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Destination: Oman. An essential travel guide.

WHY TO VISIT OMAN

Nature that is protected, a strong cultural identity and a tradition of exchange are just a few of the characteristics of this country that only recently opened up to tourism for the pleasure of its visitors.

The capital, Mascate, has an authenticity that immediately attracts the visitor; wander around the old port quarter, admire the three forts, visit the Oman Museum and the national Museum of Ruwi, stroll around the fish market at Mutra and in the Souk and simply absorb the charm from the different areas of this unique town.

Salala is very different mainly due to its meridian situation and tropical climate. From there, discover the southern villages and the archaeological sites, especially the ruins at Al-Balid and make a stopover at the beaches on the coast.

In the north of the country, the coast is definitely worth a visit; the fort at Barka, the port of Sahar – all white and dominated by its unique tower and Nakal with its water source at the heart of a refreshing oasis are just some of the places to visit here.

Finally, if you have the opportunity, explore the red desert of Wahiba with a 4 wheel drive, its magnificent landscapes and the Bedouin who live there will leave a lasting impression.

WHAT TO SEE IN OMAN

Top destinations in Oman are:

  • Muscat
  • Nizwa
  • Wahiba Sands
  • Musandam Fjords
  • Ras al Jinz
  • Jebel Akhdar
  • Salalah
  • Bahla
  • Masirah Island
  • Misfat al Abryeen

WHEN TO GO TO OMAN

Best period to visit Oman is between October and March, temperatures are warm and you avoid the monsoon in the South.

Two main types of climate prevail in Oman; Mediterranean in the East and North, and tropical in the West and South. However, a more desert climate is prevalent in the centre with permanent heat, even at night.

Elsewhere, humidity is high and the South and West experience monsoon weather between June and September.

Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Oman.

  • Muscat Festival: (www.muscat-festival.com) The Muscat Festival is one of the biggest events, perhaps the biggest, in the country’s tourism and cultural calendar. Held every January and February, the festival showcases Omani culture and heritage through artistic and cultural activities. There is also a circus and a large concert featuring local and international musical artists.
  • Traditional Boat Races: Also happening early in the year are boat races and sailing competitions to celebrate Oman’s seafaring traditions. A Dubai–Muscat Regatta is held every January which see boats sailing from Dubai through the Straits of Hormuz toward Muscat. Boat races are also held in February wherein traditional boats such as dhows compete for a prize.
  • Sinbad Classic: A much awaited event organized by the International Game Fish Association is the Sindbad Classic. This event sees game fishing enthusiasts from all over the globe battle it out in a deep sea fishing contest in the waters of Oman.
  • Salalah Tourism Festival: While July and August may be too hot for a visit in northern Oman, these months are great for Salalah and the surrounding areas. During this time of the year, the region experiences Khareef season, a time when monsoon rains bring in life to the land, making for stunning tropical landscapes. This high tourist season is the time when cultural celebrations and parades are held in and around town to entertain both locals and tourists.
  • Cultural Theater Program: The Cultural Theater Program is an arts and culture festival organized by the Ministry of Tourism. Various performances such as folkloric music and dancing are held from December through to March at the Al Flayj Castle Theater and the Al Morooj Theater, both in Salalah.
  • Oman National Day: On the 18th of November, Oman celebrates The Oman National Day which is one of the most important festivals in Oman. In this public holiday, they celebrate their independence from Portugal control in 1650. This makes Oman the oldest independent state in the Arab world. On this “Oman National Day”, they decorate the streets with flags, events include parades, fireworks, camel races, an equestrian show, a marine festival and more.
  • Eid al-Fitr: Muslims celebrates “Eid al-Fitr” in Oman as well as the Islamic world. Eid al-Fitr is one of the most important religious feasts celebrated by Muslims, which marks the end of Ramadan; the Islamic holy month of fasting. It lasts for three days.
  • Eid al-Adha: also called the "Sacrifice Feast", is the second of two Muslim holidays celebrated in Oman each year. It lasts for four days. On the first day of “Eid al-Fitr” and “Eid al-Adha”, Omani people gather in mosques to perform the Eid prayer. Then, they start the celebrations and outing together.
  • Salalah Tourism Festival: Salalah Tourism festival is an annual tourism festival that is held in Salalah usually during autumn, in order to celebrate the monsoon that lasts from June to early September. It becomes popular among Gulf nationals, expatriates and foreign tourists. The festival offers cultural, art, sport, heritage, contest and shopping activities, there are a variety of local and international programs to please every taste and guarantee a pleasurable and useful time. Therefore, it has grown into an international festival, due to the exerting efforts of the authorities to expand the existing tourism infrastructure in Salalah.
  • Sultan Camel Race Cup: “Sultan Camel Race Cup” is an annual National Camel Races Festival to encourage one of the traditional and ancient Omani sports and impress upon Oman’s glorious history. This is a popular sport festival where camels compete at speeds of up to 64 kilometers per hour on tracks specially built for this kind of race.
  • Bull fighting: is another popular sport where two bulls of the same size are pitted against each other without a drop of blood being spilt. The first to run away is declared the loser before a cheering and enthusiastic audience. The fight lasts just for a few minutes and the bulls suffer little or no injury, except for a few scratches and a bruised ego of both the losing bull and its owner.
  • Cultural Theatre Programme: Groups from around the world perform during these cultural evenings. Past performers have included traditional music and dance from Jordan, Germany, Egypt and Georgia.
  • Tour Of Oman: 128 of the world’s greatest cyclists compete in the Tour Of Oman. Riders include Cavendish, Schelck and Canncellara.
  • Renaissance Day: This celebration gives thanks to the day Sultan Qaboos bin Said began his rule in 1970, transforming the country into the modern, advanced and industrialised country it is today. It is a day of reflection and rejoicing.
  • Salalah Tourism Festival: (www.salalahtourismfestival.com) Colourful parades take to the streets while artistic and cultural exhibitions are arranged by organisations such as the Omani Society for Fine Arts, Omani Women’s Society, Royal Oman Police and Royal Army.Festival activities include various artistic and cultural shows, in addition to parades.
  • Oman Food Festival: Held at the Qurum National Park, the Oman Food Festival is a great opportunity to try the best of Omani Cuisine. It’s run in conjunction with expert chefs and students from the Oman Tourism College.
    International Salsa and Dance Festival: (www.omansalsafestival.com) Professional dancers and instructors from all over the world attend Oman’s biggest salsa event. Learn a few steps at the workshops, watch spectacular shows and join in the all-night dance party.
  • Turtle Spotting: September is the best time of the year to see over 20,000 turtles nesting on the beaches of Ras Al Haad and Ras Al Jinz. These turtles migrate from the Red Sea and the East African Coast.
    The Islamic New Year: Celebrations marking the beginning of the new Islamic calendar actually start on the sunset of the previous day and continue for 29 days, according to the Muslim calendar.

HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH OMAN

For travelling inside the country there are flights between Mascate and Salala as well as the bus that travels between the major towns. The most economical form of transport is the collective taxi or minibus that is available on call.

by plane, main airports are

by train

by car

GENERAL INFORMATION ON OMAN

country entry requirements: passport + visa (check your visa requirements)

health tips & vaccination: none

local currency: Omani Rial

local time zone: GMT+4

electricity: type C and G (240 V, 50 Hz)

mobile phone operators:

WHAT TO DO IN OMAN

typical food in Oman

  • Ruz al mudhroub: A special rice dish served with fried fish
  • Maqdeed: Dried shredded meat, often served at festivals
  • Muqalab: Tripe cooked with crushed or ground spices
  • Arsia: Lamb meat cooked with rice
  • Mishkak: Skewered meat grilled on charcoal, marinated in a pepper, cardamom, clove and tamarind sauce
  • Shuwa: Meat cooked slowly for up to two days in underground clay ovens, marinated with herbs and spices
  • Mashuai: Spit-roasted kingfish served with lemon rice
  • Maqbous: Rice with saffron cooked over spicy red or white meat; also call kabsa
  • Halwa: A sticky, gelatinous sweet made from dates or sugar and flavoured with saffron, cardamom and rosewater; nuts and preserved fruits are often added
  • Lokhemat: Balls of flour and yeast flavoured with cardamom and deep-fried, served with sweet lime and cardamom syrup

souvenirs from Oman

  • incense
  • traditional garments
  • silver and gold jewellery
  • rugs
  • new and antique khanjars (Omani daggers)
  • coffeepots
  • saddle
  • frankincense (the sap of a tree that grows in Dhofar in the south of Oman)
  • hand-woven textiles
  • goat-hair carpets
  • baskets
  • camel straps

SIMPLE DICTIONARY

Hello: مرحبا (marhba)

Goodbye: وداعا (wadaeaan)

How are you?: كيف حالك؟ (kayf halk?)

Thank you: شكرا (shukraan)

What is your name?: ما اسمك؟ (ma asmak)

How much is it?: كم سعره؟ (kam saerha?)

Sorry: معذرة (maedhira)

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