Wall to wall culture in Oman

    Wall to wall culture in Oman
    By admin


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    Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

    Wall to Wall Culture in Oman

    Wall to Wall Culture in Oman
    By admin


    Oman is fast becoming a darling of the Arabian Peninsula and the reasons behind its rise as a travel destination are worth taking note of.

    Firstly, it’s a neatly preserved slice of the Arabia of yesteryear; the country’s well-defined culture has commendably resisted most invasive Western influences. This has much to do with the guiding hand of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, an absolute monarch with a benevolent streak. Since his rule began in 1970, his reforms and liberal spending have seen the country prosper. It is now among the most highly developed, politically stable, and peaceful nations in the Middle East.

    And that’s to say nothing of the beauty of its cities and regional areas. Oman has a lengthy coastline dotted with alluring towns and a verdant southern province that acts as a counterpoint to the vast tracts of parched desert. Here is a look at some key spots your clients shouldn’t miss when visiting the sultanate.

    Muscat 

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    Oman’s capital is an immaculate low-rise city that is home to around 730,000 inhabitants. With its relatively small population and gleaming white and beige Islamic-led architecture, this is a place to put the traveller at ease. There is an abundance of green too, with parks scattered throughout and an imposing backdrop in the form of the brooding Al Hajar mountains.

    The waterfront corniche is worth exploring on foot and your first stop after getting a feel for the city ought to be the staggering Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. This massive devotional structure can accommodate 20,000 worshippers and features some mind boggling feats of construction and design. The Royal Muscat Opera House is also a modern marvel, while a visit to the city’s Old Quarter as well as the Muttrak souk and fish market should also be on the list.

    Nizwa

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    The ancient capital of Oman, Nizwa is the very epitome of an oasis town, surrounded by oceans of sand. It is located in the central inland region of Ad Dakhiliyah and although it might sound like a startlingly remote place, in truth it can be reached from Muscat in about 90 minutes by car.

    This town of 70,000 inhabitants has served as a key trading post for centuries, linking the modern capital Muscat with the southern Dhofar region. Top of the list of sites to see should be Nizwa Fort, a splendid defensive structure built in the mid-17th century. It is one of the biggest forts on the Arabian Peninsula and the view from the central tower is worth the tricky ascent. Another architectural feat worth exploring is Falaj Daris, a World Heritage listed irrigation channel that has been the lifeblood of this scorched town for 15 centuries. And for those who like to head offroad, 4WD tours of the imposing Hajar Mountains can also be organised.

    Nizwa’s other great commodity is dates, which grow in vast plantations on the city’s outskirts. Be sure to taste a few before leaving town.

    Dhofar

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    This southernmost region of Oman provides visitors with one surprise after another. Firstly, it’s an oasis of green surrounded by desert, as annual monsoonal rains turn the landscape into a flourishing Garden of Eden from June to September. This period, which is the ideal time to visit, sees rain, fog and temperatures in the low 20s – hardly the climes you’d expect in the Arabian Peninsula.

    To truly soak it up, visitors should head to the springs at Ayn Jarziz and Ayn Razat, which lie outside Salalah, the region’s capital. Similarly, the lush oasis of Wadi Dharbat is a great way to experience the greener side of Oman.

    For the culturally inclined, the small coastal town of Mirbat is an historic place, being the departure point in centuries past for ships exporting frankincense. The hardy boswellia tree – the source of this famous sticky resin – can be found in abundance in Dhofar, and its not a trip to Oman until you’ve sampled some.

    Musandam Peninsula

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    This northernmost piece of Omani territory is an exclave that juts out into the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. It’s known as the Norway of Arabia, thanks to a series of remarkable fjords with sheer mountains that plunge straight into the sea.

    It’s also an ideal place to escape for a restful break, with a large selection of holiday properties to choose from. The Six Senses Zighy Bay, for instance, is a fine exemple of Omani luxury and is the perfect place to direct your well heeled clients to.

    Khasab is the capital of this region and its 17th century Portuguese-built castle is well worth a look. The town’s harbour is also the embarkation point for dhow cruises, which show off the surrounding coastline and give guests the opportunity to enjoy a swim and a bit of fishing. A trip to historic Telegraph Island, a crucial hub for the 19th century technological equivalent to the internet, is also worthwhile.

    Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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