Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oman. A lush oasis in the Arabian Desert.

Oman is an enchanting place that will hypnotise you with its heady-fragranced ancient souks, mesmerise you with its towering cliffs, spellbind you with its fascinating stories and amaze you with its landmarks steeped in history, some of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Muscat, the capital city

Nestled between the Arabian Sea and the rugged Hajar mountains, the vibrant city of Muscat is the perfect gateway into the country and an ideal base to get to know the varied cultures of the country. The city’s architecture is characterized by the typical Arabesque style with its white or sand-coloured low-standing houses while the skyline is dotted by the minarets and domes of the mosques.  

The city is a unique blend of the old and the new. The older part of the city has many forts, castles, mosques and watchtowers dotting the landscape. Famed among these are the imposing Jalali and Mirani forts that flank the majestic Al Alam Royal Palace. Stroll along the Corniche with its promenade before visiting the old souq of Muttrah - an ideal spot to buy traditional jewellery, souvenirs, spices and treasures. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a must-do experience as is watching a performance at the Royal Opera House Muscat.

The Desert of 1001 Night

With its seemingly endless expanses steeped in silence, the desert is always spellbinding and offers unparalleled experiences for anyone who loves adventure and getting back to nature. The vast Sharqiya Sands lies in the heart of Oman and is an easy two and a half hour drive from Muscat or Sur.

Its beautiful dunes range from white to yellow and red along the day. Nothing compares to the magic of a night spent under the star-studded skies in the bewitching silence of the desert on an overnight camping experience.

Nizwa: The Gateway to the Desert

The enchanting city of Nizwa, located a convenient one and half hour drive from Muscat, is home to the imposing 17th century Nizwa Fort and other historical building. A must-visit is the medieval Nizwa Souq that sells everything from local artefacts, leather goods, silver jewellery, antiques, spices, meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and dates.


See silversmiths hammer patterns into the hilts of khanjars. Amble through the souq for a glimpse into traditional Omani lifestyle.

Sur and Ras Al Hadd

The picturesque seaside town of Sur, the presumed home of the legendary Sinbad the Sailor, is about a 4 hour drive from Muscat. Peek into Oman’s rich maritime history on a visit to the dhow shipyards, souks and forts.

Travelling east, Ras Al Hadd is the meeting point of the Oman Sea and the Arabian Sea. The Ras Al Hadd Turtle Reserve, located at Ras Al Jinz beach, is world renowned as a nesting ground for the endangered green turtles. It is the only place where one can watch the nesting process of these amazing sea giants and is a highly recommended activity when visiting Oman.  

The Musandam Peninsula

The best way to appreciate the rugged, fjord-like terrain of the Musandam Peninsula is to view it from the sea. In Khasab, half or full day trips can be organised on a traditional Omani dhow.


Journey through the fjords, sheltered bays and inlets to Khor Sham or Kumzar that combine dolphin watching, snorkeling and kayaking.


The waters of Oman are home to countless species of fish and vast stretches of coral, many of which remain largely unexplored, allowing diving enthusiasts to engage in a continual discovery process. The main dive spots are off the coast of Muscat at Bandar Khayran, the extraordinary marine reserve of the Dimaniyat Islands, in the Musandam Peninsula and in Salalah.

The Oman Dive Centre, located at a private cove between Qantab and Bandar Al-Jissah, is an ideal place for those who’d like to learn diving or take advanced diving courses while on a holiday in the sun.

Discover Oman, a magical country in the Arabian Gulf.

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