Arabian Oman

Sarah McCarthy on 04 June 2009

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From the moment I landed at Muscat International Airport I fell in love with the Country of Oman. Oman is one of the oldest civilisations on the Arabian Peninsula and retains all its Arabian character from its people to its architecture. I found the country to be exciting and vibrant with a wonderful climate and beautiful beaches. And as a lover of all things historic, I explored the ancient and modern traditions of the Omani people with fascinating sightseeing and scenery.

The Capitol City of Muscat is like an oasis in the desert, a modern city that is the crowning jewel and capital of Oman. It’s split into three distinct regions – Old Town, Muttrah and Ruwl. I recommend you head to Muttrah for the excellent souk (or market). It’s a bit of a labyrinth but your efforts at navigating its twists and turns will be rewarded with bargains. Pick up frankincense, earthenware, spices, incense, gorgeous fabric, handicrafts and jewellery and do expect some playful bartering in the process. Take a break with some halib (tea with milk) or sulaimani (black tea). The Corniche district is famous for inexpensive eateries. This area is also beautiful by night. Dine waterside along the promenade and watch the lights bounce off the waves.

During your stay a visit to the Grand Mosque is a must. It is one of the largest Mosques in the world and features some wonderful art work, chandeliers and a one piece carpet covering the entire prayer hall measuring 4,300 square metres (which has earned it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records).

What stood out for me whilst in Muscat was the city's medieval appearance with two old Portuguese forts, walls, and the royal Al-Alam Palace standing out in the city skyline. They are a sight to behold at night time under the lights.

From Muscat, you’re in a prime spot to explore the Oman coastline. Its natural beauty is best discovered walking along the beaches where you can see local fisherman working for their daily catch and kilometres of open space. Oman's beaches are clean and beautiful. The best beaches in glamorous Muscat are Qurum and Al-Bustan, offering long stretches of golden sand. With 1700km of coastline, there are superb snorkelling and diving opportunities. I viewed and stayed in some amazing hotels along the coast including Al Bustan Palace, The Chedi, Grand Hyatt and Shangri-la, luxury personified! The hotels are of the highest standard and during your stay there are an abundance of great excursions to enjoy.

During my stay I visited the souks, the Grand Mosque, went on a day trip on a speed boat to view the various forts that are dotted along the coastline, saw wild dolphins, turtles and had a wonderful lunch on a deserted beach. A truly memorable experience, a Country I will definitely return to in the very near future.

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