A Land of mesmerising memories...
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Welcome to Oman
Between The Sand & The Sea
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Cultural Visitor 31 Across the Centuries Oriental Nights Rest House Festivals of Oman
Dhofar Mountains Camel Trek A Mesmerising Trip Explore an unknown world Cruising off Muscat Luxury Amidst the Golden Sands Jebal Akhdar The Hidden Kiteboarding Paradise The well of The Birds, Salalah
The Oman Visitor 2010 Edition Copyright ÂŠ SJS Group
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The Holistic Visitor Grand Spa Emirates Medical Center Essence Spa The Day Spa
The Leisure Visitor The Ubhar Experience Intelligent Luxury A Taste of Oman The Salam Experience Shopping Galore Festival of Joy The Scent of Kings An appetising affair! Outdoor Delights
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The Young Visitor Dos & Donts Golden Sands An Oasis in the City
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Foreword A land of magic and mystery, of Arabian adventure and breathtaking natural wonders, a country steeped in tradition and racing ahead in the development stakes, a land of many contrasts - that in a nutshell is the Sultanate of Oman. From the bustling capital city of Muscat, to the desolate dunes of the Empty Quarter, Oman lays out a magic carpet for visitors, presenting exotic experiences at every turn. Indeed, from sea and surf to wadis and deserts, from spectacular diving to serene mountains, the Sultanate has something to offer visitors of any genre. Famed for their open-hearted hospitality, Omanis offer you not just a peek at their beloved land and its rich and historic traditions and customs, but let you take away an indelible experience that is straight out of the tales of the One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. As you read this book, each page tells its own story of enchantment, of discovery, of wonder and of enduring cultural heritage. Within this volume you shall discover the many adventure possibilities, the diverse flora and fauna, the fabled history and the fantastic customs of a nation that offers a multiplicity of must-see destinations. Indeed, The Oman Visitor brings you not just first hand accounts, but insightful tips, useful information and unique perspectives on many of Omanâ€™s attractions, natural or man made, of recent origin or historic vintage and through it all, this book will evoke in you a sense of excitement, the kind of excitement that comes when one is about to embark on a journey of discovery. Come, explore with us this land of make-believe!
Dr. Rajha bint Abdul Amir Minister of Tourism
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lco m e to O ma e n W
d n a S e h T n e Betwe & The Sea
Muscat Nizwa Bahla Western Hajar Rustaq Sumail Gap Jebel Akhdar Wahiba Sands Masirah Island Sohar Ibra Sur Turtle Beach Salalah Shisr Musandam
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Welcome to Oman
For countless centuries, this country situated at the eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula has captured the hearts of all who have set eyes on its undulating shores or set foot amidst its wadis and mountains. A mirage like quality surrounds the rugged natural beauty of this hospitable land that stands at the crossroads of the world across the Straits of Homruz. The Sultanate of Oman, while making its great leaps in economic growth and diversification; has retained that magical aura of mystery and magic that forms the core of every travelorâ€™s Arabian fantasy. The country and its people still retain the ethos of a simple life that respects the age old traditions of hospitality and a friendly spirit of tolerance for all who come to experience this land of Sindbad.
• Padi Dive Courses • Daily Diving & Snorkelling • Dive Holiday Packages • Dolphin & Whale Watching • Sea Safaris • Corporate Packages
Experience the raw side of nature…
Adventure galore • Trek the breathtaking Al Hajer Mountains • Thrill yourselves at Sharqiya Sands • Visit the stunning sinkhole at Quriyat • Overnight camping excursions included in special packages Relive the past • Visit Oman’s old town’s like Bahla, Qalhat etc • Discover the historic ‘Forts’ of Nizwa • A tradition of sorts - visit Sur’s Dhow factory
GSM: +968 99558488 Tel.: +968 24737545 Fax: +968 24737661 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.scubaoman.com
GSM: +968 99277874 Tel.: +968 24737545 Fax: +968 24737661 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.outreachoman.com
Welcome to Oman
Oman - Geographgical diversitgy in terms of mountains and wadis caught in between the seas and the sands have created amazing natural beauty that serves as habitats for a wide variety of flora and fauna. Interspersed with ancient castles and modern monuments, the landscape presents enchanting opportunities even to the most seasoned travellers. And if the sands are redolent with history, the sea is replete with amazingly beautiful marine ecosystems that wait to share their pristine secrets with the underwater adventurer.
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Welcome to Oman
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The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a towering piece of Islamic architecture in a modern interpretation. On the other hand the Muttrah Souq looks exactly as it did over 300 years ago when merchants from across the seas first traded spices and frankincense there.
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Welcome to Oman
Muscat - Muscat a cosmopolitan melting pot of language, religion and cultures is nicknamed the â€˜Jewel of Arabiaâ€™. A post modern city with world class infrastructure, the capital of Oman still cherishes its historic legacy and its sea-faring traditions. With expanses of soothing green and riotously profuse flowers, the city belies its desert origins is a treat to the eyes. Well preserved historical monuments jostle with castles, museums and beaches for the attention of the visitor. The Al Alam Palace with its retro colour scheme is a treat to see in the evening while a stroll along the Corniche offers stunning views of the Jalani and Mirani forts that overlook the harbour.
Welcome to Oman
Nizwa - The capital of the interiors, this ancient city saw its hay day in the 1650’s. Today, the Nizwa Fort is de-rigeur on any visitor’s itinerary. In fact, it is Oman’s most visited National Monument. Nizwa is also famous for its Souq which has traditionally been a centre of Omani handicrafts especially silverware, jewellery, khanjars, coffee pots and leather products. The Falaj Daris is the largest single falaj in the country and is still in use. Bahla - This small town is known as the pottery capital of Oman and (if the local lore is to be believed) for black magic. The Bahla Fort with its 12 km wall is the oldest fort in Oman and is designated as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage monuments. a few kilometers away is the Jibreen Castle - a massive three floor structure dating back to the mid 1600’s. The castle is a fine example of Islamic architecture with its ornate wooden inscriptions and paintings on the cedarwood ceilings. The building also houses other surprises like a false staircase to confuse intruders and a separate staircase to the bedroom of the Sultan’s favourite horse!
Western Hajar - The landscape changes as you travel beyond Nizwa. The rugged 2000-meter high peaks of the Western Hajar range is home to a labyrinth of wadi channels. Some of these have morphed into deep canyons and caves. The most famous canyon, the Wadi Nakhr Gorge is an adventure paradise offering abseiling, rock climbing, caving, etc. Persian ruins and the mysterious Beehive Tombs of Bat are another attraction inside the gorge. A trek here can also reward you with a colourful bargain - a rug produced by the local pit weavers. The ranges carefully preserve the simple life of age old mud house settlements like the four centuries old Al Hamra village. Wadi Tanuf with its cheerfully gurgling waters is a must visit as is Jebel Shams (Sun Mountain), Arabia’s tallest peak at 3010 meters.
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Jebel Akhdar - Meaning ‘Green Mountains’ in Arabic, this region is home to many perennial wadis. In Wadi Bani Habib, Saiq and Al Ayn, there are orchards of pomegranates, apricots and walnuts. A trek amongst these tors can reward you with some spectacular views. Diana’s Point, named after the late Princess of Wales spent time here in the late 80s, provides some stunning vistas of the canyon beyond.
Sumail Gap - The only natural pass through the northern jebels (mountains) is located on the ancient Silk Route. Those illustrious travelors Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta have written about this place. Many old castles and mud forts dot this area along the towns of Fanja, Bid Bid, Sumail and Al Khobar. Ad Dasir produces delicious pomegranates, pumpkins and sweet lemons. On the far end of the Gap just past Izki is the verdant plantation town of Birkit Al Mawz (Garden of Bananas) also known as the ‘Rainbow City’. The aqueducts here are a must see.
Wahiba Sands - Between Muscat and Sur lies the Wahiba Sands. Now known as the Sharqiya Sands, this area is a sand sea with great longitudinal dunes 200 km long and 100 km wide running from the Eastern Hajars to the Arabian Sea. The dunes are 100-150 meters high and the colour of the sand changes from orange to sienna as the sun completes its daily trajectory across the skies. Bedouin camps along old caravan trails and many tented resorts in this area give you a chance to experience the desert. Al Akhdar, a small town to the west of the Sharqiya Sands is the home of the Omani pit weavers who design elegant textiles from their looms dug into the ground. Al Mudaybi has a bustling Bedouin souq everyday in the mornings. Masirah Island - Located just 20 kms. off the coast, south of the Wahiba Sands, Masirah offers secluded beaches with a variety of shells. Thousands of loggerhead turtles also come to nest here.
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Welcome to Oman
Rustaq - This erstwhile capital of Oman has its own rustic charm. Its huge fortress was built in 600 AD. The bare mountains and the verdant date plantations that surround Rustaq are a study in contrast. The nearby Nakhl (meaning Garden in Arabic) town produces some of Oman’s best dates. Rustaq is also where you find therapeutic hot springs with sulphur rich waters that are known to cure many bodily ills.
Welcome to Oman
Sohar - This seaside city, said to have been named after the great grandson of Noah was the ancient capital of Oman and is currently reasserting itself as the centre of a huge cluster of industries and a busy modern port. The Sohar Fort dates back to the 1st century AD. Ibra - Famed for its thoroughbred Arabian Stallions and fine horsemen, Ibra is also known for its ‘Wednesday Souq’ - a unique flea market run entirely by women.
Sur - As the home of the legendary Sinbad, the intrepid mariner of the Arabian Nights, the city is famous as an ancient seaport and the biggest Dhow building centre of Arabia. The dhows here are still made the traditional way – by hand. A stroll around town offers glimpses of many fine old houses with carved doors and arabesque windows. Turtle Beach - 40 kilometers away from Sur, lies the Turtle Beach (beaches of R’as Al Hadd and R’as Al Junayz) where every year about 30,000 turtles come to nest and lay eggs. The turtle sanctuary here is an absolute must visit. Rangers here, take you out ono the beach after dark to see and experience the procreation rituals of this species of marine life. There is an alternate coastal route to Sur from Muscat through the village of Quriyat which offers wonderful vistas of white beaches, blue seas and precipitous mountains. Wadi Shab on this route is extremely pictureque as is the Bamiyan Sinkhole. 28 OMAN VISITOR
Welcome to Oman
Salalah â€“ The capital of the southern Dhofar region, is the gift of the Monsoons to Oman. From early June to mid September (a period called the Khareef), the Dhofar hills become a lush tropical paradise. Foggy landscapes come alive with the trilling sounds of numerous streams and waterfalls that drench the mountain face. So amazing is the transformation and so magical the climate that Salalah is known as the Switzerland of the Gulf and indeed, tourists flock here to escape the summer heat. Every year, the government organises the Khareef Festival (now renamed the Salalah Festival) in July and August.
The Hanging Valley of Dirbat is a great spot for trekking and picknicking. A hidden valley here houses the Baobab Forest where, one of the huge bulbous trees is reputed to be over 2000 years old and is almost 30 feet in diameter.The popular picnic spot - Ain Razat with its springs and gardens is just half an hourâ€™s drive from Salalah. A little delving into the jebels, brings out a unique natural wonder - a sinkhole called Tawi Attir (The Hole of the Birds). The environs of Salalah also hide an aromatic secret - the Boswellia sacra (Frankincense).
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Salalah is blessed not only with a great climate and unique ecology, it also teems with history. The tomb of Prophet Ayoub (Job of the Old Testament) is believed to be located in the Jebel Qara while nearby Khawr Rhori is believed to house the ruins of the palace of the legendary Queen of Shebaâ€™s.The tomb of Bin Ali (a sage in the early days of Islam) is supposed
to be located at Mirbat, about 70 kms away from Salalah. The centuries old Taqah Fort is also nearby. The pristine beaches of Salalah are ideal for scuba diving, canoeing, sailing and jet skiing. There are also marshy khawrs along the coast that are a veritable sanctuary for various migratory birds. Lying a little west of Salalah, the Mughsayl beach is beautiful. The beach also has unusual blowholes in the rocky shelf close to the shore. Mighty spouts of water and foam (sometimes reaching 50 feet in the air) burst through these holes and are a sight to behold.
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Welcome to Oman
This was the commodity that was considered more valuable than even Gold in ancient times and is reputed to be one of the gifts of the Magi to the baby Jesus.
Welcome to Oman
Musandam - This coastal region in the north of the Sultanate has numerous sea inlets with steep, mountain slopes just like the fjords of Norway. The 2000 meter high mountains are striking and a dhow cruise to Khawr Ash Shamm will reward you with secluded beaches and a chance to see some amazing marine life if you can snorkel or dive. The nearby Telegraph Island will reward you with hair raising tales of pirates and ‘derring-do’. Oman, is not just a country but a magical journey that gives you a real taste of history and adventure in folk lorish splendour and spell binding natural wonders. This destination of the future not only preserves its fables and traditions but also offers a unique insight into quintessential Arabia. Equal parts fantasy and fiction and a warm welcome await the traveller who visits Oman. Come and follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta. Come, discover Oman. Shisr - Lying 175 km north of Salalah, the remote village of Shisr is the site of the ‘Lost city of Ubar’. Known as the ‘Atlantis of the Sands’, (an epithet given by the legendary Lawrence of Arabia), archaelogists believe that Ubar was once a prosperous trading center for frankincense before it was buried in the rising dunes.
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a l r V u t isitor l u C
s e i r u t n e C e h t s s Acro The Sultanate of Oman is famed for its historic legends, its tales of ancient civilisations and sea faring traditions that goes back to ages gone by. Centuries ago, Oman or Majan as it was then called was a seat of learning and had a flourishing trade in copper and frankincense. Islam came to Oman in the 7th century A.D., during the lifetime of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). In the sixteenth century, Oman came into contact with modern Europe with the Portuguese conquering parts of coastal Oman in a bid to rule the sea lanes of the world. In its heyday, Oman was a great regional power and by 1650, the Omani empire extended over Zanzibar, eastern parts of
Africa, and portions of southern Arabia. The Sultan of Oman established trading posts on the Persian coast and the Omani sphere of influence stretched all the way over to what is modern day Pakistan. Oman’s domination of the region and its prowess on the high seas attracted the attention of the erstwhile colonial powers - France and Britain. Most of Oman’s overseas possessions were seized by the United Kingdom and Oman but the rivalry between France and Britain over Oman continued throughout the 18th century. When Sultan Sa’id bin Sultan Al-Busaid died in 1856, the empire was divided into two: Zanzibar (with its East African dependencies), and Muscat & Oman with the provision that Zanzibar pay an annual subsidy to the Sultan in Oman (dues that it continued to pay until its formal independence in 1964). During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Sultan in Muscat faced rebellion in the interior. This conflict was resolved temporarily by the . In 1951, Britain recognised the Sultanate of Oman as an independent country. However, rebellion in the interiors, that had been temporary quelled by the Treaty of Seeb in the early part of the century flared
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In 1970, Qaboos bin Said Al Said ascended the throne of Oman. A man of destiny, he squashed all insurgency, re-equipped the armed forces and granted amnesty to all surrendering rebels. The new Sultan ended Oman’s international isolation and embarked on civil programmes aimed at nation building. His vision and determination saw the establishment of a modern government structure. Under his guiding hand the government then launched major development initiatives to upgrade educational and health facilities, build a modern infrastructure, and develop the country’s natural resources. In November 1996, Sultan Qaboos presented his people with the “Basic Statutes of the State,” Oman’s first written “constitution”. It guarantees various rights within the framework of Qur’anic and customary law. In September 2000, about 100,000 Omani men and women elected 83 candidates, including two women, to seats in the Majlis Al-Shura. In December 2000, Sultan Qaboos appointed the 48-member Majlis Al Dowla, including five women, which acts as the upper chamber in Oman’s bicameral representative body. Since his accession in 1970, Sultan Qaboos has relentlessly pursued a developmental agenda that has transformed the
Oman maintained its diplomatic relations with Iraq throughout the Gulf War while supporting the United Nations. Oman renewed a military cooperation agreement with the United States in 2000. Oman also has long been an active participant in efforts to achieve Middle East peace. Oman has signed most United Nations-sponsored antiterrorism treaties and is a member of the WTO. In 2006, Oman concluded a Free Trade Agreement with USA and is a major player in establishing the GCC. Oman’s Vision 2020 is a blue print for the future and His Majesty’s strategic direction encourages every Omani to strive to achieve the goals enshrined in the Vision 2020 document even as the country embarks on an ambitious program of economic diversification and sustainable growth.
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country into a modern state. It has embraced globalisation and plays a key role in international diplomatic arena.
up again in 1954. The insurgents were finally defeated in 1959.
Oriental Nights Rest House
Near Wadi Bani Khalid Tel: 99354816 www.onrh.net
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We (four colleagues, myself and my 6 year old son) all met in the parking lot of the Al Sahwa Park near Muscat City Centre at 12.30 on a Thursday afternoon. It was a sunny day and we were soon joined by Mohd. Al Hajri, the owner of the Oriental Nights. He had a big GMC 4WD into which we all piled in with room to spare.
afternoon sun, the low mounds of sand were tinged brick red as we approached Bidiyah. Here, Mohd. suddenly left the road and took to the sands. He was now in his element and the excitement was contagious. We stopped at a Bedu house and my son was excited to see goats and camels at such close range. Mohd. was an ace at the wheels and soon we were on top of the dunes and again plunged down with that awesome falling feeling in the pit of our stomachs. And then we were up again and down another dune. Between squeals of enjoyment, we asked Mohd. to stop and he did..on the top of a cliff like dune, from where we could look down at a verdant green plantation – a real life oasis in the desert.
Mohd. filled the tanks of the GMC at Rusayl and soon we were past Fanja and BidBid. We had stocked up on snacks, juices and water and the journey was entertaining to say the least. In fact, Mohd had us in fits with his non-stop chatter, interesting anecdotes and impossible sounding stories.
The view and the feelings are indescribable and what we experienced on top of the dune needs to be savoured first hand. There was the setting sun tingeing everything with red. The red of the sand bled into the red of the horizon and dusk seeped in at the periphery. The sand glittered, the breeze picked up and the patterns in the sand shifted – the red ridges whitened and twisted and a page turned and there was an ethereal silence, a stillness that calmed our souls.
We are soon on the Ibra - Sur road which curved and undulated like a snake and then neared Al Qabil. Here the landscape changed with craggy mountains giving way to gentle rolling sands. In the
Mohd. meanwhile was busy collecting dried sticks and my son was only too eager to help. He soon had a bonfire going and we all huddled near the fire with the cold sands underneath. The first stars came out. Script: Madhulika Mohta
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It was early winter in Oman when the skies are blue and the breeze cool and the sunlight doesn’t hurt your eye. It is the season for barbeques, rejuvenation and festivities. In fact with Eid holidays around the corner, some of my colleagues decided to take a weekend break at Wadi Bani Khalid. Someone suggested that we combine it with some wadi bashing in the desert and the itinerary was expanded. After much research, we chose the Oriental Nights Rest House for our night halt and the rest of the arrangements were in fact made by the guesthouse.
As Mohd. started the grill, the appetising aromas made us realise how long ago we had had our lunch. It was a simple and yet utterly delicious dinner under the stars. There was grilled chicken and meat, tender and subtle with flavours of Mohd’s special marinade. There was Qubz and salad and aerated drinks and water. We had a leisurely repast with Mohd keeping us engrossed with wonderful tales of the desert, of myths, legends, villains and heroes. Virgin sands, the wind and the desolation all added to the magic. Dinner over, we sat around the warm, rosy fire and talked about life and universe and matters small and yet momentous. When it was time to go back, Mohd carefully instructed us to clean up the garbage and he also put out the bonfire… conserving the environment comes naturally to the people here…it is only us city-dwellers that take things for granted. It was pitch dark, the horizon inky and I could have sworn that we were lost. But Mohd. did not falter even once. He seemed to sense the way (certainly we couldn’t see anything) and within minutes we were back on the main road and then at the Guest House. We had had a long day and were glad of the nice rooms with their comfortable beds and large, modern bathrooms. We all slept like logs and when I woke in the early morning, I was amazed to see the
swimming pool and the fishpond. To the left of the marbled entranceway, I discovered the huge dining room, where the staff was already laying out a princely breakfast for us. My colleagues soon joined me and after breakfast we freshened up and Mohd started off for Wadi Bani Khalid. We soon reached our destination and the contrast between the dry sands of the desert and the lush green of the wadi was stupendous. The waters are greenish and at places deep enough for diving or rather jumping off the surrounding rocks. There are resting huts and viewpoints and bridges dotting the wadi. Fishes abound and my son and I sat a long time on one of the ledges with our feet in the water and feeding some breadcrumbs to the fishes. Mohd. egged us on and we climbed a few jagged outcrops, balancing ourselves on narrow ledges. The effort was rewarded by a couple of waterfalls which formed a secluded pool amidst the wadi boulders. There was no other soul in sight and we decided to take a dip. The water felt cool on the skin, especially after the efforts of climbing the ledges. The sunrays glittered and made the water look like drops of emerald. After about half an hour, we pulled ourselves out, dried ourselves in the sun and had a picnic lunch. Soon we were back on the road to Muscat with a host of memories courtesy of Mohd., who had been the perfect host and guide.
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Festivals of Oman Cultural Visitor
ember, the National Day Celebrated every year on the 18th of Nov Qaboos bin Said Al Said. is also the birthday of His Majesty Sultan te has transfor med itself Under his visionary leadership, the Sultana oasis of peaceful progress from an isolated desert principally into an rising that the National Day and development. It is therefore not surp calendar of festivals and is one of the most popular even in Omanâ€™s with much aplomb and is celebrated all over this beautiful country heartfelt joy.
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the glitters like a newly bedecked bride and night sky is full of firecrackers that keep exploding bringing joy to souls old and young alike. Muscat usually hosts events featuring parades and military Tattoos and the occasion is commemorated all over Oman with as much pomp and grandeur as possible.
National Day is a public holiday and people can be seen dressed in their festive finery enjoying the day with family and Every year the Sultan picks a different city friends, watching military bands, singing for the main National Day celebrations and folk songs and participating in communal a corresponding theme devoted to different dances. Camel races held at this time draw aspects of Omani heritage and culture. huge crowds and the air itself is redolent The double celebration has everything from with the rich notes of Omanâ€™s historical food and street fairs to camel races and rly and cultural heritage. dancing on the agenda. Muscat particula
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It is a time when the crisp air contrasts as well with the blazing lights of the evening in cked bede every street and building gets ic colourful garlands of lights and electron His of displays. Huge cutouts and pictures y Majesty look down benignly on passersb from rooftops and overpasses. The National y Flag of Oman flutters proudly from ever s citie and try coun nook and corner of this r. eove and towns get a complete mak
Ramadan - Ramadan (the ninth month in the Muslim calendar), is the holy month of fasting for Muslims around the world. Normal business patterns take a back seat as the devout abstain from partaking food or drink from dawn until dusk. The country usually bears a deserted look during the day as shops and restaurants remain closed and people spend time in solitary contemplation and prayers. Come evening, and the atmostphere transfor ms into a celebration. Call for prayers from the mosques fill the starlit dusk sky, people hurry home to break the fast with family and friends. Shops come alive, the streets get snarled up and people come out wearing a festive air. Stores and entertainment centres stay open late into the night.
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While children under twelve, the sick and old people and pregnant or nursing mothers are exempt from fasting, people are not allowed to eat or drink in public places during the daytime. During Ramadan no bills may be collected by either private or government businesses. It is a time where one is filled with tolerance and a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day of fasting. Before dawn breaks, usually between three and four in the morning, the ‘Suhur’ or the night meal is usually eaten alone or with immediate family members. The 27th night of Ramadan is the “Night of Power” (laylat al qadr), the night when, by an act of revelation, Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) received the first verses of the Quran from Allah. Prayer is considered to be especially effective on this day. According to tradition and to the Quran itself, God counts the “Night of Power” as more than a thousand months so most people spend this day immersed in prayers. While many travellers consider avoiding travel to Muslim countries during the Holy month, it is actually quite an enriching
experience as one gets a glimpse into the culture and ethos of the country and develop a new perspective on life, fasting and feasting. Eid: The first day of the month following Ramadan, Shewal, is the Eid al-Fitr. Eid Al Fitr is a three-day celebration following Ramadan and signifies the end of the fasting period. It is a festive time dedicated to family and friends. The first day of Eid begins before dawn when people gather in large outdoor areas for the first prayer of the day. The rest of the day is spent in visiting family and friends and greeting acquaintances. The ladies are usually busy at home preparing feasts and traditional dishes to be served to guests. Sweets, fruits, and snacks are offered to all and gifts are often given to children. Many people from Oman travel to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to go shopping in style or visit relatives and friends or vise versa. Many families also go to their ancestral homes or farmhouses to celebrate Eid. Beauty parlours do brisk business at this time as all women get ready for the whirl of evening parties and celebrations. Every girl adorns her hands with the traditional henna patterns and everyone wears new clothes and a rejuvenated personality. There is a joyous mood all around as people wish one another “Eid Mubarak” - a blessed festival. This is also a time for charity. In fact the ‘Zakat’ (literally purification) is a duty for every Muslim believer who has more than a certain level of wealth, and is up to 10% of annual income. This ancient form of social security is based on the Islamic injunction of brotherhood. Most people pay their Zakat during Ramadan or at Eid time. The donations often consist of long-lasting foodstuff usually given to the needy or poor families. ‘Sadaqat al-Fitr’, the proceeds of which benefit the poor and needy at the time of Eid is a voluntary payment over and above the Zakat.
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The month is also full of ‘Iftaar’ parties, where family and friends congregate to break the fast together. Even corporate houses host these events to share with their customers and suppliers and partners. Others set up kiosks to provide free Iftaar meals to the poor and the needy. During Ramadan, life takes place at night. Starting from Iftaar time, one meets with neighbours, friends and acquaintances for great feasts to which each brings a dish. Youths play football until midnight on the numerous small floodlit sports grounds. People pray together in the mosque. In Oman, Ramadan is a time for communication, for renewing old acquaintances and for forming new ones.
Eid al Adha - On the ninth of Dhul al-Hijja, the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar, the ‘big festival’, the Eid al-Adha begins. It is symbolic for God’s mercy as according to the Koran, Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son (at Gods’s command) when a voice from heaven stopped him and allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead. Eid al-Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice is the most important feast of the Muslim calendar. It also represents the conclusion of the Pilgrimage to Mecca. The festival follows the same pattern in Oman as the other Eid, but this time the celebrations go on much longer – usually about a week. Muslims who are not on pilgrimage celebrate Eid Al-Adha on the day following the Day of Arafat. Mosques across the country are decorated for the special Eid congregational prayers in the morning followed by a special sermon. Once the 2 rakat of Eid prayers have been completed - many people go straight out to make their sacrifice. This sacrifice can be made from sunrise on the 10 of Dhul Hijja (after one has prayed the two rakat of Eid) until sunset on the 13th of Dhul. For the occasion, those who are able, sacrifice a ram or whatever livestock they can afford. The feast re-enacts Ibrahim’s obedience by sacrificing a cow or ram. The family usually eats a third of the meat, one third
goes to the poor and needy and one third to friends and relatives in need. Many people from Muscat head to their ancestral villages or farm houses to offer the sacrifice. With the government announcing almost a week of holidays, the days are filled with shopping, partying, visitng friends and relatives. Shops experience a rush of customers and the traditional souqs and cattle markets also report brisk business. Amongst Omanis, this is a favourite time of the year to buy a new car and beauty parlours are busier than ever. With regards to the Hujjaj (pilgrims), their Eid is considered to be the standing on Mount Arafat, which occurs on the 9th day of Dhul Hijja. The sermon for the Hujjaj, while not technically an “Eid Khutba”, is performed at Arafat. While there is no Eid Salat on Arafat, the Dhuhr and Asr prayers are shortened to two rakat each (without being combined). Celebrations aside, these days are considered very auspicious. It is the traditional time for inner reflection and voluntary charity ‘Sadaqah’- the amount of which the individual decides for himself. It is a time to renew one’s belief in the One God and the five pillars of Islam. And if one really wants an immersion in local culture, this is also the perfect time for travelers to visit Oman!
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nture Visito e v d A r
s n i a t n u o M Dhofar If you pick the right time of the year (August - September) to visit Salalah (the garden city), in the southern province of Dhofar, the adventure opportunities are many, the vegetation plentiful and the number of people far fewer than during the Khareef season. Later, towards December you have migratory birds making their way through Oman making Salalah a great area for birdwatchers and providing added value to trekking enthusiasts.
With the Dhofar Mountains presenting gurgling waterfalls and green, misty slopes, there are a number of treks you can try - from simple day walks to continuous three-day treks. Take some advice, donâ€™t rush, have a plan and give yourself time to take in the ambience of the places you are walking through. And itâ€™s not just the walking that is invigorating, the smells, sounds and sights, even the rocks have textures that feel different, and you are likely to meet friendly people along the way. I recommend starting from Khor Rori with its long history
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The length of the Khor depends on how much rain has fallen. If you start from the beach back to the road it will usually be around 2.5 kms. The water from Wadi Darbat comes up in front of you and you will most probably be able to see the waterfall against the mountains where Wadi Darbat makes its final fall onto the plains and out to the Khor. There is no set path so follow your nose and rest assured that you will not get lost. Up ahead on this route, there will be a wadi leading up to a waterfall. On the top is a plateau that is another easy walk and about 7 kms along the wadi with water. Drive your car to the top by the pools and start to make your way round the path, which is flat and easy to follow. This is a nice place at any time of the year with plenty of flora and fauna to see. You can expect to see many different types of butterflies, birds and dragonflies, with camels, goats and cows making the most of the lush green foliage. With all this water and some in still pools you will find mosquitoes, so take your repellant creams along; it will help stop that itching later!
You can make this a long or a short walk depending on your physical condition and inclination. However, remember that you will need to walk back so don’t walk till you are tired out; turn back well before that. A little further down the coast towards Mirbat before the beach you will see a road snaking its way up the mountain; take it and you will come to the baobab trees. The path that leads to the Baobab forest is from a small pull-off at the side of the road down a steep track into the wadi where the trees are. There is no road as such, so take care where you walk as this is very uneven ground. I always recommend that you wear strong trainers and not sandals as getting stung or bashing your feet is more likely in these areas. This is also a perfect pit stop. Sit, watch and listen to the nature around you as you stop for a snack. Baobab trees look like they are upside down with their roots in the air. They don’t produce annual growth rings like other trees and so estimations of their age is hard to make. If you’re lucky you might find some of their fruit which look like maracas. Break one open to find the flesh that has a strong citrus tang and is full of calcium. The walk will only take about half an hour to an hour and it is well worth it to see these fascinating specimens of nature. Other trails amongst these mountains can prove to be equally fascinating. The route you wish to take depends on your preferences. Whether you want to start from sea level and work your way up and over the green mountains and into the desert or through the barren desert with its super high dunes, the decision is yours. The only given is unspoilt natural beauty, fresh mountain air and of course, peace!
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of being a major port for frankincense dating back to the 1st century A.D. Inscriptions at Khor Rori report that the town, called “Sumhuram”, was founded on royal initiative and settled by Hadrami emigrants.
The exploits of Thesinger and Thomas are well-known - intrepid explorers who have written about their journeys in the deserts of Oman, travelling with the Bedouin across an empty wilderness, revealing some of the secretes of the sands they found so alluring that they spent weeks and months at a time, amidst the dunes with their camels for company. For those who have a bit of a nomad in them, you can catch glimpses of life amidst the dunes even on a simple day trip. For those, a little more intrepid, a 7 / 10 day expedition would offer fascinating insights into not just the Bedouin way of life but also offer glimpses of the past. Camels are still the focal point in the life of the desert. The Bedouin rely on them for milk, meat, leather and even entertainment by way of camel races! In fact, Oman has developed quite a reputation for providing traditional camel treks that conform to the spirit of the dare devil desert wanderers of yore.
Meeting your camel for the first time can be a little unnerving if youâ€™re not used to dealing with large animals. However, I can assure you that before you have finished your trek you will be talking to your camel as you would to an old friend. Indeed, I have come to believe that they all have a unique personality, which makes them more endearing. You will soon learn the knack of making your camel sit down just by making a sound and reassuring it as you load it up with your pack! The desert is unique in that it does not just give you a sense of leaving it all behind. Rather the experience is more akin to seeing it all from a new perspective, because the desert brings you a sense of history providing you with clues about how people eked out their lives in a time not so long gone by. Sitting high atop a golden dune, seeing kilometres of empty, sandy expanses, watching the colours change as the day progresses, stopping to take Kahwa and dates, letting the camels nibble on
Script: Madhulika Mohta
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aware of the silence, the loud defining sound of nothing. Clear skies, millions of stars and at least one meteor skimming our horizon should allow you to sleep restfully till the rays of the sun naturally brings your body clock in step with nature.
So many of us take pride in our workaholic schedules, that we get agitated if we have absolutely nothing to do. Being forced to take a rest in the midday sun under a gaff tree starts to allow you to shed some of the everyday pressures of telephones, e-mails, TV and work. Sitting around and talking with other people of differing backgrounds and ages develops a communal spirit. Conversation becomes the only mode of communication.
Your guides will have been up preparing breakfast, pancakes or fresh bread. Take time to look at the sand round the camp, you will find little tracks from lizards and beetles or bigger paw prints which will more likely to have been a fox wandering round the edges of the camp looking for scraps of food. Your camels will be waiting for you to un-hobble them and load them up again to set off in the cool morning air. You will easily cover 10 kms at a time and an average day will be 15 kms split into 2 halves.
Preparing food is no longer a chore but a new family way. Eating your food together after days of travelling not only lends it more flavour, but also makes your journey back in time to experience first hand how the Bedouin lived. And this is when we begin to grasp how their strong family bonds were formed and why they hold sway even in modern day life. When the night closes in, the small campfire becomes a focal point, with a kettle keeping the water warm, ready for the next round of tea or coffee. There are stories and idle conversation. And a feeling of peace. Grabbing your thick blanket and sleeping bag and finding some nice flat ground to snuggle down in makes you
Reaching a well full of water after a day’s trek is like getting a nice present. Fresh water to wash in revives the body and soul and everybody makes the most of it - even the camels take on as much water as possible before setting off further into the dunes. A guaranteed calmer of the spirits, I have seen many a stressed out executive set off on the desert trail only to return in a weeks time, a changed person – someone calm, collected and with a new found meaning of life. So get out of that armchair and ride into the sunset (albeit on a camel!)
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some near by dried grass – this limbo of time and space provides the opportunity to understand that this trek (or for that matter, life itself) is not about covering distance and getting to the end, it’s about the journey itself.
A mesmerising trip
This former capital of Oman and a onetime hub for Islamic and scientific study, art and culture, is situated in the interior region of Oman known as Aâ€™Dakhliyah. During the 2 hour drive, my driver informed me that the city is famous for its fort and souq as well as its silverware and the Falaj Daris (a falaj is a water distribution system). I had read somewhere that the famous 14th century traveller Ibn Battut had described Nizwa in one of his travelogues. When we reached Nizwa, the most prominent landmark was the ancient fort, famous for its large earth filled circular tower that provides a breath taking 360-degree view of the surrounding city, date plantations and mountains. The 150-metre diameter tower is the biggest in Oman and is said to have taken 12 years to build.
which now form a museum displaying artifacts, clothes and utensils from the past. I was told that some of the rooms were used to store dates in ancient times and date syrup was not only used as a food item but was even boiled and thrown over approaching enemies as a very effective deterrent. I was amazed to learn that in keeping with tradition, the Wali of Nizwa still meets with residents of the wilayat inside the imposing premises of the fort, on the first Monday of each month in the august Prayer Room of the complex.
As I climbed the meandering stairs up to the top of the tower, my guide pointed out â€˜murder holesâ€™ that were designed to delay any invaders. Recently designated as a U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Site, this ancient place served variously as a residential palace, Two cannons guard the entrance to a place of governance and a prison the fort which opens into a maze of and is a prime example of the military rooms, high-ceilinged halls, doorways, terraces, narrow staircases and corridors. engineering and strategic planning of Inside the fort, there were several rooms, a bygone era.
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From my perch on the top of the tower, I could see the souq at the foot of the fort beginning to get crowded and the hum of activity all around peaked my interest. My guide told me about the famous goat and cattle market that took place every Friday and after spending a few minutes browsing through the souvenir shop (and picking up an antique Omani silver necklace for an empty wall back home), I ventured out (or rather into) the bustling bazaar through enormous carved wooden doors. Hidden behind imposing sand-coloured walls, the souk
seemed to be divided into separate traditionally designed buildings, each labelled to indicate the products they sell – Silver Souk, Fish Souk, Meat Souk, etc. Nizwa is renowned for its silver jewelle0ry and its people are masters in Khanjar making (a curved dagger). I also found artisans selling copper ware, coffee pots, swords, leather goods and pottery, which comes from nearby Bahla. The far end of the Nizwa Souq was where local farmers bring their cows, goats and sheep to be inspected, auctioned and sold to the highest bidders. The scene was lively to say the least. Having spent an hour browsing around, I entered a café to sip a cup of the local coffee like brew and then asked my cab driver to head towards Al Hoota. On our way, we passed the Falaj Daris, another World Heritage Site. This is the largest falaj in Oman and is the lifeline of Nizwa. It provides the surrounding countryside with much needed water for the plantations. A beautifully laid out park at the main point of the Falaj provided locals with a pleasant route for jogging / walking, while children even swam in the falaj at the public bathing point.
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As I stood at the top, I was amazed by the backdrop of the surrounding mountains and the verdant date palms that covered the ground below. Four cannons remain on the tower’s top. One of them has the name of Imam Sultan bin Saif engraved on it. Another, from Boston City, was presented to the first Omani ambassador to the United States in 1840. Clumps of cannonballs, misshapen with rust and age lie around. My guide also informed me that the fort was built above an underground stream that ensured a permanent supply of water when subjected to a prolonged siege.
Al Hoota After about an hour’s drive from Nizwa, the surrounding countryside had changed dramatically with lush date farms giving way to barren rock faces. Up a steep road around a mountainous tor, I suddenly found myself in the parking area of a well laid out visitor complex. I bought my tickets and as there was about a half an hour before the next trainload of visitors to be taken inside, I decided to explore the museum on the first floor.
creates a well lit pathway from which to admire the stalagmite and stalactite filled underground world of amazing natural beauty. Several natural cascading pools and still dripping water shows a glimpse of how the caves were formed ages ago. Some of the rock formations have formed into surreal shapes of animals like a lion and other animals. Well placed light and sound effects near these shapes elicited peals of excitement from the children in the group.
The museum for natural history had many educational interactive materials for enhancing the visitors’ experience. Of particular interest was the time machine that featured an interactive visible narrative of the process of cave formation. By turning a “time wheel” the visitor is able to watch the continental plates move in the course of time, grow stalagmites in a virtual cave, see how different climatic conditions affect the development of Karst, or watch how the Hajar mountain range was formed. There were also samples of rock types and minerals as well as flora and fauna of the cave system. Through a microscope geological formations and life-forms dwelling in the cave can be explored. Samples of the cave’s unique blind fish are also housed in the museum. There are also various sound and light shows and other exhibits.
The cave houses a fragile underground ecosystem including an underground lake. The 800-metre lake contains Garra bareimiae, a pale pink fish that have remained underground for so many generations that they have lost the ability to see and have eyes that are covered in skin. Found only in these catchments of water, these fish feed on organic nourishment carried in by the rain water. The cave also boasts of its own species of spider, Spariolenus secundus.
At the entrance tunnel, we were handed over to an expert guide who pointed out the various attractions and explained the science and myths behind the cave formations. Al Hoota Cave is one of nature’s most spectacular highlights in the Sultanate of Oman. A walkway hugging the wall of the cave
After the gift shop was well stocked and I picked up an Omani carpet woven from palm tree leaves and goat wool. It was almost lunch time and I headed towards the restaurant serving fine Lebanese and International cuisine. A quick meal later I was back on the road to Muscat having a flight to catch and carrying with me fond memories of an indelible experience of Oman’s natural and cultural heritage. Script: Madhulika Mohta
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Explore an unknown world!
Diving is something you shouldn’t miss when you visit Oman. The sea abounds in a rich variety of marine life because of the high nutrient content of the waters off Oman’s coast. Turtles, stingrays, moray eels, whale sharks, dolphins and sunfish are just a few on the list of amazing marine fauna that you can see. Oman’s warm weather makes it possible to dive round the year and both beginners and advanced divers can find dive sites suited to their level of skill and experience. Some of the popular dive sites are Bandar Khairan, Fahal Island and the Dimaniyat Islands. Bandar Khairan is a group of small islands located near Muscat. Due to the fjord like entrance, the area is only accessible by a small boat, and is about 20-30 minutes away from the coast. The diving depth is up to 35m. Colourful corals and a variety of tropical fish can be seen at the site. Fahal Island, a 30 minute-boat ride from Muscat, offers a swim-through cave, a wreck at 30m and artificial reef balls. The diving depth is from 3m to 42m. Sharks can often be seen, apart from huge stingrays and honeycomb eels. About 18 kms off the Batinah coast, and a one-and-a-half-hour ride away, the Dimaniyat Islands are Oman’s only marine National Nature Reserve and access to the site is controlled. The Islands have 17 dive sites and the marine life is simply amazing. Apart from large coral reefs, a variety of fish, turtles, stingrays, sharks and other forms of marine life thrive in these waters. Leopard sharks can also be spotted in this area. The diving depth is a maximum of 30m. You can also dive in Salalah and Musandam. A diving experience in Oman is something that you’ll never forget in your life! And the beauty is that, you always discover something enchantingly new every time you dive in Oman. 54 OMAN VISITOR
Cruising off Muscat Having had the opportunity to visit Muscat on several occasions for business purposes, I had already seen the major attractions like the Souq and the Grand Mosque. Therefore when an associate suggested a Catamaran cruise, it seemed like a lovely opportunity to explore Muscat anew. I promptly contacted the company that offers this service and was asked to report to the Marina Bandar Al Rowdha at 10.30 am sharp. I reached the appointed place and was greeted by our Tour supervisor Sara. There were about 20 other members and we politely introduced ourselves to each other.
into the open sea and I have to admit that the boat was not only extremely graceful but also incredibly silent and stable beyond imagination. The other surprise was the speed. Here definitely was a craft worthy of the high seas.
The catamaran itself was a study in white and green with spotless interiors. There was a central kitchen / bar area and seating all around. Up ahead were what looked like huge trampolines with a cantilevered ladder in case someone wanted to enter the water and a canoe for those who might have wanted that experience. Sara informed us that the lovely ship was rated to carry about 60 passengers. The crew of 4 had an easy camaraderie which immediately infected the rest of the party. We were asked to remove our shoes before boarding. As soon as we had all trooped in, we started moving out of the marina. One of the crew served welcome drinks. We soon eased out
Across the water, someone pointed out the village of Sidab with the spectacularly silhouetted mountain ranges rising behind it. We also espied two Christian cemeteries. Nearer the shore, the mountains had formed more craggy shapes and tiny island like outcrops. We could see some cranes repairing the damage caused by the tropical Cyclone Gonu two years ago.
In a trice, we were past the British ambassadorâ€™s residence. The waters were relatively calm and impenetrable due to the Red Tide. Sara and crew raised the sails (they were kind of raised rather than unfurled by motors) and looking ahead, I felt this sense of letting goâ€Śof soaring like the gulls that filled the skies around us.
Further ahead loomed the Jalali Fort from the 16th century, silently guarding Muscat and then we saw the white gazebo that formed part of the new guest palace that was being built besides the Alam Ara Palace. I could espy little nooks and sheltered coves
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Our captain pointed out a lighthouse high on top of a hill on our left side (amazing… I never even knew Muscat had a lighthouse). Further out, as the sunlight glittered on the water; buoys bobbed and we could see the huge cargo ships and oil tankers off the Port Sultan Qaboos. Around the next bend, the amazingly colourful Alam Ara Palace raised its head. It looked even more majestic from the seas and was in complete contrast to the pale alabaster of the Guest Palace. On top of the hills of the Mirani Fort occupied even today by the Royal Guard. Our crew informed us that in the olden days, Muscat was mainly a naval harbor and that the famed Lord Nelson had visited it as a cadet in 1794. The rocky wall of the harbor itself reads like a giant autograph book (something else I never knew existed in Muscat). Sailors have carved the names of their ships and the date of visit on the rocks.
I was also a little shocked to know that it had been a port of call for convict ships headed to Australia. As we neared the port and the Royal Yacht anchored there, we were given strict warnings not to use cameras. The captain gained permission from the Coast Guard and after easing the boat into the protected waters, killed the engines. We bobbed alongside the incredibly huge ‘Al Said’ with its support vessel and had a close look at a traditional dhow. We marveled at the architecture of the merchant houses and the Al Lawati enclave and admired the incense burner tower atop Riyam Park. The city bustled on the shore and the Muttrah Souq was just a stone’s throw away. We idled and gazed for a while sipping juices and water and wondering at the maritime history of Muscat. And then, we slowly turned back. I finally took the bait and after Sara’s permission jumped on the trampoline. An exhilarating experience! The journey back was fast and I returned to my hotel having gained a complete new perspective of Muscat. For cruise enquiry and booking, Contact:……Tel:
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Script: Madhulika Mohta
along the shore. The weather was picture perfect with blue skies and gulls, cormorants and herons flying around. I even saw an Osprey, a winter migrant bird. The water behind was ‘knifed’ by the catamaran’s legs and the trampolines up ahead looked tempting with the blue-green waters underneath the webbing and the sea breeze in your face.
Luxury Amidst The Golden Sands
Script: Madhulika Mohta
The Desert Nights Camp is the perfect holiday getaway if you want to experience a night in the desert amidst comfort and luxury. Situated in Al Wasil town, which is a two-hour drive from Muscat, Desert Nights Camp is sprawled across 10-acres of silken sands, secluded within the vast isolation of the Omani desert. Accommodation comprises 30 luxurious Bedouin-style tents especially designed for individuals seeking an ultimate desert experience.
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The view of the camp is mesmerising during night time; with lanterns hanging from tall palm trees, bonfires lit all over the camp and local musicians are a great company while dining. The moment you arrive, you are transported into a world of unparalleled luxury and comfort. Refresh yourself with fresh cold towels & relax in the Omani styled majlis with dates and â€œkhawaâ€? (traditional Arabic coffee) and then make your way to your luxury abode in the Desert. These tents are the true definition of luxury and are equipped with
a bed room and sitting room, individually controlled air-conditioning, en suite bathroom with amenities, tea & coffee maker and a minibar. All tents have a cozy sit-out which offers a panoramic view of the golden Wahiba sands. The fragrance of frankincense and myrrh transport you back in time to the medieval world. Upon arriving at the camp, guests are given a short tour of the camp site on camel back rides. A sundowner drive in a 4x4 to the top of the nearest high sand dune is one of the biggest attractions at the camp. It is a picturesque sight to watch the sun set over the camp below and just miles and miles of undulating golden sand dunes all around. Another major attraction at the Camp is the cuisine that guests can enjoy while staying at the luxury abode. The magnificent culinary creations of their Chefs will dazzle and reawaken your taste buds. You can choose to dine in air-conditioned comfort or under starry skies as the gentle desert breeze
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The camp promises to create magical moments for guests by pampering them at every opportunity. Guests can enjoy unique culinary creations by Chefs at the Camp who constantly aim at making the Arabian adventure exciting with delicious and appetising food for the guests.
whets your appetite. As the darkness surrounds the enchanting music of the Bedouin musicians accompanied with a traditional Oud player, the combination makes your evening a memorable one! Create your own adventure with a whole range of exciting excursions available at the Camp. Whether you are couple or on your honeymoon, a lone ranger or with a group of family and friends there are a variety of activities you can indulge in ranging from camel safaris, dune bashing and even going for a spin on the quad bikes. Whether you are looking for a day out or a long weekend getaway, a stay at the Desert Nights Camp will give the holiday you are dreaming of. The peaceful seclusion of the Camp provides the perfect canvas for you to paint your ideal vacation.
Whatever you’ve got in mind: romantic getaway, relaxing holiday, or a placid atmosphere with no distractions to start writing the bestselling novel you’ve been thinking about for years, you can find it here. With all of this, what more could you ask for? So leave behind your ideas of a ‘typical’ holiday. Come away from the break-neck pace of civilization to experience life at a different pace in the exciting, Desert Nights Camp and awaken to adventure. Desert Nights Camp is complete luxury concept that includes a host of value-added services such as complimentary pick-up and drop services from Al Wasil town. An oasis of golden sands and spectacular open spaces, Desert Nights Camp is a unique getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
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The name Jebal Akhdar means ‘Green Mountain’ which until a few years ago was hard to explore. However, with a new black top road put in, a visit can be a great weekend getaway. And with a hotel on top, your visit does not have to be spent under canvas if you don’t want it that way. In AD 658 a group called the Kharijites where defeated at Nahrawan, 12 miles from Baghdad. Two fugitives from this battle settled on this impregnable mountain top to develop the Ibadi faith in Oman.
Well, now that you have a proper understanding of the historical depths of this mountain, its time to look at the various ways you can reach the top. For a day trip there are some very nice walks through the terrace farms, which produce the unique, and famed Omani Roses, grown to produce rose oil which is then used for making perfumes. The other product of these aromatic blooms is rose water which is used to flavour foods like Turkish Delight, Gulab Jamuns, Sherbets, etc and used in some cosmetic preparations.
If you intend to walk in the Jebal then take a little time to look into the history of this mountain. With tales going all the way back to AD 570 and before, you will benefit so much when you are walking with some background in perspective.The Persians had played a big role in building the stone steps up some of the mountain routes though, of course their reasons were more to subdue the people of the Jebal rather than to admire the scenic beauty from the top! 62 OMAN VISITOR
When you put your foot one of the stone steps you will wonder about the sociocultural fabric of the olden days. Here, you can still observe true communal living with houses sharing walls and even the livestock penned up close by for safety. A leisurely trek will take about 2 hours of walking (one way) so make sure you have the energy to walk back. Remember to take some water and snacks with you to top up on that energy. For those who are experienced trekkers and used to uneven ground with tricky ascents, then you might want to explore the long walks from the bottom to the top of the mountain. There are many trails. A marked out route option is from Wakan to Hadash. This is a Ministry of Tourism trail, which will take you to the top of Jebal
Akhdar with a view of the Ghubra bowl and the Saiq plateau behind you. The summit is a good place for rest and lunch while you enjoy the spectacular views all around. If you have the time and the inclination, there are old trails all over the plateau, which you can follow and explore. Many will give you breathtaking views. Hidden in these trails, is the history I talked about. You can still see remnants of this past in many places. The ascent up this trail is not easy and you need to prepare well for your trip. You need to assess your time well, allowing for any unforeseen time slippage. This is essential, as you donâ€™t want to be caught on the mountain in the dark. And keep your eyes open for any signs of bad weather. Take along high energy booster snacks like dates and nuts, etc. to maintain energy levels, especially on the descent leg of the trek. If you are camping then bear in mind that in winter the temperature can drop to freezing point, so a good tent and sleeping bag is a must. And though, the mountain looks like it will last a million years, the ecosystem up there has taken thousands of years to establish and fragilely clings to life. So take care and leave nothing behind except your footprints. With all its scenic beauty and exhilarating adventure possibilities, even if you were to walk every day for a week, the Jebal would still have many more routes waiting to be explored. So pick up your walking shoes, load the car and go enjoy a day on the mountain.
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The pink fragrant flowers are best seen in June. The trekking trail leisurely winds around villages where the homes of the local people open onto the path, the aroma of delicious food wafts through the colourfully painted and welcomingly open doors and the sounds of everyday life permeates the hills just like it did hundreds of years ago.
Oman - The Hidden
Oman is one of the latest destinations for Kiteboarders with numerous undiscovered dream spots, which have perfect conditions for this beautiful sport. Big lagoons with shallow water or fantastic wave spots, the Sultanate has everything that a Kiteboarder needs, whatever be his level of expertise. The mix of fascinating landscapes and breath taking fauna
around picture perfect Kiteboarding spots is unique to Oman. And coupled with the famed charm and hospitality of the Omani people and the richness of their culture, the entire experience becomes a daily adventure, which is not limited to the exhilaration on the water alone. Â For beginners, the north coast of Oman is the most suitable as the wind is very constant here and normally not too strong. On the east coasts advanced and experts can experience unique Kiteboarding adventures.
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Kite-boarding combines characteristics of many other board sports. On a small board (similar to a wake-board), the Kiter is drawn across the water by a kind of steering kite. Due to the board having almost no lift, a dynamic force develops surpassing that of any formerly known wind and water sports. The experience for a Kiteboarder is unique. Extreme action with rides of up to 10 metres high and 40 metres wide and jumps even with only a little wind creates a dynamic so far unknown in water sports. Learning under professional attention is highly recommended for wanna-be Kiteboarders. Under expert guidance, Kiteboarding may be learnt relatively fast. A good general physical condition is required along with a basic keenness on sports. But once you are hooked to this unique activity, you will be really thankful to live in or visit the Sultanate of Oman – one of the last undiscovered kite boarding paradises for this fascinating adventure activity.
For more information: Hawaii Dragon Kiteboarding by Oman World Tourism LLC Kite Centre at Al Sawadi Beach & Kite Holidays Tel. +968 96323524 www.kiteboarding-oman.com (or) www.omanworldtourism.com
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Kiteboarding is developing in Oman - the perfect homily will depend on your point of view. People who are infected by the dynamics of this sport think a bit differently and so the aspect changes sometimes. The first internationally approved Kite boarding centre opened its gates in October 2007 at Al Sawadi Beach. Here, people have an access point and get help to join the sport community. In July 2008, the first international Kiteboarding event in Oman saw participants from several countries taking part in this challenging summer event. Kite-boarding is the most dynamically growing water sport at the moment. In fact, within a very short period of this sport first being created; a huge Kiter fan community developed. Meanwhile, the fast technical development of the equipment as well as new techniques in Kite riding are remarkable milestones on the radar of this water sport’s trajectory.
The well of h la la a S , s d ir B The
Tawi Attair, the Well of the Birds, is a unique place where geologists, ornithology enthusiasts, budding botanists and adventure seekers alike will find a paradise in their own image. This little explored microcosm of nature lies on the road leading from Salalah towards Wadi Darbat. You have to follow this road up into the mountains until you pass a school on your left. Then at the junction, you need to turn left and then after about 2 kms, you turn right and suddenly, you are there! Though there are signposts, I would suggest taking a
local area map with you, as the mountain roads are long and winding with many off shoots. When you arrive, take a few moments to take in the grassland around you and you will find many birds and animals not found in the north of Oman. There is a path from the back of the car park area, which leads down to the sinkhole. The track is a little hard to follow so you need to keep a good eye out to find the way. During the Khareef season, this trail can be muddy and slippery so take shoes you donâ€™t mind getting dirty and take care.
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Also remember to put your mosquito repellent on and take some water and snacks. This walk will take about 2 hours depending how long you stay admiring the place! Tawi Attair is actually a bit of a misnomer as it is not really a well but a sinkhole measuring approximately 100m wide and 200m deep. During, and just after, the Khareef season the place is full to bursting with bushes in every shade of green. The path into the well will lead you left and down onto a balcony with great views (this will take about 20 minutes at a slow pace). There are many birds to be
seen such as Tristram`s Grackle (a black bird with brown on its wing tips) and Ruppellâ€™s Weaver (a bright yellow bird with a dark brown mask round its face). Both of these are only seen in the south of Oman. While there are many birds to see, there are even more to be heard, and as you descend the noise echoes all around you and the name of the place sort of becomes self-explanatory. The noise and feel of the sinkhole with its thick vegetation and damp humid conditions make you think youâ€™re in the Amazonian rainforest with butterflies, insects and small mammals all around you.
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There are even reports that a small mammal which is related to the elephant has been seen. This small mammal, the Hyrax, looks like a big guinea pig or large rabbit. Look at the ground where you’re walking to see the footprints of the many creatures that have passed before you. As you look down into the bottom of the sinkhole, about half way down, you will see the remains of the concrete base of an old pumping station. You can get to this platform but it’s a scramble with no real path down and you will need to use your hands in places. Once there, you can easily see the bottom with its cave to the side. Imagine how long this took to form and when did the roof collapse to reveal the big sinkhole? Where is it now? How high were the original water levels in the area? Deep thoughts for you to ponder as you take a well deserved rest. The walk to and around the Well of the Birds is about absorbing the whole eco
system around you. It is a fascinating and beautiful place. Take time to look at the plants and breathe in the air full of their unique scents. Many plants are unique to the south of Oman and Dhofar has 70 endemic species that have adapted to the ‘feast or famine’ existence the Salalah region provides. One of these is the Adenium, a relative of Oleander - this plant can be seen as you walk around the sinkhole area. It looks a bit like a cactus. When in bloom it has beautiful pink flowers, other wise it can be identified by its leafless bulbous shaped stem. Eeven if your visit to Salalah is not during the Khareef, Tawi Attair is still worth a visit. It will of course, look quite brown and dormant but you will still be able to have a good view into the sinkhole and there will be many birds around. However, if you can plan your trip for just after the Khareef you will see it at it’s best as the lush plants and flowers and grass spring into life after the rains. Script: Madhulika Mohta
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Majan Continental Hotel Muscat
Relax & Enjoy an extravagant ambience at the Four Star Hotel
LITIES • Business lounge • 24 hour room service • Modern amenities • WiFi internet facilities • Multi cuisine restaurant • City tour packages
For more information and details: Tel: (+968) 24592900, Fax: (+968) 24592979 For reservations: email@example.com Email: info@majanhotel.Com Web: www.majanhotel.com
ess Visito n i s u B r
d n a H g in lp e H A
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s visionary leadership has been instrumental in setting up a various civil institutions which facilitate the smooth running of the economy and ensure a competitive and stimulating business environment.
of the country, ensuring maximum security for depositors. The Central Bank of Oman is responsible for maintaining the stability of the national currency and works towards financial stability.
The Economic Co-Ordination Council The Economic Co-ordination Council was established by Royal Decree No 94/99 in 1999 to oversee economic issues including any problems affecting economic development. The Council represents the government at joint meetings with the Businessmen’s Council. Constituted as separate a secretariat general within the Ministry of National Economy, the Council is also responsible for collecting, collating and publishing economic statistics.
PEIE - The Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) was established by Royal Decree in 1993. It has since been developing and managing Oman’s eight premier industrial estates at Rusayl, Raysut, Sohar, Nizwa, Buraimi, Sur, Al Mazunah Free Zone and Knowledge Oasis Muscat. PEIE - Works in close coordination with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, various regulatory organisations, utility providers and others to ensure the success of its tenant businesses. It also assists companies in assembling sites, developing buildings, facilitating permitting, assessing infrastructure needs, reviewing incentives available for projects and marketing their products. All PEIE estates are suitable for manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and office operations. International communication grids offer PEIE residents full access to world markets.
CBO - The Central Bank of Oman (CBO) is the apex bank of the country and was established in 1974. The Bank has branches in Salalah and Sohar. The CBO frames and administers the monetary environment
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OCCI - The Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) is the institutional patron of the private sector set up to regulate the trade and industrial interests of Oman. Since its inception in 1973, OCCI has made tireless efforts to stimulate the country’s economic activity aimed at diversifying the sources of national income.
CMA - The Omani capital market was restructured in 1988 to form the monitoring authority - the Capital Market Authority (CMA). The CMA monitors the Omani capital market by regulating the issue and trading of securities, overseeing transactions in the securities market and monitoring public joint stock companies, companies dealing in securities, and the MDRSC.
OCCI - also plays a big role at the international level through its constant presence at the meetings of the joint chambers and unions. The Chamber is a regular and active participant in many European and Arab joint chambers, including the British, Irish, French, German, Italian, and American chambers. Its presence in these bodies helps to attract investment and promote co-operation.
A major innovation was the establishment of a department of legal affairs to follow up cases connected to the CMA’s work and to review the relevant laws. A Directorate¬General of Research and Development was also created in order to pursue research, promote awareness among investors and oversee the electronic database. A department to audit and inspect joint stock companies was set up to monitor public joint stock companies listed on the MSM. Another department was created to ensure that investment companies and funds that receive capital from the public to buy and sell securities do in fact put these funds to efficient and honest use. This department also monitors and audits investment funds to ensure compliance with regulations.
The Chamber acts as a catalyst in bringing about the growth and development of the Omani Industry and also sets up exhibitions, markets, museums and institutes for commerce, industry, business administration and organises economic conferences within the country and participate in such events held abroad, with the agreement of the government. The OCCI has eight regional branches in Salalah, Sohar, Sur, Buraimi, Ibri, Ibra, Nizwa and Khasab, as well as offices on the Rusayl Industrial Estate and in Rustaq. As part of OCCI’s efforts to find wider markets for Omani products, and to attract foreign investment, foreign commercial offices have been set up in Taiwan and South Africa. Through its Data Centre, the OCCI has set up an extensive economic database to meet the planning needs of the government and businesses.
The CMA is continuing to pursue goals such as staff training and promotion of investor awareness and confidence, regulation of the annual general meetings of the public joint stock companies and upgrading of the capital market. MSM - The Muscat Securities Market (MSM) is the principal stock exchange of Oman. It was established in 1988 to regulate and control the Omani securities market and to effectively contribute to developing the country’s Sultanate’s financial sector. The principal stock index at the MSM is the MSM-30 established in 1992.
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MDRSC - The Muscat Depository and Registration of Securities Company (MDRSC) was set up in 1998 with its own board of directors, to act as the exchange and central depository. OCIPED - The Omani Centre for Investment Promotion and Export Development (OCIPED) is a Government organization instituted by Royal Decree No. 59/96 in 1996. The Centre aims at increasing the contribution of the private sector to the investments required for the development of industry and commerce in Oman and to promote the export of Omani products.
OCIPED has two directorates. The services rendered by the Directorate General of Investment Promotion are: • Providing information on investment climate, laws, regulations, procedures • Organising visit programs and meetings for foreign investors • Assisting investors to obtain various government approvals and loans • Reviewing project proposals • Assisting local investors to identify potential foreign partners and vice versa • Organising Road Shows or participating in international seminars in various countries to promote Oman as an investment destination.
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The MSM provides information and financial data relating to the performance of the market and all listed companies directly to investors through a highly advanced electronic trading system.
• Advising government authorities on investment laws, regulations and procedures • Organising local seminars and programs to encourage private sector projects The services rendered by the Directorate General of Export Development to the Omani Industries are: • Providing market information and export enquiries to exporters • Disseminating information on Omani companies to importers • Matchmaking meetings between Omani exporters and international buyers • Providing assistance to exporters through OCIPED and its representatives • Organising seminars / workshops to update the exporters • Promoting Omani products by participating in international exhibitions • Participating and organising trade delegation abroad • Bringing out promotional materials and publications. • Conducting export related market studies for Omani products • Advising on the export strategy and export promotion policies of Oman
• Developing Internet based trade information database ODB - Oman Development Bank (ODB) is an Omani shareholding company established under Royal Decree No.18/97. ODB was set up to promote and encourage economic development of the Sultanate by providing financial assistance to small and medium sized projects in the fields of Industry, Agriculture, Animal Resources, Fisheries, Tourism, Education, Professional Offices, Conventional Crafts and Workshops. The primary objectives of ODB are to provide assistance in the form of: (a) Advancing or guaranteeing medium and long-term loans. (b) Participating in the capital of Joint Stock Companies or underwriting the issue of their shares to the public. (c) Provision of technical assistance to Omani companies with regard to investment opportunities and conducting of feasibility studies. (d) Management of loans and grants advanced by the Government to craftsmen.
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Columbian Aroma A brightly lit spot in the newly opened Bareeq Al Shatti complex is this new outlet enlivening the coffee scene in Muscat. Its peach brown interiors beautifully offset the rustic stone finish of the floor and the cane furniture and are reminiscent of the colours of South America. The red suede of the high chairs add a touch of luxury while the photographs and the Columbian hats hung on the wood paneled walls provide an eclectic and offbeat element to the décor. My friend and I were instantly greeted with a smile as we entered and a quick perusal of the menu revealed a full selection of hot and cold beverages including a special kid’s menu. Soft piped music with a distinctly latino flavour kept us company and a decent selection of magazines and books were incentive enough to sit back and relax. While there were a lot of small eats like sandwiches, cupcakes and quiches on offer, we decided to give our full attention to the coffee itself especially given the fact that this was our first brush with Columbian coffee as no other café in Muscat served coffee from Columbia. The staff seemed knowledgeable and confident and gave expert advise on the many exotic blends and coffee Script: Madhulika Mohta 78 OMAN VISITOR
concoctions on the menu. Within minutes, they were laying down our flavourful cups on neat little leather coasters. The glasses themselves had a matching leather trim. While my friend had ordered a brew called Caribe, I had asked for something called Java, a concoction that came in a tall glass laced with chocolate squiggles. I have to confess that within three sips, I was inclined to agree with the owners that this was coffee for serious coffee lovers. Stronger in aroma and with a fuller body, it provided a tangible high. Mine had just the right amount of sweetness with a curiously tingly aftertaste of mint!
interiors..for example the photographs on the wall were clicked by the owner.
This is one café in the city, which actually welcomes smokers the reasoning being that the strong aromas of tobacco are actually part of the Columbian ambience and partner well with the strong coffee. The café has however taken care to install special smoke filters so that the smoke doesn’t pervade the area and is actually eliminated from the room. Also, this café gives really free wifi with no conditions on time or the amount of order you placed. The café also sells Columbian coffee beans and powder.
When asked about the recipes, the owners confessed that it was their own secret recipe. In fact, I was amazed to learn that this jewel of a café was pretty much an in-house project. While the cakes served are home-made, the recipes were concocted by the family as were the
My tall Java reclaimed my attention and I decided to enjoy the rest of my exotic coffee looking at the pictures on the wall and the mall life outside. As I watched my friend savour his own Caribe, another customer placed an order for waffles at the counter and I realised that freshly made waffles (served with ice-cream) were also on the menu and I made a mental note to come another time to partake of this treat for the taste buds accompanied by another tall glass of Java.
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e u iq m a r e C é f a C
inviting selection of soups, salads (with exotic names like Casablanca), sandwiches Script: Madhulika Mohta and desserts. There were also designer bagels with equally exotic fillings and Occupying two floors of the Al Araimi accompaniments. There was a separate complex in Qurum is this uniquely themed art studio cum coffee shop cum restaurant all Coffee and juice menu with the former coming from Café Veregnano, no less. rolled into one. With light peach walls and solid wooden racks displaying all kinds of The outlet manager gave us a quick tour ceramic ware, it is easy to discern the focal of the ‘production area’, a place that looked point of this café. like a mad scientist’s lab with hundreds of bottles and tubes and two huge kilns and With an in-house artist and a booklet racks of half finished ceramic art created by full of ideas, this is a café that fires your customers and waiting to be ‘fired’ (a process imagination as it did for my 7 year old son, by which the painted ceramic piece is baked who immediately toured the room for the at 1837 degrees Fahrenheit for 36 hours and right artifact on which he wanted to try his creative skills. He finally chose a ceramic coin it takes another 24-36 hours for it to cool bank in the shape of the legendary Hummer down. And if you can’t finish your artwork in one sitting, you can come any number (boys and cars are never far apart). Here, each piece is individually priced and you can of times for a period of 2 weeks to finish off select from a host of bric-a-brac, household your project. items and decorative stuff.
We chose a table and then the house artist asked him to choose the colours and while we waited for the brushes and bottles to arrive, we sat down in those comfortable chairs (comfortable enough to sit for hours) and decided to have a look at the menu. I was surprised to see the eclectic and
Clothed in his own little apron and provided with a palette, my son soon got busy with the paints. The engrossed look on his face assured me that he had found his Shangri La for the evening. Meanwhile, I watched the instruction video that was running on the large flat screen TV. Even the tumbler holding my son’s brushes illustrated
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I soon realised that my son’s masterpiece would take a few hours more so I asked my husband to join us for dinner instead. I passed the intervening hour or so browsing the Internet (the café is a wifi zone). When my husband joined us, we ordered the Sunshine tomato soup to start with and it’s tangy near perfect taste brought a sunny smile to our faces. The soup came with thin toasted roundels of garlic buttered bread which provided an ideal palate teaser. For the main course, I ordered a Veggie bagel. The bagel itself had sundried tomatoes and olives while the filling consisted of marinated eggplants and baby marrow with grilled bell peppers, topped with green olives, a homemade pesto spread and vegetarian cheddar cheese. The bell peppers were really sweet and moist without being soggy while the eggplant was of the baby variety, the whole full of flavours blending
harmoniously. The bagel was served with crunchy fries along with a mayo dip (this last was devoured entirely by my son). For the non-vegetarians, the chef particularly recommended the grilled beef bagel with ratatouille and thyme potatoes. The beef was marinated making it quite tender and the flavours of parsley and black pepper characterised this offering. While we were already quite full, the desserts seemed extremely tempting and we ordered the Chocolate Fondant, a chocolate mousse cake served with vanilla ice-cream. This was a large cup sized cake, warm from the oven and the moment we dug in, liquid dark chocolate spilled out…the perfect treat for all chocolate lovers. In fact this was so good that even my son let go of his brushes for a while and bit in. My son soon finished off his artistic masterpiece with some help from my husband and actually signed his artwork with a special pencil underglaze pencil. We then handed it over to the studio head for the glazing and firing and were told to collect our Hummer a week later. My son could hardly wait for the day and to tell the truth, I was equally tempted to come back to try out some of the other goodies on the café’s menu.
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different styles of brushstrokes. I also learnt that the café conducts ceramic painting workshops for youngsters as well as adults. The manager also informed me of their mobile service where they actually bring the ceramic ware and paints to your doorstep. They also have a large party area to hold special birthday parties as well as corporate team events (this last seemed like a very innovative idea for team building and I made a mental note to hold one event for my team back at the office).
Costa Coffee The new interiors at Costa Coffee are a blend of subtle elegance… just like their coffee. The rich magenta epitomises the complex flavours of their coffee while the cream seems to be straight out of a latte!
With 11 outlets in Muscat and 1 in Sohar, Costa’s popularity is a testament to its high standards. A commitment that is evident in their 70% Omanisation ratio and their own training centre in Muscat. WiFi ready and catering to adults as well as children, Costa is a complete family destination. I was amazed to learn that they even have a special kid’s drink called ‘Babychino’! As we ordered our coffees, (with my son ordering the Babychino), the Manager stopped by for a polite hullo and we got talking about the varied selection of food items to go with the coffee. The menu offered a choice of 17 types of sandwiches, salads and another 12 kinds of small eats. In fact, the Manager said that all their cakes were flown in from the USA everyday while the sandwiches came from Dubai. The coffee beans they use are shipped from their UK operations. Just as were talking about the food, the attendant set down my Cappuccino along with the Spiced Fruity Muffin that
the attendant recommended I order with it. I learnt from the Manager that in fact, each type of coffee is paired with a particular food item and that they have monthly promotions of these pairings. The frothy, creamy Cappuccino was picture perfect, dusted with cocoa hearts. And they know how to pair the food..the muffins were just sweet enough to cleanse the palate of the coffee’s strong flavours and yet they were not so sweet that they made the coffee taste different. My son meanwhile was thoroughly enjoying his Babychino. He was feeling rather ‘cool’ sitting ensconced in the sofa and sipping his drink in a decorous manner like a young adult. And he claimed that his pastry (which he did not share with me) was just ‘yum’! I too decided to take advantage of this ‘coffee-break’ when for once my son was not pestering me with his incessantly curious questions. This quiet time was like the fruits in my muffin and I sat back, relaxed, and enjoying my nice, warm cup of perfectly made coffee while I saw all the shoppers outside (we were in the Qurum City Centre and Costa is just across from Carrefoure) milling about with their trolleys. Every sip gave a small, indescribable pleasure and every bite seemed to whet our appetite for more. So next time, you want to take a coffee break with your family, let your nose lead you to the nearest Costa! Script: Madhulika Mohta
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I crossed the elegant lobby of the Grand Hyatt and took the ornate flight of stairs down to the Mokha Café. Outside the dusk settled in and seated at an inside table (the café stretches onto an expansive patio with views of the garden and beyond), I could see the place come alive as regulars and hotel guests trooped in for an early dinner or a light evening supper. The interiors at Mocha manage to exude a contemporary feel while incorporating ethnic elements like the majlis style tents flanking the staircase, the mosaic patterns on the green granite floor and the etching on the glass doors depicting Omani Khanjar and jewellery motifs. The hurricane lamp styled chandelier in the majlis, the towering palms all lent an arabesque feel to the setting. The outside seating is characterised by the blue vistas of the pool and the sea beyond and the flames in the stone lampposts with their African influences flitted in the evening breeze. In the winter, these flames seemed to cast a shadow of cozy warmth over the diners seated outside. There was a grill station giving off appetizing aromas of sizzling food while the indoor buffet area is tucked away in an
alcove. The strains from the lobby piano lent the finishing touch to this inviting atmostphere. While I waited for a colleague to join me, I idly flipped through the a la carte menu, but a look at the spread on the buffet tables made the decision an easy one. By the time my colleague arrived, I was impatient to fulfill the wishes of my olfactory senses. To be honest, I lost count of the number of dishes spread out temptingly teasing the taste buds. There was a whole section of salads and cold cuts and the variety and quality of the breads were testament to the skill of Hyatt’s pastry chefs. I started my queenly repast with the Celery soup which turned out to be too thick for my taste. The olive bread with whole black olives was however subtly distinctive. I actually teamed it with the excellently tangy Baba Ghanoush and the creamy Moutabbel. My friend declared the Beef Salad to be tender while the seafood salad with Calamari was par excellence. The herbed potatoes were well done without being oily. In fact the extensive seafood station also offered Kingfish fillets, braised sardines, King Prawns, smoked trout and more.
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We then made our way to the dessert section and immediately regretted having eaten so much of the main courses because the sheer variety and presentation of the cakes, tarts, pastries, flans et al were all so mouthwatering. The Swiss rolls with hints of walnut and lemon were melt-in-themouth soft. The mint-chocolate mousse was fluffy and sinfully delicious and the chocolate fountains made us children all over again. All in all, it was a regally satiating repast served up with that quintessential Hyatt touch of perfection.
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Script: Madhulika Mohta
The main courses were equally varied and superbly cooked testifying to Chef Stephan Matzâ€™s skills and his mastery of several cuisines. The spinach ravioli I had was done to perfection and served with tender baby asparagus. My friend had a grilled steak accompanied with various spicy sauces including a rather unusual plum and mint chutney. The beef had been marinated in yoghurt and mint and crushed black pepper while the chicken had hints of coriander and cumin. This was accompanied by delicately saffron infused Biryani rice. I also ordered a drink called Bamboola to go with my dinner. The juicy concoction had a combination of grapefruit with banana and was really tasty.
P laza Premium Lounge An oasis of quiet luxury amidst the mad rush at the Muscat International Airport, the Plaza Premium Lounge is a real boon to busy and frequent travellers. Conceived and operated by a HongKong based entrepreneur, Mr. Song, this is the 10th branch of this very successful chain of lounges. Based on the premise that lounge facilities should not be restricted to business or first class travellers alone (a concept on which most airline lounges operate), the Plaza Premium Lounge provides affordable sanity. Apart from privileged card holders of local banks, the Lounge accepts pay and use customers as well. The Plaza is efficient and soothing. In fact after the vigours of the airport security and immigration process, it just took a flash of my BankMuscat Platinum card to gain entry for a friend and myself, along
with my daughter (this is another major plus â€“ unlike other lounges, the Plaza allows each cardholder to bring in another adult and upto 2 children). The steward politely took our boarding passes as well as our luggage (there is a separate baggage area) and waved us in. What greeted us was an expansive place with black granite flooring nicely offset by the rust-red tones of the upholstery. With a seating space for 125 people, the Plaza is spacious and affords privacy without the usual cubby-hole feeling. The low level lighting also added an exclusive feel to the interiors. The lilting music in the background blended in tone with the wooden doors mounted on the walls, both providing that quintessential local Omani touch. The manager in fact later told us that these were real Omani antique wooden doors and not merely clever reproductions.
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I was surprised and pleased to see so many staff even that early in the morning but service is something you can take for granted at the Plaza Lounge given that it operates staff in three shifts and has catering by the Al Sawadi hotel group. We had a light and tasty breakfast and then coffee seated at a bar like area while taking in the morning news on the wide screen TVs mounted on the walls.
By this time, my daughter had woken up and I headed to the kids’ room. This was a cozy little enclosure with a separate TV running cartoons and loads of toys. My daughter was so excited that she even drank her milk without any fuss! My friend meanwhile decided to send off some last minute emails from the business centre which had 4 fully loaded business stations. I was also relieved to see a separate glassed in enclosure for smokers. Amongst the other facilities at the lounge are 2 showers and that the lounge was a wifi zone. But the best part was the 5 nap rooms. With canopied white day beds crafted from cane and soft upholstery, these private enclosures complete with their ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs seemed to evoke visions of some classy resort in an exotic tropical paradise….tempting enough to actually make you want to miss your flight! Script: Madhulika Mohta
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We sank down into the comfortable chairs or rather sofas whose rather extended hand rests not only gave you enough arm room but also doubled up as side table to you’re your beverage or even as a base for your laptop. The welcoming staff offered us tea, coffee or juices, which we declined, preferring instead to head for the dining area as it was almost breakfast time.
Starbucks Qurum City Centre The new Starbucks at Qurum City Centre is the newest addition to this ever expanding chain of coffee shops. Located near the Food Court and done up in muted shades of greys and browns with a dash of dull mustard here and there, the cafĂŠ seems like an oasis of calm amidst the hurly burly of the shoppers. The cafĂŠ has a well appointed mix of lounge style sofas as well as a comfy high tables. Music is barely audible in the background giving visitors the chance to have a chat without straining their vocal chords. 90 OMAN VISITOR
The menu is extensive and the aromas wafting about further spoil you for choice. The chain keeps introducing new creations to give you a reason to keep coming back. And of course, the staff and the service never falls short of the high expectations that Starbucks insists is their customers’ right. As my friend and I wait for our coffees to arrive, we got chatting with the Manager about the Starbucks philosophy and its deep commitment to fair trade and community integration. He explained the CAFÉ (Café and Farmer’s Equity) practices of the group– principled business practices that are fuelling its growth. In fact Starbucks already has 7 outlets in Muscat and are opening soon in Sohar & Salalah. And adding on to the benefits, all the outlets will soon be wiFi zones. Another community based initiative it is getting into is to offer freshly backs pastries and snacks .. all locally made thus promoting business
in the community and reducing the carbon footprint of its products. Just then, one of the staff set down our coffee. Our Double Mocha Macchiatos had arrived. As I inhaled the subtle aroma and took a sip, I realised it was just the right temperature…proof of the attention to detail that makes Starbucks what it is. The chocolate on top added a nice counter-taste of pure chocolate juxtaposed with the mildness of the coffee underneath. My friend wanted to know what coffee was used and we were told that Starbucks uses only the choicest Arabica coffee beans for its blends. A quick perusal of the menu also revealed that there were more than 52 items on the food menu…enough choice to satiate any growling stomachs! After much deliberation, my friend ordered a sandwich which was promptly served and we set back to enjoy our coffee. Every sip brought a measure of satisfaction, a feeling that the world was alright and it was good to be alive that Monday morning. As I headed out, I picked up a bag of the specially blended Starbucks coffee with its unique flavor lock packaging and a leaflet full of “coffee brewing at home” instructions. But somehow I knew that my culinary efforts at home will never match the flavourful depth of the cup handed over by the Starbucks staff. One more reason to keep coming back… Script: Madhulika Mohta
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Something that caught my attention was the interesting motifs on the coffee tables. Some had Chequer Boards while others had word spirals or some other intellectually challenging pursuit with which to while away the time while waiting for friends. A new display board narrates the story of the coffee bean. Another shelf nearby stocked the coffee mugs, thermoses and other merchandise offered by the chain. Special coffee blends were also on sale for those who like their cuppa just so at home too. And there are chocolate coated nuts (irresistible) and lollipops for the kids.
A Smooth Sail Oman is witnessing a major transformation, in terms of economic and social development. If greater emphasis was paid to infrastructure development during the initial years of the glorious Renaissance, the focus is now on sustained industrial development in order to boost employment opportunities and reduce the economyâ€™s dependence on oil income.
The Sultanate continues to witness robust economic growth as the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007 expanded by an impressive 12.9 per cent, a year also characterised by strong growth in employment and non-oil activities witnessing 18.3 per cent growth in 2007. The overall structural character of the economy continued to be dominated by the oil and gas sector, accounting for 45.3 per cent of GOP, 75.9 per cent of merchandise exports and 75.8 per cent of net oil revenue in 2007. The Sultanateâ€™s foreign trade witnessed an increase of 48.5 per cent in the total value of commodity exports during the first four months of 2008, Non-oil exports also rose 39.8 per cent at the end of April 2008. The UAE topped the list of countries importing Omani non-oil exports followed by India. The UAE also
topped the list of countries exporting to the Sultanate followed by Japan. The banking system remained strong, and the insurance sector posted high growth. The Government is taking a number of measures to attract foreign investment including establishing a transparent and suitable legal authority and an institutional climate to stimulate investment, free movement of foreign capital, tax exemption and foreign ownership of up to 70 per cent of capital of some businesses. Reports show that 158 new factories were established in 2007. 2007-2008 also witnessed soaring inflation with the rental market going up by between 40 per cent to 100 per cent. Late last year, inflation in Oman eased to 13.35pc due to CBO intervention on rates and reserves and by amending some of the major provisions of Royal Decree 6/89 regulating lease rents. In another gesture, the Oman Labour Law was amended to protect the interests of workers in conformity with international labour agreements. On the human resources
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Oman has also upped the ante in the e-governance stakes. Besides implementing the National e-Payment Gateway, the authorities have introduced an e-tendering system. Entry and exit at Muscat International Airport have been facilitated with an e-gate system. Oman has taken another major step in this regard by issuing the first Electronic Transaction Law. Continued international recognition saw Oman being ranked as the most peaceful country in the Middle East in the Global Peace Index released by Britain’s Economist Intelligence Unit. Doing Business 2009 published by World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) gave Oman 57th position in the world as a business-friendly country. The Sultanate ranked 84th in e-government readiness index of United Nations’ 2008 e-Government Readiness Report. Going forward into the future, industrial and commercial revenues originating from the Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) and the Salalah Free Zone are expected to double to RO 1.5 billion in the coming years. The Sohar Industrial Area is the future location of the world’s largest plant to manufacture shipping pallets. The Sultanate is also aiming to become one of the Gulf region’s top iron and steel producer, with plans to invest USD 5 billion in this sector. The government is expanding the concept of industrial estates to other parts as the work is currently underway to establish a modern industrial estate in Al Duqm in the Wusta region. This also
ties in with the philosophy of decentralised development espoused by the Government. Oman is planning six more regional airports to boost tourism in the country. The government has allocated RO 17 million ($43.86 million) for consultancy studies, design and supervision of the proposed airports. Work is already underway for construction of six regional airports in Sohar, AI Duqm, Ras AI Hadd, Adam, Haima and Shaleem. The expansion plans for the Muscat and Salalah international airports are also on course. Oman has begun preparations in full swing for hosting the biggest ever sport event. The Second Asian Beach Games, which will be held in Muscat in December 2010. The handover of the first freehold properties at The Wave, Muscat, ongoing liberalisation and privatisation of the power, telecom and wastewater sectors are the hallmarks of the near future. Growth through diversification is a prime objective in Oman’s economic strategy, as envisaged in the ‘Oman Vision 2020’ plan. Several multi-million·dollar projects which are currently underway include gasbased industries, world-class integrated tourism resorts, roads, airports, mega ports, oil and gas development, sewage network and housing units. The private sector is expected to contribute 46% of the total investment of RO 13.1 billion planned for 2006-2010. The total value of industrial investments planned at Sohar is already topping $10 billion. Salalah Port authorities are making arrangements to create a modern industrial enclave surrounding the southern port. There are several positive factors that can help Oman achieve better development and growth in the coming years chiefly, political stability, gas and mineral reserves, stock market liquidity, low dependence on external debt, stable currency and a young population. Script: Madhulika Mohta
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development front, along with Omanisation, the government is laying emphasis on training and education of the youth and there is a 16.5 % jump in the number of Omanis finding non-government jobs in the first eight months of the year.
h c a o r p p a ic t s li o H A tever the epithet, the quest Nirvana, Salvation, Holistic Living…wha of well-being. The stresses is the same - an inner peace and a feeling much more desirable and yet of modern life have made these goals so attain. paradoxically that much more difficult to
For those who are not quite ready to give up all the sins of modern life, spas and holistic healing centers are one of the time-tested avenues of attaining that blissful state where the mind and body come together in a state of harmonious peace.
as secluded resorts to the visitor who Oman offers a choice of day spas as well his mind of the burdens of everyday is looking to pamper his body and relieve ng from traditional Omani herbal living. These wellness centers offer everythi ets; from organic food to yoga retreats remedies to the latest technological gadg into ‘urbania’ completely rejuvenated. designed to ensure that you emerge back Popular getaways for those with a few hou rs to spare are Ayana Spa, Essence Spa, Day Spa and Grand Spa. Men could try out The Spa Bar as well as the newly open ed Six Senses at Al Bustan and the Chi Spa at Barr Al Jissah. But if you have a coup le of days set aside as ‘me time’, then perhaps the best destination would be the Al Nah da Resort in Barka. For something really seclu ded, the Evason Hideaway at Zighy Bay in Musandam is the place to head for. then the Kotakkal Arya If you are looking for alternative healing, from Kerala, India. ners Vaidyashala has trained Ayurvedic practitio not only provides complete The Art of Living Foundation run centre ticing Nadi Parikshak (a therapeutic treatments but even has a prac g the pulse beat alone). doctor who diagnoses ailments by examinin
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wafting A little oasis of calm, with trained scents of essential oils and se aches tho ay aw therapists to soothe les ink wr and pains or relax those stuff the and frown lines â€“ these are de of ma languid summer dreams are s promise and Omanâ€™s resorts and spa e. you an authentic experienc
Grand Spa Script: Madhulika Mohta The owner of this spa Alia, firmly believes that everyone needs a little bit of indulgence. The Grand Spa, housed in the Samaa Club premises takes you on a journey of relazation with authentic ingredients, the latest technology and a warm and simplistic atmostphere. On the menu here are facial and eye treatments using marine cosmetics, tranquil massages and exotic beauty and body treatments based on holistic healing principles.
The spa uses the exclusive Phytomer brand of wellness products as well as potions from the Vie Collection. The centre also offers the complete range of in-salon beauty treatments including Creative & OPI mani-pedis, waxing, bridal hair and makeup, etc. All the staff is highly trained and need to pass both theoretical and practical exams before they can cater to clients. The spa also offers memberships and special packages for regular patrons. After all, you do need to spoil yourself at times! For a moment after entering the Grand Spa, I thought I had entered the hallowed environs of some prosperous and historic Roman city. Unlike, most other modern day spas, the interiors here are unabashedly opulent. The suede sofas in the separate waiting room exude quite luxury while the ornately Romanesque wall details and water features create an oasis suspended in Time. There is an elegant gilt edging everywhere and the parquet floors have a sheen of their own. The votive candles and area rugs and carpets add the finishing touch.
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Even the treatment rooms are done in the same mood of opulent spaciousness. The silk canopied, tree-house type rooms bring in elements of nature without losing the touch of luxury, making you feel like a modern day Cleopatra. My journey at the Grand Spa began with a skin consultation and the therapist recommended Microdermabrasion with an anti-acne, antipigmentation facial to reduce the enlarged pores and even out the skin tone. I was then led into one of the 8 treatment rooms and given a soft white robe to change into. My therapist Azra then gave me special eye pads and glasses to protect this delicate area from the crystals.
The whole treatment lasted for more than an hour and the effort showed on my visibly younger and fresher looking skin thanks to the Phytomer products and Azraâ€™s expertise. Indeed, made of highly effective natural ingredients, these products and the hi-tech machines ensured that my journey to a more beautiful me was a holistic and relaxing experience that was well worth a repetition. And the glow on my face as I walked out of the spa was enough to make several heads turn as I got into my car! Located near Shatti Plaza Cinema and at Bareeq Al Shatti, Shatti Al Qurum
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Azra first thoroughly cleaned my face and dabbed it dry. She then did the microdermabrasion using the Dermapod, a german machine. She then again cleaned my face and did a deft extraction procedure. After that she applied a mask for the deep problem areas. She also used Kernilift and Dermalift to provide some lifting action to my facial skin. After this came another mask using Purelite for its anti-bacterial and anti-blemish effects. Finally came a head and back massage, which induced a deep sense of relaxation with Azraâ€™s hands weaving an atmostphere of utter peace and wellbeing around my whole person.
l a ic d e M s e t a ir Em Center Script: Madhulika Mohta
Emirates Medical Center (EMC) located in the Al Sarooj Complex is the undisputed leader when it comes to cutting edge skin health, anti-aging & rejuvenation services in the Sultanate.
With state of the art technology, a well trained and experienced medical team and the inimitable Dr. Fatma Obaid Ali for inspiration, the Center has gone from strength to strength since it first opened its doors in 2000. The Center offers a range of skin health, cosmetic dermatology and cosmetic dentistry procedures and also offers the services of highly experienced visiting practitioners. The Center specializes in different types of laser therapies and treatments, endermology treatments, LPG and is also looking to add a specialised division for children as well as offer mesotherapy for weight loss concerns. While the center attracts primarily women, it has also helped men to achieve a better quality of life through specialised skin and dental treatments. This is one â€˜medispaâ€™ that is guaranteed to provide you with exceptional medical care for all your varied dermatologic and cosmetic needs! When I entered the Emirates Medical Centre, at first I thought I had come to the wrong address. Luxurious interiors, pastel coloured walls, reading nooks, votive candles, art work on the walls, the lilting music and the floral arrangementsâ€Śit all made me feel as though I had entered a spa rather than a medical centre. The aesthetics of the clinic are part tropical spa and part clinical technology.
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When I asked her about my problem with dark circles (a common complaint according to her), I was surprised when she said that 70% of dark circles are genetically caused (remember how everyone told you that midnight partying is the culprit ?) Anyhow, after some background checking that my case did not stand out as a chronic genetic problem and recommended that I could go in for the latest CO2 Rejuvenation System that the Center has introduced. She explained that the therapy is based on the concept that Oxygen is life giving. Thus under this treatment a minute amount of heated (upto body temperature) CO2 is injected under the delicate undereye skin. As the carbon is inert, the Oxygen part is absorbed by the blood vessels in this area thus having a rejuvenating effect. On my asking about side effects, she explained that there were none, except minor swelling which normally subsides in a couple of
hours. She also advised against swimming or going out in the strong sunlight for a couple of days. The fact that the technique was FDA approved also gave me courage and I booked an appointment to take my first session the next day. The next day, when I came, I was immediately taken to one of the treatment rooms. Again the aromatic candles, music and flowers gave a spa effect and this time they actually helped reduce my stress and apprehension about the procedure. After I had signed some medical forms, the attendant Maya cleansed my face and removed all eye makeup. She also applied a topical analgesic and again offered me tea. Next she asked me to pose for a â€œBeforeâ€? picture which would be scanned and fed into the archives for a comparison later on. Just then, Dr. Fatma walked in and after a hearty welcome, she began the procedure. She informed that I would feel a prick of the needle followed by a tightening feeling around the eyes, but that would go in a few minutes. And to be honest, I did not even feel the needle but there was an incredibly tightening and squeezing sensation around the eyes once the doctor had inserted the Miracle Gas. However, as she had promised, this feeling quickly dissipated. She then repeated the procedure on the other eye as well. I think the whole did not take more than 5 minutes. After which I was kept under observation for another 10 minutes and that was that! On my way out, I met Dr. Fatma and she recommended a soothing gel, which I was to collect from the pharmacy below. She also advised about long term maintenance and other skin care tips. In fact, it is here gentle nature and reassuring manner and her expertise and quest for quality skincare that drive this decade old institution to consistently meet and exceed the expectations of its customers. Located at Al Sarooj Plaza, Al Khuwair
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Professionalism is the hallmark of EMC. From a courteous phone call the day before to remind me of my appointment to the processing of my registration details, everything was handled with speed and grace. One of the attendants took me upstairs to one of the many spacious waiting rooms and after being pressed twice for refreshments, I opted for a cup of Green Tea, which arrived instantly, redolent of mint. I noticed the chocolate laden trays strategically placed around the clinic while the bamboos complimented the leather upholstery. A short wait later, I entered the consulting chamber of Dr. Fatma. With skin like alabaster, she is the living testimonial of her knowledge of everything dermatological. She soon put me at ease with her easy manner and we talked about children (Dr. Fatma has five children and her eldest daughter is currently studying Dentistry) and society and our lifestyles, et al.
Essence Spa Script: Madhulika Mohta
Tucked away between Al Qurum and Madinat Sultan Qaboos, in a quiet bylane is this haven of peace and tranquility. The owners in fact describe it as a temple of indulgence and the place actually mirrors this ideal. While serenity and relaxation is a guarantee, the spa also offers various body and skin therapies in addition to spa packages and healing rituals. There are also beauty treatments for daily grooming and special slimming massages.
expanse into an expansive green garden with Frangipani trees and flowery shrubs. Big potted plants carried the same theme indoors and provided natural accents for the cream marble and brown walls of the interior. The lilting, barely there music and the subdued lights all lent an aura of tranquility to the place.
The spa uses concentrated and active products from the renowned British brand Elemis. For nails, it uses OPI. Well trained, multi-lingual and experienced staff not only provides exceptional service but also individual care and attention. So book yourself an appointment and enjoy bliss while you rediscover your essence!
All the treatment rooms are upstairs while salon beauty regimens are mostly done in the downstair rooms. Amazingly the spa grows its own ingredients like Frangipani, basil, Hibiscus, etc in its own garden (the very one that I had admired just a few minutes ago. The centre also offers massage lessons by experienced therapists from Thailand and Philippines. Additionally, all the therapists are also trained by Elemis at their centre in Dubai.
Everything about the Essence Spa is a little airy and light. Even the name at the entrance was in etched glass. Bamboo shoots and Zen urns greet you as soon as you step into the courtyard of the villa on whose two levels the spa is housed. A pebbled pathway leads you into the reception and waiting area. From where I sat, I could see beyond the glass walled
This whole country-house feel gives this place an air of relaxation and as I sat on the silk sofa (someone had thoughtfully brought me a cup of tea), I felt like some yesteryear lady of leisure enjoying a day on the patio of her manor house. One of the therapists walked in and after a brief consultation, recommended the Elemis Lavender facial for me, given my combination skin type.
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In a few minutes, I had shaken the bell and was lying on the massage bed. Surprisingly, my therapist Thee started with my feet. The brief but amazingly good foot massage she gave me made me determined to return for a spa pedicure the next time. In hindsight, of course, starting with the feet (even though I was to get a facial) made complete sense for it was just what was needed to take away the workaday tension in my muscles. Thee then removed my eye makeup, cleansed the face and actually made me do some breathing exercises. She then used a toner, a Lavender compress and then started the facial drainage massage. The last thing I remember before drifting off to sleep is Thee massaging my neck and shoulders. She had feather touch strokes and a voice that sounded equally caressing.
In fact, I only woke up when she gave a vigourous rubbing with the exfoliating scrub and prepared my face for extraction by treating it to steam application. That over, she reapplied the toner and then slathered on the Lavender mask. While I waited for the mask to dry, she gave me a full hands massage with deft, open palm strokes. Then followed a second cleansing routine, followed by toner and moisturizer. I noticed that Thee used a warm compress to clean rather than the usual cold towel or tissue used at other places. Though the facial was done, Thee did not hurry me backâ€Śrather she asked me to relax and left me in the room so that I could take my own time to get back into the rat race. When I finally emerged back into the real world, I had a glow on my face, much firmer skin and complete peace of mind. I had walked into Essence Spa for a facial that afternoon but I walked out after what had been a complete full body distressing ritual.
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I soon found myself in one of the treatment rooms. The dim lights made the outside world recede away, the bed itself seemed to float on pebbles, candles burned in nooks, the Thai carvings on one wall seemed to portray the cosmos. There was a vial of essential oil and a Frangipani flower invitingly placed on the massage station. My therapist asked me to change and provided a robe, a jewellery box and a clothes box and a small bell to tinkle when I was done!
The Day Spa
Script: Madhulika Mohta
Owned and managed by the same entrepreneurial Alia, who runs the Grand Spa in Al Qurum, The Day Spa in Al Ghubra is housed in a large twin villa and offers a full menu of beauty and spa treatments from the quick and basic to the long and leisurely. However, this spa really specialises in hair treatments and spa facials. Therapists trained by Loreal, Shwazkopf and Phytomer offer expert advice and individually suited treatments. In fact, careful consultation is the watchword for the owner and staff alike, so much so that Alia herself attends all the training courses. The spa also uses and sells special Thai products and also offers its patrons especially brides Morroccan beauty products and special Morroccan baths. Designer hair accessories displayed in cabinets tempt you with their unique motifs. So go ahead, and treat yourself to a day off for yourself !
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Having decided on a colour treatment for my fast graying hair, I was seated on the plump sofa in one of the nooks and thumbed my way through the colour shades on offer. While I initially chose a reddish burgundy, my knowledgeable therapist carefully examined my hair and explained that due to the previous black colour, the result would not match the shade I had seen in the catalogues. We therefore mutually settled on a rich dark brown instead. The consultation over, my therapist Zahra, an experienced Tunisian, had me seated at one of the ‘beauty stations’
in front of an expansive mirror. She got the colour mixture and got to work, neatly parting my hair and applying the colour in even, measured strokes. Soon my hair was slathered and neatly piled on top. Coffee arrived and I had a warm, rich brew while I waited for the mandatory 35 minutes that the therapist advised for the colour to set in. After the 35 minutes were up, my therapist led me to the custom built wash station. She first ran out the dye and then washed my hair and applied a generous helping of a special conditioner. Then came the pampering bit – a nice head massage. With deft fingers, Zahra pressed and caressed my head as she worked in the conditioner. In fact, the massage was so good that I was reluctant to leave the wash station. However, after a final rinse (the therapist was so well trained that not even a drop of water touched my face), my therapist wrapped my hair in the towel and led me back to the beauty station. Expectation was writ large on my face as I waited for the towel to be taken off. Zahra then gave me an expert blow-dry and when I looked up next, the person who stared back at me from the mirror was considerably younger and had wavy, shiny, really dark brown hair. A perfect crowning glory!
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As I stepped into The Day Spa, the first thing I noticed was the space. The facility was more like a private and luxurious boudoir than a salon. There were cozy little nooks with fresh flowers, magazines and comfortable seating for those who had to wait. The soft brown walls were textured and stripes of colours ran along the walls to break the monotony and beautifully offset the cream at the base of the walls. There were quirky elements to the décor like the bas relief abstract spatula painting on one of the walls and the display cabinets here and there.
The Leisure Visitor For those seeking a leisurely journey through a haze of soothing frankincense, Oman offers the perfect opportunity to savour a uniquely Arabian culture while you revel in the beauty of spectacular sunsets over azure oceans, behind rugged mountains and lonesome dunes. The beautiful city of Muscat has lovely beaches, while the mountains provide a picturesque backdrop to your daytime musings. Towers, gateways, and forts peppered around the horizon are gentle reminders of eras gone by.
The rest of the country also has much to offer in the way of dramatic scenery, desert experiences, hot springs, wild wadis, and rustic village hamlets that provide a glimpse of a serene way of life that many of us wistfully dream of. Regional towns like Nizwa and Sur offer layers of history, architectural uniqueness and regional diversity to the inquisitive explorer while he enjoys traditional Omani hospitality. Eco-tourism like the Turtle Beaches near Sur or the Oryx Sanctuary in Central Oman are other options for a restful holiday experience. The warm and sunny climate, pristine coastline and an amazing wealth of marine ecosystems act as beacons for the initiate and the novice alike and offer the opportunity for a leisurely, sun drenched holiday to cherish.
Muscat is an ancient city with its strategic position on the sea routes dictating its history and culture as a melting pot of civilisation since ancient times. It is also a modern city with world-class amenities and tourist attractions like various museums, traditional souqs, modern shopping malls and holistic resorts and hotels. Gardens and galleries abound while
the spectacular Grand Mosque is itself an unforgettable experience.
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The Ubhar experience Script: Madhulika Mohta
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As I walked in, there was this sense of understated luxury that seemed to surround me. I thought I had entered the house of an extremely well off Omani merchant of yore. How this affect was achieved without the usual baroque Arabic furnishings was a mystery but Ubhar was a study in elegance and subtle accents. There were also some quirky touches like the glaring pink upholstery on some of the chairs or the huge dome like Arabic chandeliers in a silver finish. Myriad Omani pots and frankincense burners were present in nooks and as we took our place at a table near the latticed woodwork windows, I had to admit that this place was nothing like anything I had ever seen before. Named after the lost city of Ubar, the famed Atlantis of the Sands, the restaurant’s menu tries to recreate traditional Omani cuisine by giving it a fusion twist. While the extensive menu seemed extremely mouthwatering, I left the ordering to my associate and settled back to just enjoy the ambience. When the drinks arrived (mind you, the place
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only serves juices and mocktails – no alcohol), I was taken aback at the size and the uniquely fruity combinations. While I enjoyed my strawberry, banana, cream and rose water flavoured concoction, my dinner companion was extremely satisfied with his Kiwi juice withn hints of coconut. As we looked out at the lights whizzing past outside, we ordered our maincourse. I ordered a Shuwa Sandwich. My associate explained that Shuwa is a uniquely Omani dish usually made on festivals and special occasions. The sandwich part was like anything you would expect at any international bistro chain but I must admit that the filling was something entirely new and definitely worth a try. And whats more it was a very filling meal. My partnew had ordered some seafood and declared it to be excellent as well. Over a dessert that consisted of a serving of traditional Omani Mouhallabiah served in a tall glass, my associate advised me that perhaps the best place I could head for the next day was a trip to Nizwa and also experience the unique Al Hoota Cave. I took his suggestion and when we left the intimately eclectic environs of Ubhar, I ordered a taxi to pick me up from my hotel early next day for a trip to Nizwa.
On a cool evening, I was picked up by my colleague from the hotel that I was staying in and after a very short drive we entered Bareeq Al Shatti, a newly opened, upmarket residential and commercial complex. We immediately entered a restaurant called ‘Ubhar’.
Intelligent Luxury... The Six Senses Hideaway at Zighy Bay, in the Sultanate of Oman, is a secluded fishing village on the Sultanate’s northern Musandam Peninsula. It is designed with 82 pool villas and pool villa suites and with a private marina. The setting is quite dramatic, with mountains on one side and a 1.6 kilometer sandy beach at Zighy Bay, on the other.
wine cellar holding over 400 wine bins, a very unconventional bar and a stunning dinner experience high atop the mountains overlooking Zighy Bay. The design and material selection of this new resort is based on attention to detail and commitment to the environment, creating an uncompromising standard of luxury and innovative style.
The luxurious resort truly reflects the brand’s positioning of Innovative Style Guests will have a choice of three arrival and the choice of dining include a modern experiences: A scenic ten-minute speed brasserie showcasing a multitude of cuisine boat trip, a drive down from the top of flavors, a seafood restaurant, a the hill overlooking the bay, or choose to travel as a companion passenger with the resort’s professional paraglider!
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The atmosphere is relaxed and rustic. The villas are built with local stone and the whole complex is a blend of earthy whites and browns. Holistic approach The feel is one of getting back in touch with nature. Each villa has a set of his and her bicycles to move around the entire property. The doorbells are quite literally just that - bells inside the front door, attached to the gate by a rope pulley system. The in-villa finishings are a mixture of stone and wood. The oversize bath and indoor and outdoor shower facilities are stone, complemented by cane and wood accessories. Each villa has its own infinity pool in its private compound (each also has its own butler service) and some open up directly onto the sea. The main hospitality complex also has a shared pool, spa retreat - offering signature holistic treatments -
artisan gallery (with a range of Zighy goods on offer - it is apparently possible to buy anything that you have in your villa) and a small DVD and book library in a range of languages. A couple’s getaway This is also from where the more adventurous guests can paraglide into the resort, if driving in seems a little too staid (your luggage meets you at the bottom). There is also the option of arriving by speed boat from the local port rather than being chauffeured in. The experience at the resort exemplifies the type of guest that the resort is aiming at. There are no children’s activities or accessories on offer, so, although kids are welcome, this is more of a couple’s getaway. This is also backed up by the fact that the majority of villas will only accommodate two people. Any more than that and you have to take out another unit. Overall, the resort scores highly. What to some might be seen as a turn off, the distance from the nearest cities, others will see as the main attraction. It is peaceful and relaxing, an ideal couple’s tranquil getaway, so not for those looking for action. The villas are well appointed and provide ample space, and the fact that each is sealed in its own compound with a private pool means that guests can get all the privacy that they desire. The resort is a good choice for honeymooners or couples seeking time alone together.
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The resort is secluded on a small bay that is only accessible by driving over a steep road over the edge of the coastal mountains that overlooks down from the Hajar Mountains, tranquilly basking on the shores of the sea.
A Taste of Oman For that ultimate taste of Oman, a fiveday leisure tour is sure to reveal the sounds and sights of the Sultanate and guaranteed to enchant even the most jaded spirit
Day One: We depart from Muscat and proceed to Nizwa. On the way, we first visit the small sleepy fishing village of Seeb. The next stopover is at the sparkling springs of Nakhl. We then drive through the spectacular Wadi Bani Auf framed by the high peaks of the Hajjar mountains. We visit the charming mountain village of Bilad Sayt, one of Oman’s most quaint villages with its old world charm. Our tour bus follows
a dramatic route through the mountains and we stop at a cosy turn off for a picnic lunch. This 70 km stretch of mountainous road continues unto the village of Al Hamra famed for its date plantations. After a quick look around, we drive on to Nizwa and the guide checks us into the Falaj Daris hotel for the night.
Day Two: Nizwa, an erstwhile capital of Oman, is redolent with historic sights. We visit the famous Round Tower Fort, built in the 17th century. The Nizwa Souq is and absolute treasure trove and after a good round of bargaining we make our way back to the bus with our purchases - an intricately hand-carved “Khanjar” (dagger) & ornamental silver jewellery. Our tour guide points out the Bahla Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site as we drive on. Bahla is the pottery capital of Oman where pottery is still made in the traditional style. We visit a few pottery centers, utterly mesmerized by the deft hands of the potters giving shape to mud and clay. A visit to Jabrin, the finest of Oman’s numerous castles, reveals more of Oman’s history. Built in the late 17th century, Jabrin was an important seat of Omani learning. The castle displays the highest achievement in Omani ceiling painting & has beautifully executed wood carvings. Perhaps the highlight of the day, is our afternoon visit to the Al Hoota caves. A little train takes you to the cave entrance and inside the cavern one can
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Day Three: An early breakfast and we are off again. This time, our first pit stop is at the verdant village of Birkat Al Mauz. We walk around the lush green plantations, eat hand picked bananas and even see a roman style aqueduct! We then proceed to Wadi Al Maydeen and further onwards on a winding road that snakes its way to
Jebel Al Akhdar (2000 mts above sea level), the green jewel of the Al Hajjar mountain ranges, a truly unique spot in the Arabian Peninsula. Suddenly, its pleasantly cold and the air feels fresh as we reach the top of the mountain. Jebel Akhdar is famed for its fruit orchards typically laid out terrace style along the slopes of the mountains, which are endowed with natural springs and aflaj (the uniquely Omani traditional water distribution system). As we walk the pomegranate orchards, the heavenly scent of roses is unmissable as they bloom in March / April. We drop our stuff at the Jabal
Akhdar hotel, grab a quick lunch and then set off to explore the clusters of mountain hamlets. Day Four: After a leisurely breakfast, we are driven to the market at Sinaw. It is reminiscent of the olden days and people are engaged in brisk trading of goats, guns and silver. After a stroll, we get back into our car and drive towards Mudhaybi. At Al Qabil, we turn off the main road and then its off road all the way to Wadi Bani Khalid. The bump and rattle seemed worth it though once we arrived at the wadi, one of Omanâ€™s most spectacular with its deep blue pools of water. We strolled around, some took a refreshing dip while an adventurous few
climbed the outcrop to go to the hidden waterfall pools. After a quick lunch we left the peaceful blue pools for the Wahiba Sands. We met a Bedouin family in the wilderness and shared a cup of coffee with them before reaching our desert camp. Dinner was a sumptuous Bar-B-Q buffet and the camp, lit up with lanterns provided an unforgettable ambience under the stars. It had been a hectic day and we fell asleep lulled by the silence of the desert.
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view stalactites and stalagmites and an underground lake home to the unique blindfish. A little tired after the dayâ€™s excursions, we return back to the hotel in time for dinner.
of Bibi Miriamâ€™s Tomb on coastal road to Muscat. A round noon, we stopped at a nice beach called Fins beach, where we bathed in the sea. Our next stop was the Bimah Sinkhole, a spectacular limestone crater with blue green water at the bottom. At Dibab, we again went offroad to visit the Wadi Arbayeen, characterized by date palms and deep pools of water. Towards, evening, we proceed to Mazara and then on to Muscat, tired but excitedly recounting the sights and sounds of the last 5 days, which would be etched in our memories as spellbindingly beautiful.
Day Five: We woke up in the early hours while the desrt sands were still cool under the feet, had tea and a simple breakfast. We then drove for a couple of hours to reach Sur, the legendary birthplace of Sinbad. After seeing the dhow yards, we went to Qalhat to see the ruins
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The Salam experience From the ‘Harrod’s of the Middle East’ to ‘the grand old lady of regional retail’; superlatives are not new to Salam Stores. Since the devastating effect of ‘Cyclone Gonu’, Salam Stores has moved on with its new 360° marketing approach bringing in a remarkable transformation over the last year.
Apart from its premier outlet in the heart of the Qurum commercial area, Salam has also opened its doors at the Muscat City Center, bringing in an electrified addition to the Fashion Avenue of Oman’s first (and largest) shopping centre. The store has a vibrant and innovative ambience, surpassing the expectation of fashion fanatics. For those who strive for perfection, Salam has revolutionised the standard of fashion retailing in Oman to the highest level, where the brand mix, service and ambiance all combine to enhance the shopping experience. The store carries an array of world renowned brands such as Ralph Lauren, Canali, Lagerfield, Salvage, 7 for All Mankind, Citizen of Humanity, Bony and D&G under 117 OMAN VISITOR
one roof. For ardent fashion lovers; Salam has brought together a combination of 2 distinctive concepts termed as ‘Black Tie & Jeans’. With its unique blend of elegant lighting, up-beat music and a well spaced shopping area, the store is all set to offer a truly world-class ambience that is perfectly in tune with the brands it stocks thus giving customers the luxury of choice in an atmosphere designed for comfort and convenience.
Salam Store has re-introduced itself with a new identity, a contemporary store layout and a brand new logo. Sophisticated and spacious, with a wide range of prestigious brands and highly trained staff, Salam Oman, has become a ‘Must Visit Destination’. Indeed, Salam has been able to create a 360° Retail Experience for its highly valued clients on par with the best in London, Milan, Paris and New York. The new look at Salam now reflects an ultra-modern world-class ambience.
Shopping Galore! Qurum City Centre, the beautiful and contemporary 20,600 square metre new mall located in the heart of Muscat, Oman, celebrated its official grand opening in December 2008.
The various tenants at Qurum City Centre are raising the standards set in shopping by offering the people of Qurum a wide and varied international range of fashion, food and beverage and service outlets.
The new shopping hub brings to Oman strong retail concepts to Oman, and serving the people of Muscat with world-class choice and value. Indeed, Qurum City Centre has quickly become an important part of life in Muscat. In addition to employing hundreds of people, many of whom are local Omani, the mall
offers a wide and diverse range of retail outlets, some of them like H&M, are a first for Oman. The combined retail and entertainment options on offer, provide unbeatable choice and value, both of which make Qurum City Centre the first destination for many in the area.
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As well as browsing in a huge variety of shops and restaurants, visitors can enjoy a whole host of services and amenities that aim to make shopping at Qurum City Centre a comfortable, convenient and enjoyable experience for all. The facilities include eight ATMs, prayer rooms for men and women, currency change outlets, taxi services, wheelchairs and strollers for children.
retail outlets with anchor store Carrefour and popular brands such as H&M, BHS, Mango and Borders. The merchandise mix includes a strong representation in key categories such as fashion, F&B and other convenience and service sectors. Qurum City Centre has a designated food court, convenient access to and from the mall, with more than 900 parking lots and a taxi pick-up facility.
Qurum City Centre, the second shopping mall in Oman from the Majid Al Futtaim Group, is strategically located in the heart of the local community at the Qurum roundabout and is home to over 75
Offering much more than shopping outlets, the Qurum City Centre is an enticing family destination by itself and a must visit for all travelers to Muscat.
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Festival of Joy Instituted in 1998, the Muscat Festival is an annual extravaganza that has become a much-awaited fixture on the country’s social calendar.
A unique mix of entertainment and culture, the Festival has become both a vehicle of promoting Omani heritage as well as a bridge to exchanging culture with other nations of the world. The various events and activities held under the umbrella of the Muscat Festival include: • Omani Heritage & Culture • Omani Arts & Handicrafts • Kids’ & Family Programmes • Sports & Entertainment • International Arts & Handicrafts Heritage & Folk Arts - The Muscat Festival focuses attention to expressions of Omani heritage, particularly though the Heritage Village recreated at the Qurum National Park (one of the venues for the festival), where visitors can enjoy folk arts and handicrafts, learn about Omani lifestyles, and experience the cultural diversity of various regions of Oman. Lilting sounds of the Oud intermingle with the inimitable perfume of
the frankincense to create an environment filled with forgotten songs and traditional rhythms. Traditional foods and handicrafts are also a big draw. Culture - The Festival also provides the ideal platform for intellectual and literary conferences, educational and artistic exhibitions and workshops. A selection of Omani and Arab intellectuals, writers, and artists are usually in attendance to promote various performing arts. Kids & Families - The Muscat Festival holds a special attraction for children as it tries to encapture their simple joys. A large selection of fairground rides, entertainment shows, competitions and other exhibits becomes a beacon for the young. The family is at the heart of any Muscat Festival with ample opportunity to indulge in shopping while partaking of entertainment programs and conferences about women and children.
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International Participants - The Global Village at the Festival is the venue for many countries from around the world to exhibit their rich heritage of handicrafts and folk arts.
With each annual incarnation of the Festival being executed according to a unique theme, the organisers strive to offer an exhibition filled with Omani heritage, arts, handicrafts, entertainment and a glimpse into cultures around the world. Little wonder then, that the almost month long celebration attracts a large number of visitors from the Gulf Cooperation Countries as well as Europe.
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Packed with activities and events, the festival plays a significant part in boosting Omanâ€™s tourism and hospitality industry especially as malls, shops and other establishments around the city join in with the celebrations by coming out with special sales and promotions during the month. It also provides local residents with a month long extravaganza of fun, adventure, excitement and entertainment. In 2008, more than 2 million people attended the various events.
With increasing visitor numbers year on year, the Muscat Municipality in 2009 shifted one of the venues to Naseem Garden covering about 750,000 square metres. The festival in 2009 showcased performances by famous Gulf and Arab stars, including Hamada Hilal, Miami Band from Kuwait, and Al Yaziyah from the UAE, Al Wasmi, Yara from Lebanon and the famous Indian band Josh. Various road shows and carnivals as well as concerts by Indian, Russian, American and African bands were a big draw as were the dazzling multimedia shows featuring international music, water shows, lasers and fireworks at the Lake Theatre in Qurum Park.
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Theatre enthusiasts enjoyed a number of Omani and Gulf plays at the amphitheatre in Qurum. A special village, exclusively dedicated to women, included a beauty corner and fashion shows. Over 30 countries from around the world participated in the exhibition at the Naseem Garden. And of course each evening, the spectacular fireworks and laser shows formed a fitting finale to the dayâ€™s festivities.
The Scent of Kings Over the past few years, Amouage, the Omani fragrance house has come to represent luxury, exclusivity and the quintessence of Arabian perfumery revered as the gift of kings. Founded 25 years ago on the request of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said by the late Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud Al Busaidi; The House of Amouage has evolved into an international luxury brand that merges the traditional with the modern. The millennia old history of Arabian perfumery coupled with
the traditional love of exotic fragrances provided the perfect ingredients for the manifestation of a global luxury brand with roots in Oman. Presented to visiting dignitaries and honoured guests, The House of Amouage is a national treasure that has evolved into a unique brand with a rich and colorful heritage that fires the imagination of all. As the brand celebrates 25 â€˜scentsationalâ€™ years, Amouage has moved on to rebrand itself as an iconic international product that goes beyond fragrances. Hence,
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the broadening of the product base to encompass a Home Collection in addition to Bath & Body. The new look, packaging and bottles of Amouage continue to honour Omanâ€™s rich heritage and culture in a chic and contemporary manner while imbued with international allure. In fact, all Amouage bottles are meticulously hand-finished and foreign clients love the exoticism about a brand that is truly international while still preserving the essence of Arabia. Today, Amouage is renowned for creating some of the most finely crafted and exotic fragrances in the world. They source the highest quality of ingredients from around the globe. Amouage perfumes are highly revered, respected and have garnered a reputation for unsurpassed quality, artistic craftsmanship, precision and attention to detail. The core strategy for the brand is to never compromise on quality. This has given the brand a stellar worldwide following amongst royals, global leaders and some the most celebrated names in film, television, fashion, sports and music. Amouage is now sold in more than 30 countries. The company intends to open dedicated mono brand shops outside Muscat and have shop-in-shop in both Selfridges in Regent Street, London and Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly. In its quest to be the leading luxury brand in the world, the House of Amouage will continue to reinvent themselves and astound clients with new products and goods, enhancing its luxury positioning and global prominence.
An appetising affair! Biryani House is a casual contemporary Indian fusion restaurant that features traditional North, Mughlai, Hyderabadi and Indo-Chinese dishes.
Located at the heart of MBD area this restaurant has all of the appeals youâ€™d expect in high end Indian cuisine restaurant. The smells of curry and garlic and turmeric fill the air both inside and out. The restaurant is elegant, featuring comfortable seating, spacious tables and friendly serving staff. I was accompanied by my colleagues who are ardent foodies like me. The first course meal included a set of chicken tikka kababs. It had a nice sweet and tangy taste to it. The sauces included a green sauce which was also a bit sweet, which complimented our starters quite well. The chicken chunks were soft and tender and the sauce was a nice compliment, not too spicy or rich. It was served with this fluffy and aromatic bread which had a slight crunch while still being warm and pliable.
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We were then given a short tour of the restaurant. It is compact but packed with all the essentials of a proper Indian restaurant. With psychedelic blue and red lights the ambience gives a nice warm feeling. A complete family restaurant, Biryani House also has a party hall basement where you can have your private birthday and anniversary parties held. The owner, Fahad Al Balushi has made sure to give the ambience a fusion look by having Indian as well as Omani murals and paintings all over the restaurant. It truly evokes a sense of fusion while sitting in the restaurant.
The amiable staff at the Restaurant served us with a smile and was very quick and efficient with their service. My colleagues and I dreaded the fact that we had to get back to work after a hearty meal like this. We finally ended and bid adieu to the Indian culinary journey which was an amazing experience altogether! Biryani House is definitely one of a kind Restaurant serving the most authentic Indo-Chinese dishes in the city where once you eat; repeat orders are bound to follow in great numbers. Unbelievable fusion of dishes in one place makes this a must-try for the true gourmand and â€˜out-of-the-box-thinkingâ€™ foodies.
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The main course consisted of their signature hyderabadi dum chicken biryani which was served with chicken gravy. The food was quite appetising and tasted very good and most of all the food was cooked with authentic Indian spices.
Outdoor Delights The Bin Zaid International group initiated a local restaurant and café brand called Al Makan Cafe few years ago. Today, it has opened doors to outdoor dining food lovers. It is a great place with wonderful atmosphere for everyone including family and women. Located next to Muscat City Centre, the cafe has been carefully designed to serve the best quality of service, food, cocktails and shisha. The café has a special family as well as womenonly place, making it the only cafe in Muscat that has a special cafe for women. Its menu includes Lebanese, Turkish dishes and sweets.
customer with an unforgettable experience. The Café aims to become a first-class local restaurant and cafe, with professional service, a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere, and an affordable regional menu with honest and simple preparations.
Bin Zaid International has further expanded its Al Makan Cafe chain with its brand new outlet located at Shati Al Qurum. The new branch has been designed to serve one purpose, spoiling the
Recently, Bin Zaid International added a new franchise into its portfolio – Shrimpy, the fast-food chain offers a selective versatile menu that is high quality, delicious, and sensibly priced in a wholesome friendly atmosphere supported by a proven successful international operating system.
In addition to that, during the 19th Gulf Cup, Al Makan Cafe hosted the wellknown & regional “Al Kas Channel”. The channel broadcasted its live programmes from the Makan cafe, expressing the role and strong presence that the Al Makan Cafe has generated not only in Oman, but in GCC region.
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The Young Visitor
For those travell/ing with finicky little masters (or misses), Oman offers an amazingly child-friendly holiday experience. The general respect for the mother and child and the Arab emphasis on family values ensures that children of all ages find a warm welcome in this land of Sinbad.
From the many museums in Muscat, to outdoor camping opportunities, from teaching them sand boarding to exploring marine life or giving them a glimpse of Arabian stallions or camel races, Oman has a lot to fire young imaginations. Or, how about taking them to Sur to see the giant sea turtles and their tiny hatchlings or showing them how dhows are built (in the same traditional fashion). Oman is also known as the Whale Coast and an early morning foray into the sea will illey
reward you with the sights of cavorting dolphins and water spouting whales. You can show them how dates are grown or aflaj used for irrigation. And even if your children are not quite old enough to savor these delights, most hotels in Muscat can provide reliable babysitting facilities so that you can enjoy the sun and the sand. All major shopping malls have mother & child facilities and even airport check-in counter queues will melt away for those traveling with children. A little effort and the dollops of imagination that your child adds makes a journey through Oman like the exploration of Aladdinâ€™s cave for tiny tots as well as the youth.
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Dos & Donts Dress appropriately: While the five star hotels do have private stretches, beaches are essentially public property and topless bathing or inappropriate swimwear may hurt local sensibilities. Keep an eye on the children: Beaches don’t usually have a life-guard on duty, so it’s best to supervise children personally. Carry first aid: While beaches in Oman are clean, its best to carry a first aid box in the car to treat cuts or bruises Scan the waters The Red Tide and occasional Jelly Fish floods do happen. Keep track of the local news to avoid these hazards. Carry your own water: Beaches are hot and mobile refreshment vans are not that common. It is best to have some water and snacks on hand for hungry young beach-combers. Take your own gear: Beaches in Oman don’t have shops renting out towels or snorkeling masks. While these may be available from your hotel, if you are going to a different beach, its best to carry your own.
No litter: You will find the beaches in Oman are clean. Leave them that way.
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Golden Sands Script: Madhulika Mohta
Whatever it is that your child loves to do - collect shells or build sand castles, hoard pebbles or play football, Muscatâ€™s beaches present the perfect getaway on a summerâ€™s eve or a winterâ€™s afternoon. The blue waters provide a fitting backdrop for weekend picnics and barbeques. While most beaches are public, they are usually not overly crowded except on weekends.
We soon landed in the area which still has some construction activity going on. The beach is ideally suited for families and we were soon at home in one of the sit around nooks. The children wanted to head immediately into the water. It was low tide and the beach stretched in a shallow wet expanse. A few young men were playing soccer and my husband had a go at the ball for a while. He then negotiated for a jetski rental, which is a popular water sport at this beach.
With over 1700 kms of coastline, it is perhaps little wonder that Oman has some of the most pristine beaches. And some of the popular ones in Muscat belie their proximity to the city. Qurum Beach - It was early summer and the days had still not taken on the sweltering mantle of soaring temperatures. The kids had a term break and with not much happening around the city, we decided on an impromptu picnic at Qurum beach below the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
As we tucked into the burgers (voted vociferously for by the kids) we could see the dusk turn into night and the lights come on around the stretch of beach while the waves started coming in with the tide.
Its one of those places that is well set up for visitors and has a number of picnic areas and palm shades. When the tide is low, one can take a long walk towards Shati Al Qurum past the Muscat InterContinental hotel.
In the meanwhile, I sat on the soft sand catching the setting sun and looking at those who had come a jog in evening. As it got dark, the barbeque pits started glowing and there was music in the air as some local youth sat around singing in groups. The smell from barbeques done by some families on the pits provided at the beach made us all hungry and a heated debate ensued about which restaurant we should head to among the many cafes and snack bars that are present along the beach road.
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Qantab - Close to Al Bustan is the road to Qantab beach. Safely hidden away behind the mountains, this is perhaps one of Muscatâ€™s best kept secret. And this was the beach we decided to explore on a Friday morning. The kids enthusiastically packed their beach toys and we loaded some tea and snacks and juice for the children and set out for Qantab. The drive past Wadi Kabir and onto the steep road that winds its way towards Bar Al Jissa is an experience in itself. In fact, my son was at the edge of his seat throughout the half hour marveling at how high we were and I must say that the glimpse of blue waters far below seemed like from another world altogether.
beach. The view of the rocky coastline was fabulous and I was tempted to just lie down and gaze away at eternity. However, we were soon surrounded by local fishermen offering to take you fishing. While we were not really interested in any fishing, we did negotiate for a half an hour boat ride on the surprisingly calm water. The breeze was cool and though a little tanned, we thoroughly enjoyed our boat ride and when we got back to the beach, the kids headed straight into the water and made sand castles while I got the tea ready. This light breakfast over, we just sat round while the children explored some of the rocky pools on the sides of the cove and at around 11 am we decided to head back as it was getting a little hot.
My husband took the turn off on the left and we were soon parking our trusted 4WD on to a pebbled stretch before the
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Yitti: When my cousin (who has two children aged 4 and 6) visited us last December, we thought it might be a good idea for us all to explore Yitti beach. The plan was to start after lunch and reach the beach in the afternoon. We reckoned that this would give the children a chance to play in the water while it was warm and then we could all return after having our evening tea. It was a public holiday and the roads were basically deserted in the early afternoon when we reached the Al Hamriyah roundabout near Ruwi. From here, we turned right onto the road which eventually goes to the Yitti beach. This drive on a single causeway road goes through a fishing village and then onwards to the beach in a long shallow cove.
The first thing that struck us was the size of the beach. It is really large and even with people around, one doesn’t really feel crowded in. It was also very windy and we finally decided to park our 4WD right onto the beach in a way that shielded us when we sat down. Quite oblivious of the wind though, the children gave a hoop of delight as they rushed towards the shallows with pails and spades in hand. Repeated calls to wait for application of sunscreen went unheeded and we soon gave it up as a lost cause. My cousin and his wife also waded into the shallows and spent a interesting hour exploring the shell encrusted outcrops along the shore. The only drawback for Yitti is that there are no public amenities / shops near this stretch of beach and one has to fend for oneself. The children tired themselves
out after a couple of hours of splashing about and about 4.30 in the afternoon, everybody joyously tucked in into hot tea and coffee accompanied by cakes and cookies and potato chips (an all time kids’ favourite!). We started back an hour later with a sense of serenity and peace and a gentle murmur of waves in our souls. Some of the other beaches in the Muscat capital area that you could explore with your family are the Aviation Beach located near the Civil Aviation Club in Al Azaiba. The Marjan Beach, near Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), is a quiet little cove. Coral reefs close to the shore make this Muscat’s best beach for snorkellers. Bandar Jissah is a more isolated stretch near Qantab popular for snorkelling. Far from the madding crowd A four wheel drive and a journey on the new Quriyat - Sur road will give you an opportunity to savor some of Oman’s most stunning beaches. After Dibab, there are a variety of beaches ranging from anonymous rocky outcrops to the famed White Beach at Mokallah. The White Beach and fins beach are both popular for
camping on the shore and snorkeling. Other getaways are the Al Sawadi Beach Resort (about an hour west from Muscat) or the Turtle Beach near Sur (360 kms from Muscat).
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An Oasis in the City Script: Madhulika Mohta It was a warm day in June, when Muscat seems to be enveloped in a haze of heat, which seems to emanate from the ground and hover over everythingâ€Śthe kind of day that saps your energy and leaves you with little interest to stir out of the air-conditioned comfort of your house. However, the heat not withstanding, it was the summer vacation and the children had been promised an evening outdoors. So with some reluctance, we packed a picnic hamper and set out for the Al Sahwa Park at around 5 pm in the evening.
Parking was not a problem at this newest addition to Muscatâ€™s park scene. However, what struck us most as we entered this oasis of green was the coolness. The air had a smell of fresh grass and everywhere families, children and women had made little tufts of turf, their own domain for the evening.
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Sprawling is perhaps not an adequate adjective for this new park located next to the Al Sahwa Tower, a stoneâ€™s throw from Muscat City Centre when one is going towards Al Mawaleh. We decided to take a general tour of the park and found that it consists of a number of lovely gardens, grouped together via a beautiful pattern formed by the combination of the plant varieties in each garden.
After the general tour, and dragging two wet children behind us, we took a leisurely walk down the exclusively designed walkway. The beautiful planter walls in the background were laden with summer blooms. We greeted a few people we met jogging on the walkway and passed others who were using the novel high quality gym equipment, installed in the park. These exercise machines can be used by the elderly to work out daily during their morning or evening walks. We passed families sitting around in the sitouts, chatting away about the dayâ€™s events.
The design seemed to have elements of the local Arab/Islamic architecture. There was an open area called the Al Sahwa plaza, which had musical fountains and various types of marbles and granites. The park also has rose gardens. Overall, we were quite impressed by the unique landscaping and the swaying fountains and
expansive frontage of the fountain area added to its beauty. In fact, the children rushed into the fountain area and were happy getting sprayed upon!
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The children gave out loud whoops of delight when we came across the mega, multi-function play equipment installed in the park. In a blink they were busy exploring the multiple play functions designed to standards and sizes as prescribed for children of different ages. I was relieved to note that the play equipment at Al Sahwa Park was high quality HAGS equipment which is extremely safe for children, tested and approved in accordance with the European Safety standards. In fact, even all the nuts and bolts were covered and all hot galvanised chains were covered with solid polyurethane sheath..so there was no danger of the little one burning the skin of the palms by touching metal which had heated up during the afternoon. It was joy to hear the children play with all the other young ones from different nationalities learning social skills while
developing their muscular, motor and cognitive skills in trying to do all the hurdles - climb, jump and slide while playing in a natural outdoor environment. After half an hour, the children had burnt off the excess energy and worked up quite an appetite so we headed towards some palm trees and spread out our picnic dinner. The stars had come out by this time and we savoured our veggie wraps as we looked at the distant lights of the cars whizzing past on the busy highway. The only disturbance was the loud roar of the occasional jetliner landing at the nearby Seeb Airportâ€Śbut even that too brought out excited cries from the children as they followed the linerâ€™s descent in a mesmerized state of excitement. All in all, I was happy we had foregone the boring comfort of the air-conditioned room with a blaring TV for the chance to breathe in some fresh air.
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Bait Al Baranda If you have young children or are simply fascinated by the history of a place and how geography shapes modern lives, a visit to the Bait Al Baranda museum ( or rather visitor’s centre) is definitely going to be a rewarding and memorable experience. Located near the Fish Roundabout near the Corniche and housed in a traditional Arabic house (the name actually means House of Balconies), this new addition to the list of Muscat’s museums is a showcase for Muscat and Oman’s geography, history, natural history, arts & crafts and also catalogues modern day living.
and model replicas of originals. When we happened to visit the centre, the Director, Malik Al Hinai gave us a brief on the philosophy behind the Centre and its special focus on children because it is so important for them to learn about their history and geography and to understand ecology as well as psychology for these shape the destiny of empires and influence our modern lives. He then assigned a guide and my son and I embarked on an enlightening journey.
With interactive displays and life size replicas, it was easy even for my 6 year old son to grasp the plate tectonics that actually Occupying around 14 rooms, the formed the natural harbor of Muscat and the centre has been setup with help from Hazar mountains. My son had fun turning the Maastricht Museum and the French the wheels of the various ‘time-machines’ to Museum. A lot of research was contributed see how these movements shape our earth. by the Sultan Qaboos University and Another room provided glimpses of Oman’s funds from the Government helped in history while yet another showed the evidence acquiring maps and displays and way of life of the earliest human settlers while photographs in the region. Here, there were again life size have largely been models on display. Our guide explained the individual donations. way of life of these settlers and how they As this is more of an existed as a society. My son (and for that interpretation centre matter I too) was immediately captivated by than a museum, the room which had actually been turned into there are no real a dhow and recreated the ship’s upper deck historic artifacts, and cargo holds complete with sacks of spices just copies, prints and other goods. This life size experience brought squeals of delight from my son.
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One of the downstairs room shows the natural history of Oman with a working model of a species of dinosaur. The sound and movements of this mechanized monster so fascinated my son that we actually spent about 20 minutes in this room…time that I spent taking the interactive quiz in the room. We then walked through rooms showing the history of Muscat harbor and what historic visitors and travelers had narrated about Muscat in their travelogues or journals. This room also showed the various conflicts and wars fought over Muscat. Boys being boys, my son had a great time looking at the weapons and the battle scenes and analysing the critical positions of the respective armies!
We also learnt that apart from organising school tours and special workshops on art, calligraphy, pottery and mosaic, the Centre also holds an entertaining event called Karankshoo (similar to Halloween) during Ramadan. In future, the Centre also has plans to open a café and a souvenir shop as a well as a research library….more reasons for coming back… though if my son’s opinion counts, the dinosaur room alone is reason enough! Script: Madhulika Mohta
We then proceeded to the folk arts and crafts room and then onwards to the area that narrated the history of the Al Busaid dynasty right upto the present Sultan, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said. When, we returned back to the Director’s office, we were amazed to learn about the Friends of Baranda children’s club that that Centre runs. Of course, I
had to immediately sign up my son for the membership so that he would get invited to the various kid centric activities that the Centre organises every month. In fact, this whole centre is very child friendly and the Director confirmed it saying that the place had been built with a child’s perspective and how they like to touch, feel, look and see things – no wonder; I had found the exhibits so interactive.
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POPULATION: The population of Oman is currently estimated to be 2.3 million with 1.7 million of Omani origin and the rest being expatriates. Muscat itself has a population of 400,000. ECONOMY: Despite the significant progress in the diversification of the Sultanateâ€™s economy, it is still oilbased and will continue to be so in the
foreseeable future. The Sultanate has a reputation for running a prudent economy. However, being oil-based, it is subject to the fluctuations of the worldâ€™s oil market. CURRENCY: The Omani Rial is divided into 1,000 Baizas. RO 1/- = US$ 2.58. Currency notes are available in denominations of RO 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1. Currency notes are also available in 100 baizas, 200 baizas, quarter and half Rial denominations. OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: The official language of the country is Arabic. English is also widely spoken and understood by the business community. RELIGION: The Sultanate of Oman is an Islamic country.
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GEOGRAPHY: With an area of 309,500 sq. kms, the Sultanate of Oman is the second largest country in the Arabian Peninsula. The Sultanate is bordered by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the west; the Republic of Yemen on the south; the Strait of Hormuz on the north and the Arabian Sea on the east.
MARKETS: 8.00 am to 1.00 pm & 4.00 pm to 9.00 pm except Muttrah Market which closes at 7.30 pm MUSEUMS: 8.00 am to 1.00 pm, except Fridays and Official Holidays DRESS: Like all the Arab countries, Arab Islamic culture dominates the style of life in the Sultanate. However, being an international market, other cultures of various countries are widely visible. Both men and women are expected to dress conservatively in public places.
TIME: GMT + 4 Hours OFFICIAL HOLIDAYS Hijra New Year 1 day - 1st Moharrum Prophet’s Birthday 1 day - 12th Rabi-AlAwai Isra and Meiraj 1 day - 27th Rajab Eid Al-Fitr 4 days - 1st - 4th Shawal Eid Al-Adha 3 to 5 days - 9th to 13th AlHijjrah National Day 2 days Weekly day off Friday (also Thursday for Government) OFFICE HOURS Ministries and Government Establishments 7.30 am to 2.30 pm Saturday to Wednesday Thursday & Friday - Official Holidays
BANKS: 8.00 am to 12.30 pm PRIVATE SECTOR COMPANIES 8.00 am to 1.00 pm & 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm Many private sector companies work nonbreak shift schedules.
RAMADAN: It is a fasting month for Muslims and starts 10 days earlier each year according to the Gregorion calendar. During the day time Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and smoking. Therefore, eating, drinking and smoking in public is prohibited for all during Ramadan. Office timings are slightly changed to shorter working hours and business meetings are sometimes difficult to arrange. LOCAL TRANSPORT: The State-owned bus company, ONTC, has the franchise to operate public services throughout the Sultanate. It also contracts out some of its fleet for short-term charters and tourism. It currently operates on some 28 routes, covering over 20 million km per year and has an annual replacement programme for its fleet with the most modern vehicles available. Taxi services, run by the private sector, are also well developed and there is an excellent network of minibuses operating as ‘service’ taxis linking up the major centres of population.
146 OMAN VISITOR
AIRLINES OFFICE Aeroflot 24704455 Air Arabia 24700828 Air France 24562153 Air India 24799801 Air Maldives 24566046 Air Tanzania 24794004 Biman 24701128 British Airways 24568777 Cathay Pacific 24789818 Egypt Air 24794113 Emirates 24792222 Ethiopian Airlines 24660314 Flight Information 24519456 Gulf Air 24703222 Indian Airlines 24791914 Iran Air 24787423 Japan Airlines 24704455 Jet Airways 24813321, 24815844 Kenya Airways 24660317 KLM 24566737 Kuwait Airways 24701262
Lufthansa 24796692 24560796 Malaysian Airlines Middle East Airlines 24796680 Oman Air 24519953, 24707222 PIA 24792471 Qantas 24559941 24771900 Qatar Airways 24796693 Royal Jordanian Saudi Arabian 24789485 Singapore Air 24791233 Srilankan Airlines 24797567 24816565 Sudan Air Swiss Air 24787416 Syrian Airways 24797567 Thai Airways 24705934 Turkish Airways 24475030
ART & CULTURE 24691380 24739204 24696974 24694969 99329842 24564297
LIBRARIES Bibliotheque Francaise 24681874 British Council Knowledge & Learning Centre 24681000 Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry 24707674 Public Technical Library 24673111 United States Information Service 24643400 147 OMAN VISITOR
ART GALLERIES Al Madina Bait Al Muzna Omani Heritage Gallery Omani society for Fine Arts Raj Relics Yitti Art Gallery
MUSEUMS Bait Adam 24605033 24714262 Bait Al Baranda 24736688 Bait Al Zubair 24605368/9 Children’s Museum Currency Museum 24641510 Muscat Gate Museum 24739005 Nakhal Fort Museum 26781384 National Museum 24701289 Natural History Museum 24641366 Oil & Gas Exhibtion Centre 24677834 24736613 Oman - French Museum Omani Heritage Museum 24600346 Planetarium 24675542 Salalah Museum 23294549 Sohar Fort Museum 26844758 Sultan’s Armed Forces Musm. 24588700 Sur Maritime Museum 24541466
Ahli Bank Bank Dhofar Bank Melli Iran Bank Muscat Bank of Baroda Bank of Beirut Bank Saderat Iran Bank Sohar Central Bank of Oman Habib Bank Ltd, HSBC Bank National Bank of Abu Dhabi National Bank of Oman Oman Arab Bank Oman Development bank Oman Housing Bank Oman International bank Standard Chartered bank State Bank of India
148 OMAN VISITOR
24577000 24790466 24815160 24768888 24817373 24698669 24833923 24730000 24702222 24817139 24799920 24761000 24778000 24706265 24812507 24704444 24682500 24703999 24704232
BEAUTY (SKIN & SPA ) Al Lilac Beauty Centre 24483994 Al Nahda Resort & Spa, Barka 26883710 24693435 Ayana Spa Beauty Today 24568991 Chi Spa, Shangrila’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa 24776666 Daksha’s Saloon 24562596 Emirates Medical Centre 24604540 Essence Spa 24603225 Grand Spa 24695766 Hana’s Slimming & Skincare 24697270 Hollywood Beauty Centre 24568292 Kaya Skin Clinic 24601700, 24604300 Kottakal Arya Vaidya Sala 24701555 Manal Beautician 24479655 Muscat Beauty Sallon 24562541 Muscat Slimming Centre 24565687 Nail spa 24699440 Perfumes & Cosmetics 24694922 Raz Hair & Beauty Saloon 24692219 The Chedi, The Spa 24524400 The Spa Bar for men 24698681
BUS TRAVEL Comfort Line (Muscat-Dubai) 24702191 Oman national Transport Co. 24590046
Al Nasr 24831358, 24831809 Al Shatti Plaza 24607360, 24692656 Markaz Al Bhaja 24540855 Star Cinema 24791641
149 OMAN VISITOR
CAR BREAKDOWN SERVICES
4x4 Best Rent a Car 24793333 Abu Shahab Al Shanfari 23291522 Advantage Car Rental 24561910 Al Ajyall Trading 99019108 Al Bouri Tradg. & Contg. Est. 24798344 Al Ibtisama Trading 24703404 Al Juraat Rent A Car 24832373 Al Maha Rent A Car 24603359 Al Maskry Rent A Car 24595241 Al Mazroui Trading 26795303 Al Rahal Rent A Car 24483238 Al Sana Trading Co. 24483202 Al Sharouq Rent A Car 24837777 Assilal Al Khadra’a Trdg. 24497684 Avis Rent-A-Car 24607235 Bait Al Qarn Trading 24691108 Budget Rent A Car 24683999 Discovery Car Rental 24833646 Dollar Rent A Car 24487841 Europcar 24700190 General Automotive Co. 24492143 Global Car Rental 24697140 Hello Taxi 24607011 24566208 Hertz Rent - A – Car Mark Rent - A – Car 24785050 Naseem Majan Rent A Car 99500282 National Travel & Tourism 24566046 Nujaima Trading 24708658 Premier Tours & Rent-A-Car 24700813 Rent-A-Car LLC 24482793 Shuram LLC 24696299 Sixt Rent A Car 24489082 Suwatco Rent A Car 24707840 Thrifty Car Rental 24489248 Value Plus Rent A Car 24817964 Wadi Halhal for Rent A Car 24539546 Xpress Rent A Car 24490055 Zubair Automotive 24490430
150 OMAN VISITOR
Algeria Austria Bahrain Bangladesh Belgium Brazil Canada Chile China Colombia Comores Cyprus Danish Egypt Finland France Germany Greece Holland India Iran Iraq Ireland Italy Japan Jordan Korea Kuwait Lebanon Malaysia Mexico Morroco Mozambique
24605593 24793135 24605074 24567379 24562033 24793751 24791738 24561977 24696698 24816264 24705509 24490200 24526000 24600411 24701454 24681800 24832482 24706648 24603706 24684500 24696944 24604178 24797083 24695223 24601028 24692760 24691490 24699626 24695844 24698643 24561977 24696152 24594205
24603719 Netherlands New Zealand 24794932 Norway 24603706 Pakistan 24603439 24601312 Palestine 24605140 Philippines Portugal 24561400 24691152/3 Qatar Russia 24602894 24487978 Rwanda Saudi Arabia 24601744 Somalia 24697977 South Africa 24694791 Spain 24691101 Sri Lanka 24697841 Sudan 24697875 Sweden 24708693 Switzerland 24568202 Syria 24697904 Taiwan 24605695 Tanzania 24601174 Thailand 24602684 Tunisia 24603486 24697050 Turkey United Arab Emirates 24600988 United Kingdom & Northern Ireland 24497078 24561977 United Mexican States 24643400 United States of America Uruguay 24568202 Yemen 24600815
151 OMAN VISITOR
EMBASSIES & CONSULATES
HOSPITALS & CLINICS 1st. Chiropractic Centre 24698847 Abraj Dental Clinic 99418792 Al Gaith Dental Clinic 24707975 Al Harub Medical Centre 24600750 Al Hayat Polyclinic 24565941 Al Kawakeb Medical Complex 24597977 Al Massaraat 24566435 Al Muthana Physiotherapy Centre 24484046 Al Qabas Clinic 24604466 Al Qurum Veterinary Clinic 24562263 American Dental Centre 24695422 Ayurvedic Centre 24478618 Badr Al Sama Clinic 24799760 Capital Polyclinic 24707549 Central Blood Bank 24591255 Dental Technology Centre 24571800 El Magraby Eye & Ear Centre 24568870 Elixir Health Centre 24565802 Emerald Dental Clinic 24561641 Emirates Medical Centre 24604540 German Orthopaedic Centre 24605082/90 Gulf Medical Centre 24564639 Haroob Dental Surgery 24563814 Hatat Polyclinic 24563641 KIMS Kottakal Arya Vaidya Sala (Ayurveda) 24701555 Lama Poly Clinic 24799077 Medident 24600668 Muscat Eye Lasser Centre 24691414 Muscat Private Hospital 24583600 Precision Dental Clinic 24696247 24692898 Qurum Medical Centre Sri Sri Ayurveda Clinic 24480874 Tafani veterinary Clinic 99473140 Taimour Ayurvedic Clinic 24799689 Welcare diagnostic & Treatment 24477666 Centre 152 OMAN VISITOR
HEALTH CLUBS 24684989 24702311 24592900 24605945 26795545 24660660 23235333 24487777 24600030 24510300 24641234 23211234 24571337 24680000 24487123 24694892 24605945 26841111
MUSCAT REGION Hotels Al Bahjah Hotel 24424400 Al Burj International Hotel 24798008 Al Bustan Palace Intl. 24799666 25412402 Al Diyar Hotel Al Falaj Hotel (Muscat) 24702311 Al Hadow Hotel 24799329 Al Khuwair Hotel Apartments 24478171 Al Madina Holiday Inn 24596400 24714196 Al Nahdha Hotel Al Rusayl Hotel 24446900 Al Shorouq Hotel Apartment 24789900 24788699 Al Walja Hotel 24696601 Beach Hotel Bowshar Hotel 24491105 Coral Hotel 24692121 Corniche Hotel 24714707 Crowne Plaza Muscat 24660660 153 OMAN VISITOR
Adam;s Fitness Centre Al Falaj Health Club Al Majan Hotel Al Qurum Resort Bodylines, Al Sawadi Crowne Plaza Crowne Plaza â€“ Salalah Fontana Club Radisson Blu Future Health Club Golden Tulip Grand Hyatt Club Olympus Hilton - Salalah Horizon Fitness Centre InterContinental Muscat Muscat Holiday Inn Samaa Health Club Sheraton Qurum Resort Sohar Beach Resort
Golden Tulip Resort, Khasab Golden Tulip Seeb Grand Hyatt Muscat Haffa House Hotel (Switchboard) Hamilton Plaza Hotel Happy Picnic Resort Hotel Camilia Hotel Summer Sands Intercontinental Muscat Majan Continental Hotel Makha Hotel Marina Hotel Mina Hotel Muscat Holiday Inn Muttrah Hotel Naseeb Hotel Flats Naseem Hotel Nuzha Hotel Apartments Oman Dive Centre
26730777 24510300 24641234 24707207 23211025 99423444 24833459 24813382 24680000 24592900 24814471 24711711 24711828 24487123 24798401 24811782 24712418 24789199 24824240
Oman Hotels & Tourism Co. 24702311 Qurum Beach Hotel 24564065 Qurum International Hotel 24571700 24487777 Radisson Blu 24603555 Ramada Muscat 24564443 Ramee GuestLine Hotel Ruwi Hotel (Muscat) 24704244 24473900 Safeer Hotel Suites Samaharam Tourist Village 23211420 24423212 Seeb Guest House 24543800 Seeb International Hotel Shangrilaâ€™Laâ€™sBarr Al Jissah 24776666 800708102 Sheraton Qurum Beach 24605945 Resort Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay 26735555 Spring Hotel 24836684 Sur Beach Hotel 25542031 Sur Hotel LLC 25540090 Sur Plaza Hotel (Sur) 25543777 The Chedi Muscat Oman 24524400 AL DHAKLIYA Hotels Adam Motel Al Diyar Hotel Al Jabal Al Akhdar Hotel Bader Aslaam Hotel Bahla Hotel Falaj Daris Hotel Majan Guest House Nizwa Hotel Tanoof Guest House
154 OMAN VISITOR
25434975 25410402 25410500 25435007 25420211 25410500 25431910 25431616 25411601
AL BATINAH REGION Hotels Al Nahda Resort & Spa 26883710 Al Sawadi Beach Resort 26795545 Al Suwaiq Hotel 26862241 Al Wadi Hotel 26840058 Ghurnata Hotel Apartments 26844539 Green Oasis Hotel 26846442 Sohar Beach Hotel 26841111 AL SHARQIYA REGION Hotels Al Ashkara 25566266 Al Qabil Resthouse 25581243 Al Raha Tourism Camp 99343851 Al Sharqiya Gardens 99332264 Al Sharqiya Sands Hotel 99205112 Al Wasil camp 99332264 Desert Safaris 25593232 Golden Sands Camp 99445092 Ibra Hotel 25571873 Mahoot Hotel 25504401 Masirah Hotel 25504401 Masra Sur Hotel Apartments 25540784 Nahar Tourism Oasis 99387654 Oriental Nights Rest House 99354816 Ras Al Hadd Beach Hotel 25542031 99376989
PO Box: 2148, Ruwi, Postal Code: 112, Sultanate of Oman Tel.: 24564065 (+5 lines... 24564070) Fax: 24560761 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.qurumbeachhotel.com
MUSANDAM REGION Hotels Isra Hotel Apartments 26730562 Khasab Hotel 26730267 Qada Hotel 26731664 AL WUSTA Ghaba Rest House Ghaftain Rest House Haima Motel Qatbit Motel
99358639 99485881 23436061 99085686
DHOFAR REGION Hotels Al Hanaa Hotel Al Jabal Hotel Al mazyuna Hotel Al Nasser Hotel Al Saada Tourism Complex Al Zaki Hotel Apartment
23290274 23210611 23293340 23294815 23225250 23295124
23235333 23295877 23282300 23295444 23211234 23292255 23295332 23279371
AL DHAHIRA REGION Hotels Abha Hotel 25654700 Al Baraka Oasis hotel Apt. 25650955 Al Buraimi Hotel 25652010 Al Dahira Hotel 25650492 Al Masaah Hotel 25653007 Al Raha Hotel Apartments 24701896 Al Sharq House Hotel Apt. 24702399 Hamasa House 25651200 Ibri Oasis Hotel 25489955 Nafahaat Al Buraimi Hotel Flats 25654777
155 OMAN VISITOR
Crowne Plaza Salalah Darbat Hotel Dhofar Tourist Hotel Haffa House Hotel Salalah Hilton Salalah Resort Redan Hotel Salalah Hotel Thumrait Tourism Hotel
Faiq Money Exchange 24562841 Gulf Oversees Exchange 24834182 Hamdan Exchange 23211258 Hamdan Trading 23210000 24700065 Laxmidas Tharia Ved 24832133 Modern Exchange 24706519 Mustafa Sultan Exchange 24712279 Naraindas Jamnadas 26882038 National Exchange Co. 24750830 Oman & UAE Exchange Oman International Exchange 24830893 24794305 Oman United Exchange 24712323 Purshotam kanji Sabco Commercial Centre 24563943
AFRICAN Caravans The Chambers Hakuna Matata Nandoâ€™s
24475501 24592900 24487123 24561818
ARABIAN Al Aktham Restaurant Al Deyar Al Khuwair Al Tarboosh Restaurant Arab World Restaurant Automatic Restaurant Beirut Restaurant Beiruti Camilia restaurant
24603292 24603553 24487200 24565673 24491734 24561500 24568411 24692121 24706663
156 OMAN VISITOR
24480900 24692269 24592900 24475497 24641234 24561500 24799666 24424343 24560100 24524400 24488073
CAFES Al Falaj Coffee Shop 24702311 Barista (SABCO Centre) 24571531 Cafe De Muscat (Oasis By The Sea) 24602585 Café Barbera 24603305 Café Capuccino (Ramee Guestline Hotel) 24564443 Café Ceramique 24566617 Cafe Glacier 24489245 Café Vergnano 24692370 Cinnzeo 24706727 Salubrious 24693888/96617070 Costa Coffee 24519734 Darcy’s Kitchen 24600234 24602327 Le Mermaid Café 24503861 Lulu Baushar Majlis Al Shams (Intl. Muscat) 24580000 Mokha Café (Grand Hyatt Muscat) 24641234 24535895 Muscat City Centre 24781901 Nirwana Oasis By the Sea 24605574 Oasis Lounge Café (Radisson Blu) 24687777 Olivos Coffee Shop (Radisson Blu) 24687777 Pooldeck (Intl. Muscat) 24580000 Samharam Coffee Shop (Haffa House Hotel) 24707207 24566616 Second Cup Seeb Int’l Airport 24519734
Starbucks Café Jawharat A’Shatti Madinat Qaboos Muscat City Centre Qurum Beach Sirj Tea Lounge Surf Café (Shangrila’s Resort & Spa) The Crepe Café (Muscat City Centre)
24601457 24699367 24558861 24568213 24641234 24776666 24558530
FAR EASTERN Chinese Garden 24489414 China Mood (Al Bustan Hotel) 24799666 24567974 China Town Restaurant Golden Dragon Restaurant 24697374 Golden Oryx Restaurant 24702266 Chopsticks 23291400 24772772 Jade Garden Magic Wok 24537118 Muscat City Centre 24537118 24696967 Silk Route The Noodle House 24558377 The Pavillion 24814008 Tokyo Taro (Al Felaij Hotel) 24702311 The Goldenspoon Restaurant 24482263 Wok of Life 96549654
157 OMAN VISITOR
Istanbuly Kargeen Café Khaima (Majan Hotel) Meknes Mokha Café (Grand Hyatt) Qurum Sablat (Al Bustan) Seeb Shiraz (Crowne Plaza) The Arabian Courtyard (The Chedi) Turkish House
FAST FOOD DQ Grill & Chill Jawharat A’Shatti Lulu Baushar Seeb Airport
24693031 24693031 24504504 24519468
Dominoes Pizza Hardees Qurum Al Khuwair Muscat City Centre Airport
24479111 24564642 24489575 24489575 24521133
Mc Donalds Al Sarooj Complex Qurum Al Khuwair Muscat City Centre Airport
24691033 24565798 24482046 24545773 24521133
KFC Airport Al Khuwair Lulu Muscat City Centre Qurum Ruwi High Street
24519468 24482046 24502888 24497909 24566999 24704040
Papa John’s Pizza Lulu MQ Qurum Muscat Airport
24501111 24697220 24571100 24519468
Pizza Hut Muscat Salalah Sohar Nizwa Sur Tharmad Wajaja
24822500 23290303 26841155 25412096 25545388 26810036 26849940
Pizza Muscat Al Khuwair Al Harthy Complex MBD
24483393 24565618 24817715
Subway Al Khuwair Al Masa Mall CCC MQ Muscat City Centre
24593963 24604664 24560327 24694774 24558080
158 OMAN VISITOR
International 2nd Avenue 24695164 24489292 Al Akhtam Al Bandar Lounge 24776666 Al Waha Lounge 24776666 Alauddin Restaurant 24600667 Assira Pool Bar 24776666 24558184 Biella Blue Marlin Restaurant 24737940 Chillis 24558815 Golden Tulip Seeb 24510300 Karachi Darbar 24479360 24562338 Moghul Restaurant O Sole Mio Ristorante Italiano 24601343 Pavo Real 24602603 (The Mexican Restaurant) 24480527 Peppercorns 24692486/96612020 Stomach 24480306 Turkish House Restaurant Turkish Restaurant 24483613 24488071 Turkish Restaurant
159 OMAN VISITOR
Indian Al Khuwair 24479243 Al Khuwair 24604257 Biryani House 24826526 Bollywood Chat 24565653 Bombay Chat Corner 24796042 Copper Chimney Restaurant 24780207 Curry House Restaurant 24564033 Dosteen Restaurant 24622850 Grill House 24815057 Happy Village 24564995 Horizon 24798232 Kamat Vegetarian Restaurant 24793355 Khana Khazana 24813466 Khyber Restaurant 24781901 99421778 Koliwada 24564443 Mirchi Mughlai Zaika 24568200 24605907 Mumtaz Mahal Oman Express Restaurant 24831329 Omar Al Khayyam Passage to India 24568480 Rex Road 24793355 24703035 Ruwi Ruwi 24783300 24794114 Sagar Restaurant 24704502 / 07 Saravana Bhavan Seeb 24421435 Swagath vegetarian restaurant 24707676 The Great Kabab Factory 24478373 Trivandrum Fried Chicken 24816388 24700192 Woodlands Restaurant Salalah 23240280 26843746 Sohar
SHOPPING CENTRES & MALLS Al Araimi Complex Al Harthy Complex Al Isteqrar Shopping Centre Al Khamis Plaza Al Qais Shopping Centre Al Wadi Commercial Centre Alasfoor Plaza Beach Commercial Complex Capital Commercial Centre
24566180 24564481 24481762 24562791 24478991 24564782 24564686 24699777 24563672
Centre Point Al Khuwair 24698988 24562571 Golden Home LLC Hamdan Trading Group (Salalah) 23210000 International Property Services 24537788 Jawharat Aâ€™ Shati Complex 24692113 24796161 Khimji Megastore LA CASA DEL Habano 24693141 Lulu Shopping Center LLC 24811449 Markaz Al Bahja 24540200 Muscat City Centre 24558888 Muscat City Centre 24558981 Nasib Plaza 24705993 Pic N Save & Partners LLC 24479211 24817656 Ruwi SABCO Commercial Centre 24563943 Safeer Centre Intl. LLC 26882050 Safeer Hypermarket 24494677 24567771 Safeer Mart 24698988 Splash (Fashion Art LLC) The Sultan Center LLC 24568913 Zakher Shopping Mall 24489884
160 OMAN VISITOR
SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS American Women’s group 24594751 Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music 99440441 Environment Society of Oman 24482121 Harmony Music Centre 92177342/24704303 Historical Association of Oman 24563074 Horticultural Association 24605493 Indian Social Club Muscat 99322713 Muscat Amateur Theatre 24562511/24497502 Muscat Singers 99473709 Oman Bird Watching Camp 24695498 Omani Women Association 24602800 Royal Omani Amateur Radio Society 24600407 Women’s Guild of Oman www.womensguildoman.org
SPorts BASKETBALL Oman Basketball Asociation 24793802
BOWLING Al Masa Bowling City Bowling
Cricket Oman Cricket Club
Cycling Muscat Cycling Club
161 OMAN VISITOR
BOATING Capital Area Yacht Club 24737712 Desert Thunder 95555153 Gulf Leisure 99819005 Grand Hyatt Muscat Boat House 24641234 Marina Bandar Al Rowdha 24737288 Ocean Boats Diving & Sea Tours 92645889
DIVING & SNORKELING Blue Zone Water Sports 24737293 Desert Thunder 95555153 Dimaniyat Divers Club (Al Sawadi Beach Resort) 26795545 Global Scuba 99317518 Gulf Leisure 99819005 Musandam Extra Divers 99877957 Muscat Divers 99355671 Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre 24485663/99239658 Ocean Boats Diving & Sea Tours 92645889 Oman Dive Centre 24824240/99379031 Sub Aqua Dive Centre (Salalah) 92471073
GOLF Al Maha Golf Club Ghala Wentworth Game Fishing Grand Hyatt Muscat Gulf Leisure Muscat Game Fishing Club
Jet Skiing Al Sawadi Beach Resort Kayaking Al Sawadi Beach Resort Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre Oman Dive Centre
26795545 26795545 24485663 24824240
MOTOR SPORTS Bikers Oman 99556430 Harley Davidson Owners Group 99310853 Oman Automobile Association 24510239 Rock Climbing Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre 24485663 Rugby Muscat Rugby Club
Running Muscat Road Runners
Hiking Desert Thunder 95555153 Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre 24485663 Horse Riding Al Sawadi Beach Resort 26795545 Al Sawahil Horse Riding 95177557 Desert Thunder 95555153 Qurum Equestrian School 99832199
Sailing Castaways Sailing Club Desert Thunder
SQUASH Al Falaj Hotel Al Sawadi Crowne Plaza Muscat Grand Hyatt Muscat
24702311 26795545 24660660 24641234
ICE SPORTS Ice Skating Centre
Tennis Oman Tennis Association
24641234 24693561 99322779
162 OMAN VISITOR
Al Dar Taxi Hello Taxi Muscat Cab
24700555, 24700777 24697997 96429096
TELEPHONE SERVICES International Operator Local Talking Pages
1319 1318 24600100
TRAVEL AGENTS & TOURIST ORGANISATIONS
25691262 24479295 24780282 24814757 24792460 23294324 23293714 26882083 24425557
Abu Anwar Travel Agency Airborne Travel & Tourism Airlink Travel & Tourism Al Aseel Travel & Tourism Al Darwish Travels Al Fawaz Travel & Tourism Al Firdaos Group Al Furaish Travels Al Ghadeer Trading
Al Ghubayra Travel & Tourism 24812874 24486656 Al Haider Travel & Tours 24562247 Al Hail Travel & Tourism Al Harthy - Al Araimi Travel 24799966 & Cargo Al Hashar Tourism, Travels 24836100 & Cargo 25650787 Al Jabri Travel & Tourism 24837334 Al Jazeera Travels 23297838 Al Majal Travel Al Maskry Rent A Car, 24595241 Travel & Tours 24591111 Al Tawajed 24704828 Aries Travel 23290726 Baabood Travels Bahla Travel & Cargo Agencies 24782934 24704455 Bahwan Travel Agencies 24812952 Blue Falcon Travel 25650224 Buraimi Travel Agency Concorde Cargo 23296502 & Shipping Services 24683900 Eihab Travels Fahad Express Travel & Tourism 24705008 24782266 Global Travel Services
164 OMAN VISITOR
Hamdan Travel 23295011 & Tourism Agency International Travel Agencies 24701133 24700209 Lina Travel & Tourism Majan International 24703844 Marmul Travel & Tours LLC 24482868 Mazyouna Travel 24568061 Mezoon Travel LLC 24796680 24588755 Ministry of Tourism 24425353 Misk Travel & Tourism 24796300 Moon Travels LLC Muscat Aviation Services LLC 24698722 National Travel & Tourism 24566046 Oman Orient Travel & Tours 24790400 Oman Shipping 24790509 & Travel Agencies Oman Tourism 24830881 & Travel Agencies 24701128 Oman Travel Bureau Omani Travel & Tourism Bureau LLC 24789845 24704129 OUA Travel Centre 24566046 Palace On Wheels 24705035 Rasmia Travels LLC 24784548 Saiba Travel & Tours 24813221 Select Travel LLC Shanfari Travel & Tourism 24786916 Sindbad International Travel 24798891 & Tours 24832202 Skyline Travels & Tours 24813221 Sunrise Travel & Tourism 24703303 United Travel Universal Travel 24797526 & Tourism Agencies Universe Travel & Tours 24490370 Urich Travel, Tours & Cargo 24799541 Zahara Travel & Service Bureau 24695678
TOUR OPERATORS Adonis Oman Travel & Tours 24693371 Advantage Travel & Tours 95220095 Advantage Tours 92050057 Adventure Holidays 24700268 Airborne Travel & Tourism 24479295 Al Areesh Wahiba Camp 99317107 25412368 Al Azri Tours Al Daleel Tours 23296503 Al Dana Travel & Tours 24600343 Al Haditha 24603587 Al Harthy Al Araimi Travel & Cargo 24799966 Al Hashar Tourism, Travels & Cargo 24836100 24700600 Al Khanjry Transport Al Montaha Tourism 23296782 24795206 Al Nahdha Tourism LLC Al Raha Tourism Camp 99343851 24701454 Amazing Arabia Arabian Sands Tour Services 24785027 24693223 Arabian Sea Safaris 24605825 Aries Travel & Tours Bahwan Travel Agencies 24797405 24566016 Bur Al Hikman 24700326 Centre Holidays Choice Holidays 24660364 Desert Discovery 24493232 24702311 Desert Night Camp Desert Thunder 95555153 Dhofar Tourism Co 23290641 24683900 Eihab Travels Elite Travel & Tourism 24485020 Empty Quarter Tours 99387654 Global Tours LLC 24484156 Golden Oryx Tours 24489853 Gulf Leisure 24693561 Gulf Ventures 24490733 24700249 Kanoo Travel
Khasab Travel & Tours Kurban Tours & Travel Knight Divers Lubna Dhow Majan Travels Mark Tours Marmul Travel & Tours Mezoon Travels Moon Travels Nahar Tourism Oasis National Ferries National Travel & Tourism Nomad Tours NTT Tours Oasis Tours Ocean Boats Oman Geo Tours & Tourism Oman National Transport Oman World Tourism Orient Holidays Oriental Rest House OTTB OUA Travels Out Reach Arabia Ocean Blue International Premier Tours & Rent-A-Car Risail Travel Agency Salalah City Services Salalah Tourism Sama Al Wasil Tourism Shanfari Travel & Tours Sun & Sand Tours Sunrise Travel & Tourism Tour Oman Travellers World United Tours Zahara Tours
166 OMAN VISITOR
26730464 24699886 97005268 24817566 24785728 24782727 24482868 24796680 24793551 99387654 80072333 24660376 95495240 24660378 24499922 24737545 24600914 24490046 99431333 24478902 99354816 24789845 24559900 24737545 96125091 24700813 24510012 23299663 23292289 99604004 24602710 99373928 24813221 24799966 24545130 24787448 24400844