Oman is unlike any other destination on earth with its rich and complex history and majestic landscape of pristine beaches, mountains, deserts and tumbling waterfalls.
Located on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula, this GCC nation has a population of approximately 2.5 million, around 1.5 million of which are Omani nationals with the remainder mostly expatriates of India, Asia, Europe, USA and other Arab countries.
Muscat, spanning 1500 km², is the capital and largest city in Oman. The city has attracted attention from as early as the 1st century, acting as a key trading hub between the east and the west and falling under Persian and then Portuguese rule before climbing to military excellence in the 18th century.
And since the ascension of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said as the monarchic leader of Oman, the nation has experienced rapid growth due to heightened infrastructural development efforts, Oman's largest industries now including oil, natural gas, agriculture and fishing. The country is also produces one of the most valuable perfumes in the world, Amouage. Created by renowned French perfumer Guy Robert, the scent comprises of native Omani ingredients including frankincense, myrrh and rosewater extracted from the rarest rose rock found in the Jebel Akhdar region.
However, the first thing travellers to Oman will notice is not the scent but its great quantity of forts and castles. Over 500 forts, castles and towers, previously used in earlier centuries as defensive bastions, dot the 1700km coastline.
Travellers will also find an array of exciting things to do amongst Oman's diverse terrain of mountains, deserts and seascapes. Trekking on foot, for example, gives travellers the best way to explore and discover Oman's untouched paths and see its amazing mountain scenery. Sport fishing and scuba diving is also popular amongst tourists as Oman's coastline is abundant with marlin, tuna and underwater flora marine life.
Avid rock-climbers should also make their way to Oman to take on its towering cliffs, rugged mountains, spurs, deep canyons and lush green wadis (or better known as valleys), some of which have year-round running water with deep, cool pools perfect for swimming.
Oman is also great for shopping, it's traditional Arabic market places (called a souq) selling local wooden carvings, household goods, ornaments, gold and silver jewellery and spices while big malls house a variety or boutique and chain stores.
The best time to visit Oman is between October and April when the weather is warm in the day and cooler in the evening with average temperatures bouncing between 25 to 35 degrees. So for those culture hungry globetrotters chasing physical activity and retail therapy, why not visit Oman?
Image credit: Tourism Oman
Friday, 20 November 2009
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L