Your travel guide to explore the secrets of Arabia in ‘Oman’

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Your travel guide to explore the secrets of Arabia in 'Oman'
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A stunning landscape dotted with rippling dunes, ornate mosques, beefy forts, bustling souqs, succulent dates, sun-kissed beaches, age-old traditions, ritzy hotels, beautiful wadis, friendly locals and incredible hospitality, Oman is now on every traveller’s itinerary.

Located just two-and-a-half hours away from India is Oman, a quaint, unexplored and beautiful destination in the Middle East.

The Sultanate is connected via direct flights with major Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmadabad, Hyderabad and Chennai.

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We reveal to you the top 10 secrets of Oman that will surely surprise you.

-Beautiful Beaches – Whoever thought Oman only has a desert landscape will surely be surprised. Oman possesses some of the most natural and pristine beaches in the world.

The Sea of Oman, Arabian Sea and the Straits of Hormuz lend Oman a 3,165-km long coastline. The pristine shores have smooth and sandy beaches where you can stick your toe or swim in the crystal clear waters. Some of the best beaches include Finns beach, Ras Al Hadd, Al Sawadi, Bandar Al Jissah and Yiti beach.

Oman is a sailor’s delight as it houses several world class yachts, cruises and a stunning marina. Hundreds of dolphins jump in the air acrobatically and swim in the blue waters of Oman. Watching these dolphins frolic in the sea is an unforgettable experience. Also, visit Corniche- the beautiful promenade that runs for 3kms along the Muscat harbor and is lined with pristine gardens, parks, waterfalls and statues.

-Scent of Amouage – For a sniff of something exotic, head to Amouage factory where the ‘most valued perfumes in the world’ are produced. Amouage is a home-grown perfume brand which uses exotic ingredients like frankincense, roses, saffron and spices to make their trademark scent.

Take a tour of the factory during which the guide explains the entire perfume production process. A whiff of this perfume is enough to feel like a royalty.

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-Royal Opera House – A state-of-the-art opera house exists in Muscat where world class operas and musicians perform round the year. The opera house complex consists of a concert theatre, auditorium, formal landscaped gardens, luxury restaurants and an art centre for musical, theatrical and operatic productions. Watching a performance at the opulent opera house is a privilege one should not miss out on.

-Grand Canyon of the Middle East – Oman has a topography that is enveloped with majestic mountains. Nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon of Arabia’, Jabal Shams- the highest mountain (3,005 metres) is definitely worth a visit to experience pleasant weather while the rest of the country has higher temperatures.

And if you’re lucky, you can even catch snow in the mountains during winters. You can trek, hike, or just spend hours gaping at the canyon which has vertical drop of 2,100 metres from the summit to the base.

-Turtle Watching – Who would have thought that thousands of turtles come and nest in Oman? Watch the natural process of nesting and hatching in front of your naked eyes. Located at the headland of the Arabian Peninsula, Ras al Jinz houses one of the largest nesting areas for Green Turtles in the Indian Ocean. Another wonderful secret revealed.

-Discover the Underwater Magic – Oman has a profusion of exotic marine life and some of the best dive sites in the world. The waters of Oman are home to countless species of fish and vast stretches of exotic coral reefs. A scuba-diving or snorkeling trip is highly recommended. Some of the most beautiful coral reefs sites of Oman are located in Muscat area, Daymaniyat Islands, Bandar Jissah, Bandar Khayran, Fahal Islands, Sharqiya, Barr al Hikman, Masirah Islands, Dhofar, Musandam and Marbadh.

-Swim in the azure waters of Wadis – Indigenous to Oman are Wadis which are naturally created swimming pools due to rainwater. Characterized by a rich variety, diversity, and a wealth of natural attractions, these wadis form an integral part of the country’s environmental system. Among the most pristine is Wadi Bani Khalid, approximately 200 kms from the capital.

Its pools are always full of water and are very busy on weekends when the local Omani people come for a swim and to picnic with their families and friends. Adventure lovers can follow the riverbed on a journey lasting three days and two nights all the way to Wadi Tiwi which opens up among lush palm groves. Wadi Shab is also perfect for combining an excursion in the mountains with a camping holiday on the beach. Any Wadi you go to the view is guaranteed to be gorgeous and the worth a dip in the azure water.

-Glamping in the desert – Honey, Russet, Orange, Sorrel, Chestnut, Sienna, Copper, Ochre, Amber- pick any shade of brown from the palette and you might just find it in Sharquiyah Sands, Oman’s longitudinal dunes that sprawl 200 km long and 100 km wide.

The ever-changing patterns of the dunes are a photographer’s delight. Bedouin camps can be found along the tracks and trails of this desert and one can visit their homes to understand the culture of the Bedouin life. Engage Yourself In exciting activities like Sand Boarding, Dune Bashing, Quad Biking, Camel Safari among others.

-Explore art and Culture – The historical forts and castles of Oman are the country’s most striking cultural landmarks and a major draw for visitors today. There were over 500 forts stretched along the long coastline of Oman. Walk up to the gates of the Sultan’s ceremonial ‘Al Alam Palace’ which was built in 1972 and admire the stunning gold-leaf and turquoise mosaic facade that stands behind impressive black gates.

Get an insight into Omani life by visiting the Bait Al Zubair Museum. Located in a beautiful restored house, check out the fascinating collection of daggers, antique silver jewellery, incense burners, coins, rifles, men and women attires.

-Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque – One of the few mosques that allow entry for non-Muslim, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a real feast for the visual senses. The lavishly decorated mosque with its archways, courtyards, chandeliers, ornate doors, white marble floors and manicured lawns is an architectural marvel.

The elegant carved arches’ lead to the courtyard and from there you can enter the huge main prayer hall, entirely decorated in white, blue and gold. An opulent Swarovski crystal chandelier hangs from the dome and the floor is covered with a handmade Persian carpet spanning 4,263 sq metres.

Must buys in Oman: (shopping list)

-Frankincense

-Omani Dates, honey and Halwa

-Bedouin handcrafted silver jewellery

-Traditional craft like Omani woven baskets, mats, tribal weavings and carpets

-Souvenirs like khanjar replicas, cambel fridge magnets, Khanjar key chains, wooden bookmarks, scarves and shawls.

(With ANI inputs)

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