Oman – عمان
Oman is the oldest independent state in the Arab world. You can feel the glorious past of the country almost everywhere. Remains of prehistoric settlements pinpoint the oldest trading places. Powerful forts recall a time of territorial battles.
Although Oman is a forward-looking nation, the Omanis are proud of their traditional architecture. Traditions and customs developed over centuries. The culture is ancient and modern. New ideas complement the old.
Explore the Hajar and Dhofar mountain ranges, endless desert landscapes, fertile wadis and beautiful beaches. With its crystal clear waters, Oman has one of the best diving spots in the world, and those who prefer a quieter pace can enjoy dolphin and whale watching. In the mountains you find many exhilarating trails, as well as the opportunity for climbing and abseiling. Numerous award-winning five-star hotels make Oman the perfect destination for incentive groups or those seeking relaxation.
Musandam is separated from the rest of Oman. The peninsula is located at the east coast of the UAE and guarding the southern side of the strategically important Strait of Hormuz. You can go to Khasab by road from Dubai/Ras Al Khaimah or fly by Oman Air from Muscat.
Musandam is considered the Norway of Arabia for its beautiful small villages and dramatic mountain climbing roads. This beautiful peninsula is well worth a visit if you are on an extended tour in Oman or are on a weekend getaway from the UAE. The magnificent Hajar mountain range dominates the Musandam landscape, extending about 640 kilometers from Ras al Hadd in the south to Khasab, ending with the Ru’us al Jebel (heads of the mountains) plunging dramatically into the sea. Musandam ‘s highest mountain is Jebel Harim with 2087 meters.
Enjoy snorkeling, swimming or scuba diving, you will be dazzled. Hidden beneath the waves are reefs and coral-lined fjords.
Go on tour!
Musandam Sea Adventure is one of the leading tour operators in the region. The Omani Abdul Fattah Ahmed Al Sheehi founded the company in 2001. Hop on one of the traditional dhows or the Rubba luxury yacht in Khasab to explore the unique landscape!
Go on half day (3 hours) or full day (6 hours) dhow cruise from the harbor in Khasab. Dip into the refreshing cool sea, try snorkeling or just relax on deck and watch dolphins. Enjoy the silence far away from the noise and bustle of everyday life.
The Rubba Yacht is equipped with sundeck, music system and LED TV with satellite channels. Fishing and snorkelling equipment, speedboat and 2 kayaks are available. The yacht has six double cabins and space for 80 passengers. You can charter the yacht for your individual needs or for a 5-day cruise from Khasab to Muscat for example.
Spend an evening and the night on a quiet secluded beach! You will be taken by speedboat from the harbor to the beach, where the campsite is located. You stay in fully equipped tents (single, double or family occupancy). Sleeping bags, blankets, mattresses and pillows, bed linen, generator, plastic chairs and tables, traditionally decorated majlis, camp shower etc. will be provided. Barbeque dinners & breakfasts are offered on the beach.
Music/Sound system for groups can be provided for special events.
For more tours and to book click on below link:
Muscat – the white capital
The capital Muscat surprises with palaces like from 1001 Nights. Historic Muscat lies in a sheltered rocky bay. It is today a modern administrative center and seat of the sultan. The colorful Al Alam Palace faces two forts of the Portuguese, which are among the city’s major landmarks. Due to their exceptional construction, they are among the most beautiful forts in Oman. Even today they are the gates to the old town and a fascinating labyrinth of alleys.
Dive into the past and the colorful oriental bustle in the historic district of Mutrah! The air in the souk is filled with the scent of precious spices and frankincense. In the shops you will find colorful fabrics, finest cloths, jewelery and household items. You will find almost everything there! From the souk it is only a few minutes walk to the fruit and fish market. In the morning, the fishermen land their catch there directly at the pier. The well-protected harbor used to be the last option before the long trip to India to receive drinking water. Muscat means “anchorage.”
The city impresses with modern Arabian architecture and was built in the last 30 years. The ‘Capital Area’ extends from the historic districts of Mutrah and Muscat more than 50 kilometers along the coast. Between craggy dark rocks stand flower-white buildings, magnificent mosques and palaces. Again and again you have a view of the blue shimmering sea and long sandy beaches.
Muscat’s magnificent buildings
The Al Bustan Palace Hotel is one of the city’s most famous buildings. The magnificent building rises like a mirage right in a palm grove on the white beach. This hotel has been awarded by experts as one of the best hotels in the world.
Visit the Sultan Qaboos Mosque! The breathtaking construction was opened in 2001. The elegantly crafted arches of the mosque lead out onto a courtyard. From there you get to the large main prayer hall, which is decorated in white, blue and gold. From the dome hangs a magnificent chandelier of Swarovski crystals and the floor is covered with a hand-knotted Persian rug, which is over 4000 square meters in size.
The Royal Opera House of Muscat was opened in 2011. It was the first construction of this kind on the Arabian Peninsula. The Opera House is located in the heart of the city and offers classical music, jazz and ballet performances. Under the following link you can watch the program and buy tickets:
Enjoy an evening in Muscat
In the capital of the Sultanate you will also find good restaurants in the 4- and 5-star hotels, which are visited by both tourists and locals. One of the best restaurants outside the hotels is the Turkish House in the Al Khuwair district. There you will find generous fish dishes and Turkish specialties at moderate prices. Ubhar is one of the few Omani restaurants in Muscat. The Al Mandoos restaurant has a renowned Omani chef, and Kargeen is a mid-price restaurant serving outside and in Bedouin tents, offering Oriental and Continental food.
Stroll along the waterfront before dinner, it is an absolute must! The public beach of Al Qurum is as popular with the Omanis at sunset as the Corniche of Mutrah.
Places to stay in Muscat
Whether you want to chill out on the coast or simply enjoy the sun, Muscat’s hotels and resorts will suit you perfectly. Many international hotel chains have opened properties. There is also a growing range of boutique hotels and quality three and four star hotels.
Popular hotels include:
• Al Bustan Palace Hotel
• Grand Hyatt Hotel
• InterContinental Hotel
• Shangri-Lar Bar Al Jissa Resort
• The Chedi
For further details on accommodation click on below link:
Explore a wadi
A Wadi is a dry riverbed or a valley. Some contain stunning green water pools, which are fed by natural springs.
Swim in cool, emerald green water beneath sandstone cliffs in Wadi Shab. Beside Wadi Bani Khalid it is one of the best known wadis, which carry water throughout the year.
Wadi Mayh, Wadi Mistal or Wadi Bani Awf require a 4WD to explore but are worth the effort, as they have amazing settings and scenic villages.
The Oasis Nizwa is located in the middle of a fascinating landscape at the foot of the Jebel Akhdar. Nizwa is approximately 160 km from Muscat. It is a popular day trip destination and one of the most charming towns in Oman. In the 6th and 7th century it was the capital of the country. Nizwa has managed to preserve the grace and diversity of its buildings with their typical Omani style.
The old capital has a colorful souk, which is one of the most diverse in the country. There is a lively Friday morning livestock market. Don’t miss the spectacle! Bedouins of several tribes come together to buy and sell camels and other animals.
Visit Nizwa’s impressive fort! It rises high above the town and is the largest fort on the Arabian Peninsula. The watchtower has a diameter of 45 meters. Climb to the top of the tower to admire the view of the Hajar Mountains and the surrounding date plantations. The fort has an interesting museum that tells the history and traditions of Oman.
The deserts of Oman
Head for Sharqiya Desert for the ultimate adventure. It is about three hours’ drive from Muscat. The desert is called Wahiba Sands among locals. Wahiba is the name of a local tribe. The rolling dunes change color from honey to red during the day and can reach 200 m in height. Go on a day trip and get a glimpse of the Bedouins traditional way of life. You can also stay at a desert camp to get more insight.
On the border with Saudi Arabia, the majestic dunes of Rub Al Khali, the “Empty Quarter”, move far into the Sultanate. Explore this mesmerizing landscape in Oman, it is one of the highlights. You can reach the desert from Salalah. Travel in a 4WD with a local guide to make sure everything runs smoothly! Some tour operators even organize multi-day trips to this area.
From Muscat you can drive across the country to Salalah. The approximately twelve-hour drive of the 1000-kilometer route offers you the opportunity to admire the vast desert plains in the heart of the sultanate. You will also see the large oil fields in the provinces of Dhofar and Al Wusta, which are the main sources of Oman’s prosperity.
Dhofar and Salalah
Dhofar is the largest province of Oman. You will get to know a tropical paradise with breathtaking sandy coves, crystal clear waters and lush palm groves. The highlands are home to the last-known wild Arabian leopards. The women of Dhofar are famous for their exclusive frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood and flower essences. The recipes are not known and are passed on by the mothers to their daughters.
Visit the Souk of Salalah and dive into a sophisticated world of fragrances. Thousands of Gulf residents escape from the heat and spend the summer in Salalah. During the monsoon the region becomes a misty, verdant garden. Salalah is a cool green paradise. Let the summer festival Khareef entertain you in June and July.
The charming coastal city is located along an endless sandy beach. Under coconut palms grow bananas and papayas. Get some ripe fruits at the roadside.
Visit the Unesco World Heritage Sites!
You must see Fort Bahla. Walk on its old alleys, its 13km extended wall and the picturesque terraces.
The Al Ayn Beehive Tombs are fascinating bronze age burial chambers. They date back to a time when local communities were becoming sophisticated through trade.
The frankincense trees of Wadi Dawkah and the remains of the caravan oasis of Shisr/Wubar and the affiliated ports of Khor Rori and Al-Baleed remind of the trade in frankincense that flourished in the Dhofar region, the land of frankincense, for several centuries.
The origins of the Al Aflaj Irrigation Systems may date back to AD 500. The system uses gravity to channel water from underground sources or springs to support agriculture and domestic use.
Arrival from UAE
To enter the country, you need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months and a visa that can be obtained from the Royal Oman Police website or on arrival at the border.
You can drive into Oman from the United Arab Emirates. The journey from Dubai to Muscat takes approximately four to five hours by car and six to eight hours by bus.
There are two bus operators who offer three daily buses from Dubai to Muscat and from Muscat to Dubai.
Al Khanjry Transport has their office located behind DNATA Dubai where passengers can embark and Mwasalat passengers can embark at Abu Hail Metro Station, Dubai Airport Terminal 2 and at Rashidiya Metro Station.
Return ticket costs are 100/90 AED.
Khasab is a approximately three hours drive from Dubai.
Emirates Airline and Oman Air fly several times a day to Muscat in less than 1 hour.
The exchange rate to the US dollar is 1 Omani Rial = 2,6 US Dollar. There are 1,000 Baisas in 1 Omani Rial. ATMs are widely available and credit cards are accepted in larger hotels, restaurants and shops. In markets and smaller shops usually cash is required.
Keep in touch
The sultanate has a good mobile network. You can buy a local SIM from outlets at airports or shops. Free Wi-Fi is available at airports and a number of hotels and cafes.
The best time to travel
The best time to travel is from November to March. You can go to Dhofar and Salalah from late June to enjoy a cooler climate and lush scenery. Jebel Shams, Al Ashkhara and Al Wusta are other cooler places at the coastline during summer.