Oman Travel Guide
Oman Travel: General Information
Oman is one of the oft-visited countries in the Middle East and for obvious reasons. Being one of the continuously inhabited lands on earth, Oman is full of archeological remains (some dating back to the Stone Age). Besides these ancient cities and ancient ruins, Oman has many forts, castles and other landmarks worth visiting. Omani history and traditional architecture is certainly captivating, but there is much more for you. On Oman’s stunning sandy beaches like Ras Al-Jinz several turtle species lay their eggs every year and a rendezvous with them cannot be ruled out; since the Omani seas are also frequented by different types of dolphins and whales, you can expect more visual treats. And then there are lures of water sports, desert-safaris and other adventures/activities. To top it all, Oman’s present state of peace and prosperity complete the nation’s appeal as a tourism heaven.
Oman Travel: Key Facts
Capital City: Muscat
Area: 309, 550 sq km
Monetary Unit: Omani Rial
Official Language: Arabic
International Dialing Code: 968
Oman Travel: Popular Tourist Destinations
- Muscat: Muscat, the capital city, has long been an important port but now it is also the tourism hub of Oman. With its low-lying white buildings and domed structures, the city has a very likable Arabesque-setting. Muscat is ideal for getting a good look at some of Omani architectural marvels like the Al Jalali and Al Mirani Forts, Al Alam Royal Palace, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Its other attractions include beaches like Bandar Al-Jissah, Qurum Beach, Yeti as well as its lush parks and museums. Dolphin boat trips and hosts of water-sports enhance the appeal of Muscat-tourism. There’s a little bit of shopping you can do at Muscat (Muttrah souq) for some jewelry, clothes and leather items.
- Salalah: Salalah is a tropical paradise in the heart of the Arabian Desert. Famous for its frankincense trade (in fact, Frankincense Trail is an UNESCO World Heritage Site), Salalah has been the site of the ancient city of Samhuram. A place of religious significance, Salalah has the tombs of Nabi Ayoub and Nabi Emran (who is identified as either the father of Mary or Moses). Salalah sightseeing also includes visiting its enchanting beaches, lush-green gardens and culturally significant museums. Your other pleasure pursuits in Salalah can be birding, wildlife-viewing and water-sports.
- Nizwa: Surrounded by high mountains and date plantations, Nizwa has a picturesque setting. One of Oman’s oldest cities and a former capital, Nizwa has a huge fort and it has been a center for Islamic learning. It has some important mosques – the Jama or the Grand Mosque, So’al Mosque, Al-Ain Mosque, etc. A must-see in Nizwa is the Falaj Daris, which provides water for irrigation year-round. Nizwa’s Souq is an attraction in itself with its arches; moreover, you can collect handcraft items like the Khanjar, copper-ware, silver jewelry, pottery and much more from the city.
- Other Popular Destinations: Oman is full of places to visit, places where you will find/see different things that will interest you, where you will have plenty of things to do. There is the World Heritage Site, Bahla, famous for its walls and ancient pottery. Close by is the scenic Al Hamra village. Then, there is the old shipbuilding town of Sur. You can visit Sohar, which is believed to be the birthplace of Sindbad the Sailor. The Jebel Akhdar area is quite interesting in many respects.
Oman Travel: Economy and Infrastructure
Oman has a stable economy and the Omani-people enjoy a high standard of living. This has largely been achieved because of Oman’s rich natural resources, especially petroleum and natural gas (other resources include copper, gold, gypsum, iron, marble, zinc, etc.). Of late, however, economic reforms have been undertaken to reduce Oman’s reliance on oil through diversification and privatization. The country is now undergoing rapid industrialization and is aiming to develop unconventional sectors like IT, Telecommunications as well as Tourism side by side heavy industries. Oman is also seeking foreign investments in different sectors.
Oman is working on its transport infrastructure. Though the existing roads and highways are in good condition, Oman has no railways. Health and basic education facilities, however, are commendable.
Oman Travel: Culture
Omani culture is deeply influenced by Islam; but then it is a different type of Islam, Ibadhism, that is followed by the majority. Sunnis, Shias and followers of other religion are present, too. Islamic festivities are part and parcel of Omani culture but religious bigotry is something Oman is devoid of.
Omani culture finds its expression not only in the fields of art, music and dance forms, but also in what the people eat and wear. The Khanjar (a carved dagger) and the Dhow (sailing ships) are important features of Oman’s culture.
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