to do, don't engage. Slow down and get used to things taking hours when you think they should take minutes. Just accept what is happening and treat it as Buddhist practice. Always pay your Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Nepali/Sri Lankan staff properly and treat them like human beings - I have seen a number of Western ex-pats fall into the belief that they are little gods because they can afford home help, and they treat people like s**t. You are nothing if you treat someone with less power than you like that, remember it. Always be polite. Try to learn some Arabic. Make lots of friends from all nationalities. Then you'll never be lonely and you get to eat heaps!

  10. I think you've nailed it: Salalah deserves a different guide from Oman in general, not only because of its different location (obviously) and climate, but also because it is so different from "The North". As ftoom887 proved in her comment, even an Omani can get culture shock here!

    With limited English language media, advertising and promotion in Salalah, visitors often find that they simply don't know about things that are happening. You are already doing a great service in this regard!

    Most important advice to newcomers: Read DhofariGucci!

  11. I am a possible newcomer to Salalah and very concerned about my dog's wellbeing. My recruitment agency insists that there are vet clinics in Salalah. How true is that? I would appreciate an honest response. Thank you.