The Sultanate of Oman
is a land of charm and contrasts.
Land of crazy mountains and stunning landscapes. Unbroken coastlines with pristine beaches and warm seas. Land of smiling people and ancient civilizations. The Sultanate of Oman is the third largest peninsula situated on the Eastern edge of Arabia. The countries entire east cost is fringed by the Arabian Sea and its land neighbours include Yemen and to the south and Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates on its western border. For centuries this magnificent and diverse land was known as the ARABIAN FELIX because of the warm and hospitable virtues of the people in Oman. The careful balance between past and present allows visitors to the country to witness a unique paradox: a rich history, heritage and culture perfectly preserved, together with the most modern convenient and luxurious facilities. The country with it’s ancient customs, historical architecture, traditional crafts and legendary Omani hospitality live side by side with 20th century amenities, luxury hotels and state of the art services.
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF OMAN
The inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th Century a newly established Sultanate in Muscat signed a series of friendship treats with Britain. Over time, Oman’ dependence to British political and military adviser increased, but it never become a British colony. In 1970 Sultan His Majesty QABOOS Bin Said Al Said over through the restrictive rule of his father; he ruled the Sultan ever since. Oman’s moderate independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relationship with all the Middle Eastern countries.
Oman’s unique story reveals examples of great moral strength, courage, heroism, maritime skills, scholarship and hard work that have together molded the Sultanate into its present form. The earliest stone age settlement discovered in Oman is in the Wattaya district and dates back more than 10,000 years. The Portuguese possessions in India suffered tremendously from the Omani strikes. Portuguese and Omanis engaged in bloody battles for the control of East Africa, until the entire East African shore from Mombassa to Kilwa fell under Omani control. In 1698 AD the Omanis conquered Mombassa and then entered Pemba, Zanzibar and Patta, Mozambique was the only country that resisted the Omani Arab fleet, and it stayed under Portuguese control until the twentieth century despite repeated attempts from 1737-1744 AD, the Persian invasions were not to achieve their objective of subduing Oman because of the valiant resistance put up by the Omanis. Oman’s heroic resistance staved off the Persian invasion in that period and their ultimate victory is owing to the leadership of Ahmed bin Said Al-Busaidi who succeeded in ousting the Persians from Oman and was elected Imam in 1744 AD.
In 1970 His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Crowning Glory of Oman, inaugurated the renaissance and modern age of Oman.
GEOGRAPHY OF OMAN
Oman, or Sultanate of Oman, a country in the Middle East, on the Arabian Peninsula in southwestern Asia. Until 1970 it was known as the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman. Oman fronts on the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman and is bordered inland by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. The tip of the Musandam Peninsula, at the entrance to the oil-rich Persian Gulf, is considered an integral part of Oman. Much of the sultanate’s boundary with the United Arab Emirates is undefined, making an exact measurement of Oman’s area impossible. The official estimate is 115,800 square miles (300,000 km2).
FACTS IN BRIEF ABOUT OMAN
Capital : Muscat
Official language : Arabic.
Official name : Saltanat Oman (Sultanate of Oman).
Area : 119,499 mi2 (309,500 km2). Greatest distances – north-south, 500 mi (805 km); east-west, 400 mi (644 km). Coastline – about 1,060 mi (1,700 km).
Elevation : Highest – Jabal Ash Sham, 9,957 ft (3,035 m) above sea level. Lowest – sea level .
Population : Current estimate – 2,705,000; density, 23 per mi2 (9 per km2); distribution, 72 percent urban, 28 percent rural. 2003 census – 2,340,815.
Chief products : Agriculture – alfalfa, bananas, coconuts, dates, limes, onions, pomegranates, tobacco, tomatoes, wheat. Fishing industry – sardines, cod, sharks. Mining – petroleum, natural gas, copper, chromite.
National anthem : “Nashid as-Salaam as-Sultani” (“Sultan’s National Anthem”).
Flag : Oman’s flag has a vertical red stripe on the left and three horizontal stripes of white, red, and green. The national emblem, which features crossed swords and a dagger, appears at the top of the vertical stripe.
Money : Basic unit – Omani rial, or riyal. One thousand baizas equal one rial.
For centuries, most Omanis lived at the subsistence level. This situation began to change in the late 1960’s, when large-scale petroleum production began. The country became heavily dependent on the oil industry for its prosperity and the government is now trying to diversify the economy.
Agriculture supports more than half of the people. Crops include limes, bananas, wheat, coconuts, vegetables, and dates. Cattles are raised in Dhofar; Goats, Sheep, and Camels are raised throughout Oman. Commercial fishing is being developed. Manufacturing activities include petroleum refining, copper smelting, and the making of chemicals, cement, and processed foods. Petroleum and natural gas, produced mainly in the interior, are Oman’s chief mineral resources. Other minerals produced include copper and chromate.
Highways link most of Oman’s principal cities. The chief port is at Matrah. Pipelines link oil-producing regions to terminals on the coast. Seeb International Airport, near Muscat, is the chief airport.
The deserts of Oman vary from the rolling sand seas of the Wahiba, with classic photogenic dunes of rich gold, to the flat stony Jiddat al Harasis in central Oman and the Rub al-Khali or ‘Empty Quarter’ further south, where individual mountains of sand rise from a flat desert and stretch endlessly across the border of Saudi Arabia. However, far from being empty, the desert is host to a surprising amount of wildlife. You will find more mountainous areas in Oman.
The desert provides habitat for lizards and geckos and their more deadly cousins, such as the saw-scales or carpet viper. The desert air of Oman is redolent of some lingering organic essence, almost like nature is teasing you to guess. It’s a mystery what causes this fresh aroma. The sun set in desert ; the colors of desert sand range amber to light russet to faint yellow to fawn- brown. This is a completely dynamic environment this Omani deserts teaches one about the patience, about the meditative sprit, about the joy of aging gracefully & wonderful resilience of jest be alive.
Oman is a country in the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula. Oman occupies arid land at the edge of the Rub al Khali, one of the driest and least explored deserts on earth. Much of the country consists of sandy plains that are all but uninhabited. The only mountainous area is in the north, where the Hajar ranges run from the Musandam Peninsula southeastward to the coastal city of Sur. Numerous peaks rise 5,000 to 7,000 feet (1,500 to 2,100 m) above sea level; the highest reaches more than 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in the Jabal al Akhdar, or Green Mountains, west of Muscat, the capital.
The largest coastal plain is the Batinah, a narrow strip of land between the Hajar and the Gulf of Oman. A smaller coastal plain, backed by a high, rugged plateau, runs along the Dhofar coast in the south. There are no permanent rivers, only wadis, which are streambeds that are dry most of the year.
They occur mainly around the Hajar, in the Batinah, and in Dhofar and are the sites of most cities, towns, and cultivated areas.
Extremely hot weather prevails during most of the year, winter being the only relatively pleasant season. Temperatures often reach 110Â° to 120Â° F. (43Â° to 49Â° C.) and sometimes are higher. Along the coast the heat is made even more oppressive by high humidity. Little or no rain falls in Oman except in two areas: the Hajar and southern Dhofar. The Hajar ranges, especially the Jabal al Akhdar, receive 10 inches (250 mm) or more annually, mainly during winter; southern Dhofar, which benefits from the southwest summer monsoon, receives 25 to 30 inches (630 to 760 mm).
The diverse and rich topography of Oman divides the country naturally into three distinct regions, each with its own identity. These regions range from rugged mountains and deep fjords in the north, through the spectacular dunes of the Sharqiyah (Wahiba) Sandsand two large salt flats in the centre, to the lush green hills of the Dhofar region in the south. A rugged and varied coastline stretches from north to south.
The Qara Mountains are the second mountain range in Oman situated in the Southern region. These attract the light monsoon rains during the mid-summer months, turning them green with vegetation. As in the north, a narrow fertile coastal plain lies between the mountains and the sea. The city of Salalah, capital of Dhofar, is here surrounded by lush farmland and coconut groves.
The Sultanate of Oman is administratively divided into four Governorates and five regions:
Governorate of Muscat
Governorate of Dhofar
Governorate of Musandam
Governorate of Al Buraimi
Al Batinah Region
Al Dakhiliyah Region
Al Sharqiyah Region
Al Dhahira Region
Al Wusta Region
Each Governorate/Region is formed of Wilayats (totaling 61) which are further divided into Niyabats. Additionally, each Region has one or more Regional Centers totaling 12 overall.
Oman Desert Express
Oman Intl. Rally
Dubai Muscat Regatta
The unspoiled culture and traditional lifestyle of Sultanate differentiate it in all aspect. Even in its modernity, Oman is distinctly Arab and offers the visitor a glimpse of many unique old-world wonders. If you are searching for the history, arts, architecture and the structure of traditional societies and government, Oman is the place for you. You can experience Oman’s sense of timelessness in the ancient interior city of Nizwa, the towns along the coast, the Capital itself and the southern city of Salalah. All are steeped in history and tradition.
Islamic religion is the root of Omani culture. Oman has its own particular form of Islam, called Ibadhism, after its founder, Abdullah ibn Ibadh who lived during the 7th century AD. Not all Omanis are Ibadhis however; there are also Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. Omanis are not only tolerant of the beliefs of different Muslim sects, they are also tolerant towards believers of other faiths, who are allowed to practice their religion in churches and temples.
The heritage has been passed from generation to generations, the art, the culture, the folklore and the craftsmanship have to be seen. In the heart of Oman we can explore further: the sense of respect for time, for people, and for nature. Some part of Oman’s rich heritage, kept alive and unchanged for generations. It may help you understand tomorrow a little better. World Heritage Sites including Batâ€”with its tombs dating back 3,000 years, the fort of Bahla, and the fascinating Frankincense route which commences from Dhofar and includes Al-Blaid, site of the ancient city of Zafar, Khawr Rawri, Shisr and Wadi Dukah. Many museums and galleries around the secluded and historic harbors of Muscat and Muttrah illuminate the importance of the sea and water, throughout Oman’s 5,000 year-old history.
DRESS CODE FOR VISITORS:
The dress code is fairly liberal in Muscat, although decency is still expected. Women should wear, for example, tops with sleeves, and skirts covering the knees or trousers. Men are required to wear trousers and shirts with sleeves. Swimwear should be restricted to the beach or pools.
NATIONAL DRESS OF OMAN
Dress for Male
A comfortable dress adapted to the climatic condition is designed traditionally for Male. The national dress is a simple, ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves called a dishdasha.
THE TRADITIONAL COLORFUL WOMAN’S DRESS
Omani women’s colorful dress distinguished it from their Arab Gulf neighbors by their eye-catching national costumes, with distinctive regional variations. It shows the tribal tradition particularly in the past. However, all costumes incorporate vivid colors and vibrant embroidery and decorations.
THE OMANI WOMEN’S TRADITIONAL COSTUME COMPRISES SEVERAL GARMENTS:
Women also wear a head shawl known by several names, wiqaya, lisso and fatqah. However, it is most commonly referred to as the lihaf. Today the Omani women wore their traditional dress for special occasions. In its place, a simple and convenient item of clothing is preferred. Women now choose to wear a loose black cloak called an abaya over their personal choice of clothing, whilst in some regions a face mask known as a burqa is still worn to this day.
THE FOLKLORE ART OF OMAN
In the cultural heritage of Sultanate of Oman Music plays an integral role. Traditional music is performed in groups, reflecting social ties and solidarity. A typical, music is played as part of age-old customs and traditions for religious festivities and on national as well as private occasions such as weddings, circumcisions and harvest festivals. More often the music is accompanied by dancing, singing and the recitation of poetry, which may vary in context and style from one wilayat to another.
Muscat is the heart of the Sultanate, the political and administrative hub of the nation, the centre of tourism and commercial activities. This city is a blend of the old and the new golden minarets in the middle of a maze of brown pleated mountains reaching down to the Arabian Sea Described as “Arabia’s jewelâ€. The roads are lined with well-manicured green lawns and trees. During winter this is interspersed with a profusion of multicolored flowers. Old Muscat has a quaint charm about it with many forts, castles, mosques and towers doting the landscape. Prior to the construction of road networks, the most widely used mode of transport was by sea. The Corniche, with its promenade and souqs (markets) is one of the highlights of the city. The old souq of Muttrah is an ideal spot for tourists to buy keepsakes and treasures. It is no wonder that Muscat is increasingly becoming an attractive tourist destination among the world’s travel going public.
Distance from Muscat: 335 km (interior paved road): 240 km (coastal track).
Average drive time: 4 hrs by paved road: 3.5 hrs by coastal track.
Sur, a placid sea coast town with its striking traditional dwellings is a pleasant getaway and one of the most important towns in the Eastern region. The drive from Muscat via the interior cuts through wadis and passes through the Hajar Mountains. An alternate route down the coast through the village of Quriyat is adventurous and offers fabulous views of sparkling white beaches covered with multi colored shells, deep ravines, cliffs that fall dangerously into azure seas, rocks sculpted by wind and waves and lush green wadis (river beds). The journey ends in the city famous for its dhow shipyards (and presumed home of the legendary Sinbad the Sailor). A trip through Sur’s labyrinth of streets reveals many fine old houses with carved doors and arabesque windows. From the corniche, the dhows in the harbor can be seen against the scenic backdrop of the Gulf of Oman. On the way to Sur one can stop over the fishing village of Quriyat, which was a major port centuries ago. Wadi Shab is another of the must-see wadis of this region – one of several wadis with running water throughout the year. Beyond Sur about 40 kms away lie the beaches of R’as Al Hadd and R’as Al Junayz where every year about 30,000 turtles come to lay their eggs.
Distance from Muscat – 174 km Average drive time â€“ 1 and 1/2 hours by paved road
Nizwa, the verdant oasis city with its blend of the modern and the ancient was the capital of Oman during the 6th and 7th century. One of the oldest cities of the Sultanate, this was once a center of education and art. Nizwa has been an important cross roads at the base of the Western Hajar Mountains connecting Muscat, Buraimi, and the lower reaches of Dhofar. The Falaj Daris of Nizwa is the largest single falaj in Oman and provides the surrounding country side with much needed water for the plantations. This city is famous for its historical monuments, handicrafts and agricultural products, has an expansive Souq showcasing a wonderful array of handicrafts – coffee pots, swords, leather goods, silverware, antiques, and household utensils. Nizwa fort, completed in the 1650’s, was the seat of power during the rule of the Al Ya’ruba dynasty and is Oman’s most visited National monument. A few kilometers from Nizwa lies the mysterious town of Bahla. Bahla is the home of myths and legends that have carried through the centuries. Some people today still believe that magic is afoot in Bahla and many Omanis are superstitious when it comes to talking about Bahla. This little town is famous for its pottery. The old Bahla fort with its 12 km wall is the oldest fort in Oman. The fort is believed to have been built in pre-Islamic times and is now undergoing reconstruction sponsored by UNESCO and the site is included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage monuments. A short distance beyond Bahla lies the Castle of Jabreen. This massive three-storied was also built during Al Ya’ruba dynasty of the mid 1600’s. It is a fine example of Islamic architecture with beautiful wooden inscriptions and paintings on the ceilings.
WESTERN HAJAR MOUNTAINS
Distance from Muscat – 200 km (to Al Hamra) Average drive time – 2.5 hours.
Beyond Nizwa, the southern flanks of the Western Hajar Mountains can be readily seen rising over 2000 meters above the surrounding countryside Within these mountains, rugged networks of wadi channels have carved networks of dramatic canyons and caves. The most fertile of these have been cultivated by the hardy shuwawis, mountain people, who have adapted to this harsh lifestyle under the tropic sun. At Wadi Tanuf, the ever-flowing springs are tapped to produce a commercially popular brand of drinking water. In Al Hamra, 400 year-old mud houses are still standing and occupied to this day. Out along the nearby wadi at Hasat bin Sault Rock, ancient petro glyphs estimated to be over 3000 years old lie in wait. Rock climbers will want to test their mettle on the stony crags of Jebel Misht while antiquarians will want to visit the mysterious Beehive Tombs of Bat.
Distance from Muscat – 75 km Average drive time – 45 minutes
The only natural pass through the northern jebels traces the trail of the old Silk Route caravans as they carried their goods from the Far East to communities of the interior. Follow the paths taken by Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta to Fanja, the traders’ crossroads, and the towns of Bid Bid, Sumail and Al Khobar, replete with castles and fortifications. On the far end of the Gap just past Izki is the verdant plantation town of Birkit Al Mawz (which translates “pool of bananas”). Indeed, from the ridge above the town the spreading forest of dates and banana trees give the impression of a deep pool. From this ridge you will see why Birkit Al Mawz is known as the “rainbow city,”. The rocks frame the old quarter like a rainbow.
Distance from Muscat – 230 km (by highway)Average drive time – 2 hours
Sohar, a seaside city, was the capital of Oman many centuries ago and legend has it that it was named after the great grandson of Noah (of the Bibical flood). Originally known as Majan (Persian-Mazoun), the city’s name alludes from early ship building activity. The word “ma-gan” means ship’s skeleton or chassis stemmed from its copper deposits in the mountains of Majan. Sohar belongs to the fertile Batinah coast region, and is arguably the most verdant city in Oman and the drive to Sohar from Muscat along the coastal highway passes through thick plantations of dates, mangoes, limes, bananas, vegetables and fodder crops. The Sohar Fort built around the 1st century AD is one of the major landmarks of this city. Built on a hilltop this fort has five impressive towers and is the only Omani fort that is whitewashed.
Distance from Muscat – 150 km Average drive time- 1 and 1/2 hours
The Gateway to the Eastern region of Oman, Ibra, in the past, was famous for its fine horses and horsemen. A unique feature of Ibra is the “Wednesday Souq” run entirely by women. On the far side of Ibra lies Al Mansfah village, a community of mansions once owned by prosperous merchants of the 19th century during the reign of Said the Great. With the decline of Said’s commercial empire these once stately mansions fell into ruin.
NAKHL- RUSTAQ LOOP
Distance from Muscat – 120 km Time taken to reach â€“ 1 and 1/4 hours
From the Batinah Coast to the west of Muscat along the base of the jebels are several key towns of special interest. Further along the coast is the Jazir Sawaidi. Closer to the mountains lie the majestic fortresses of Nakhl, Rustaq and Al Hazm restored by the government and preserved as national treasures.For those bent on trekking, there are many wadis running through the foothills and mountains, many of them with running water. Wadi Abyadh is ideal for picnicking, while Wadi Bani Awf, Wadi Hajir, Wadi Haylayn and Wadi Bani Kharus offer challenging trails for those keen on cannoning.
Distance from Muscat – 1030 km Average drive time – 12 hours by road, (1 hour by flight) Nestled in the southern region of Oman, Salalah has the benefit of the annual Indian monsoon: locally known as the Khareef. This monsoon, which extends from early June to mid September, transforms the countryside into a veritable garden with tumbling waterfalls and meandering streams. The Khareef season is a good time to visit Salalah. In July and August the government plays host for the annual Khareef Festival, a cultural highlight of the season.
Salalah is steeped in myths and legends that date back to biblical times. In the Jebel Qara can be found the tomb of the Prophet Ayoub, better known as Job of the Old Testament. In Khawr Rhori lie the ruins of the palace reputed to be that of the Queen of Sheba. In the surrounding countryside on the flanks of the jebels grows the Boswellia sacra better known for the sap it produces: Frankincense To the north of Salalah is the region known as the Nejd. This is a barren desolate area that is actually the southern fringe of the R’ub Al Khali. Here you find sweeping sand dunes and parched wadis. Lying 175 km north of Salalah is the remote village of Shisr. Here in the early nineties, with the help of satellite imagery from the space shuttle, explorers found what they believe to be the lost city of Ubar. Called by T. E. Lawrance (of Arabia) as the “Atlantis of the sands”, Ubar was once considered to be the trading centre for frankincense before it was buried in the rising duneswas a gift to the baby Jesus came from Oman as the Boswellia sacra tree grows nowhere else. For most of the year, the unspoiled beaches of Salalah are ideal for scuba diving, canoeing, sailing, jet skiing and diving. The marshy khawrs along the coast line are sanctuaries to a broad variety of migrating birds turning the region into a bird watchers paradise.
But during the summer Salalah is easily Oman’s coolest destination to visit during the Khareef with its crisp unpolluted air, cool misty clime, high rolling seas and leafy ambiance. Less than half an hour’s drive from Salalah is Ain Razat, a picnic spot with springs, hills, gardens and streams. Nearby is the equally resplendent Ain Sahanawt. Seventy kilo- meters east of Salalah lies Mirbat, famous for Bin Ali’s tomb (Bin Ali was revered in the early days of Islam as a sage and holy man.). Taqah, 36kms from Salalah is a picturesque, quaint village. The fort at Taqah goes back several hundred years and is well stocked with authentic decorations and appointments.
Rising high above the coast is the Jebel Samhan plateau, the highest point in Dhofar at 1800 meters. Here you can find the hanging valley of Wadi Dirbat which is impressive in full flood. Further into the jebels is Tawi Attir (the hole of the birds), a natural sink hole over 100 meters wide and 250 meters deep. Nestled in a hidden valley is the Baobab Forest with huge bulbous trees, one tree over 2000 years old and 30 feet in diameter at its base.
To the west of Salalah are many stretches of beautiful beaches. One of the most popular of these is Mughsayl where you can find unusual blow holes in the rocky shelf close to the shore. These holes display dramatic bursts of water and foam sometimes reaching 50 feet in the air. Further to the west close to the Yemen border lies the town of Rakhyut and is a pleasant spot for picnic and swim in the ocean.
WORLD HERITAGE SIGHTS
The Sultanate of Oman is a land of charm and contrasts. The Oman’s natural and cultural sites helped the Sultanate to gain the special attention and interest of UNESCO, through its International Heritage Preservation Programme, which aims to categories and name all significant heritage sites worldwide, both cultural and natural.
The four major classifications of UNESCO is located in the Sultanate:
The Castle of Bahla, its perimeter and the adjoining oasis in A’Dakhliyah Region, listed in 1987.
The settlement and tombs in Bat dating from the third millennium BC, including the Al-Khatm and Al-Ain locations in Adh-Dhahira Region, all listed in 1988.
The Frankincense Route in the Governorate of Dhofar, which was listed in 2000. The Route comprises the ancient cities of Al-Blaid and Shasr, Khuwr Rori, and Wadi Dooka. These locations collectively contributed to the flourishing of the frankincense trade for many centuries throughout the Middle Ages.
Falaj Daris in the Dakhliyah Region
Falaj Al-Khatmeen in Niyabat Barkat Al-Muz near Nizwa in the Dakhiliah Region.
Falaj Al-Malki in the Wllayat of Izki in the Dakhiliah region.
Falaj Al-Mayser in the Wilayat of Rustaq in the Batinah region.
Falaj Al-Jeilah in the Wilayat of Surin in the Sharqiya region.
Al-Jalali Fort perches on top of a rock on the eastern side of the old harbour of Muscat, overlooking the majestic Al-Alam Palace. Its name is thought to be derived from the Persian name Jalal.
The fort was originally built in the early 16th century by the Portuguese captain Melkior Calaca, with more fortifications and towers being added towards the latter half of the century.
Opened in May 2001, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a splendid architectural achievement. This serene building rises above the surrounding area, its minarets standing tall against a background of mountains in a landscape which is quintessentially Omani. However, it is not just a triumph of architecture but symbolizes the faith of the Omani people and the supremacy of Islam in the country. The mosque is actually a complex consisting of an Islamic Studies Centre, a 3-storey library with 20,000 volumes, a meeting and conference hall to seat 300 people, in addition to two prayer halls. The main musalla (prayer hall) has been designed to hold over 6,500 worshippers, while the women’s musalla can accommodate 750. The outer paved courtyard holds another 8,000 and there is additional space in the interior courtyard and passageways, making a total capacity of up to 20,000 worshippers.
OTHER MOSQUES IN OMAN
Located in the traditional neighbourhood of Al-Uqr in Wilayat Nizwa, the mosque is also known locally as Al-Qeblatayn Mosque Its mihrab (niche) was built in 1529 and is 4 metres high and three metres wide. Numerous scholars, writers and intellectuals studied here.
Located in Mazare’ah in Wilayat Samael, the mosque boasts a simple beauty and outstanding inscriptions. Its mihrab was built in 1567.
Located in the old town of Manah, this mosque is an example of early architecture and basic ornamentation. Its mihrab was built in 909 and has a height of 4 metres and a width of more than 2.5 metres.
AL-KABEER (GRAND) MOSQUE
Located in the village of Al-Hosn in Wilayat Bahla, the mosque’s mihrab was built in 1511 and exceeds six metres in height.
A unique architectural gem constructed in the 11th century (Hijri), the mosque is located in Wilayat Jaalan Bani Bou Ali in Ash-Sharqiyah region. This beautiful mosque is distinguished by its unusual design comprising 52 domes. It was recently renovated but not structurally altered.
One of the oldest mosques in Wilayat Nakhl, it was renovated in 1586, and remained unchanged for over 400 years. In 1991, the mosque was reconstructed to comply with modern architectural standards.
Natural History Museum, Armed Forces Museum, National Museum Omani Museum, Children Museum, Omani-French Museum, Bait Az-Zubair Museum, Bait Al-Baranda Museum, Oil and Gas Museum, Salalah Museum, Sohar Castle Museum, Muscat Gate Museum.
Sure is the Shipbuilding yard of Gulf, where you can experience a first-hand impressive craft of ship building. Building large ships is no longer practiced; only boats and small ships such as sanbook are currently being produced. Several professional shipbuilders now make miniature models of the various old Omani ships that once graced the waters of the Sultanate. A small naval museum has been set up for interested visitors showcasing the history of ship-building in the region.
THE POTTERY & MINING INDUSTRY
In addition to other unique handicrafts the pottery industry in Oman is considered one of the oldest and most important traditions. Archaeological discoveries have revealed that potteries were active throughout Oman during the fourth millennium B.C. The Omani pottery industry shows its influence coming from the pottery of Samuraiâ€™s, Siraf and Yemen, where Islamic crafts flourished. Omanâ€™s Silver Mining industry is an ancient trade Practiced for many centuries throughout the Sultanate, Centered primarily in Nizwa, this business is widespread and can be found in Muscat, Muttrah, Salalah, Ibri, Bahla, Rustaq and Sur.
THE SPINNING AND WEAVING
The important source of wool is Goats and Sheep it is not only considered a vital source of food in Oman, but also a Wool is sheared from the sheep, cleaned, carded and spun to make threads which are used in their natural colors or dyed with traditional natural dyes. The wool is used by the Bedu to make tents, rugs, blankets and saddlebags in a variety of traditional designs depending on the region. The mountain villages of Jebel Akdar are also famous for their weaving of colorful carpets. Goat hair is combed from the goats and felted to make the shoes.
A wealth of approximately eight million varieties of palm trees is found in Oman. The leaves are stripped from the tree and used by skilled craftsmen to manufacture a host of household objects such as ropes, baskets, birds cages, pergolas, mats, fans and fishing cages.
The origin of Kummah embroidery is unknown so far. However, what is known is that this sophisticated head dress is unique in that and is made only by women to be worn only by men. The intricate openwork and embroidery is painstaking and precise work and designs are innovative and individual.
THE DELICIOUS OMANI HALVA MAKING
A distinctive Omani sweetmeat the Omani halwa, made from starch, eggs, sugar, water, saffron, ghee, cardamom, nuts, and rosewater, the latter usually brought from Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar. The special Ebri Halva made out of Got meat is famous for its medicinal value. The ingredients are mixed in specified proportions and normally cooked in a large pot called Al-Mirjal, for not less than two hours with continuous stirring. The halwa is served in honor of guests and on special occasions.
THE FAMOUS ROSE WATER DISTILLATION
The Green Mountain of Al Jabal Al Akhdar situated approximately 150 km from the capital city of Muscat, is one of the Sultanateâ€™s most distinguished tourist destinations. March, April, May, the heights of the mountain, particularly the villages of Al Shareejah and Seiq, are overflowing with rose pickers. The height of the rose picking season is April. Roses are picked at two intervals of the day, early morning when the roseâ€™s open and early evening, as the sun begins to set. The process of distillation is a long and hard task, continuing throughout the day and as well as into the night, the perfume of the rose water wafting through the narrow lanes of the villages
TRADITIONAL SOUK (SHOPPING MARKET )
THE MUTTRA SOUK
Muttrah Souk is the most famous traditional souk in the country and the oldest in the Capital Area. Rambling over a large area behind the Muttrah Corniche the souk is a paradise for souvenir-hunting tourists. Entering the souk, you feel transported into an Arabian Nights fantasy, albeit a slightly modernized one. Frankincense, perfumes, spices, dates and antiques jostle for space with electronic products, fashion accessories and toys. A cornucopia of exotic sounds, smells and flavors assails the senses in bewildering yet exciting profusion.
THE NIZWA SOUK
In the heart of Nizwa, at close proximity to its towering fort and imposing mosque, is the famous souk of Nizwa. A leisurely walk around the souk allows you to experience a taste of life in Oman outside the capital where a traditional Omani lifestyle still exists. There are various local artifacts for sale, such as antique rifles, pottery, old wooden chests, silverwork, and frankincense. In the silver souq, silversmiths can be seen hammering patterns into the hilts of khanjars.
THE SALALAH SOUK
Salalah city is the largest city in Dhofar governorate and has a number of specialized and well-stocked popular markets that extend along the main streets The most prominent markets are: the Central Market, Gold Market, Fort Market and Al Haffah Market. You can also find a variety of miscellaneous textiles, clothing, gold and silver jewelry, and other traditional products, in addition to some restaurants and coffee shops.
THE MAJOR SHOPPING CENTERS
- Sabco Centre Located in Qurum Commercial District
- Khamis Plaza Located in Qurum Commercial District
- Jawharat Al-Shatti Located in Shatti Al-Qurum
- City Plaza Located in Al Khuwair
- Capital Commercial Centre Located in Qurum Commercial District
- Al-Sarooj Complex Located in Shatti Al-Qurum
- Al-Harthy Complex in Qurum
- Al-Bahja Centre Located in Seeb (Al-Mawalih Roundabout)
- Al-Araimi Complex Located in Qurum Commercial District
- Muscat City Centre Located in Seeb
- Khimji Megastore Located in Ruwi
- Al Araimi Located in Qurum
- Markaz Al Bahja Located in Seeb – Al Mawaleh
- Jabal Harim
- Jabal Shams A
- l Sawadi
- Misfat Al Arabiyeen
- Ras Al Hadd and Ras Al Jinz
- The Islands
Khawrs and springs of the Dhofar, Muscat Beach, As-Sawadi.
Wadi Darbat, Wadi Al-Hoqain , Wadi Bani Auf, Wadi Fida, Wadi Dhiqah, Wadi Tiwi, Wadi Shab, Wadi Bani Khalid
Teiq Cave, Al-Merneif Cave, Razzat Cave, Ettein Cave, Al-Hoota Cave, Majlis Al-Jin Cave
- Khawr Ouqad
- Khawr Al Baleed
- Khour Al Dahareez
- Khour Al Maghseel
- Khour AlQurum AlSagheer and AlKabeer
- Khour Roori
- Khour Souli
- Khour Taqah
- Khour AlRisagh
- Khour AlBateh
- Khour Grama
- Khour AlHajar
- Khour Khuwair
- Khour Qurayat
- Bandar AlKhairan
- Al-Ansab Lagoons
THE MUSCAT FESTIVAL
The biggest event in Muscat (if not Oman) is the annual Muscat Festival, held for a month from early January in several outdoor venues around the city. The festival showcases Omani and neighboring Arabic culture with poetry recitals, traditional dancing and craft displays. The event also attracts dance and acrobatic acts from other countries and includes fireworks and shopping stalls, mainly from the subcontinent and Far East. Since its inception in February 1998, the Muscat Festival has attracted visitors from around the world and captured their imagination through eye-catching events and activities that have successfully showcased the true essence of Oman.. The festival period is ablaze with action and intrigue for all.
SALALAH TOURISM FESTIVAL
Each year the natural phenomena of the monsoon season in Salalah casts a magical spell on visitors from far and near. Although the Salalah Tourism Festival (formerly known as the Khareef festival), along with others were introduced as part of the monsoon specialties in the previous years, the authorities thought it fit to launch a carnival and shopping festival this year to further enhance the khareef attraction. Towards the end of June right away through to the end of September, the Khareef (monsoon) season sweeps over the Southern part of the Sultanate dropping temperature to and below 23Â°C. As the monsoon rains nourish the region of Dhofar and the mystical fog hangs ominously over the land, resulting in some of the world’s most stunning natural scenery. Upon the arrival of the month of July, Salalah Tourism Festival Rolls into town to delight the city with oodles of family fun in the form of cultural, traditional and modern artistic shows, all encased in an ambiance of cordiality and hospitality.
This amalgamation of idyllic weather and man-made celebrations leave visitors content that they have experienced something truly unique.
The bird life in Oman is known internationally, attracting avid bird watchers and ornithologists from all over the world. According to the Oman Bird Records Committee, more than 460 different bird species have been recorded in Oman, out of which 80 species have been classified as resident, while the rest are migrant and seasonal species. During the season of spring and autumn millions of birds pass across the length and breadth of Oman and an impressive variety can be seen in Muscat Capital Area. These migratory periods coincide with the cooler weather between October and April, the best time to watch birds in the Sultanate of Oman. Common migrant and seasonal species include Cattle Egret, Little Stint, Greater Flamingos, Caspian Gulls, Spotted Flycatchers, Grey Heron, Dunlins, Sandwich Terns, Red and Green shanks, Ruff and White Wagtails.
Qurum Natural Park with its rich variety of resident birds in their natural habitat is another easily accessible location. However, Al-Ansab Lagoon is undoubtedly the best place for bird watching, not only in the Muscat area but probably in the entire Sultanate. Outside the Capital area, birding locations abound from Musandam in the north to Dhofar in the south.In Musandam eagles are to be found in large numbers. Masirah Island in A’Sharqiyah region is the home of thousands of birds especially in winter. Species to be seen here include Flamingoes, Seagulls, terns and herons. Dhofar is a paradise for birds, particularly African species.
THE EXITING DOLPHIN AND WHALE
From Musandam in the north and all the way down to Dhofar in the south of the Sultanate Many dolphins can be seen in close proximity to the coast. Humpback and Orca whales can also be found in the waters of Oman, albeit less frequently than dolphins. Fahal Island is a good site to spot dolphins in their hundreds roaming around or following the tuna. Species often found are Spinner, Common and Bottlenose dolphins. Orcas have also been reported playing around the island. Traditional Omani fishing boats fully equipped with all necessary safety equipment are normally used for Dolphin watch trips. Trips are usually arranged in early morning and at sunset.
THE MAIN NATURAL RESERVES IN OMAN
- Arabian Oryx
- Marine Turtles Nature Reserve
- The Al Daymaniyat Islands Nature Reserve
- Al Saleel Natural Park
- Jabal Smhan
- Wadi Sareen Reserve
- The Khawrs of Dhofar
- Qurum Natural Park
- Al Naseem Public Park
- Riyam Park
- Kalbou Beach Park
- Al Wadi Al Kabeer Park
- Al A’merat Public Park
- Quriyat Lake Park
- The Park of A’Seeb Beach
- Al Sahwa Park