Oman is a wonder! Musement takes a look at why you should travel to this Middle Eastern gem.
Imagine the Arabian peninsula, and you’re probably picturing desert nomads, sheiks, camels, ancient metropolises, lost cities, friendly locals in shining white robes, and a buzzing, vibrant capital, filled with history. In the Sultanate of Oman on the easternmost corner of Arabia, all of these images are true. Here’s why you should visit:
1. The nautical history
Coastal Omanis have been sailors since before ancient times, and the nation has a history as one of fishermen, pirates, slavers, and adventurers, all setting forth on the seven seas, to bring back booty, and tall tales of adventure.
The most famous of these was Sinbad who is reputed to have been born in the town of Sohar – about two hours north of the capital, and whose exploits have inspired books, films, and television series.
You can recreate the sense of historic adventure by visiting Sinbad’s historic haunts in Sohar, hiring a boat for the day, or even taking a sunset cruise around the Gulf of Oman.
2. The distinct wildlife and ecology
Oman has a unique range of ecosystems which span the entire country. From the vast empty deserts spattered with lush oases to the tropical paradise of Dhofar province on the southwestern coast. Each of these biomes is home to dozens of fascinating creatures found in few other places on earth.
Take a trip to seek out the Arabian leopard in the southern mountains – one of the very few regions where they are known to still exist. Spend a day at the Arabian Oryx sanctuary in the central desert, hime to oryx, gazelles, ibex, and honey badger.
If marine wildlife is more your thing, you can watch eggs hatching at the RAs al Jinz Turtle beach resort, or take an early morning cruise to watch dolphins at play in the waters around Muscat.
3. An unbelievable history
Oman has been inhabited for an unimaginably long time and is home to some of the oldest ruins in the world, dating back more than 100,000 years. You can take a whirlwind tour through the history of civilization by visiting the Arabian Nubian Complex in Dhofar, remnants of the ancient Achaemenid Empire in the Northern half of the country, and the 17th-century forts and souk at Nizwa.
4. Its home to the most laid-back capital in the region
Muscat isn’t like other Middle Eastern capitals where the emiratis try to outdo each other for the tallest towers and elaborately shaped artificial islands…Muscat simply is. From the corniche restaurants and suk which would not have been out of place in former centuries to the organically grown suburbs – home to friendly educated locals. And while lacking in pretentiousness, Muscat is no stranger to culture, and layers of history lie just under the surface, waiting to be uncovered.
There are quiet corners, with markets, shisha bars, and coffee shops. And there are grand hotels, where you can relax in the lap of luxury, and where your every whim is catered to, as you enjoy the evening.
It’s impossible to see all of the capital in one day, but for the best highlights, you can take a tour.
5. Sports and adventure
With its year-round hot climate, Oman is perfect for sports and excitement. Adventurous tourist can take advantage of the desert dunes to test the ability of their 4×4 vehicles, and the country is becoming popular with long-distance runners who test their endurance and athletic ability in the grueling Muscat Marathon.
And for those who love to drive, our favorite experience in the Sultanate was taking a road trip from Muscat to Salalah, the provincial capital of Dhofar. Watching the scenery change from cityscape to desert with only the occasional town, before transforming again into a tropical paradise, is an experience not to be missed.