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“I reaffirm the necessity to give tourism a priority in the future development programme. This sector has great potential for growth and for making an effective contribution to economic diversification, since our dear country possesses such splendid tourist assets such as its historic heritage, natural beauty, perfect environment, folklore and traditional industries. In addition, there is the security, stability and the spirit of tolerance of the Omani citizens, thanks to God. The tourism industry is well qualified to offer career opportunities to Omanis. It is well capable of serving the aims of regional development, since its benefits will cover all regions. On this basis we should prepare a newstrategy to develop this sector so it can stand on its own feet in a severely competitive, flexible and diversified international market.� Excerpted from the speech of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on the occasion of the 29th National Day

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said

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WHERE BUSINESS AND PLEASURE MEET This iconic hotel boasts Muscat’s best views that can be enjoyed from the dining terraces, elegantly appointed rooms and the lawns that run along the top of the cliffs overlooking the Arabian Sea. Inside you will find attentive service at all of our facilities, whether it be in our fitness centre, one of our seven restaurants and bars or state-of-the-art conference and meeting venues.

CPMUSCAT.COM 2015

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00968 2466 0660


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Editor’s Note Deepak Nair 2015

Dear Reader, DestinationOman which showcases the rich tapestry of culture and traditions of this fascinating seafaring Arab nation, the Sultanate of Oman; has become the country’s most popular annual tourism publication over the past decade. Now, we are proud to present to you with the eleventh annual print edition.

Publisher

PO Box 332, PC 117, Wadi Kabir, Muscat Sultanate of Oman Tel: +968 24810204 Email: info@interacoman.com Web: www.interacoman.com Cover Photo Jaap Croese Contributors & Photography Bait Al Zubair Foundation Jaap Croese Deepak Nair Rob Arnhem Athira Krishna Prasad Nandini Pravin Priyanka Ghosh

Disclaimer While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all editorial and advertising matter in this publication, the creators and publishers do not accept any liability for any errors or omission. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, digital or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publishers.

All correspondence should be sent to: info@destinationoman.com

I must admit after all these years of travelling in this fascinating country, aptly christened the ‘Pearl of the Arabian Peninsula,’ in the quest of discovering its scenic topography, I realised for every fabulous destination previously discovered, there were myriads of newer discoveries over the horizon, awaiting your arrival. I sincerely hope these fascinating desert stories that we have featured over the years have inspired our many admiring readers to set off on their own personal journeys to unravel their own stories of spectacular discoveries of the many priceless hidden sightseeing treasures that abound the picturesque Omani landscape. In this edition, we explore some gorgeous destinations and examine some local cultural traditions. We will travel to the stunning aquamarine underwater havens of the Musandam Peninsula dotted with its many islands, where this diver’s paradise teems with a wide variety of marine life along its gently sloping coral reefs. We then traverse further down south along the coastline, in the Wilayat of Sur and explore the green turtle haven of Ras Al Jinz. We will then submerge into the tranquillity of the brilliant confluence of architecture, aesthetics and spirituality at the opulent Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. We also take a walk hand in hand with nature as we traipse through the land of gardens at the Green Paradise – Salalah, which would also give us a fair picture of the flowering trees of Oman. As we learn about Qawah, the Omani coffee, we also understand a little bit more about the Omani headgear for men that incorporates an intricately embroidered Kummah underneath a uniquely styled turban made of finely woven cotton or woollen fabric, dependent on the season. We also visit Bait Al Zubair, a world-class museum housing some rare artefacts and historic relics that educate us about the history of this wonderful Sultanate. Our continuing success relies heavily on the whole-hearted support of our magnanimous sponsors, benevolent well-wishers and most of all - you, our beloved readers. As a tribute to this precious association that we hold so close to our hearts, we encourage receiving evocative first-hand tourist accounts and visitor experiences in our editions. Hence if any of you have any meaningful contributions you may like to share with other readers, we would appreciate your thoughts, pictures and valuable feedback at editor@ destinationoman.com for our consideration. Let me once again remind each one of you that alluring Oman eagerly awaits your visit with open arms, ready to mesmerise you with its enrapturing beauty and charming hospitality, to make an everlasting memory, for all who seek its captivating shores. Thank you!


CONTENTS

TOURISM

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.......................................16-21 The Mutrah Souq.........................................................................26-29 The Omani Man’s Headgear....................................................30-32 The Royal Opera House.............................................................34-35 Al Hamra.........................................................................................36-37 Fresh Produce Souqs..................................................................40-42 Bait Al Zubair.................................................................................44-48 Musandam The Paradise Peninsula......................................50-53 Salalah A verdant paradise......................................................54-58 Qawah The Traditional Omani coffee ..................................60-63 Zayna Spa............................................................................................. 65 Bay Watch Oman.........................................................................66-68 Six Senses Zighy Bay..................................................................70-72 The Flowering Trees and Shrubs of Oman’s Cities...........74-77 Ras Al Jinz The green Turtle Habitat.....................................78-81 The Sur Gate Project...................................................................84-85 A ‘Green’ Garden Resort on The Green Mountain...........86-89 Frankincense The Scent of Oman..........................................90-92 City Seasons Muscat.................................................................................. .93

Millennium Resort Mussanah....................................................... 95 1000 Nights Camp......................................................................96-97 Mezoon Travels................................................................................... 99


The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque A shrine, a symphony

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‘‘ A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness. ‘‘ John Keats

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Photo © Priyanka Ghosh

These lines by John Keats may only begin to express the delight experienced by a person visiting the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat. The sprawling Mosque complex built over an area of 40,000 sqm is a symbol of the brilliant confluence of architecture, aesthetics and spirituality. While meandering in its precincts the heart leaps in amazement, the mind finds instant tranquility, and the eyes stay riveted to indescribable opulence present all around. Resting against a backdrop of majestic mountains, the Grand Mosque presents a picture of nature’s perfect harmony with man’s faculty. It is a modern day wonder set to the contours of age-old traditions. It is a triumph of human endeavour wrought from cultural values. It is architectural poetry written in a contemporary style. It is a reflection of a nation’s spiritual strength and a pointer to its people’s spiritual aspirations. Seen from myriad perspectives, the Grand mosque is an edifice of unparalleled attributes. The Inception The Mosque, instructions for which were given by His Majesty Sultan Said Bin Qaboos in the year 1992

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took six years to complete. In the year 1993, the Diwan of Royal Court held an international competition to find the best design for the Grand Mosque. The construction commenced in 1995, headed by the master architect Mohamed Saleh Makiya and Quad Design of London and Muscat. The long years that went into the construction of the Mosque complex are testimony to the effort and dedication that has gone into making it a true piece of marvel in

marble, sand stone and wood. The mosque complex consists of a scared platform on which stand the two important monumental objects of the main prayer hall and the open-air prayer courtyard. This sacred platform is defined by the four corner Minarets each standing 148 feet high. The five minarets, including the main minaret, are symbolic of the five pillars of Islam. The main prayer hall is an elevated


Photo Š Priyanka Ghosh

square block on the western part of the complex. A small ladies prayer hall is situated to the east of the main hall. The main prayer hall building has a capacity of over 6,600. Put together the complex can accommodate over 20, 000 worshipers in its main hall, ladies hall and the open air court yards. The Exteriors Arriving from the south side, which is the main entrance, you will be lead into the grounds of the complex through three entrances, each ending in its own separate open area, off which lead a series of arcades. The Riwaqs are the arcades that form the transitional space between the site and the complex and they are marked by a set of vaulted archways. They are covered by a series of attractive domes inspired by the domes of the Bilad Bani bu Ali mosque in the Sharqiya region. Although the north and south Riwaqs give an impression of a complete enclosure, the complex is conceptually open at the east and west ends. The Riwaqs by their location define the boundary of the sacred platform. The southern Riwaq houses all the ancillary facilities namely the ablution courts, library, conference

hall and administrative quarter. The central minaret and dome gives the skyline of Muscat a peerless grandeur, which one can behold from afar. The dome, rising to a height of 50 meters has an outer structure of gold embossed fretwork design, like a lattice screen over an inner shell lining in gold mosaics. An undulating parapet with merlons typical of Omani fort architecture runs around the solid dome structure. The walls of the mosque are sheer poetry in stone. Geometric and floral border motifs give the stone facades a vibrancy that is felt all along the structure. The intricacy of the carving increases as you approach the interiors of the complex. The geometric patterns that fill the arch spandrels of the Riwaqs and the calligraphy bands that run below the vaults are beyond description. The outer walls of the main prayer hall harbours a set of blind arches and niches and the densely carved stone panels at the top end of the walls brings the mute stone wall to life. The marvel of the main prayer hall If the exteriors of the mosque have already taken your breath away, the splendour of the interiors of the main prayer hall will make you

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Photo Š Priyanka Ghosh

speechless. The magnificence of the inner sanctum will put you in veritable trance for as long as you are inside it. Intricately carved wooden doors, each of which is topped with Quranic verses in sprawling decorative calligraphic style leads you into the main prayer hall. It would take a while for you to get over the sudden awe inspired by what you see. What strikes you first is the vastness of the space that has been so aesthetically integrated into a spiritual arena. Soak in the bliss as you walk towards the Mihrab (niche facing Makkah) that projects through the outer Qiblah (direction of Makkah) wall. The Mihrab exists as a separately designed original artwork set within arches. The entire structure is laced in cut tile ceramic inlays. A twisted cable ceramic moulding, painted in gold highlights the structure, the beauty of which is indescribable. Walk around the hall viewing the stained glass windows that complement the patterns and motifs of the interiors. Gaze at the 35 chandeliers made of Swaroski crystal and gold plated metal work. The grand central chandelier, which is eight meters wide and 14 meters high, weighs eight tonnes. The radiance it produces comes from 1,122 lamps that constitute it. The inner dome and the carpet

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of the main prayer hall that are made with such meticulousness stand testimony to the integration of a splendid design, superlative material, and supreme craftsmanship. The dome is assembled in segments between the marble ribs and columns from large pendetive elements all inlaid in fine cut tiles. All the cut tile work was carried out by special craftsmen and assembled in panels and elements at the mosque workshops. A calligraphy border inlaid with cut tile work in blue and gold colours run along the perimeter of the space just below the ceiling. Magic Carpet Behold the amazing single spread of Persian carpet that covers the floor of the main prayer hall! The 70 x 60 meters of sheer magic in fine wool and cotton yarns is made of 1700 million knots and weighs 21 tonnes. Contemplate this. It took four years for the carpet to come into existence. Six hundred women weavers worked tirelessly under the supervision of 15 technical experts in the Iranian province of Khurasan to create this magic in twenty-eight colours. Fifteen months were spent in finalizing the designs and getting the weaving materials and workshop together, 27 months in actual weaving and five months to finish and trim the 58 pieces. And then these pieces were joined and laid inside the hall by special weavers. It

is notable that most of the shades in the carpet were obtained from traditional vegetable dyes. The beauty it exudes under the Swaroski radiance is fascinating to say the least. The Sultan Qaboos Grand mosque symbolizes the coming together of a spectacular array of traditional Islamic art and architectural styles that are set in a contemporary mode. The confluence of Ottoman, Mamluk, Islamic Indian Mughal, Iranian Safavid, traditional Omani and other styles of architecture various parts of the structure confer on it a uniqueness that is hard to surpass by any modern piece of architecture. Its attributes expose the limitations of language as one searches for a perfect paean to scribble in the visitors register as one takes leave. Suffice it to say that it stands tall as a man made complement to the natural beauty of a country called Oman. Note: Visiting hours for non-Muslim sightsee›rs are restricted according to days, prayer times & Islamic festivals. However it is generally open to visitors between 8.00 and 11.00 in the morning on days except Thursday and Friday. Remember to follow the dress code, which rules women to wear long sleeved, ankle covering clothes and a scarf to cover their head. Men can wear T – shirts but shorts are forbidden.


Photo Š Priyanka Ghosh

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Photo © Priyanka Ghosh

THE MUTRAH SOUQ

The Traditional Omani Market place The main attraction in Mutrah for any tourist is probably the famous Mutrah Souk. This is Muscat at its most magical. Here you will find all kinds of Arabian treasures, from local foods, frankincense and jewellery to antique dowry boxes, Omani handicrafts and earthenware. Be warned that it is easy to get lost in the market, with maze-like passageways lined with stalls. Mutrah Souk is a prototype of old Eastern markets, characterised by narrow winding alleys roofed with wood. One of the oldest traditional souks (marketplaces) in the Arab world, the Mutrah souk has a history stretching back over 200 years and has earned acclaim throughout Oman for its varied array of both local and imported goods – thanks in large part to its strategic position at the mouth of Muscat Harbour. Known locally as the Al Dhalam souk, which translates as ‘Darkness’ in Arabic, the souk takes its name from the network of narrow streets that run

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between Khour Bimba and the Al Lawatiya Mosque, where the stalls are so cramped together the sunlight can’t make it through the cracks. Navigating the dimly lit stalls and maze-like alleyways is all part of the experience and shopping in the souks is one of the top pastimes for visitors to Oman. Exploring the myriad of stalls reveals a host of local goods like Frankincense, perfumes and fresh spices, alongside traditional handicrafts like the Omani Dagger called the Khanjar, Bedu jewelry and colorful hookah pipes. You could spend many enjoyable hours here, haggling over handicrafts and attempting to make sense of the maze, especially if you venture away from the heavily touristed main area into the tangled backstreets beyond. In the past the market was built from mud and palm leaves, which suited the high temperatures and the hard climate conditions and hence were the best available materials

to build the market at that time. Today, the Muscat Municipality has renovated and decorated the market to maintain the popular style but has also introduced modern amenities and redecorated the market heavily to attract tourists and make the shopping experience comfortable for tourists as well as other ordinary shoppers. The market becomes more crowded and active during Eid seasons when Oman is come from all over the country to buy garments and jewellry. The souk can be somewhat deceptive at first acquaintance: it’s a lot larger, and a lot more confusing, than you might initially suspect. Heading in from the main entrance on the corniche it’s possible to walk across the souk in under five minutes, following the main thoroughfare which bisects the area from north to south. This stretch – at its liveliest afterdark – is where you’ll


find the souk’s most touristy (and expensive) shops, lined with neatly restored old buildings under a fine wooden roof and thronged with an eclectic mix of robed Omanis and camera-toting tourists. Souvenir items like local garments are also popular. Choose from the cool, white dishdashas with their neat, flowing lines. Match it with a ‘kummas’, the traditional cap. There is also the ‘massar’, the distinguished turban worn by Omani men. Women can choose from ‘surwals’ (trousers) and ‘lihaffs’ (shawls). THE KHANJAR SHOPPING: TAKE HOME AN OMANI DAGGER A symbol of pride, manhood and elegance, the khanjar is one of Oman’s most distinctive products. This curved dagger is a must-wear for Omani men, and will be seen proudly displayed at all important occasions. Omani craftsmen and silversmiths are renowned for their khanjar creations that are truly works of art. Originally, the hilts of some of the khanjars were made from rhino horn. But today, keeping the lives

of these fast-depleting animals in mind, plastic and fiberglass are among the materials used here. The body of the khanjar is made from dual pieces of wood. It is artistically embellished in silver or sometimes in gold. Khanjars can cost anywhere between from RO 30 to RO 500, depending on the quality, decoration and work on the dagger, scabbard and belt. THE BAKHOOR: THE SCENTS OF OMAN Treat your senses to a range of fragrances, on sale in Mutrah. You will find the bakhoor being sold by Bedouin women as well as by the shopkeepers. The bakhoor weaves together an aromatic bouquet of raw materials such as sandalwood, frankincense and natural oils. You can also pick up an incense burner. These are among the folk symbols of Oman. You will find them in all sizes, some colourfully painted, some in gleaming silver, and others in the mud colour of their birth.

belts, chest pieces, amulets, anklets, you name it you will find it here. Many of these pieces boast intricate designs. Secondary accessory metals like gold, bronze and old coins, etc. are also used as decorations. Omani silver is 92.5% pure. Most of the jewellery on sale will not be as ancient as the earnest shopkeeper in front of you may claim. This is for the simple reason that traditionally a woman’s jewellery is melted down and sold for its weight after her death. You can also purchase the traditional Omani coffee pot as a souvenir. Perched in your home, it will evocatively recall your visit to Oman. THE DRESS OF THE PEOPLE Souvenir items like local garments are also popular. Choose from the cool, white dishdashas with their neat, flowing lines. Match it with a ‘kummas’, the traditional cap. There is also the ‘massar’, the distinguished turban worn by Omani men. Women can choose from ‘surwals’ (trousers) and ‘lihaffs’ (shawls).

SILVER JEWELLERY: DESIGNED TO THRILL Silver boxes made to hold kohl,

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Photo © Nandini Pravin

Photo © Priyanka Ghosh

Photo © Priyanka Ghosh

Photo © Deepak Nair

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Photo © Nandini Pravin


SHOPPING TIPS Whether you go to Mutrah Souk for shopping or just to wander around and soak up the atmosphere, here are a few markers that could make your trip even more enjoyable. * If you want to keep away from the crowds, visit the souk in the mornings or late afternoons. The souk is busiest in the evening hours, after 6.00 p.m.

* If you have a certain item in mind, look around in more than one shop, and then choose the best piece, at the best price. Stores here tend to group together according to similarity of wares on sale. Here, you will find all the textiles in one area, the gold shops in another, which makes it very convenient for shoppers who want to compare similar items.

Photo © Nandini Pravin

Photo © Athira Krishna Prasad

Photo © Athira Krishna Prasad

Photo © Athira Krishna Prasad

Photo © Athira Krishna Prasad

Photo © Deepak Nair

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MUSSAR AND KUMMAH THE OMANI MAN’S HEADGEAR

Text and Pictures by Rob Arnhem

No visitor to Oman will fail to note the range and variety of colourful headgear worn by Omani men. It sets them apart. The cylindrical cap, or kummah, is thought to have originated in East Africa. Variations are worn by African Muslims from Mozambique to Somalia, but it’s more conical and not as high as the Omani version, which is more cylindrical. It’s usually embroidered by hand in fine eyelet ringed stitches around tiny holes to keep air circulating. Most often the result of many hours of loving attention to detail by a wife, a mother or a sister, there are hundreds of designs. The blank templates are sold in souqs and the range of patterns available is huge. Contrasts between colours can be very bold, with geometric or flowing arabesques in two, or maybe three colours, on a white background,

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or very subtle, with white, pale yellow or grey embroidery on white. A machine-made one will cost about five rials, but a really fine hand-embroidered one will sell for RO 60 or more, with RO300 not being unusual for a very fine one. Nowadays, cheaper machine-made ones are sold by Bangladeshi tailors - and inevitably, some are even Made in China! When choosing the colour of a dishdasha, it’s essential that the vital fashion accessory, the cap, matches or complements the shade. The well-dressed gentleman in the last couple of years may even have one of the same shades in the kummah repeated in coloured thread on the neckline, front and cuffs of the dishdasha. You’ll see it worn in dozens of different styles - pushed down low

to the eyebrows, perched back on the head and showing a forelock, or worn jauntily to one side. For that extra personal touch, it might be folded down the middle to make a peak in front, and the crown might be bent inwards around the circumference. I’ve even seen one moulded to form an upright crest at the front like a baseball cap peak, and others which look like military forage caps. The kummah is less formalwear, and in Oman allows greater possibilities for the individual to tie his headcloth, because it gives a firm foundation for that crowning glory of an Omani man - his mussar. Although it’s generally known in English as a turban, this word is Turkish or Persian in origin and refers to the shape of an open


tulip. For special occasions, and for compulsory daily workwear if he is in government service, this is generally a fine woollen (or cotton) cloth about a metre square. When the weavers of Kashmir first hit on the fatal attraction Omanis had for ‘cashmere’, pashmina and shahtoosh is not clear, but it’s a major industry. Once again, the attention and quality is in the detail. The finer and more delicately the mussar is embroidered, and the softer and finer the wool, the higher the price. These can be very expensive fashion items indeed, in the hundreds. Although it might seem an odd choice in a hot climate, wool is a good insulator against both heat and cold, and cashmere is the finest you can get. The way a mussar is tied and worn, and its material and colour, are open books to those in the know. If it’s plain white cotton, and worn high on the head, with one long fringed end hanging down the nape, it can be a sign of a particularly religiously observant man, for whom expensive clothes are not acceptable among the devout. In Dhofar, locals often favour a dark green checked cloth edged with tassels, sometimes embellished with gold thread, and with the corners having longer tassels. And it’s not always worn as

a turban either - Salalah beaus will wear it draped around the neck as a scarf, or simply hanging over one shoulder. Further north, bordering the UAE, a fine light muslin headcloth is preferred, worn without a kummah. This is very loosely tied, and can be white or with a violet tinge. In the Sharqiyah, and especially among the Bedu, there’s a uniquely individualistic approach to headgear. Because of the extremes of heat and cold in the desert, head cloths come in different sizes and thicknesses. In sandstorms, or at night as protection against the cold and damp, they’re worn around the head and face and neck, often covering the nose and mouth.

have to for an official function outside the region! Another uniquely Sharqiyah touch is to wear a headcloth without a kummah, and with a long tail on one side. Muscatis, especially VIPS and prominent figures in government and business, wear their turbans quite low over the eyes and their ears hidden under two neat little tucked ends of the turban.

The mark of a true Bedu seems to be the way he ties his headgear - it often looks as if it’s about to fall off, or is perched at a jaunty angle, but whatever he does with it, you can be sure no-one else wears his in quite the same way. In the Sharqiyah, especially in the Ja’alan and Sur, the typically red and white houndstooth-checked headcloth called a shamagh or ghutra, better-known among Saudi Arabians especially, is very noticeable. In a typical assertion of local pride and independence, Ja’alanis disapprove of the kummah and tend not to wear it unless they

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Male members of the royal family alone wear the specially-woven striped magenta, blue, and flame orange tasselled silk shawls as turbans. In the north of Oman, the plain white muslin mussar is the fashion, worn without a cap, and tied loosely low over the forehead. In Musandam, the ‘tail’ at the back often hangs to between the shoulder blades and the other two ends are pulled into two perky tufts at the sides. Another advantage of the kummah is that once the turban is wound onto it, both can be conveniently taken off without needing to refold the mussar each time. Although this is such a typically Middle Eastern headgear, almost all headcloths not made of cashmere

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are woven in China or Japan. Careful folding of the headcloth, if it’s to be worn as a turban, is vital. First, it’s folded double diagonally like a baby’s nappy used to be, to form a triangle. Then, beginning at the widest part, it’s carefully pleated across its width, with each pleat a bit smaller than the last. The next bit is the trickiest: holding the ends firmly in two hands, it’s placed on the forehead, over the kummah if that is de rigeur locally, and swiftly twisted and wound around the head, with the triangular end bit over the nape of the neck. The ends are tucked in or pulled out and tweaked to suit one’s preferred

style or mood, depending on the occasion, and you’re ready to step out. The general idea is to display the fine embroidery strips which run around the edge in a pleasing zigzag pattern. All sorts of regional styles and individual preferences make for a wide range of personal expression. It’s like wearing a tie in the West, and there’s a whole school of thought and psychology involved in corporate structures analysing that! For fashionistas and budding sociologists, studying the styles can be rewarding.


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THE Royal Opera House Muscat The Royal Opera House Muscat is an influential arts and culture platform that enhances Oman’s international reputation and reinforces its niche offerings. The organization serves as a laboratory for creativity and intellectual exchanges, and its high-tech venue pays tribute to and presents diverse artistic and cultural expressions from the Sultanate, the region, and the world. A towering beacon shedding light on the various trends of the Renaissance march towards growth, located at the center of Muscat and established by Royal Decree, the Royal Opera House Muscat was inaugurated by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on October, 12th 2015. In order to promote the Sultanate’s cultural heritage and artistic engagement, it was the mission of the Royal Opera House Muscat to broaden people’s participation in cultural life. It ensure its place among the prestigious halls internationally, it made sure that the

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first-rate programs it hosts cover all categories of performing arts that meet the interests of families and audiences of all ages, including famous operas, classical ballets, worldwide classical and musical concerts, and popular Arabesque concerts. It also hosted exclusive opera premiers including Carmen and Turandot. Besides being conceived as a house for musical arts, the Royal Opera House Muscat is a milestone in the evolution of Omani architectural style; the building is a fusion of Omani tradition and modernity. The construction of this iconic and majestic building, with stunning handmade ornaments and the sophistication of its rich interior, is in many ways an embodiment of the complexity and multiplicity of references witnessed in Omani architecture. The multidisciplinary work of Royal Opera House Muscat showcases rich and diverse artistic creations from Oman, the region, and the

world. It provides a space for culture and socioeconomic development reflections and actions. It inspires audiences and nurtures creativity with innovative programs. It fosters cultural vitality and unleashes talent. Finally, it promotes cultural tourism. Designed to host different performances with large numbers of performers on it, the stage of the Royal Opera House Muscat is equipped with the latest state-of-the-art sound, light and technical capabilities. The performances included in the Royal Opera House Muscat’s 2014/2015 season have proven very popular with the audiences. The rich, passionate and significant 2014/ 2015 season includes renowned shows performed by international stars, opera houses and companies including the opening show of the seasonTeatro Verdi Trieste’s opera Macbeth.


The season includes a variety of artistic genres, including six opera performances, in addition to return shows for well-known performers such as the Preservation Jazz Hall Band, Egyptian pianist Omar Khairat, and more great shows.

The season continues with upcoming remarkable shows for all audiences and families including Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet by Hamburg Ballet, musical concerts, Arabesque and jazz performances. The season will conclude with the

International Rhythm Festival on May 19th, 21st and 23rd, 2015. A part of opening its doors for patrons during the season, the Royal Opera House Muscat also welcomes patrons and tourists for the Daily House Tours: 08:30 AM – 10:30 AM.

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AL HAMRA

GATEWAY TO THE MOUNTAIN OF THE SUN Text and Pictures by Rob Arnhem

Most people intent on ‘doing’ one of Oman’s premier sights, Jebel Shams, tend to hurry on up the winding road to the viewpoint, and probably pressed for time, hurry back down again to ‘do’ Nizwa or Bahla. Some might also do the scenic drive to the picturesque village of Misfat Al ‘Abriyyjn, clustered on the cliffs above a steep wadi. Very few stop along the way, though, to savour this area’s other attractions, which are surprisingly numerous and interesting. The Al Hoota cave is but one! The main centre of the wilaya of the same name, Al Hamra nestles in the foothills of the southern slopes of the Jebel Akhdar range, part of the larger Western Hajjar chain, and a focal point for one of Oman’s grandest natural spectacles, Oman’s Grand Canyon. The peak of Jebel Shams, the ‘mountain of the sun’, rises to 10,000 feet (3,009 metres),

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making it the highest point in Oman. To get there, you turn off before the oasis town of AI Hamra, and so miss out on one of Oman’s many hidden assets. The old town of AI Hamra itself lies behind a low hill crowned by old watchtowers as sentinels of times when a more vigilant attitude was necessary. Most visitors miss this old settlement by driving directly through the new town up to Misfah. But if you turn left into the extensive palm gardens and fields of lucerne, and follow the narrow road around and back, you are in a different world. Cross the main falaj dividing the town from its gardens, and a walk along one of the lanes will bring you to a whole hidden quarter of two- and three-storey mudbrick houses, one of the few places left in Oman where so many are still in a reasonable state of preservation. Then you will stop wondering why the town’s name means The Red

One, and it will come as no surprise that Spain’s Alhambra got its name for exactly the same reason. One of the most remarkable houses stands somewhat aloof at one end. This is Bayt as Safah, and one of the oldest homes here, about 350 years old, used now as an antique storeroom. The falaj still forms the main artery of the village - clothes and dishes are washed here, and sometimes babies too, while on a hot day little boys splash about happily. AI Hamra isn’t particularly old as Omani settlements go, only having developed in the 17th century. By far the majority of its people are members of the Al ‘Abriyyin tribe. The village of Misfat AI ‘Abriyyin was where they first established themselves in more dangerous times, and this village hangs almost suspended from the cliffs in a very protected setting. As peace came and numbers


grew, it was natural to move down to the confluence of Wadi Misfah and Wadi Ghul. This explains the lack of a defensive wall and, for that matter, a fort. There are two watch towers on the low hill above the town, and the view over the old quarter below in the late afternoon when all the houses take on a warm reddish glow, and AI Hamra lives

up to its name, is not to be missed. Misfah now has a tarred road snaking up the mountain slopes behind Al Hamra and has been a magnet for visitors for some years. Flat-roofed houses built of mellow local stone make a perfect cubist composition, and the terraced gardens, lovingly tended and manured, are a riot of mango, lime, banana, papaya and

tall date palm trees. Misfah is so well hidden behind the bare mountain cleft that the sudden sub-tropical greenery comes as a total surprise. While taking care not to invade people’s privacy, you can pick your way through the covered arch down to the reservoir and along the falaj to where it bubbles up from its imprisoned rock spring. There is a plan

afoot to build new houses on the opposite side of the cliff and maintain the traditional ones as far as possible without altering their charm.

Here you are standing on an ancient seafloor up to three kilometres thick, accounting for the height of Jebel Shams, a mass of limestone, almost exactly. The peak itself is part of a long ridge and doesn’t actually look that distinctive, but you will spot the white dome of the relay station on it. And if you brave the edge of the precipice, clutching the railings, and look down a drop of 1000 metres, you will see tiny villages dwarfed in the wadi curling far below you as watchful ravens wheel above.

coast to enjoy the totally different world of Jebel Shams. Several good walks and stiffer hikes are possible from the plateau near the hotel. The best-known is the Rim walk. On your return down the mountain back towards AI Hamra, you’ll see the mass of Jebel Misht, looking like an old saddle. At this stage, you might consider a short deviation - by turning left at Wadi Ghul and into another secret garden.

Another spectacular road enables you to reach Wadi Sahtan and Bilad Sayt and ultimately Rustaq on the northern side of the range. From behind and above AI Hamra, this route climbs to the stunning view point of Sharfat AI Alamayn - ‘The Balcony of the Two Worlds’ -before it descends dizzyingly into the lush valley below you. But to get back to the Mountain of the Sun itself, once you’ve briefly savoured AI Hamra, the partly tarred road first leads you first to Wadi Ghul, perched on the rocky conglomerates above the wadi. Above the green patchwork of fields, defying gravity by being built on a slope, is the old ruined village of Ghul, with the stone walls of its even older fort snaking up to the rocky crest. One of those surprises is the presence of fossil seashells, at altitudes of over 2000 metres above sea level.

The so-called Grand Canyon, like its American counterpart, was probably formed by uplift and later erosion. By this time you’ll have company in the form of some lively bargainers and budding young ‘carpetbaggers’ trying to sell their woven wares. Some very confident youngsters have a good eye for fossils too. Winters can be bitterly cold at night, and incredibly, snow has covered the ground at times, but in summer, those desperate to escape the heat and humidity of the

This is Wadi Nakhr, unique for a grove of rosewood trees and a serpentine road that wriggles along the wadi’s sides and in its bed to a delightful village at the end of the road. While sitting down and looking upwards, you would never realise that the tiny wadi threading its way between the rocks that you saw from the viewpoint below Jebel Shams a little earlier is the same one whose floor you are relaxing on ... And the oasis of AI Hamra is not far off, the cinnamon tint of its old town beckoning warmly.

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Haven of Serenity Sohar Beach Hotel is the only resort in Sohar, occupying a prime beach side location, designed in the style of a traditional Omani fort. SBH combines long tradition of Omani hospitality with an international standard of living. Two hour and half drive from Muscat and the border of the United Arab Emirates, the resort enjoys a quiet coastal location. Now Sohar Beach Hotel offers 86 rooms, with Standard & Superior rooms; Deluxe & Executive suites; and 7Chalets over-viewing the beach.

Dining Facility      

Al-SALLAN Restaurant & Terrace. Junoon Indian Fine Dining Restaurant. Al-Jazzi Club Lounge. Shatti Beach Bar. Ayna Bar. A Brand New Fine Dining Restaurant & Lounge.

Meeting & Conference Facility     

Boardroom. Business Centre. Salalah Hall. Meeting Hall for 60 to 70 PAX. Banquet Hall for 180 Pax seating capacity.

P.O. Box 122, P.C. 321, Al Tareef, Sohar, Sultanate of Oman Tel: +968 2684 1111, Fax: +968 2684 3766 E-mail : smmsbh@soharbeach.com, www.soharbeach.com Face book : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sohar-Beach-Hotel/416635118441684


UP BRIGHT AND EARLY FRESH PRODUCE SOUQS Text and Pictures by Rob Arnhem

Omanis, like most Mediterranean and Middle Eastern people, including South Asian expatriates, regard fresh produce, especially fish, meat, fruit or vegetables, as a daily need. Perhaps it is a habit engrained from the past before modern refrigeration made it possible to keep food fresh, and when your fresh food needs had to be bought daily from the market. Here it is the men who go off with shopping baskets and they have to know their onions, so to speak, as

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the queen of the house, rabat al bait, is most particular about what her family eats! Very early in the morning, there is already a buzz of activity at the central Al Mawaleh fresh produce market in Muscat. Overnight, trucks carrying fresh fruit and vegetables have been ferrying consignments from the airport, the ports and across a network of roads to get their produce to customers in time. Fresh fish is a staple of the Omani diet, but it is becoming expensive. A

kilogram of fresh jither, or yellow-fin tuna, sold for RO 1 a kilo in 1996 now it’s closer to RO4.500, if you are lucky. Hammour (grouper) is becoming scarcer and overfished, but still available, but kingfish or mackerel (kannad), shark (qersh) , both fresh and dried, shari, habbar (squid), andag, trevally, snapper, prawns (rubyan) and more are all on the menu, packed out on ice and rushed in from the coast overnight. The best-known fish market is of course


the one in Muttrah, but those at Seeb and even along the main street in Al Khuwair are bustling with discriminating seafood lovers of all nationalities morning and evening. Dates, once the staple food of the entire Middle East and especially the Arabian Peninsula, are still enormously popular. Dates are also auctioned in summer as the different cultivars ripen between May and September. Here it’s common to see the auctioneer, or dallah, as he cries the odds and raises the stakes as select cultivars are paraded for appraisal – fardh, khinayzi, khasab

and the choicest of all, khalas. Few people these days really know where their food comes from, but even at a traditional market in the interior, such as the busiest one in Nizwa, vendors offer an astounding array of fresh produce: deep orange Iranian ribbed pumpkins, lettuce, and white cabbage; French beans and Hatshepsut oranges from Egypt; giant bananas and pineapples from the Philippines; Granny Smith apples from USA jostling Pakistani mangoes, Turkish apricots, kiwi fruit and a cornucopia of produce. The global show just goes on and

on, with Syrian cherries, pistachios and cauliflower from Iran, giant potatoes from Saudi Arabia, Syria and even Cyprus, delectable South African grapes and pears, Omani yellow pumpkin, Jordanian tomatoes and lettuce, purple Indian onions, garlic from China, sweet potatoes and some you might never have seen before. And of course, there’s the aroma of those indispensable spices for that delicious biriyani and more : sacks of cardamom (hail), cinnamon sticks, turmeric (kurkum), cloves (karamfel), black peppercorns, and saffron (zaffran) from Iran and Spain.

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The flourishing private and commercial gardens of the Batinah especially are now producing good quality tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, bell peppers, ladies’ fingers (okra or bhamia) and even mushrooms. This is a welcome development as the country diversifies food production to become less reliant on food imports. One item almost no Omani meal is without is the little green lime, fresh or dried! Papayas (fifai) are often also grown in home gardens. From the verdant tropical gardens of Salalah, coconuts, both green and husked, make the journey north with mountains of fresh plantains and green bananas. One major summer speciality is a constant temptation of juicy fragrant mangoes from Pakistan, Yemen and India and smaller sought after ones from Oman (amba). Pomegranates, or ruman , hailed as the new health wonder fruit, have also risen in price - they can sell for RO4.500 a kilogram. In the height of summer too, watermelons (juh) slake our thirst, and musk and sweet melons from Iran, Turkey and Syria are piled in fragrant heaps waiting for buyers. All summer, the Nizwa

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souq is the source of seasonal deciduous fruit from the terraces of Al Jebel Al Akhdhar, ‘Green Mountain’: apricots, figs, peaches, pears and those peerless pomegranates, said to be the best in the world. Also much in demand from those fertile organic gardens is garlic (thom) and figil or gargeer (rocket), often sold with a knowing wink - another reason for the popularity of these fresh greens is their reputed aphrodisiac properties as ‘Omani Viagra’! Well, as they say, you are what you eat, right? And of course, apart from the LIVE CHICKEN SALE outlets and its cold counterpart, other livestock play their big part too. Every Thursday morning, there is a camel sale in Sinaw, to which mainly Bedu are attracted in numbers. And then there are the perky goats and sad-looking sheep, best seen early on a Friday morning being eyed for sale at the Nizwa souq. It’s quite common to see Bedu women buying and selling goats in particular. Unlike other Omani women from villages and towns, whose menfolk do the shopping for them, Bedu women own, herd and tend goats as part of

their daily lives. And ask an Omani what is so special about Omani goats and you will get a quizzical look. Of course, their meat is the best! Cattle are sold too - mainly the humped soft-eyed Indian type from the hills of Salalah. The main meal in Oman traditionally tends to be lunch, one reason why shoppers are out early. Modern supermarkets are all very well and convenient, but they are often no match for the local markets in terms of value and freshness. Not to mention local colour and flavour! Another advantage of local souqs is that you buy exactly the quantity you need, as most items are loose, not pre-packaged. Things are sold by weight and a little gentle bargaining offer may be in order. These mobile vendors are often the best sources of what is in abundant supply if you don’t have the time or energy to visit your local fresh produce souq, such as my favourite in Seeb. Ask local restauranteurs where they buy their daily supplies and learn from the locals...


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Bait Al Zubair THE HOUSE THAT BECAME A MUSEUM

A monument in time Bait Al Zubair (House of Al Zubair) is a private museum that opened its carved wooden doors to the public in 1998. It is totally funded by its founders, the Zubair family. In 2005 the family established the Bait Al Zubair Foundation as the cultural and social arm of the family-owned business, The Zubair Corporation. The Foundation manages Bait Al

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Zubair Museum and projects relating to culture and heritage, the arts, the community, history and publishing. Bait al Zubair displays the family’s collection of Omani artefacts that spans a number of centuries, and is considered to be the finest that is privately owned. Its ethnographic artefacts reflect highly specialised inherited skills that define Oman’s society, both past and present. It is

one of country’s architectural icons and in 1999 was the proud recipient of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’ Award for Architectural Excellence, the first time it was awarded in Oman. The complex consists of four separate buildings (Bait Al Bagh, Bait Al Dalaleel, Bait Al Oud and Bait Al Nahdhah) as well as a garden with a number of traditional features.


Bait Al Bagh Bait Al Bagh (House of Gardens) is the main museum building that was originally founded as a family home in 1914 by Sheikh Al Zubair bin Ali, who served three former Sultans as a minister and advisor. It was a gathering place for the elite, while today it is rebuilt to suit its function as a museum, though still reflecting traditional elements of Oman’s architectural heritage and the original

house. Exhibits include information regarding the Al Busaidi dynasty; with portraits of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and various other Sultans. There are also four galleries on the ground floor that exhibit excellent examples of khanjar (Omani dagger), male and female attire, traditional swords and firearms, antique jewellery and household articles. On the first floor the stamp

collection of Mohammed al Jamali is exhibited along with a historic collection of coins and a unique collection of manuscripts dating from the 16th century. A research library is available by appointment. The garden features a barasti (palm frond) hut, a falaj (ancient water distribution system), a souq area, a boat display and stone houses.

Oman. This attraction allows visitors to step back in time and experience how Omanis lived over 100 years ago. It has a majlis (guest lounge), bedroom and domestic date store

to discover. Bait al Dalaleel hosts an arts space and restaurant where you can see more experimental art and relax in a beautiful eclectic space surrounded by books and history.

Bait Al Dalaleel Bait Dalaleel (House of the Dalaleel district) is an adjacent house that has been carefully restored and renovated and symbolises the true essence of vernacular architecture in

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Bait Al Oud Bait Al Oud (Grand House) is a three-storey building designed to reflect the family’s former principle residence in Muscat, where Sheikh Ali bin Juma (Sheikh Al Zubair bin Ali’s father) and his family lived in the 19th and 20th centuries, until

the house was demolished in the 1940s to provide more space for vehicle access to the palace. This part of the museum contains a large temporary exhibition hall and reception area on the ground floor. The first floor includes early European

maps of the Arabian Peninsula and typical Muscati furniture. The second floor includes early prints of the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa, early photographs of Muscat and an exhibit of historic cameras.

is the work of over 30 Omani artists that form part of the museum’s permanent collection. It includes artwork by some of Oman’s leading and developing artists together with international artists. There are a vast range of themes and concepts. Artworks have been collected over a number of years and some Omani artists also produced special pieces. A series by Mohammad Al Zubair

called ‘Our Beautiful world’ is also exposed in a series of photographs. Bait Al Zubair foundation is proud that this art collection, together with its collection exhibited in the main building of The Zubair Corporation and throughout Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa forms the largest art collection of Omani artists in the Sultanate of Oman.

Bait Al Nahdhah Bait Al Nahdhah (House of the Renaissance) pays homage to the Renaissance (Al Nahdhah) period led by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. It is dedicated to the promotion of the arts. There are four floors where an ever growing art collection can be viewed. On the first floor there is also a multi-purpose hall with a stage and state-of-the-art audio visual equipment. Exhibited

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Gallery Sarah is the most recent addition to the complex. The gallery is tasked with exhibiting contemporary Omani and international art as well as hosting workshops and seminars to support the growing art scene in Oman. Gallery Sarah is fast becoming one of the most popular galleries in Muscat. The gallery hosts a comprehensive ecommerce website which enables local artists and photographers to also sell their work internationally. The Gallery Sarah website has been built with the latest technology and is considered to be the first Omani e-commerce site to offer fully automated online shopping for delivery all around the world.

Gallery Sarah

Mission the Al Zubair family are committed to preserving, protecting, presenting, promoting and advancing Oman’s rich cultural heritage through their carefully assembled collection. Bait al Zubair is renowned in the region as one of the premier arts and culture hubs in Oman offering a wide range of cultural experiences to people, both local, resident expatriate and tourists, of all ages. Bait al Zubair provides support for both established and up and coming young creatives to develop, learn and explore as well as to exhibit, perform or install their works in order to broaden the knowledge and awareness of Omani heritage and contemporary creativity. Temporary Exhibitions are frequently organised and aimed at promoting local, regional and international culture, history and art. Education is a core activity offering complimentary services for schools, colleges and universities. All educational booking must be made in advance please contact: museum@baitalzubairmuseum.com

or call us on 00968 24736688.

Gallery Sarah

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Private banqueting at Bait Al Zubair Museum

The Gift Shop offers a special range of handicrafts, books, postcards, jewellery, scarves, clothing and perfumes. It is a destination in itself for the perfect gift or souvenir. Banquets & Events can be booked within the traditional setting of Bait Al Zubair Museum with traditional Omani dancers, musicians, artisans and henna artists if desired. The museum has hosted memorable feasts and private tours, staff parties and away days, training, press conferences, meetings and workshops, commercial exhibitions, incentive groups, private conferences, product, car and book launches, lectures, fashion show’s and children’s parties. Opening Hours are from 9.30 am 6.00 pm from Saturday to Thursday. Special timings apply during holidays and the Holy Month of Ramadan. There is a nominal entry fee; however admission to children below 10 years old, pre-booked official delegations and educational groups is free. Entry fees are doubled for special openings of the museum and during national holidays. Photography is not permitted within the museum in order protect the collection, and cameras should be left at reception. Visitors are asked to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking within the galleries. Refreshments can be found in the coffee shop and restrooms are available.

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Royal Air force of Oman band performing at BAZ

Omani wedding band perform at BAZ For more information contact tel +968 24736688 fax +968 24740913 or E-mail museum@baitalzubairmuseum.com

or visit the website www.baitalzubairmuseum.com Join us on Facebook or Follow us in Twitter OR Instagram for our latest news!

www.facebook.com/ bait.alzubair.museum @Bait_AlZubair @Bait_AlZubair


Musandam The Paradise Peninsula

Text and Pictures by Deepak Nair

Photo Š Deepak Nair

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In the farthest reaches of the Sultanate, isolated from the rest of Oman by the arm of the United Arab Emirate’s East coast, arises a land of dramatic beauty. Musandam took shape 1850 million years ago during the Cretaceous and Miocene ages. Here, awe-inspiring mountain faces overlook pristine blue expanses. These mountains, originally from the Zagros Mountain range, separated under earthquake and volcanic violence to form the Hajar Mountain range. A starkly beautiful region of fjords, mountaindraped roads and bustling villages, Musandam is a must visit for any visitor to Oman.

Photo © Deepak Nair

Take a walk down time The passage of time has not changed the raw natural beauty of Musandam. Flanked by the Arabian Gulf on the North West and the Gulf of Oman in the East, this land is home to four wilayats, Khasab, Bhuka, Dibba and Mudha. A boat ride across the coast of Khasab is a breath-taking experience, with panoramic views of craggy cliffs, a jagged coastline, and glimpses of little fishing villages nestled among them. Dominating the coast and surrounded by towering mountains, is the Khasab fort. Dating back to the time of Al Bu Said, it was renovated by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture in 1990. The Kumzan fort ruins and the towers of Al Siba, Kabas Al Kar and Said Bin Amad Bin Sulaiman Aal Malik are other areas of interest here. A stone’s throw from Khasab port is the village of Tawi, where you can admire ancient rock carvings, the work of artists from prehistoric times. Research has also proved that Mudha has been home to settlers for over 3500 years. Here rock paintings dating back to preIslamic times have been uncovered. And excavations have thrown light on ruins from the Iron Age, 1000 – 1500 years B.C.

Photo © Deepak Nair

Photo © Deepak Nair

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Where nature goes overboard with abundance. The Musandam coastline is peppered with many small islands and inlets, all teeming with bird and marine life. Seabirds, dolphins, whales and a colourful spectrum of fish species make this a nature lover’s and diver’s paradise. Divers especially, find an underwater haven in these blue waters. Mushroom Rock, a small island that just kisses the surface, has a reef that gently slopes down to the sand floor, making it the

Photo © Deepak Nair

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perfect dive spot. Another ideal dive spot is Limah Rock, a large island rising from the sea. Divers in these waters are astounded by the variety of reef fish and shoals of larger fish like the batfish and barracuda, which give it an almost aquarium like feel. Corals abound here – large green cabbage coral, red and yellow teddy bear coral, soft purple coral, brown and green table coral. A land that grows on you Khasab means ‘fertile’ in arabic,

and the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, fishing and animal rearing are the occupations followed by the inhabitants here. Mudha is irrigated by a falaj and natural springs. Some of these have astonishing properties, which put them high on a mustvisit list. Al Samaai springs contain sulphurous water, which is said to cure skin disorders. Sheikh Al Mohammed bin Salim al Madhani falaj is cold


in summer and warm in winter. To experience these rejuvenating waters, be sure to make Mudha part of your Musandam itinerary. Pack your bags for the majestic fjords You can get to Musandam by air, with Oman Air, which has three direct flights from Dubai to Khasab, and yearround Muscat-Khasab flights. The airline also has convenient connections from many

Gulf cities. Also, check out the attractive packages linked to these flights. Oman Air’s holiday package to Khasab includes Economy Class airfare to Khasab and back, airport / hotel / airport transfers, 2 nights accomodation with breakfast on a twin sharing basis at the Khasab Hotel, two half-day 4WD tours, and a full day Dhow Cruise with lunch. You could also drive down from Dubai to Dibba (120 kms) crossing. Alternatively you can also arrange to get there by sea from the U.A.E. Local

tour operators will be helpful here. Visa formalities Citizens of GCC nations and most residents can enter Oman by road or air with valid passports. Citizens of 59 other countries like Australia, New Zealand and Japan can apply for a visa at the border or at Khasab airport. (For the latest in visa formalities please check the details at www.rop.gov.om)

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Salalah A verdant paradise

Mughsayl Beach

All fall under the spell of Salalah when nature here is in its full bloom during the Khareef and leaves the visitors catching their breath. Salalah is the coastal plain of Dhofar, which lies in the south of Oman 1,000 km from Muscat, facing the expanse of the Indian Ocean. It is dominated by Jebel Dhofar, a range of mountains along the coastline. The lush greenery spreads over the mountain slopes and valleys. The greenery is a spread of beautiful, undulating carpet of green coconut

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groves and banana plantains which lace the coast line, where the clouds and mist shroud the mountains, burbling waterfalls, springs and wells gush forth and many migratory birds home here temporarily. Trees blossom here beautifully when monsoon showers lash this region and turn it into a tropical paradise. One may see plenty of birds around ponds, cows and camels wandering through the fields, and the weather seems just perfect to have a leisurely stroll along the beach. Green Turtles, Olvie Ridley turtles, loggerhead turtles, and

Hwawsbill turtles are found on the beaches along the mainland coast. Salalah’s hospitality is completely heartfelt. Visitors to Salalah stop by the plantations to drink the refreshing coconut milk which is so evocative of the tropical atmosphere of this city of gardens. The fruit and vegetable stalls that line up the road add a touch of rustic ness to the atmosphere. The houses which stand proud in the plantations are designed according to the traditional Arab


Photo © Deepak Nair

architecture. One feels more relaxed while staying on its superb beach either at Hilton Hotel Salalah, which is built to ensure that their guests enjoy Salalah›s magic completely. It overlooks the Arabian Sea, and is just about 20 minutes from the airport or stay at another five star hotel is Crowne Plaza, which is also a beach property and is 15 minutes from the Airport. The guests and beach visitors take back memories of the incredible soft white sandy beaches of Salalah, lapped by the heavenly Arabian Sea.

Khareef time The best time to see this green paradise is during the Khareef festival, a musical, cultural and shopping extravaganza lasting three months from June to September when the drizzling monsoon rains give its atmosphere a fresh magical feel. Concerts are organised and singers from Gulf and other Arabic countries also participate. Salalah is a photographer›s paradise during these months. To enjoy Salalah, thousands arrive here locally, regionally and

internationally every year. The Municipality›s recreation center placed in Atin hosts Khareef›s events and is equipped with open theaters, traditional village, exhibitions, amusements and child›s village, which offers all amusement activities. Salalah town spreads along the coast with a long cornice popular for evening walks, where one can enjoy the cool sea breeze at a relatively slow and perfect for a languid, relaxed holiday interspersed with some interesting places to see and adventur-

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ous mountain trekking. Ain Arzat is the source of several natural springs and a popular spot for picnics. Souk Haffa Irresistible is the fabulous incense souk where women dressed in multicolored costumes and veils with a ring or gold flower in their nose come to sell their incense. They sit on the ground with their weigh-

ing scales and heaps of crystallized gums and the prices are decided by bargaining! The white blue frankincense (Hujari) is the purest and most expensive. The red frankincense is much cheaper but of lesser quality. Preserving history Salalah has conserved its heritage and history. Its rich cultural center is like a museum of centuries old

artifacts. On display are very artful archaeological objects (some engraved with Yemenite writings) from Sumharam, arms, silver jewelry, ancient pottery, craftwork from Dhofar like wickerwork, pottery), costumes, different types of Omani homes with embroidered cushions and blankets. Salalah’s old architecture One may find the most beauti-

Photo © Jaap Croese

ful homes in the oldest districts of Salalah. An old wali›s house has been restored to show off the very typical Dhofar windows divided into four carved wooden shutters (mashribiya) surrounded or topped by a sculpted plaster panel. The carved doors, often brightly painted look attractive with their large wooden locks. African influences are evident in the two or three storey houses made of dried mud bricks, covered in stucco

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and decorated with simple grey or blue horizontal bands. Many houses in Haafat Al Maraheen district which are still occupied have lost their original color -faded with time and the carved panels have been lost from the window which had been their most identifying features.

frankincense, to India and East Africa. It has a spectacular landscape, from its coastline to the impressive peaks of Jebel Samhan, the highest of which stands at 4754ft. The Citadel of Mirbat was built in the traditional Omani style. Marbat is rich in natural springs, caves and grottos.

Mirbat The wilayat of Mirbat is on the central strip of the Dhofari coast and is famed for breeding Arabian horses which were exported, along with

Savoring Salalah… One may do some bird watching at the eastern Khawr where the seabirds and waders are delightful. A must visit spot which features


on every tourists itinerary is the Biblical ‹Nabi Ayob› Prophet Job’s Tomb, placed high up in the ‹jebel› mountains overlooking Salalah. Passing by, one reaches the beautiful lagoon Ayun, where frankincense grows along the road. From here one may continue to the oasis of Hanoon, where the frankincense was stored in ancient days before carrying by caravans to Ubar and Cana.

The drive to Khor Taqah and touring of the mangroves and reed beds never stops to surprise the visitors, for they might see an Isabelline Shrike or Gull-billed Tern, with other waders and flamingos. From here one may visit Mirbat which is an ancient port which always intrigues visitors and today is deserted. From here one may also go back to Khor Rauri where

one may see the Ferruginous ducks, many Heron, and swifts and is truly wondrous spot. The tourists can and find their way to the other end of the Khor which is the point where it nearly meets the sea. Also worth visiting is the archaeological site Samurhan over 2000 years old lie on a promontory between two khawrs, or sea creeks, some 30 km east of Salalah.

Photo © Jaap Croese

Salalah, set in legends, and it is said that the Queen of Sheba had a palace here, and biblical figures like Job and the father of Mary (mother of Jesus Christ) are supposed to have been buried here. One may also drive up the mountains to Tawi Atayr, the site of a sinkhole. The wildlife here is amazing and the site is totally unspoiled. On the way back down the mountain one may turn off to Wadi Darbat.

This is at the top of a steep precipice, a bit like hidden valley in the Musandam. The area is flat and lush with some cultivation of bananas and papaya. The road crosses a river and the track is extremely bumpy but built of rock hard mud and here one can see many birds , including an Eagle, a Grey-Headed Kingfisher and a Black-Crowned Tchangra. The people here are Jebali, and live gypsy-like in tents and shacks. Mughsayl

Another must-visit spot is the Mughsail Beach where ‹Blow-holes› (perforations in the limestone rock) through which sea water gushes during high tide. Here landscape takes on a new grandeur. At the end of the beach begins a road which is indeed the most incredible engineering achievement of Oman as it cuts into the mountains and has 14 hairpin bends and takes the visitor to an elevation of 1100m at the top of the cliffs. The road follows along then crests of the

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Photo Š Jaap Croese

Wadi Darbat

mountain range running parallel to the coast. The most breathtaking view is seen during winter. One may stop here at the highest point the watch the beauty and the dragon blood trees. One may see the beautiful frankincense trees over looking, fantastic mountains ranges. In these parts there are many shady picnic spots under the many trees. The way leads to the Khors which is just up the road. One may very often while driving onto the main-road see a Lanner Falcon on the electric wires. Jebel Samhan to Jebel Al Qamar To the east lie enormous beaches

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where during the fishing season, sardines are dried (Taqa beach) before they are fed by Jabalis to their live stock. From Taqa a road goes inland towards the mountains and the Wadi Darbat waterfall which forms a lake in the monsoon season. Sumharam, the frankincense port is called the city of charms by Ptolemy due to the adjacent fortified precipice and a temple which is dedicated to the goddess of moon, and over looks the very beautiful Khawr Al Ruri where large numbers of flamingoes nest. The name of the founder, Elaus, is engraved on one city doors. This city was built during the 1st century BC and saw the very

prosperous days in 1st century AD. The coast road ends in Mirbat where one get the impression of having reached the end of the world. A white mosque with a pair of onion shaped domes pressed against the black mountain among tombstones in an old cemetery adds a dramatic touch to the landscape. Time stands still in Salalah as one rejuvenates by absorbing in the peace and tranquility and the feel ligers for long even after leaving the serenity of Salalah.


Qawah

THE traditional Omani coffee Text and Pictures by Rob Arnhem

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WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE! Can’t get going without a shot of 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine in the morning? You suffer with millions. It’s a complex molecule consisting of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen to chemists, but it’s the heady whiff of coffee and the tongue-tingling taste of caffeine to most of us. The story of coffee’s origin in its natural home, Ethiopia, is that a lonely goatherd supposedly named Kaldi, saw his goats eating the red berries of the bush, which grows naturally in the highlands around the village of Kaffa, and acting even more perky than usual. He nibbled a few too and got a buzz in those cold high altitude mist belts, and so coffee was born. Coffee mythology has it that he told the local monks and they got working on it, like the monks of Europe, specialists in brewing potions medicinal and alcoholic! The roasting process, though, was only discovered about 600 years ago. Roasting caramelizes the bean, and the heat breaks down the complex starches into sugars. Many aromatic oils are also released, the most important for us being cafenuol, cafestrol and especially caffeol, which provide the flavour. The Turks were the first to adopt it as a drink, spicing it with cloves, cinnamon and aniseed. As alcohol is forbidden to Muslims, the fortunate appearance of a permissible mild stimulant like coffee must have accounted for its rapid success. It quickly spread throughout the Middle East and took the Arab world by storm. Mocha, now the sleepy town of Al Mukha in Yemen, was the most convenient port on the Arabian Peninsula opposite Ethiopia. Converging from the highlands, the coffee caravans assembled at the old city of Harar and then went down the burning coast to the waiting dhows and the narrow crossing of the Straits of Bab El Mandeb and across to Mocha. Both Arabs and Turks soon took to imbibing coffee enthusiastically. Coffee was introduced to countries beyond Arabia mainly as a result of

the region being part of the Ottoman or Turkish Empire. Venice was the richest trading port in Europe and had a long history of contact with the Middle East from the earliest Crusades. So coffee filtered into Italy first, a legacy you can still enjoy today from the rivals on St Mark’s Square, the venerable institutions of Caffé Florian and Caffé Quadri. It will probably be the most expensive cup of espresso you have drunk, but sip at it and enjoy the ambience of a wonderful old city. The Austrians came into contact with the delectable dark beverage after the Turks besieged Vienna in 1683. When the Turks were forced to retreat because of the Sultan’s sudden death, the Austrian forces captured their abandoned supply of coffee. The aroma must have lingered on enough to encourage a national addiction, as any visitor to the elegant coffee houses of Vienna knows. There’s also a fascinating and unexpected connection between that romantic standard silver coin the Maria Theresa thaler, the first dollar, and the coffee trade. It was first minted by order of the Empress of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and because of its reliable standard silver content, it became the medium of cash payment all over the Middle East. In Oman it was called abu reesh and was legal tender until the 1970s. How did these coins come to circulate in this part of the world? Well, the Austrians loved their coffee and paid for it in good silver, which the Arab merchants were more than happy to accept, beginning the long and happy marriage of Mocha and (Tia) Maria...Mmmm! Because of its scarcity and the mystery surrounding it, coffee was at first an expensive delicacy. As with many substances with properties to uplift and stimulate, religious authorities were often suspicious about the black beverage. It made people happy and talkative and then they spent long hours chatting and making mischief and

staying awake all night, therefore it was bad. It was banned even in Muslim countries – but happily, only briefly – after the religious authorities in Mecca put it on trial as a forbidden stimulant. The European coffee houses of the 17th century were hotbeds of political dissent because they were easy social meeting places for the educated middle classes. Coffee was once an illegal drink in England. It was also illegal to transport coffee out of Muslim areas. Knowing they were onto a good thing, traders guarded their commodity vigilantly. They made sure the bean was made infertile by boiling or parching before shipping it. As with the drug trade or any other desired commodity, though, smart competitors with a nose for the aroma soon smelt out ways of getting around the ban. Portugal entered the Indian Ocean in the early 1500s and set to with a vengeance competing with the Turks and Arabs, more especially the Omani fleet, which sent a convoy to Mokha every year to pick up coffee which it then transported all the way up the Gulf to Basra. Today, the aroma of coffee comes to us from places as far apart as Kenya, Angola, India, Costa Rica, Colombia and Vietnam, and it’s a major revenue earner for poorer farmers in many underdeveloped countries. It’s the world’s seventh largest agricultural export by value. Coffee needs the higher altitude and rainfall of tropical regions. Latin America grows light to medium-bodied coffees; Africa and Yemen mediumbodied, and Asia full-bodied ones. The nose comes into coffee grading just as it rules perfume and wine. ‘Light’ embraces nutty, spicy and cocoa-like flavours; ‘medium’ floral or fruity to spicy; and ‘full-bodied’ from earthy to spicy or cocoa. As a rule, the more bitter robusta coffee contains 40—50% more caffeine than arabica, and it’s this that gives espressos their bite. In fact, almost

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any country lying between the tropics with the right climate can grow coffee. Brazil is the biggest producer, but who would have thought Vietnam and Indonesia pipped Colombia? Jamaica Blue Mountain and Java are world famous. The Arabs have a formal presentation of coffee to guests, but for the Ethiopians it’s like the Japanese tea ceremony. And it’s performed by women as a ritual of welcome. Fresh grass is strewn on the floor, incense is burned, the coffee is roasted and ground and brewed and popcorn is served with it. It’s a gracious and formal occasion. The dried beans, from bushes in their front garden, were first selected and roasted in a shallow pan, then ground. In the Gulf countries coffee drinking is such an institution, from the humble welcome of a Bedu settlement to the majlis and palace, that it is hard to imagine life without it. In Oman, qahwa is served in small cups, and flavoured with cardamom (hail) and sometimes with saffron. In some homes, rosewater, cloves, ginger and even sandalwood oil might be added to the mysterious brew. It’s customary to drink three cups. Only a little is served - to ensure it can be savoured piping hot. If you don’t want any more, because your cup will be refilled assiduously unless you indicate otherwise, you gently shake the hand holding the cup from side to side when hand ing it back to the server. Stories of guests not being able to sleep for days because they didn’t know

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how to refuse yet another cup of caffeine-loaded qahwa out of fear of offending their hosts are legion! Dates, or halwa, the dark gelatinous Omani sweet, are always served, a perfect foil for the bitterness of the unsweetened coffee. In some villages in Oman today, you can still hear the clink-clink-clink of coffee beans being pounded in the good old-fashioned way with a brass pestle and mortar. Water is boiled in an ibriq, a little juglike brass container with a long handle.

the coffee and the manners accom panying its serving are a matter of pride for every home. Even a boy as young as six can act with aplomb as your host, holding the heavy dallah and pouring a splash of coffee into a tiny porcelain cup and presenting it to a guest like a flower Nowadays, most families use a thermos flask but in the past, splendid copper or even silver dallahs held the precious beverage. These traditional coffee pots vary in design down the Gulf from Kuwait to Yemen.

The coffee is gently boiled for a few minutes, and then stands for another few. Then it’s strained and poured into the dal lah, left a while for the grounds to settle, and it’s ready. The quality of

We’re spoiled for choice here in Oman. In Muscat, Café G, Vergnano, Costa Coffee, Second Cup and Starbucks all vie for passing trade and compete in concocting new brews and potions. We’re talking


designer business now. Whether it’s café, caffe, kahve, qahwa or koffie, the rich aroma from that magic plant from Kaffa will lead us by

the nose for a good while longer. Store roasted coffee well-sealed and cold to keep the genie imprisoned in it until freed.

It’s a potent blend, with mysterious powers still not completely understood.

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Immerse yourself in a world of rejuvenation Experience the ultimate journey to wellbeing, relaxation and rejuvenation at the Millennium Resort Mussanah‘s Zayna Spa and revel in a host of facilities to renew mind, body and soul. Individually designed and inspired by Omani traditions, the spa also incorporates expressions of natural essences from around the world. Zayna Spa, by its very name, exists to offer a tranquil sanctuary where people can rediscover a clear and energised state of being through tried and tested traditional treatments in the midst of some of Oman’s most idyllic surroundings. With 11 spacious treatment rooms, including Oman’s only Ayurvedic facility, steam rooms, a Hammam and private ladies only lounge overlooking the Marina along with a manicure and pedicure lounge complete the holistic experience. A

fully-equipped Fitness Centre with the latest Technogym cardiovascular and strength training equipment in addition to Yoga classes are also offered and female guests are invited to take advantage of the ladies only pool and Jacuzzi. The Pevonia Botanica and Phytoceane spa product lines used contain the finest natural marine and botanical ingredients combined with technologically advance formulas and treatments that deliver highly visible results. Guests are spoiled for choice with a comprehensive menu of options that include body massages, reflexology, sports massage, hot stone treatments, aromatherapy, slimming therapy and selected healing therapies from around the world. The Spa also offers deep pore

cleansing facial treatments that firms and purifies the skin before a gentle face, neck and shoulder massage from an international array of specialist staff. Inspired by nature to impart a holistic sense of well-being, Zayna Spa also offers a selection of healthy drinks and snacks using local ingredients to complete the total sensory experience. Zayna Spa has been created around three pillars, Unwind, Balance and Uplift, around which all spa treatments and wellness journeys are created. By recognizing each guest as an individual, the Spa offers a holistic, tailored experience that guides each person towards their goal whether they are seeking pure relaxation, skincare solutions, treatment for an injury or extended spa vacations with tangible outcomes.


Baywatch Oman

Bandar al Jissa and the French connection

Text and Pictures by Rob Arnhem

Some five kilometres down the coast from Muscat, between an azure sea and buttery limestone cliffs, lies the sheltered bay of Bandar Jissa, once a magnet for divers and Muscat’s Friday beach picnickers. An idyllic scene of sybaritic pleasures perhaps, and with yet another vast luxury resort planned… But what a tale of diplomatic derring-do! And beach landings a thousand years ago by vengeful Iraqi troops, wielding fire and sword? Just to the left as you approach Bandar Jissa’s old public beach, a road loops over a shoulder of mountain and brings you to the village of Qantab. Once one of the coast’s best-kept residential secrets, the news is out. You can live in your own Omani non-designer fishing village. But a different fate is in the pipeline for Jissa…At Jissa itself, a deserted ruined village stretches along the

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wadi bed. The highest walls still standing belong to the crumbling mosque. Why has no-one lived here more recently? One current tale has it that a sultan long ago punished the people of the village for supporting his rivals, or that it was a plague. There is a tale to tell. And what if these rocks could speak? It’s a saga going back at least 20 million years and more to the Tertiary limestones that were once laid down by the sea. They are the youngest rocks in Oman. In marked contrast, the oldest are the jagged brown ophiolite mountains which began as lava on the sea floor. Fifteen thousand years ago, sea levels were about 100 metres lower than today. But between 5 and 2 million years ago, layer upon layer of fossilized beaches in fact further down the coast, ending in the high cliffs of Ra’s Al Hadd, point to times when seas

were much higher. The sparkling white sands we enjoy today are also calcite, or calcium carbonate, and began as the powdered remains of dead corals and shells. Billions of little lens-shaped fossils called nummulites crowd a whole slice of rock laid down between 55 and 36 million years ago on the south-east side of the bay at sea level. These fascinating fossils are Foraminifera. They’re about the size of 15 and 50 baisa coins. Their flat spirals are meticulous copies in stone of their single-celled protozoan living models, rather like miniature versions of PDO Oman’s logo. Bandar Jissa itself may have derived its name from jus, the burnt limestone-based plaster used in Oman as a building material. The subtle range of colours as the sun plays out its intensity on these limestone rocks is due to limonite, or iron hydroxide. It’s also quite soft and this is how those


lavishly sculptured forms evolve. So why all this talk of dry stones and geology? And fishing? Because they explain why people settle where they do, and literally underlie the intrinsic appeal of a place. Qantab, Quriat, Qalhat… A chain of Q’s down the coast towards Sur, and landfalls for mariners from the earliest days of sail. The land may be pretty barren, but the sea is not. The smaller settlements that sprang up, like Bandar Jissa and Qantab, relied mainly on the rich natural harvest of the sea, and still do. These shores saw successive waves of foreign visitors with an eye on possible real estate or trading outlets. The Persians were active here on and off for two and a half thousand years. The word bandar itself, meaning a protected bay or anchorage, is apparently not Arabic in origin. During the medieval period, as power bases shifted with the decline of the caliphate of Baghdad and the Mongol invasions, Oman fell under the sway of the sultans of Hormuz, then the richest trade emporium in the Gulf. One oral tradition also points to the tranquil beach of Bandar Jissa as the site where the hated governor of Iraq might have landed his forces to punish the rebellious Omanis in the 9th century. The Caliph of Baghdad sent a commander famed for his brutality to bring the Omanis to heel in one of several attempts by Baghdad to force them into acknowledging his authority. Bandar Jissa’s position and the fact that it is such a sheltered bay made it something of an unexpected trouble spot too in the 1890s. An island blocks its entrance, and it’s easily fortified. In the days when ships’ boilers ran on coal, having regular sites where you could refuel was crucial. Coaling stations in Oman? The dominant world colonial powers then were Britain and France. The British navy saw it as their duty to police the Gulf and to control India. The French naturally wanted a slice of the colonial cake too and thought

that Britain had way too much. So did the Sultan, who wanted to offset British influence, and who better than the French to oblige? In 1798, Napoleon had tried to persuade the Sultan’s ancestor to deny British ships access to Muscat and accept France’s protection, but his invitation was intercepted by the British, who took a very dim view of proceedings! A little secret shuttle diplomacy between the newly-appointed and talented French Vice-Consul in Muscat, Monsieur Ottavi, and the Sultan therefore took place. To dilute the powerful influence of the British, Ottavi accordingly tried to persuade the Sultan to grant the French their own coaling station, first at Sur, then at Bandar Jissa. The Sultan, though,

found he was bound by the 1891 treaty with Britain. Things got hot when a French artillery ship arrived in Muscat to throw some weight behind their claim to an independent coaling station, as a deal was already under way to see their freight line operating again to the Gulf. It all culminated in a hissy-fit of a diplomatic row. France, predictably perhaps, was forced to back down yet again amid yet more cries of Perfide Albion! After a year’s stand-off to regain some dignity, the French eventually agreed to share coaling facilities in Muscat harbour with the British. But the matter of who was boss in the Gulf dragged on: France might have thrown in the towel on this one, but the ongoing dispute

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The Omani French Museum in Old Muscat

over Omani ships flying the French flag and engaging in arms trading and other un-British activities brought matters to a head. The spat only ended in 1905 after being taken all the way up to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, in fact. Ottavi’s house, by the way, is now the Omani-French Museum, a littleknown gem in old Muscat. Fortunately, the age of gunboat diplomacy is now out. It’s cruise liners and luxury glass-bottomed boats and catamarans now, folks. Tourism and the leisure industry have replaced imperialism, and as we speak, the magical beach is out of bounds in the name of development ….Saraya Bandar Jissa is set to open soon.

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Six Senses Zighy Bay Tantalize your senses Text and Pictures by Rob Arnhem

In 1995, a vision began to be realised - a garland of secluded getaways far from the madding crowd began its flowering. There are now some seven SIX SENSES resort spas worldwide from Thailand and Vietnam to the Maldives and Fiji, and since 2007, Oman. Not so much a resort or a getaway than a hideaway, is the latest, tucked away in a bay just north of Dibba, in the northernmost part of Oman, Musandam. Welcome to Zighy Bay, the latest jewel in the chain. It won the title of Oman’s leading resort and spa in 2012 and 2013, and the Best Hotel in the Middle East in 2013. And a stay there will tell you why. It’s best reached from Dubai, as the other option of driving to it from Oman is time-consuming and only for the determined! Your 2 hour road trip from Dubai takes you through several of the Emirates and cuts across the desert to the old port of Dibba, shared between Oman, Fujairah and Sharjah. You cross into Omani territory in the town itself and you are officially in Musandam. A graded road takes you up

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through the stony valley of Wadi Bih, passing the ruins of tiny old villages once inhabited by the tough local Shuhi mountain people who made this harsh world their own. Zighy Bay was completely inaccessible by road until the awesome three-year long engineering feat of constructing a road across the mountains was complete. It winds and snakes up a rugged cliff face and then plunges down to sea level. A vista lies beneath you. Be patient you will have time to savour it all. So make a point of getting out of your vehicle and taking in the sight far below you. An Omani fishing village lies nestling in the right arm of the bay, and the resort spa stretches off to the left, like a beach oasis, rugged limestone cliffs plunging into the Arabian Sea on either side of the expanse of wide blue bay. From the first approaches, it is clear that this place is different - a huge ancient split sidr tree is the assembly point, for the charming local goats too, the tamest and most curious goats you will ever meet!

You enter through a plain archway built to look like the entrance to a gated village using an effect similar to traditional sarooj plaster. The shade within beckons you into an old souq, with a nice subdued play of light and shade from the palm rib ceiling, for that friendly hospitable Omani welcome. It is a place to cleanse the body and soul, a haven away from the rush, noise and technological clutter of city life. Mercifully, you won’t hear a mobile phone jangling and be forced to listen to personal conversations you really don’t want to share - so you can enjoy the ambience of the restaurants and poolside without this affliction. Sounds are further muffled by the soft sand lanes that are meticulously raked by unobtrusive staff. The staff themselves are at hand to provide the best service - and many of them have come to Oman from other SIX SENSES resorts. They include Sri Lankans, Indians, Philippinos, Germans and South Africans, among others, all with a proven track record


of international experience at the high end of the hospitality industry. One of the pillars of Six Senses Resorts’ philosophy is to blend into the local natural and human environment. Sandwiched between the limestone cliffs behind and the sweep of beach and sea, it has been carefully and sensitively planned as a quiet traditional northern Omani village, characterised by the simple old stone cottage typical of Musandam known as bait al qafel. Little shaded lanes meander along quiet sandy tracks, the soft sand reducing unnecessary noise between each unit of accommodation. It’s hard to believe that it can accommodate 220 guests, but it is laid out in such a way that it is both intimate and private. The villas and suites offer space and privacy, each with a sand garden, pool and patio. The two-bedroom duplex villas have balconies too for panoramic sea views. There is no harsh ceramic tile in sight - only soft natural surfaces - barasti palm, wood, plaster and stone. Sofas and cushions are in warm natural tones

of lime green, pale yellow, buff, khaki and ochre. Big windows strategically placed allow natural light to wake you gently if you choose not to draw the blinds - it is all quite private. If you want to dine here in privacy, an outside barbecue or dinner is easily organised. A clay pot filled with cool water and a coconut shell scoop stands at every entrance for you to wash the sand off your feet. These subtle touches of design and choice of materials impressed me. Each inviting private pool is faced with a beautiful blue-grey-green natural stone with flecks of glittering mica, and water splashes and drains through beds of waterworn pebbles almost individually selected for colour and texture. You are in your own enclosed world if you want to chill out in comfort. The tang of gingerscented toiletries, an al fresco shower if you prefer, the touch of beautiful soft cotton sheets and towels, quality reading material and TV are all just a touch away. The sounds of birdsong and water and the constant soft hissing of the

surf along white sands continue the illusion that you are in a seaside oasis village. The pace of life is governed by natural rhythms, not the hurly-burly of hectic urban life. The gardens rustle with date palms, indigenous trees such as the stone apple, shady neem trees which need little water, henna and indigo plants, and locally cultivated fruit trees like the fig and pomegranate. The attention to such details is what makes Zighy Bay unique. In line with environmentally-friendly guidelines, Zighy Bay produces its own bottled water, and you would be hard put to fault it. The key notes here are simplicity and a kind of rustic functional elegance and comfort. The resort has gone out of its way both to blend in with the landscape and observe environmentallyfriendly options. This is reflected in the building materials, a recycling plant with filtering reed beds, an extensive organic garden and every effort to keep the human impact muted. It is all very casual and

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geared to total relaxation - guests are encouraged to walk barefoot, use the bicycles provided outside every unit, and dress accordingly. T-shirts and shorts are quite in order, and even swimwear may be worn in the restaurants and bars with a little attempt at some modesty requested! When walking along the beach towards the Omani village, though, guests are asked to dress according to local values out of respect, and cover up accordingly. A stunning circular pool lies below the restaurants and sets off the whole scene - a traditional style tower dominating. The restaurants offer a huge range of international and local delicacies to tempt the palate, and seafood is a speciality, of course. If you are a little more adventurous, several activities are offered – a day trip by dhow exploring the stunning coastline, fishing, walking through ruined mountain villages, amazing snorkelling and scuba-diving and, for a real buzz, you can even paraglide in for a breathtaking arrival! Your

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farewell will be a wish to return! You should leave Zighy Bay with a newly-developed sixth sense and the other five revitalised after a compulsory rest cure. Perhaps the sixth is that wonderful feeling of knowing that you feel good and regenerated without knowing it? Get there if you can before the

world discovers it. With Zighy Bay being such a great combination of superb dramatic location, sensitive planning and organisation requiring a high level of logistics, don’t expect any bargain travel deals - but it will be a lifelong experience in determining your quality of life.


HOT SUMMER COLOURS

The Flowering Trees and Shrubs of Oman’s Cities Text and Pictures by Rob Arnhem

In Lawrence of Arabia’s immortal phrase, the sword of summer has been drawn from its scabbard and lays most of us, even those tenacious flies and mosquitoes, low for months. Yet from May to July, this is precisely when the splendid flowering trees of our streets and parks defiantly come into their own in a dramatic affirmation of continuing life. May and June are months when many trees and shrubs are ablaze with hot summer colours. No delicate pale European pastels here at the T-junction of Africa, Arabia and Asia - it’s all shocking pinks, deep crimsons, golden yellows, magenta and flame orange - more like the wild, passionate and often, to the Western eye, the violently and carelessly clashing hues of Africa and India. They are the virile and sensual colours of

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blood, heat and hot spices, and they transform Oman’s urban landscape, shocking, seducing, and dazzling us with vibrant pure colour. But just how much do we know about these exotic and generous blooms? One or two are at home in Arabia, like Oman’s very own Nerium mascatense, better known as the oleander. This shrub has a smaller and deeper pink flower than the cultivated oleander, Nerium oleander, which hails from the Mediterranean originally. The leaves are lance-shaped and leathery, and the sap is milky. It’s a hardy evergreen plant which grows well in dry sandy soils and can withstand heat and drought. All parts of the plant are toxic and a potential problem for children and animals which might be tempted to eat it. The oleanders

belong to the dogbane family, or Apocynaceae, and are poisonous. Oleanders are also popularly known as the Rose of Jericho or the Rose of Ceylon, and come in almost all shades from deep crimson to white. Another local beauty, sporting the same deep pink, is at home in Dhofar but flowering in profusion now to greet visitors to the Intercontinental Hotel in Muscat. This is the so-called Desert Rose, Adenium obesum. It’s not a tree, but a succulent shrub, with a weird grey swollen base and spindly branches. All 500 Cassia species, regardless of their size, from shrub to tree, have typically upright spikes of canary yellow flowers with unopened buds at the top of the cluster that look rather like blackened popcorn. And almost all of them contain powerful laxative


chemicals. The trees have attractive dark green feathery leaves which set off the generous heads of flowers. But a smaller, more delicate member of the Cassia family flowers triumphantly in the heat of May, with long dangling pale yellow blossoms contrasting with last season’s black seedpods. This is Cassia fistula, or the ‘purging fistula’, a rather unfortunate name for such a graceful lovely bloomer. Its beauty has given it a range of much more appealing names: Indian Laburnum, Amaltas and Golden Shower (not to be confused with the orange-flowered creeper of the same name). The drastic senna pod extract that our greatgrandmothers used to threaten us with when we were peaky comes from this family. You’ll recognise them immediately, especially from the area around the Intercontinental Hotel in Muscat. The long pod looks like a thin dried black sausage. For the rest of the year, they hide modestly behind their large leaves, so catch them while they’re in their prime. The active chemical which shocks any lazy colon into action is anthraquinone. This tree comes from the Himalayan foothills, and is something of a cure-all in popular medicine. Most folk, though, just get on with appreciating the tree’s stunning gardening potential and give its ‘opening medicine’ a wide berth! Without any quibbling, though, pride of place among flowering trees must be the Royal Poinciana, whose pre-eminent regal status is emphasised in its Latin name, Delonix regia. It can reach heights of 15 metres. Now a popular ornamental tree all over the drier tropics, its bravura performance begins with shedding all its tiny compound leaves for dramatic effect, and then putting out great clusters of fiery blossoms in a kind of reverse botanical strip-tease. Planted singly or in rows, the impact of these trees is stunning. On closer inspection, the blossoms, which can be up to 8cm across, reveal a palette of dazzling intensity which can vary from tree to tree: from deep

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dark ox-blood crimson to brick red, vermilion and flame orange, with speckles and splashes of yellow, or even the odd cream petal. In India it’s the Gulmohur. Its other popular names are Peacock Flower, Flame-of-the-Forest, Flame Tree and Flamboyant, the last like the name of the man who introduced it to the world, a Frenchman christened Phillipe de Longvilliers de Poincy who described it in Madagascar. The seeds are contained in a 60 cm long flattened woody pod. We are fortunate in having a more muted, but still beautiful, wild member of the family in Oman. This is the white to pale-yellow or orange flowered Delonix elata, happily a common tree in Dhofar, where it is one of the first to welcome the monsoon by budding in June. In earlier times, its wood was exploited on the Salalah plain to make quicklime for building and plastering, and an infusion of the leaves eased delivery for both women and livestock in labour. (The Botanical Garden in the grounds of Muscat’s Museum of Natural History has a nice local specimen, together

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with other indigenous trees.) The tamarind tree, whose tart fruit flavours those English staples HP Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce, is naturalised in Oman. Although it’s scientifically Tamarindus indica, the “Indian date”, it is a native of tropical Africa, and probably made the move with prehistoric man to South Asia. It’s a fine, stately tree which can reach a venerable age. The seeds are embedded in an acidic Vitamin C and potassium-rich pulp which makes superb sauces for fish or meat dishes and also a great polish for brassware and silver. In Indian ayurvedic medicine, it’s recommended for gastric problems and

malaria, while all over the Middle East, it’s used for so many ailments as a tonic it really deserves its common name - tamar hindi is actually Arabic for ‘Indian date’. The tree’s yellow recurved flowers are not as conspicuous as its other family members’, but the brown segmented knobbly pods are distinctive. Cassia, Caesalpinia, Delonix and Tamarind trees are all related and classified as Caesalpinoideae, themselves all members of the huge Leguminosae family, to which peas and beans belong. All these plants are nitrogen-fixers, and thus help to recycle organic nitrates, one of

the basic nutrients of life. It is to the credit of the Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Environment and Water Resources that an ongoing programme of carefully selected planting and regeneration beautifies our surroundings. The species were all chosen for their effect and for their high tolerance of extreme heat and low water requirements. Spare a thought for the quiet army of gardeners assigned to take care of them and keep them trimmed and attractive, and hats off to those responsible for their selection. Summer in Arabia comes at a price, but has its own unique reward.

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Ras Al Jinz The green turtle habitat

Photo © Jaap Croese

It could be the serenity. It could be the beauty of the coastline. It could be the warmth of the inhabitants. Or maybe, it is a combination of all these and more that attracts the largest number of mating turtles in Oman, to the Ra’s Al Hadd peninsula. Located in the Wilayat of Sur in the Sharqiya region, it is the migration destination for 6000–13000 turtles who make their annual journey here, from the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea and the East African Coast. The green signal for Life Oman is a vital area for green turtles

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in the Indian Ocean and the green turtle is heavily protected by the government of the country. In fact, over 275 of the Sultanate’s beaches double-up as nesting grounds for five of the seven recognised species of sea turtles, the most common being the green turtle. The ‘green turtle’ gets its name from the colour its body becomes because of the green algae it feeds on. They spend most of their lives in the sea, but return to land to lay their eggs. The females, according to researchers, come back to the beach of their birth to lay their eggs, in

the company of their prospective mates. They swim thousands of miles to get to their ‘natal’ beach. Mother power After the mating ceremony, the female is ready to lay her eggs in the sand. Before this however, she labouriously digs a number of false nests with her hind flippers to divert predators from her real nest. Only then does she settle down and deposit her eggs into the nest. The eggs number about 100 in all. The mother then goes about covering them with sand, in a process


Photo © Jaap Croese

that could take up to four hours. Then exhausted but satisfied, she returns to the shallows, when she will keep guard, without feeding, for two weeks. After which she returns to lay her next batch of eggs… a cycle that she will repeat over eight times in the nesting season. Female turtles lay eggs every four years. These take about two months to hatch. The sex of the unhatched turtle depends on the temperature of the sand in which the female lays its eggs. After

breaking through the shells and digging out of the nests, the baby turtles head for the ocean. Sadly, many will get eaten by predators during their very first journey in life! Sea turtles, being large in size, seldom face attack from other marine creatures. However, many succumb to life threatening fishing nets and plastic bags. Ra’s Al Hadd is home to a large fishing community. And to ensure that both the turtles and the fishermen benefit, two management areas have been demarcated. First priority

is given to the nesting sites here, and tourism is strictly monitored. July –October is the peak time for turtle watching in Oman as approximately 20,000 turtles or more lay an estimated 50,000-60,000 eggs each year in the Sultanate. Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve The Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve was established in 1996 when the Ras al Jinz national nature reserve and the Ras al Hadd national scenic reserve were merged into one order to better protect the sea turtles and their

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Photo © Jaap Croese

natural environment. The protected area stretches over 120 sq km with a 45 km coastline, extending for one km into territorial waters. The reserve houses numerous six thousand-year- old archaeological sites of fishermen villages and tombstones. Excavations, have unearthed several important relics - most notably Oman’s first wooden boat and the peninsula’s oldest incense burner. These ancient remnants are reflective of the trade relations that linked fishermen to the inhabitants of the remote oases of the distant desert and commercial activities with Mesopotamia, India, Africa and China. The Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve offers a truly unique experience- the fascinating scene of sea turtles nesting in a completely natural environment. The centre also aims in promoting social responsibility and sound environmental practices in the framework of an awareness raising programme. The Ras AI Jinz beach is world

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renowned for the nesting endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas), probably the most important nesting concentration on the Indian Ocean. This is possibly one of the few places in the world where you can watch the nesting process of these amazing sea giants. The centre conducts guided excursions every night to view the turtles and witness the nesting process. All the Centre guides have a commitment to the preservation of the turtle and are knowledgeable. Up close with the Turtles A visit to Oman will not be complete without a visit to the Ra’s Al Jinz Turtle Reserve. You will have to obtain a visitor’s permit from the Director General of Nature Reserves, Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Environment, or the Directorate General of Regional Municipalities and Environment, A’Sharqiya region, before you visit. Once you get there, please

make sure you follow these simple dos and don’ts. 1. Do not make noise and disturb the peace. 2. Do not bring your camera to the nesting site. The flash could unsettle the mother turtle. 3. Do not touch any of the turtles or eggs. 4. Do not spend the night on the beach. 5. Do not litter. If you follow these simple instructions, you will find yourself part of an exciting new life process. With the guidance of the reserve wardens, you will watch the beginnings of a species so ancient. It is believed the Sea Turtles watched the dinosaurs evolve and become extinct. Turtle Visitor Center (Museum)


Photo © Jaap Croese

Ras Al Jinz Sea Turtle Reserve has opened the much awaited “Turtle’s Visitor Center” specially dedicated to the Sea turtle’s life cycle and the archaeological findings at Ras Al Jinz. This “Turtle’s Visitor Center” is one of its kinds introducing an array of new museographical display systems and technologies in the Sultanate of Oman. Places to stay: The Ras AI Jinz Turtle Reserve, a truly ecotourism project, was established in 2008 to help conserve the fascinating and amazing nesting processes of these giants of the marine turtle world and offers place to stay. It has a total of 31 Carapace Rooms, 17 air-conditioned twin/double en-suite rooms, 2 Air-conditioned bunk bedded ensuite for families/ small groups, all equipped with toilets, mini refrigerator, tea-coffee maker and LCD TV. In addition it has 12 Luxury Eco-Tents on a hillock close by equipped with attached toilets, mini refrigerator, tea-coffee makers and LCD TV.

The Reserve conducts guided turtle viewing excursions at night, when the sea green turtles come to the beach to nest. Early morning guided tours are also available on a daily basis. Turtle Beach Resort - Situated just 50 meters away from the waterfront, this resort is fully equipped to fulfill the varied tastes of even the most discerning customer. It is constructed in the traditional Omani style. Guests can experience living in the wild in 22 spacious, well-furnished ‘huts’, artistically built with date palm sticks and leaves. The restaurant resembles a 16th century Arab sailing boat. Sur Plaza Hotel - Situated 308 km from Muscat International airport, has 81 single / double rooms, 24 twin rooms and 3 suites. The standard rooms are equipped with all modern amenities. A variety of restaurants and bars offer a choice selection of fine dining.

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Get in touch with us today! GSM: +968 98432645, 98459315 Tel: +968 24810204/ 24815434 Email: info@destinationoman.com Web: www.destinationoman.com

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THE SUR GATE PROJECT DESIGNED TO CHANGE THE AMBIENCE OF SUR

Sur is the capital for the Al Sharqiya region and it is one of the Sultanate’s most important natural reserves. The city still upholds its reputation as a major dhow-building town. Sur played a historical role in trade and navigation in the Indian Ocean. Besides marine activity and ship building Sur is famous for historical and natural tourism places such as caves, cliff, castles and beaches. It is also known for wood and textiles and produces a number of agricultural crops. Sur has entered a new phase of development with considerable increase in commercial activities and industrial development taking place in the city. The city is poised for a major economic growth with

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tremendous business opportunities in the commercial, manufacturing, tourism and real estate sectors. The population of Sur is estimated to cross 100,000 in the year 2015. Sur city has the most potential for trade and economic growth, and the Sur Gate project is expected to play a major role to facilitate the economic and tourism development of Sur. Sur Gate project is considered a golden investment opportunity for investors. It is proposed to be a fully integrated modern Real Estate Development located at the entrance of Wilayat Sur. This project, spread across an area of 217,000 sq. meters will comprise of residential and commercial establish-

ments backed by comprehensive infrastructure and amenities. The residential and commercial space will respectively occupy 30,135 sq. meters and 184,665 of land. It gives us great pride to say that the construction quality and design match to international standards with all requirements of modern style living, in place, and will include a Shopping Mall, Hyper market, Luxury Hotel, Commercial Zone, International School and Leisure Centre. City Walk – a part of Sur Gate project offering Service, Retail and Entertainment – Phase I is under construction. This integrated project, set in a green environment, will offer access to all the amenities of modern living within its confines. It will


have world class recreation facilities in the form of a shopping mall, luxury hotel and hyper market - all located close at hand. A grand and exclusive luxurious hotel, having the requisite facilities and built on the latest architectural concept, is an integral part of this project.

retail spaces that are ready to be leased for the following commercial activities: Fast Food, Fine Dining, Prominent Coffee Shops, Banks, Pharmacy, Bowling Alley, Billiards,

Children’s play area, Handicrafts, Electronics and other service oriented, suitable retailers, that support the concept of City Walk.

A massive shopping mall sprawling across 71,442 sq. meters of land will gratify all the shopping needs ranging from fashion to lifestyle products. A hypermarket, food court, shops and other family entertainment options will add the element of entertainment. An adequate area will be earmarked for the banquet hall for cultural, festival and religious requirements of the residents. Keeping in view of the existing and future needs of parking requirements for such a large “development”, there will be ample space allocated for providing various parking lots. THE OPPORTUNITY City Walk is geared up to offer business opportunities to distinguished parties, in the form of

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A ‘GREEN’ GARDEN RESORT ON THE GREEN MOUNTAIN Text and Pictures by Rob Arnhem

Gazing out over the dramatic bowl from the lip of the cliffs overlooking the terraced gardens of Shuraija, Al Ain and Al Aqr of Al Jabal Al Akhdhar, Nabhan Said Ahmed Al Nabhani is a driven man. He and his elder brother Ibrahim are seeing a dream materialise. They have seen their hotel take shape almost organically, rising up slowly from the ancient limestone rocks spattered with ancient marine fossils. The hotel speaks for itself. The site itself is magnificent for several reasons. It’s been uniquely designed, blending traditional Omani features with very low-key and subtle eclectic personal touches. The view is superb, westfacing. The climate is a welcome relief from the slammer of summer below, as you are 2000 metres and more above it all. There are distinct seasons, with a bounty of deciduous fruit ripening every month between

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April and October. Fruit trees blossom in spring and bear in summer, and winter, although it can be very cold at night, brings steel blue skies and fresh complexions, perfect for walks and exploratory hikes. Of course, the Jabal is also famous for its roses, which bloom in April, and especially for its pomegranates. Several natural ecosystems make this place unique. The juniper and wild olive tree belt at higher altitudes is another unique natural attraction. Rain can fall at any time of year, and of course, clouds gather and disperse at these altitudes. So they’ve chosen the name Al Sahab – the clouds - for their brainchild. Where the mountains meet the sky and life-giving clouds form…. Most of the Jabal massif consists of black limestones up to 3 kilometres thick: once ancient

seabed, now stabbing the sky. It’s the garden here, however, that is the real gem. When you meet the man responsible, John Le Carre’s hero in The Constant Gardener springs to mind immediately. The garden’s been a labour of love for Nabhan, and his patient brother Ibrahim has indulged him! What ‘garden’? Some might just shrug it off as just being a motley collection of dull local shrubs. But linger longer and look more closely and you will be rewarded. It’s just not the place for an exotic motley foreign show. More and more people want something essentially Omani in character, and it’s something the brothers have aimed to create in laying out a garden here. What’s so encouraging and inspiring is that instead if planting a pretty formal imported garden, designed


by others and sucking up precious water, Nabhan has looked at the local environment. Firstly, the idea of the whole development is to blend into the environment – local stone, local natural colours, and local indigenous plants wherever possible. In this regard, the Ministries of Tourism and of the Environment have offered sensitive guidelines and advice. Al Jabal Al Akhdhar may mean the ‘Green’ Mountain, but it’s a very relative term. With only 300 mm a year, rainfall is unpredictable and often scattered, while increasing domestic water consumption by both locals and visitors is a major problem. So only tough local indigenous plants which have adapted to growing here feature in the central garden. Its layout is irregular, inviting exploration. It beckons and lures. The same local stone which faces the building has been cut into non-standard blocks,

roughly square or rectangular, to form the raised pathways, rather like small cobbles. The water used in these water features is recycled back into the pools after pumping and filtering. Small intimate areas have been levelled and paved with natural colours, greys and fawns, so guests can sit in the garden. It’s the creation of an individual with imagination and flair – part of it is almost Japanese in inspiration, with islands of rocks, and features such as a gnarled olive tree, or a naturally eroded rock, or the incomparable selection of fossil-rich rocks. These are literally the bedrock of the complex. About 250 million years old and laid down on the seabed during Triassic times, the fossils were found on site and used in situ – the garden was designed around them to incorporate them wherever possible and

they have been carefully integrated into not only the garden, but the walls and interiors of the hotel. be. After years of goat attack, boot (Monotheca buxifolia) and wild olive trees are once again flourishing on the property. Drought-resistant evergreen bushes like the dominant secies Dodonea viscosa do very well at this altitude, and in May, they bear a mass of papery triangular winged seeds which will blow away and populate other spots. The cheerful hardy Euryops arabicus is a low bush with a mass of small yellow daisylike flowers. The fine grey-green leaves of the Teucrium stocksianum, called ja’ada locally, have a strong lavender-like scent, and are used medicinally for stomach complaints, while the prickly mauve –flowered Solanum incanum bears a yellow fruit used to draw abcesses.

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Nabhan and his brother grew up in these mountains and know many traditional medicinal uses of the local plants they are keen to preserve. In the rocky arid succulent section, aloes and two species of Caralluma have been planted. Already the smaller yellow-flowered species has happily bloomed in rounded clusters of star-shaped flowers contrasting with the grey knobbly stems. Native grasses like Cympogon create a softer profile. It’s amazing how well the garden has come along with a regular initial watering to establish it. In a microcosm of the plant life of the Jabal in this informal botanical garden, there’s even a local Omani traditional vegetable garden – here, in a separate low walled unit, mulberry trees, garlic, and trailing pumpkin-like vines illustrate local agricultural methods. Grapes have been grown on the Jabal for centuries, and each unit of accommodation will be shaded by a grape vine, or a fragrant jasmine bower. Other scented plants, like the wild myrtle Myrtis communis, whose bruised leaves exude a distinctive scent, are planted apparently randomly. Rosemary and other aromatic herbs like basil (rehan) also advertise their scented presence. Wherever possible, building has protected and included old established trees. Indigenous gardens attract wildlife, and even in the hottest month of May, late butterflies were already swarming about, while endemic and migrant birds flit in on flying visits. Several lizards, including a speedy slim blue-tailed model and the tiny semaphore geckoes, live among the rocks. In each two-roomed unit’s attached courtyards, one in front and one behind, a few glorious imported roses have been approved. The deeply-scented small pink Damask rose is the one cultivated in the local villages, but as it flowers only in April, it enjoys a short season and Nabhan loves roses all

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year if he can persuade them to bloom. Certainly, there were already some real beauties gracing some of the personal gardens in May. It’s clear that Nabhan has green fingers and a very good eye. On your next visit to Green Mountain, make sure you get to meet the constant gardener. A number of good books have appeared recently to encourage ‘green’ gardening with indigenous plants, all of which stress the tried and tested ability of native plants to flourish under often harsh local conditions. Check them out at the bookshops: Field Guide to the Wild Plants of Oman by Helen Pickering

and Annette Patzelt (RO 26.500) and hot off the press; Clive Winbow’s handy The Native Plants of Oman at RO 8 and David Insall’s Landscaping with Omani Wild Trees (RO 2.500). Locally, two gardens in Muscat to inspire you are the Omani garden at Bait Al Zubayr Museum and, the Natural History Museum Of course, the Botanical Garden at Sultan Qaboos University which has been a hidden gem for years too, and with the plans for the National Omani Botanic Gardens burgeoning in Al Khawdh, something world-class. It’s time to go green and turn native and put Oman on the map.

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Photo © Bait Al Zubair Foundation

Frankincense The Scent of Oman

Frankincense, also called Luban in Arabic, is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra. It is used in incense and perfumes. In Oman where the finest Frankincense in the world comes from, it is considered a gift of God. Oman enjoys the privilege of being the olfactory hub with its much celebrated frankincense reserves in Dhofar. Frankincense has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula and in

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North Africa for more than 5000 years. A mural depicting sacks of frankincense traded from the Land of Punt adorns the walls of the temple of ancient Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, who died in 1458 BCE. The lost city of Ubar, what is now the town of Shisr in Oman, is believed to have been a centre of the frankincense trade along the recently rediscovered «Incense Road». Ubar was rediscovered in

the early 1990s and is now under archaeological excavation. Oman Frankincense, Boswellia Sacra is one of Earth’s greatest treasures. A precious substance revered through the ages. In the ancient world frankincense was valued more than gold and in our time it is a rare and unique gift. The scent is historically connected with healing and spirituality in almost every culture and religion.


Photo Š Deepak Nair

Boswellia sacra comes from the Dhofar region of southern Oman Covering about 100,000 square kilometers, the Dhofar region borders Yemen to the west and Saudi Arabia to the north. The trees do not like moisture and thrive in barren areas cooled by sea winds.The ancient twisted trees with crinkly leaves spring unexpectedly to life every September with an explosion of white star flowers. An incision is made into the silvery bark, from which drips the fragrant “pearls�, white globules of resin called luban. Left to dry, this will turn transparent after about two weeks. There are numerous species and varieties of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of

resin. Differences in soil and climate create even more diversity of the resin, even within the same species. Frankincense trees are also considered unusual for their ability to grow in environments so unforgiving that they sometimes grow directly out of solid rock. The means of initial attachment to the stone is not known but is accomplished by a bulbous disk-like swelling of the trunk. This disk-like growth at the base of the tree prevents it from being torn away from the rock during the violent storms that frequent the region they grow in. This feature is slight or absent in trees grown in rocky soil or gravel. The tears from these hardy survivors are considered superior due to their more fragrant aroma.

Flowers and branches of the Boswellia sacra tree, the species from which most frankincense is derived. The trees start producing resin when they are about 8 to 10 years old. Tapping is done 2 to 3 times a year with the final taps producing the best tears due to their higher aromatic terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene content. Generally speaking, the more opaque resins are the best quality. Dhofari frankincense obtained from Boswellia sacra is said to be the best in the world. Quality Frankincense comes in many types, and its quality is based on colour, purity, aroma, and age, and shape. Silver and Hojari are generally con-

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sidered the highest grades of frankincense. The Omanis themselves generally consider Silver to be a better grade than Hojari, though most Western connoisseurs think that it should be the other way round. This may be due to climatic conditions with the Hojari smelling best in the relatively cold, damp climate of Europe and North America, whereas Silver may well be more suited to the hot dry conditions of Arabia. Local market information in Oman suggests that the term Hojari encompasses a broad range of high-end frankincense including Silver. Resin value is determined not only by fragrance but also by color and clump size, with

Photo Š Jaap 2015 Croese

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lighter color and larger clumps being more highly prized. Uses Frankincense is used in perfumery and aromatherapy. Olibanum essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the dry resin. Some of the smell of the olibanum smoke is due to the products of pyrolysis. Traditional medicine Frankincense resin is edible and often used in various traditional medicines in Asia for digestion and healthy skin. Edible frankincense must be pure for internal consumption, meaning it should be translucent, with no black or brown impurities. It is often light

yellow with a very slight greenish tint. It is often chewed like gum, but it is stickier because it is a resin. Burning frankincense is believed to repel mosquitos and thus helps protect people and animals from mosquito-borne illnesses, such as malaria, West Nile Virus, and Dengue Fever. At the height of the Roman Empire, Dhofar was exporting immense quantities of frankincense, by ship to Yemen and up the Red Sea, and by camel caravan overland to Petra and the Mediterranean.


City Seasons Muscat

The Ideal hotel for business and leisure

Centrally located on Sultan Qaboos street, Al Khuwair, City Seasons Hotel is ideal for business travels and city breaks. The hotel is a landmark in Muscat and one of the favourite addresses for family holidays; located a walking distance from the beautiful shore and minutes away by car from Mutrah Souk, the Opera House and other major places of interest and tourist sites. Moreover the Hotel concierge is at hand to offer and book city tours, excursions, boat trips one of which is watching dolphins. This 4-star hotel boasts 334 rooms, 23 suites and a club floor with dedicated executive lounge. Banquet and meeting facilities, with stateof-the-art equipment and attentive service can accommodate up to 400 guests. The Hotel has 65 fully equipped and serviced apartments, perfect for families with young children; these units are available

in one or two bedrooms and can fit families for up to 6 members. Dining offers at City Seasons Muscat are aplenty: Seasons Restaurant offers daily international buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The spread covers cuisine from the Middle-East, Europe and Asia as well as international; live cooking stations make it more interesting for the gourmet travelers where Chefs will happily prepare the recipe to guest liking. Raouche Restaurant features traditional Lebanese cuisine, while Raouche Terrace Cafe is popular for its freshly made mocktails and specialty house beverages as well as delicious light bites and snacks served all day long. Al Majlis Lobby lounge is the perfect venue for a relaxed afternoon tea time or an informal business

meeting. An extensive menu offers French pastries, oriental sweets and a variety of international favourites to please all tastes. The modern Sky Lounge, perched on top of the building, offers a secluded place for afternoon drinks while it transforms at night into a romantic dining venue offering mocktails and tapas. The roof top swimming pool with its unparalleled views of Muscat city and shores is the perfect place for relaxation or a quick dip during the afternoon laze. The Health Club with its fully equipped gym, a sauna and a spa complement the leisure offerings. Highly trained instructors - and among them Oman Youth Champion- are at hand to tailor make any fitness routine.

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The PeRfect Venue for your every occasion Millennium Resort Mussanah Nestled on the pristine beaches of the Al Batinah coastline, the Millennium Resort Mussanah is a relaxing resort destination overlooking the sparkling blue Gulf of Oman. Well known for its brilliantly hued sunsets, the resort features 234 spacious and well-appointed rooms in a variety of options along with 74 lavishly decorated apartments, each with mesmerizing views of the Al Hajar Mountains, the Marina or the Gulf of Oman. The resort provides fabulous culinary offerings with three restaurants serving local and international fare all with private terraces facing the sea and poolside restaurant serving buffet and a la carte menu completes the exceptional dining experience. The Millennium Resort Mussanah provides the perfect venue for weddings, corporate seminars, board

meetings or other business functions with five state-of-the-art meeting rooms including the Millennium Resort Mussanah ballroom. Each room is equipped with audio and visual equipment installed with a large screen television, Wi-Fi and broadband internet, LCD projection equipment and smart automated lighting as standard. An outdoor event plaza with a large function area can accommodate up to 1500 guests. With four swimming pools, including a ladies-only temperaturecontrolled private pool an Olympic sized leisure pool and two infinity pools leading down onto beautiful private beach. The resort incorporates an 18-hole mini golf course, , tennis courts, football and beach volleyball facilities, as well as a kid’s splash pool, children’s programmes and a secure Kid’s Club on site with activities for the entire family.

The ‘Zayna Spa’ boasts 11 spacious treatment rooms including Oman’s only Ayurvedic facility, steam rooms, jacuzzi and ladies lounge overlooking the private Marina and offers massage and relaxation treatments from around the world. The Health & Fitness Club equipped with the latest Technogym’s patented Kinesis™ Stations deliver a full body workout. The private 54-berth Marina, operated by Oman Sail, provides sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, PADI certified diving courses, yacht charter options and excursions that can be tailor made to suit individual guest needs. Custom designed for business and leisure travellers with a vibrant blend of Arabian and Asian themes, the resort is where personal experience exceeds expectations, where simplicity is the foundation for splendour and where distinction is the basis for creating your ideal getaway.

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Thousand Nights Camp

Experience the tranquillity of desert life

Once the four wheel drive which drops you at the Thousand Nights Camp drives away through the sandy desert path, few noises will disturb you except the murmurings of gentle desert breeze. The sight of the camp with a big Bedouin tent as reception and smaller tents under trees for accommodation located amidst the bright sands of Sharqiya desert will fill your mind with tranquility and joy. The reception is set up in Arabian style with carpets and pillows. Thousand Nights Camp set up by Empty Quarter Tours is one of the most exclusive camps in the Sharqiya Sands where one could live in harmony with the environment. It is one of the perfect places to relax and unwind. TNC, does not have noisy quad bikes, or generators to spoil the peace and tranquility of your stay under the desert stars. Location The Sharqiya sands is sand sea of over 15,000 square kilometre, lying in the eastern region of the Sultanate of Oman, three hours drive from Muscat. The sands are approximately 200 km from north

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to south, and 80km from west to east. The TNC is located in a sheltered valley some 40 km south of Al Mintirib, at GPS coordinates 22.06.069 North, 58.45.592 East.

mon WC and shower, the rates are RO 40 for double occupancy and RO 25 for single occupancy. For children accommodation is provided at the rate of RO 5 per head.

Things to do at TNC

The buffet menu at the camp includes shawarma, omani shuwa, tandoori, barbecue, salads, rice dessert and fruits. The menu for breakfast and buffet changes everyday. Water, soft drinks, coffee, tea and dates are provided free of cost. Free activities which could be indulged at the camp include swimming, billiards, dart board, sands boarding, volley ball, children games, gazelles yard, table games,astronomy telescope and selected books.

The Thousand Nights Camp is a place to relax and get close to nature. Enjoy an evening walk to the top of a nearby dune to photograph the sunset and admire the stars, or get up early to see the mist and sunrise, and to hunt for animal prints. For those with a desire for more, the TNC could arrange for a camel or horseback safari with a local bedouin guide, or a guided walking tour. If you like the real taste of Arabia, the TNC will arrange for a henna artist or an Ou’d player to visit the camp, or they could take you to some of the local bedouin people. The rates for Arabic wool tents attached with open to sky private WC and shower are RO 67 for double occupancy and RO 57 for single occupancy. The rates include expenses for dinner and breakfast. Accommodation for children would be provided at the rate of RO 7 per child. For the ordinary Arabic tents (4x5m) with open to sky com-

Other activities offered at the camp for which charges apply include dune bashing, camel riding and horse riding. The camp also provides services oft guides. Plants and Animals At the first glance, the sands appear to be empty of life but when you spend time exploring the area around TNC you will discover that they contain a rich variety of flora and fauna, a variety that decreases as you go deeper into the sands. Recent surveys have shown that


Mongoose, Ruppell’s Sand and Red Fox are all present in the area. The remains of a wolf were also discovered at a bedu camp. On a more domestic note, it is estimated that 15,000 goats, 3,000 bedouin and 1,500 camels live in the sands. Whilst the flora of the sands is not rich, it is very diverse. Eight lichens, four micro-fungi, one fern and 162 flowering plants have been recorded. In terms of fauna, 28 species of ants, 17 species of dragonfly and 57 species of moths have been observed, together with 115 species of birds, with 21 of them found in the central sands around TNC. This includes the incredible Desert Eagle Owl that can often be heard calling at dusk and dawn around the camp. To avoid the heat, most animals in sands come out at night, which means that all you will see are footprints in the sand around TNC at dawn.

such as those around TNC are so important to their lifestyle, the Bedouin take care not to damage them. As with all people in Oman, the Bedouin are Muslims. Their long loose robes cover their bodies as their religion requires, and give protection from the burning sun and cold nights. The Bedouin women cover their faces from strangers. The women look after the household, care for the family and the animals. They also practice a number of crafts to make things for the family, or for sale. With an increasing number of imported goods now available in Oman, these crafts are slowly dying out. The arrival of the car has transformed the life of the Bedouin. They now no longer have to wander great distances in search of water and fodder. Before 1975 it was possible to cover 40 km in one day on a camel. Today, on a graded road it is possible to cover 600 km, with an ice box to keep your fish fresh! Desert Sand

People in the Sands – the Bedouin. There are an estimated 3000 Bedouin living in the sands. The relative abundance of plants and animals is one of the reasons why there are so many. In the sands, there are two types of Bedouin – those who live in the fishing villages in the south-east, where there is little plant life for grazing animals, and the pastoral Bedouin who live with their herds of goats and camels. Because the trees,

The sand in the desert is thousands of years old, and about 50 per cent of it is made up of quartz. Scoop up a handful and you will see that there are different colours of sand. The sand that has blown in from the coast is light yellow or white. This sand comes from the sea bed and contains small pieces of shells. In the north of the sands, the colour is darker – red or dark grey. This sand has come from the mountains, and has been transported by water and wind. You will notice that the dunes run in north/south lines. This is explained by the prevailing winds, the majority of which blow either from the North or the south, depending on the monsoon season.

ingly when you can. Free drinking water and coffee are available at the dining area throughout your stay.

Around the camp There are a few things which the guests need to observe during their stay at the camp. They should always wear something on their feet around the camp, especially at night but should not wear shoes inside the tent. Guests are requested to talk quietly, in hushed tones. The only source of light in the camp at night is paraffin lamps. To reduce fire risk, guests are advised not to take lamps into tents. They should refrain from smoking inside the tents. Temperatures can drop 18 degrees at night, and from November through to early March the nights and early morning can be chilly. So bring something to wrap up warm. Those who intend to visit one of the local bedouin camps, should dress respectfully, and avoid shorts and revealing clothes.

Water Water is essential to plant and animal life here in the sands, and to man. Water is available in two forms; from underground supplies, and from dew. Several species of beetles and plants have adapted to making use of the regular morning dew. Whilst at TNC, please remember that you are in an arid desert environment, and use water spar-

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Part of the largest corporate house in Oman – the Omzest Group of companies, Mezoon Travel was established in the Year 1972 with the core commercial activities of Travel, Tourism, General Sales Agencies, Representations and Cargo Services. It’s one of the oldest and reputed travel companies in Sultanate of Oman serving third generation since it was incorporated. The new rules and regulations from International Air Transport Authority (IATA) from the Year 2010 confined Mezoon Travel to the business of General Sales Agent (GSA) of various airlines. Today Mezoon Travel LLC

represents some renowned airlines of the world in its capacity as GSA such as Jet Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, Lufthansa German Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Mihin Lanka, Egypt Air, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Iran Air and Air Mauritius. Assorted Brands: 1. Mezoon Travel LLC 2. Mezoon International Travel & Tours LLC 3. Mezoon Holidays 4. Mezoon Destination Management Services 5. Mezoon Cargo and Logistics

Mezoon Travel offers comprehensive business solutions to the Principal Carriers to whom it represents in the Sultanate. Mezoon Travel also caters to all the segments of the travel business except the GSAs which comprises of Retail Travel, Corporate Travel, Inbound Tourism and Destination Management Services, Outbound Tourism and Holidays, Cargo and Logistics. The company is proudly associated with the BCD Travel on Corporate Travel front and World Cargo Associated on the Cargo and Freight Forwarding front in Sultanate of Oman.

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NIGHT LIFE Al Marrah Pub Al Bahjah Hotel

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24424404

On The Rocks Seeb

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97983333

Barrio Fiesta Majan Hotel

:

24592900

Periwinkle’s Pub : Al Sawadi Beach Resort

26795545

Club Bar Ruwi Hotel

:

24704244

24776565

Club Safari Grand Hyatt Muscat

:

24602327

Piano Lounge : Shangri-La’s Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa

:

24487123

Rock Bottom Café : Ramee Guestline Hotel

24564443

Churchill’s Pub Muscat Holiday Inn Copacabana Grand Hyatt Muscat

:

24641234

Sports Bar Muscat Holiday

:

24487123

Coral Bar Radisson Blu Hotel

:

24487777

Safari Grand Hyatt Muscat

: 24641234

Duke’s Bar : Crowne Plaza Muscat

24660660

The Cellar Radisson Blu Hotel

:

24487777

Feeney’s Irish Pub Al Qurum Resort

:

99262821

The Hut : Al Sawadi Beach Resort

26795545

Habana Café Grand Hyatt Muscat

:

24602327

John Barry Bar Grand Hyatt Muscat

:

24641234

Tradervic’s : 24 680 080 InterContinental Hotel, Muscat

Layalina Bar Muscat Holiday Inn

:

24487123

Le Pub Al Falaj Hotel

:

24702311

The Lazy Lizard Radisson Blu Hotel

:

24487777

The Wahiba : Al Sawadi Beach Resort

26795545

Left bank : 24693699 Qurm

The Al Gazhal Pub : 24680000 InterContinental Hotel, Muscat

Nuts & Bolts Al Falaj Hotel

Zouk : 24664912 Crowne Plaza Muscat

:

24702311

To ensure your visibilty in the next edition contact: Tel - 93972362, 98432645 Email: info@destinationoman.com


Fadhil & George and Partners Restuarant & Coffee Shop LLC...................... 102 Arabic Made Easy...............................................

115

Where to Stay ..................................................... 104-115 Your stay in Oman will be comfortable, as you can choose from a vast selection of hotels from 5 star deluxe to studio apartments and budget hotels.

Eat-Outs................................................................

116-119

Arabic, Indian, Lebanese, Oriental, European, you name the cuisine of your choice, you will find it in Oman. Besides this, international fast food chains like McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, have many outlets in the Sultanate.

Discovering Oman............................................

120-127

A fact file on Oman. Here you will find a mix of the snazziest shopping malls and the wonderfully quaint traditional markets or the Souks. Thanks to a cosmopolitan population, cinemas here help you take in recent international cinematic fare.

103

2015


On the Rocks

An Elite Pub Themed Restaurant A mutli-cuisine restaurant with a more modern European taste, On the Rocks is set in an elite pub themed setup. The restaurant promises innovation in a fusion of food. Right from theolive pops that steals the bill for the best pub food, to zatar spiced lamb chops and the special smoked prawns that have been much praised by even the most pricy of critiques. For food enthusiasts, the open kitchen offers a performance on its own as the chefs toss, cut and fire up some unique delicacies. For those who stick around for the best of both worlds, the subtle transit happens a few minutes before midnight. The open kitchen slides close, lights dim, the resident DJ picks to an upbeat number and the floor is set for some groove. Keeping up with crowd response the songs bridge from hip-hop to R&B and even popular commercial music; the DJ’s got the best of all genres. Oman’s diverse expat as well as local community demands more than the typical ‘something for everyone’. On The Rocks completely redefines the concept of a resto-pub with its posh ambience and scrumptious menu. Location: Golden Tulip Seeb Tel: +968 97983333

Espeto Gaucho

Brazilian restaurant at The Cave

If not sun tanned horsemen strutting their rodeo leaps, this fancy Brazilian restaurant is definitely going to bring in the skewers with some exclusive cuts, rumps or loins. A paradise for meat lovers, Espeto Gaucho is the one and only authentic Brazilian restaurant that’s chosen as its base The Cave, the most architecturally splendid manmade creation in the city. Living by the real South American Rodizo concept, the skewers (and sometimes trays, for the larger, more daring meats for the bold eaters) give you unlimited access to a steady chain of chicken, lamb and beef in 12 different cuts. Espeto Gaucho serves also to be a very classy place to host dinner parties or corporate lunches. With ample parking space, you won’t have to worry about guests complaining about going round in circles. The hill top corner overlooking the main highway on one side and a small residential block on the other, this place brings together the love of food and the bliss of good view. Location: The Cave, Darsait Heights: Tel: +968 94447775

360 Degrees

Fine Dining Restaurant on Rooftop

This unique restaurant set comfortably at a rooftop niche, lives up to its name covering cuisines from the world over, set in an ambience that gives a peripheral view of all things magnificent down below and across the horizon. The restaurant boasts of the highest Sheesha lounge in Oman. It’s two outdoor lounges offer two different ambiences - The Sky Lounge that faces the bold mountains and the Hydro Lounge with the blissful view of the ocean. Specialized in an array of culinary delicacies from around the world, 360 degrees believes in handpicking the best ingredients to deliver the finest dishes on your plate. A heaven for seafood lovers, 360 also offers the best Teppanyaki and sushi. Those that aren’t the greatest seafood fans can alternatively enjoy delicacies off the Mediterranean wood fire oven or even authentic Lebanese favorites; and of course you can never go wrong with the Indian tandoor in all its flavor. The interiors sparkle with the works of well-cut crystals as they adorn the swanky dining area. 360 offers a separate place for the distinguished guests which are set with shiny cutlery on spotless white linen. From dedicated hosts to the gentle music, 360 has it all covered. Location: 9th Floor, Al Nahda Tower, Azaiba. Tel: +968 98360360

2015

104


Where to Stay

HOTELS & ACCOMMODATION HOTELS - MUSCAT SHANGRI-LA’S BARR AL JISSAH RESORT & SPA

«««««

Location: Bandar Al Jissah

A hidden retreat set amid 124 acres of ocean and desert scenery just fifteen minutes from the Sultanate’s capital of Muscat, the luxurious Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa expresses the welcoming heritage of Oman. Front Desk : +968 2477 6666 F : +968 2477 6677 Email : reservations.slmu@shangri-la.com Web : www.shangri-la.com

THE CHEDI – MUSCAT

«««««

Location: North Ghubra

One of the Top 20 Best Overseas Holiday Hotels in The Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean (according to Condé Nast Traveller UK Reader’s Award 2012 & 2013). Situated on the stunning Boushar Beachfront in Muscat, where crystal Gulf Waters mirror images of glorious mountain ranges. The Chedi is an oasis of mysticism and luxury, 15 minutes drive from Muscat International Airport. Front Desk: +968 24524400 Fax: +968 24493485 Email: chedimuscat@ghmhotels.com Web: www.chedimuscat.com

GRAND HYATT MUSCAT

«««««

Location: Qurum Beach

Grand Hyatt Muscat offers world-class comforts for business and leisure travelers in a traditional Omani setting mixed in with old world charm and elegance. Overlooking the azure waters of the Gulf of Oman and is one of the largest and most opulent hotels Muscat with standard room sizes of 42sqm. Tel : +968 24641234 Fax : +968 24605282 Email: hyattmct@omantel.net.om Web : www.muscat.hyatt.com

INTERCONTINENTAL MUSCAT

«««««

Location: Qurum Beach

InterContinental Muscat is a 35-acre oasis in the heart of the city’s premier residential, government and diplomatic quarter. The business and commercial district is close by, as are must-see sights including the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Bait Al Zubair Museum and Amouage Perfume Factory. For shoppers, the Muttrah Souk is the essence of Muscat. Tel : +968 24680000 Fax : +968 24600012 Email: muscat@icmuscathotel.com Web : www.ichotelsgroup.com

AL BUSTAN PALACE, A RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL

«««««

Location: Al Bustan

Experience an Oman luxury hotel where you can indulge in an array of water sports, savor exquisite cuisine and, just minutes away, discover the rich history and traditions of an Arabian nation. A recent redefining renovation – both inside and out – the Al Bustan Palace is a Ritz-Carlton hotel set on a private beach with acres of lush gardens. Front Desk: +968 24799666 Fax: +968 24799600 Email: albustan@albustanpalace.com Web: www.albustanpalace.com

To get listed on these pages please contact: Tel - (968) 24810204, 24815434, 98432645, 98459315 Email: info@destinationoman.com


PARK INN BY RADISSON MUSCAT

««««

Location: Sultan Qaboos Street Al Khuwair

The Park Inn by Radisson Muscat is positioned near the commercial district and shopping areas, offering corporate and leisure travellers a convenient location. Situated nearby the main highway linking Muscat International Airport to Ruwi, the city’s central business district, this hotel also boasts easy access to the Al Ghubra beach, local companies and attractions.

Tel : +968 2450 7888 Fax : + 968 2450 7889 Email: info.muscat@rezidorparkinn.com Web : www.parkinn.com/hotel-muscat

GOLDEN TULIP SEEB

««««

Location: Seeb

Few minutes from Muscat International Airport and adjacent to Oman International Exhibition Centre. Golden Tulip Seeb is ideally located for travelers visiting Muscat for business and leisure.

Tel : +968 24514444 Fax : +968 24510055 Email: admin@goldentulipseeb.com Web : www.goldentulipseeb.com

RADISSON BLU HOTEL, MUSCAT

««««

Location: Khuwair

Radisson Blu creates iconic buildings with individual interiors invoking an inviting, exciting ambiance and offering a holistic hospitality experience that is totally relevant to now. Radisson Blu flagship properties can be found in prime locations, including major cities, airport gateways and leisure destinations around the world. Tel : +968 24487777 Fax : +968 24487778 Email: muscat.info@radissonblu.com Web : www.radissonblu.com

RAMEE GUESTLINE HOTEL QURUM

««««

Location: Al Qurum

Ramee Guestline Hotel Qurum is a business-friendly hotel located in Muscat’s Matrah neighborhood and local attractions include Sultan Armed Forces Museum, Port Sultan Qaboos, and Muttrah Souq. Regional points of interest also include Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex and Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace. Tel: +968 24564443 Fax: +968 24562464 E-Mail: salesoman@rameehotels.com Web: www.ramee-group.com

RAMADA MUSCAT

««««

Location: Shatti Al Qurum

The boutique hotel is located in elegant Shatti al Quram area, just minutes from the diplomatic quarter and other major leisure and business attractions in Muscat, Oman. Facilities include Lobby sports lounge, Different meeting facilities, Executive lounge, Wellness centre, Out side catering and Cafe noir restaurant. Tel : +968 24603555 Email: info@ramadamuscat.com Web : www.ramadamuscat.com

CROWNE PLAZA MUSCAT

««««

Location: Qurum

The Crowne Plaza Muscat is magnificently nestled at the tip of Qurum Beach with breathtaking panoramic views of the Gulf of Oman. The Crowne Plaza Muscat offers 205 elegantly appointed rooms ideal for both corporate and leisure guests. The Crowne Plaza Muscat’s business facilities include Club Rooms & Lounge, WiFi, high speed internet, meeting rooms. Tel : +968 24660660 Fax : +968 24660600 Email: cpmuscat@cpmuscat.com Web : www. cpmuscat.com

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THE SIFAWY BOUTIQUE HOTEL

««««

Location: Jebel Sifah, Muscat

The Sifawy Boutique Hotel offers a warm and friendly atmosphere, reflecting the hospitable nature of the Omani people. The Sifawy Boutique Hotel is in the Sultanate of Oman, only 45 minutes drive from the capital city Muscat. Front Desk: +968 2474 9111 Fax: +968 2474 9122 Email: reservations@sifawyhotel.com Web: www.sifawyhotel.com

EASTIN RESIDENCES MUSCAT

««««

Location: Al Hail North, Muscat

Eastin Residences Muscat is located on a sea road connecting Al-Seeb and Al Athaiba in the north of Muscat, Oman. The Seeb corniche and beaches within walking distance as well as its close proximity to Muscat International Airport makes it one of the prime areas and the favourite locations for business and leisure travellers seeking a prime residence accommodation in Muscat. Tel: +968 24429300 Fax: +968 24420511 E-Mail: info@eastinmuscat.com Web : www.eastinmuscat.com

MAJAN CONTINENTAL

««««

Location: Ghala

Unveiling a unique vision of elegance as you step in to Majan. You will enter through a doorway of relaxed ambience and comfort. By offering all facilities to successfully conclude your Leisure or business trip, Majan Continental hotel helps you get the most from each visit to Muscat. When you need a business partner in Oman, look no further than the Majan Continental Hotel. Tel : +968 24592900 Fax : +968 24592979 Email: sales@majanhotel.com Web : www.majanhotel.com

CITY SEASONS MUSCAT

««««

Location: Al Khuwair, Muscat

City Seasons Hotel Muscat is a 4 star hotel with 269 rooms, attached to a new shopping mall due to open later in 2011. The hotel is situated in the Diplomatic area of Muscat close to Muscat International Airport and all the city’s main business and leisure centres. The City Seasons Hotel Muscat enjoys a stunning location with views of the Gulf of Oman, which is in close proximity. Tel : +968 24394800 Email: res@cityseasonsmuscat.com Web : www.cityseasonsgroup.com

WAVES INTERNATIONAL HOTEL

««««

Location: Al Khuwair

Waves international Hotel welcomes all to experience the grand history and mystifying beauty of Muscat while being surrounded by homey comforts.

Tel : +968 24486999, +968 98048340 Fax : +968 24483838 Email: info@wavesinternationalhotel.com Web : www.wavesinternationalhotel.com

AL-FALAJ HOTEL

««««

Location: Greater Mutrah

A scenic 25 km drive from Muscat International Airport brings you to the famed 4-star Al Falaj Hotel, which enjoys a prime location in the heart of the city with easy access to an abundance of tourist attractions, the city’s business hub, places of religious worship, shopping and entertainment centres, supermarkets, hospitals and the main bus station. The Hotel is only three km from the renowned Port Sultan Qaboos. Tel : +968 24702311 Fax : +968 24795853 Email: sales@omanhotels.com Web : www.omanhotels.com

To get listed on these pages please contact: Tel - (968) 24810204, 24815434, 98432645, 98459315 Email: info@destinationoman.com


HAFFA HOUSE HOTEL MUSCAT

««««

Location: Ruwi

Haffa House hotel in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, is part of the Shanfari Group and has been created with the businessman in mind. The Hotel contains a total of 120 rooms inclusive of 37 suites with all the comforts desired. Tel : +968 24707207 Fax : +968 24707208 Email: fom@shanfarihotels.com Web : www.shanfarihotels.com

THE PLATINUM HOTEL

««««

Location: Opposite Court, Next to Oman Oil Petrol Pump, Al Khuwair, Muscat.

The Platinum, a newly opened non-alcoholic hotel that depicts a fusion of rich Islamic & Moghul heritage, ultra modem facilities and the famed Omani culture, is all set to redefine hospitality in Sultanate of Oman. The architecturally majestic structure is now a prominent landmark in Muscat. Tel Fax Email Web

: +968 2439 2500 : +968 2439 2501 : info@theplatinumoman.com : www.theplatinumoman.com

HOLIDAY MUSCAT HOTEL

««««

Location: Al Khuwair

The Holiday Muscat Hotel is situated within the capital area of Muscat, Oman. Coveniently located midway between Seeb International Airport and the central business district. Tel : +96824487123 Fax : +96824480986 Email: mcthinn@omantel.net.om Web : www.muscat-holiday.com

HOLIDAY MUSCAT-AL MADINAH

««««

Location: Ghala - Boushar

The Holiday Muscat-Al Madinah, Situated within the capital area of Muscat, Oman. Conveniently located midway in the Industrial Area between Muscat International Airport and the central business district. Our friendly Can-Do service is not about reacting but anticipating our guest needs, an exclusive Pillow Menu of 5 choices that creates the ideal restful environment, the delicious Holiday Inn breakfast as well as a rewards programme, tailored to suit one person – you! Tel : +968 24529700 Fax : +968 24529800 Email: hisales@omantel.net.om Web : www.holidayinn.com

MIDAN HOTEL SUITES

«««

Location: Al Ghubrah North

Easy elegance, tasteful furnishings and bursts of vibrant colours are a trademark of Midan Hotel Suites. Midan Hotel Suites is internationally managed, and maintains a worldwide four star standard.

Tel : +968 24499565 Fax : + 968 24499575 Email: rooms@midanoman.com Web : www.midanoman.com

SAFEER PLAZA HOTEL

«««

Location: Al Khuwair

Safeer Plaza Hotel invite you to experience the grand history and mystifying beauty of Muscat while being surrounded by homey comforts. Located at the heart of the Oman capital, Muscat, our mid-priced hotel combines modest luxuries with apartment-style convenience in its rooms and suites.

Tel : +968 2447 1000 Fax : + 968 2447 1001 Email: sales@safeerhospitality.com.om Web : www.safeerhospitality.com.om

To get listed on these pages please contact: Tel - (968) 24810204, 24815434, 98432645, 98459315 Email: info@destinationoman.com


BOWSHAR INTERNATIONAL HOTEL

«««

Location: Ruwi

The sun rises like a fiery ball from the blue-black depths of the Arabian Sea. As Darkness retreats across the Hajar mountains, the barren landscape changes from grayish - brown to beige and copper. It is the birth of a new day in the Sultanate of Oman, a legendary home of Sindbad the sailor and the fabled source of frankincense for the queen of Sheba. Tel : +968 24491105 Fax : +968 24499124 Email: bwshrhtl@omantel.net.om Web : www.bowsharhotel.com

SAFEER INTERNATIONAL HOTEL

«««

Location: Al Khuwair

Safeer International is a four star hotel designed and catered for families and business class traveler. Its is centrally located in Muscat City (Al Khuawir) close to Shatti Al Qurum, the main diplomatic and commercial city.

Tel : +968 24473900 Fax : + 968 2447 9957 Email: sales@safeerhospitality.com.om Web : www.safeerhospitality.com.om

HOTEL GOLDEN OASIS

«««

Location: Muscat

This facility is in Muscat (Oman) located in a peaceful valley surrounded by glories mountains, on the way to Al-Bustan, Shangri-La’s Barr al Jissah Resort and all time cool Ethi Beach and it is just 25 minutes from the Muscat International Airport. Nearby shopping’s and business centers and beaches makes it a very convenient location for tourists and business travelers.

Tel : +968 24811655 Fax : + 968 24814065 Email: info@hotelgoasis.com Web : www.hotelgoasis.com

HOTEL IBIS MUSCAT

«««

Location: Al Khuwair, Muscat

The Ibis Muscat is conveniently located in the Al Khuwair area,off Sultan Qaboos street, the main road of the city, which connects the airport to the main city. 171 air-conditionned rooms for one or two people, Wifi Internet access, Flat-screen Tv’s, andfunctional bathroom. Tel : +968 244 898 90 Fax : +968 244 879 70 Gsm : +968 985 968 0 Email: info@ibishotel.com Web : www.ibishotel.com

THE TULIP INN MUSCAT

«««

Location: Al Khuwair, Muscat

The Tulip Inn Muscat- Hotel is ideally located in the heart of Muscat District. Conveniently close to major Offices, Malls, Shopping arcades and is only 12km from Muscat International Airport. With a quick and easy access to Ministries & Embassies it offering unlimited opportunities to the Business Traveller. The hotel is just 10 minutes away from shopping district of Qurum & the beach area of Muscat. Tel : +968 24 47 15 00 Fax : +968 24 47 16 00 Email: info@tulipinnmuscat.com Web : www.tulipinnmuscat.com

RUWI HOTEL

«««

Location: Ruwi

In the heart of the city of Muscat, home to many popular historic and cultural sites, stands the Ruwi Hotel, which is a 25 km picturesque drive from the Seeb International Airport.

Tel : +968 24704244 Fax : +968 24704248 Email: reservationruwi@omanhotels.com Web : www.omanhotels.com/ruwi

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BEACH BAY BY SWISS-BELHOTEL MUSCAT OMAN

«««

Location: Shatti A Qurum

A 3-star international hotel, Beach Bay by Swiss-Belhotel is located just 15 minutes drive from Muscat International Airport. Shatti Al Qurum, one of the nicest beaches in Muscat, is just two minutes walk from the hotel, while shops are just 10 minutes’ drive away. Nearby attractions are the Grand Mosque, and Muttrah Old Souk.

Tel : +968 24692121 Fax : +968 24694404 Email: sales@coral-hotelmuscat.com Web : www.coral-hotelmuscat.com

SAMARA HOTEL

««

Location: Al Khuwair

Located in the main and centre place of Al-Khuwair with serene ambience convenient access to the Ministries, Embassies, business centre and shopping Malls. 10 minutes drive from Muscat Airport and is situated close to the main road and Muscat Bakery which is opened round the clock. Totally it is in the prime location for both businesses traveler and leisure visitor. We provide top-notch service, relaxing atmosphere and some thing more our hotel is safe and secure

Tel : +968 24481666, 24478087 Fax : +968 24482454 Email: reservation@samarahoteloman.com Web : www.samarahoteloman.com

BEST WESTERN PREMIER MUSCAT

««««

Location: Al Khuwair

The Best Western Premier Muscat hotel is situated in the commercial district of Al Khuwair in the heart of Muscat, next door to the Ministries and Embassies district. The hotel is only 15 minutes from Muscat International Airport, less than five minutes from the Royal Opera House, four minutes from Qurum Beach and five minutes from the Grand Mosque.

Tel : +968 220 33333 Fax : +968 220 00888 Web : www.bestwesternoman.com

Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb

««««

Location: Al Mawaleh South - Muscat

For a successful business or leisure trip to Oman’s picturesque capital, the Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb places you where you need to be. It’s just an eight-minute drive from Muscat International Airport to the hotel’s stylish lobby, where guests find a warm welcome and a relaxing vibe. In town for a meeting? A cluster of important institutions lie within a 20-minute drive of the 185-room hotel, including Knowledge Oasis Muscat technology park, Rusayl Industrial Estate and Sultan Qaboos University.

Tel : +968 22080555, Fax : +968 22080566 Web : www.holidayinn.com

Hormuz Grand

««««

Location: Seeb

For hundreds of years, the Strait of Hormuz has been the gateway to all the countries of the Gulf and the treasures that lay within. Through its warm waters, generations of traders and explorers have come bringing spices, cloths, languages and news; all commodities that remain valuable today. Thanks to navigators such as the famed Ibn Battuta and Sinbad, the Strait of Hormuz has always been a safe haven where East and West meet and their influence continues on to the four corners of the world.

Tel : +968 2435 0500 Email: reservations@hormuzgrand.com Web : www.hormuzgrand.com

RAMEE DREAM RESORT

«««

Location: Seeb

RAMEE DREAM RESORT in Muscat, striking modern hotel conveniently located near seeb International Airport. Muscat City Centre is mere 10 kilometers away and there are supred road connections to the nearby water park, traditional souk, Royal guard of Oman and all the regions cultural and commercial attractions.

Tel : +968 99891282 Fax : +968 24457030 Email: salesoman@rameehotels.com Web : www.rameehotels.com

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HOTELS - OUTSKIRTS OF MUSCAT AL NAHDA RESORT & SPA

«««««

Location: Barka

Coral Boutique Villas, at Al Nahda Resort & Spa, Barka - Oman enjoys a magical location barely 30 minutes from Muscat International Airport. Set in 30 acres of lush botanical gardens, it’s a cute collection of 109 rooms and villas each well-equipped with the latest amenities. Offering elegant but understated comfort, the rooms are designed for relaxation and are very spacious. Tel : +968 26883710 Fax : +968 26883175 Email: stay@alnahdaresort.com Web : www.alnahdaresort.com

MILLENNIUM RESORT MUSSANAH

««««

Location: Wudam Al Sahil , Mussanah

Located in the South Batinah region, and a 45 minute drive from Muscat International Airport nestled along the Gulf of Oman will offer panoramic views of its private 54 berth marina and in the distance the Hajar mountains. Tel Fax Email Web

: +968 268 71555 : +968 268 71556 : reservations@mill-mussanah.com : www.millenniumhotels.com

AL-SAWADI BEACH RESORT

««««

Location: Barka

Set within beautifully landscaped gardens on one of the most tranquil private beaches of the Sultanate of Oman, the Al Sawadi Beach Resort overlooks the serene string of Sawadi Isles. It is the ultimate choice for fun and leisurely relaxation. Tel : +968 26795545 Fax : +968 26795535 Email: reservation@alsawadibeach.com Web : www.alsawadibeach.com

HOTELS - SALALAH JUWEIRA BOUTIQUE HOTEL

«««««

Location: Salalah

Nestled on the picturesque marina promenade of Salalah Beach and facing the Indian Ocean, Juweira Boutique Hotel offers 65 guestrooms, including 21 spacious Marina Suites and 44 Juweira Rooms. Each room has access to a private terrace overlooking the Ocean surrounding Oman. Tel Fax Email Web

: +968 23239600 : +968 23239622 : reservations@juweirahotel.com : www.juweirahotel.com

CROWNE PLAZA RESORT SALALAH

«««««

Location: Salalah

Located on the private beach of Salalah, approximately 10 miles from Salalah International Airport. Right on the Indian Ocean, this hotel is five miles from the Old and Gold Souk and National Museum, 15 miles from Ain Razat, 22 miles from Sumhuram and Khor Rori, 28 miles from Al-Mughsail Beach, 44 miles from Mirbat Village, and 112 miles from the Lost City of Ubar. Tel : +968 23235333 Fax : +968 23235625 Email: cpsalalah@cpsalalah.com Web : www.cpsalalah.com

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SALALAH MARRIOTT RESORT

«««««

Location: Mirbat

The Salalah Marriott Resort is set on the idyllic shores of the Arabian Sea on the white sandy beaches of Mirbat Cove and at the foot of Jebel Samhan, 80 kilometers from Salalah International Airport. The Dhofar region is the land of gardens, mountain springs, historical treasures and natural beauty. Located in the South of Oman, Dhofar thrives on its fishing industries, agricultural activities, traditional crafts and tourist initiatives. Tel : +968-23268245 Fax : +968-23268271 Email: mhrs.sllms.reservations@marriott.com Web : www.marriottsalalahresort.com

HILTON SALALAH

«««««

Location: Salalah

The hotel is south of midtown Salalah, along Oman’s crystal blue coast, eight miles from the Salalah Museum, 10 miles from the Gold Souq and the Frankincense Route, eight miles from Wadi Darbat and the beaches of Taqah, and 40 miles from the Queen of Sheba’s Palace. Tel : +968 23211234 Fax : +968 23210084 Email: frontoffice.salalah@hilton.com, salalah@hilton.com Web : www.salalah.hilton.com

HAFFA HOUSE SALALAH Not Yet Rated

Location: Salalah

Haffa House is situated right in front of Salalah Airport, it has wide selection of rooms and executive suites. Haffa House has 60 rooms and 63 flats. The hotel rooms are equipped with private bathrooms, satellite Television, channel music and direct dial telephones. It backed up with valet service and 24 hours room service and laundry facilities DINING:The restaurant has built a name for itself for its excellent food and service. Located on the second floor, it serves buffet breakfast, lunch dinner and a la carte menu. Tel : +968 23295444, Fax :+968 23294873 Email: house@omantel.net.om, Web: www.shanfari.com

SAMHARAM TOURIST RESORT Not Yet Rated

Location: Salalah

Samharam tourist Village is situated on the virgin beach of Salalah coast. Samharam Tourist Resort is located in Salalah at a distance of 10kms from the Salalah Airport which is a 20 minutes drive and 15 minutes drive away from Salalah city. It is a five star deluxe resort set on the shores with coconut palms on either side and is an ideal place for relaxation. Tel : +968 23211420 Fax : + 968 23211267 Email: house@omantel.net.om Web : www.shanfarihotels.com

DARBAT HOTEL

«««

Location: Salalah

We have great pleasure introducing ourselves DARBAT HOTEL. It has been in operation since 2000 and is presently open to guest who wish to get good ccommodations for a low and budget price. Darbat Hotel welcomes you to Salalah and Dhofar region, famous for its beautiful landscapes, cool temperature and frankincenses. Tel : +968 23 295 877 Fax : +968 23 289 281 Email: info@darbathoteloman.com Web : www.darbathoteloman.com

HAMDAN PLAZA

«««

Location: Salalah

Hamdan Plaza Hotel Salalah ; a three star luxurious property just 5 minutes from Salalah International Airport overlooking the Indian ocean. It is the most Iconic hospitality brand providing all the modern amenties and outstanding services. Come alone or bring your family with you, stay here for a night or for weeks, stay here while on business trip or at some kind of conference - either way our hotel is the best possible variant. Tel: +968 93201048, +968 93201054 Web: www.hamdanplazahotel.com

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HOTELS - MUSANDAM - KHASAB - DIBA SIX SENSES ZIGHY BAY, MUSANDAM

«««««

Six Senses Zighy Bay is located on the northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman. The setting of these beautiful indigenous village-style accommodations and private marina is spectacular, with the dramatic mountains on one side and the sandy beach of Zighy Bay on the other. Tantalize your senses: feel the sand beneath your toes; listen as your sunset dhow cruise glides through waves; taste culinary delights of the region Tel: +968 26735 555, Fax: +968 26735 556 Tel: +968 26735 888, Fax: +968 26735 887 E-mail: reservations-zighy@sixsenses.com Web: www.sixsenses.com

ATANA KHASAB

««««

f

Location: Musandam shoreline

Atana Khasab is located on the Musandam shoreline, in the Northern part of Oman, North of the United Arab Emirates It is only 160km from Dubai, 80km from Ras Al Khaimah and 640km from Muscat, the capital. Tel: +968 2673 0777 Fax: +968 2673 2703

‫اإلقامة‬

‫ال‬

‫يق‬ ‫ال‬ ‫ع‬ ‫رأ‬

Location: Zighy Bay, Musandam Peninsula Sultanate of Oman

‫ إطاللة‬،‫ والقابع فوق واجهة جرف صخري‬،‫ المصنف أربع نجوم‬،‫يوفر فندق أتانا خصب‬ .‫بانورامية خالبة على سواحل مسندم الشهيرة‬ ‫ مجهزة بالكامل مع شرفات خاصة‬،‫ غرفة وجناح تتميز بالرحابة واألناقة‬60 ‫يضم الفندق‬ .‫لكل منها‬

Accommodation

Classified as a four-star hotel, perched on a rock, Atana Khasab offers the most panoramic views of the famed Musandam shoreline. The hotel features 60 rooms and suites, elegantly furnished, each having its own balcony overlooking either the fabulous mountains or a panoramic sea view. The hotel offers a meeting room fully equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual technologies that can accommodate up to 100 people.

‫أتانا خصب‬ 434 ‫ب‬.‫ص‬ 811 ‫الـرمز البريــدي‬ ‫خـصـب‬ ‫ُعمـان‬

HOTELS - SOHAR

GOLDEN TULIP DIBA

««««

Location: Diba

The Golden Tulip Resort, Diba is ideally located on the east coast of the Musandam Peninsula, 60 kms from Fujairah, on the Indian Ocean. The hotel offers 54 rooms and suites, tastefully decorated, and a range of cafes, and restaurant, bars, to cater to all needs. a sea view conference room, and a range of recreation facilities, ideal for a great escape. Golden Tulip Resort Dibba is a part of Golden Tulip Hospitality Group. Tel : +968 26836654 , Fax : +968 26836653 Email: sales@goldentulipdibba.com Web : www.goldentulipdibba.com

Atana Khasab PO Box 434 PC 811 Khasab Oman

Tel. +968 2673 0777 ‫هـاتـف‬ Fax. +968 2673 2703 ‫فـاكس‬

CROWNE PLAZA SOHAR

«««««

Location: Sohar, Sultanate of Oman

Situated in Oman’s key commercial hub, Crowne Plaza Sohar is 9km from Sohar’s Special Economic Zone in the Port of Sohar. Speak to our friendly Concierge about arranging a limousine pick-up from Muscat. Tel : +968 26850850 Fax : +968 26850800 E-mail: reservations.cpsohar@ihg.com

SOHAR BEACH HOTEL

««««

Location: Sohar

Sohar Beach Hotel features 45 guest rooms, suites and chalets. Most of the rooms are in the fort-style building and enjoy views over the swimming pool and hotel gardens. Leisure facilities at the hotel include the temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court, a recreation centre and of course the resort’s beach. Tel : +968 268 411 11 Fax : +968 268 437 66 Email: resvsbh@soharbeach.com Web : www.soharbeach.com

To get listed on these pages please contact: Tel - (968) 24810204, 24815434, 98432645, 98459315 Email: info@destinationoman.com


GREEN OASIS HOTEL

«««

Location: Sohar

GREEN OASIS RESORT located on the beautiful lush green vicinity, close proximity of approximately 200km from Muscat and 150 km from the Dubai UAE and about 10 minutes drive from the main commercial centre, shopping mall and within 15mins from Sohar Industrial/Sohar Port area is a perfect home away from home for business & leisure travelers. Tel : +968 2684 6077 Fax : +968 2684 6441 Email : greensohar@gmail.com Web : www.greenoasishotel.com

AL WADI HOTEL SOHAR

«««

Location: Sohar

Al Wadi Hotel is located in the ancient marine capital of Oman; Sohar, which is home to legendary Sindbad the Sailor. 210 km from the capital city of Muscat, surrounded by natural wonders and historical sites, Sohar was recently voted the most picturesque city in the Middle East.

Tel : +968- 26840058 Fax : +968-26841997 Email: reservationalwadi@omanhotels.com Web : www.omanhotels.com/alwadi

HOTELS - SUR TURTLE BEACH RESORT

««««

Location: Sur

Turtle Beach Resort is a traditional Omani style resort that has been offering its services for more than ten years now. We do everything to guarantee that your stay will be a pleasant one. The hotel has a private Beach for an unforgettable beach experience for all the family to enjoy.

Tel : +968 25569333 Fax : +968 25569334 Email: info@tbroman.com Web : www.tbroman.com

SUR PLAZA HOTEL

«««

Location: Sur

300 km from Muscat, in the picturesque town of Sur, well known for its old fishing village and traditional manufacture of dhows, stands the Sur Plaza Hotel; a comfortable three star property offering superlative service with a touch of traditional Omani hospitality.

Tel : +968 25543777 Fax : +968 25542626 Email: reservationsur@omanhotels.com Web : www.omanhotels.com/surplaza

SUR BEACH HOTEL

«««

Location: Sur

Sur Beach Hotel, a group of Sur International hotels - the largest in Oman ,offers a breathtaking view of the vast expanse of the Arabian sea. The high standards of services complement the hotels luxuriously appointed facilities. Its unique sea side location includes access to the beach and offers a gentle and tranquil experience. In all a truly class hotel with all modern amenities provided of a 3 star.

Tel : +968 25542031/32/33 Fax : +968 25542228 Email: surbhtl@omantel.net.om Web : www.sigoh.com.om/surbeach.html

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RAS AL JINZ TURTLE RESERVE

«««

Location: Sur

The Sultanate of Oman has a unique natural landscape, and offers unspoiled shorelines, golden deserts, luxuriant green oases and rugged mountains. It is also gifted with a rich biodiversity - especially in its marine life, due to the board climatic spectrum and unique location in the Indian Ocean.

Tel : +968 96550606 Fax : + 968 95300234 Email: reservations@rasaljinz-turtlereserve.com Web : www.rasaljinz-turtlereserve.com

HOTELS - NIZWA GOLDEN TULIP NIZWA

««««

Location: Nizwa

Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel is proud to introduce this website,and on this site you will find all possible information about our hotel and can make reservations.Only an hours drive from the Seeb International Airport a short distance from Nizwa city, the Golden Tulip Nizwa hotel is set amidst the rugged Hajar Mountains and is ideally located for adventure tours into Oman’s interiors. Tel : +968 25431616 Fax : +968 25431619 Email: info@goldentulipnizwa.com Web : www.goldentulipnizwa.com

FALAJ DARIS HOTEL

«««

Location: Nizwa

Falaj Daris Hotel is ideally located just about 4Kms away from Nizwa town. Perfect base to explore the interior and after a tiring day to relax! The hotel is situated 150Kms from Seeb International airport. The hotel has recently undergone a complete renovationand refurbishment. The hotel now has 55 beautifully appointed international standard rooms including 2 suites.

Tel : +968 25410500 Fax : +968 25410537 Email: fdhnizwa@omantel.net.om Web : www.falajdarishotel.com

HOTELS - DUQM Park Inn by Radisson Hotel & Residence Duqm

«««

Location: Duqm

Ideally situated between the bustling cities of Salalah and Muscat, this Duqm hotel offers convenient accommodation in a seaside locale. Choose from among 73 well-appointed chalets and apartments, all of which include Free Wireless High-speed Internet, and take advantage of convenient amenities like all-day dining on site.

Tel : +968 2208 5700 Fax : + 968 2208 5750 Email: info.duqm@rezidorparkinn.com Web : www.rezidorparkinn.com

CITY HOTEL

«««

Location: Duqm

The hotel has been conceived and designed to cater to the rapidly growing need for hotel, accommodation and business facilities in the area. It targets the segment clientele that seeks all the comforts of a business hotel at an economical cost such as visitors connected with business and projects to the new port/harbor, airport, oil refinery and new industrial areas of Duqm.

Tel : +968 25214900 Fax : + 968 25214933 Email: rsvn@cityhotelduqm.com Web : www.cityhotelduqm.com

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Crowne Plaza Duqm Hotel

««««

Location: Haima

Crowne Plaza Duqm features 213 rooms and suites designed with style and comfort in mind. Indulge in a skillfully prepared meal in one of our restaurants showcasing the best of local produce. Enjoy a drink by the hotel’s infinity pool or take time to unwind exploring the untouched sandy beaches surrounding the property.

Tel : +968-2-5214444 Fax : +968-2-5214445 Email: info.cpduqm@ihg.com Web : www. ihg.com

Hotel Name

Al-Bahjah Al-Buraimi Al-Burj International Al-Rusayal AREEN Youth Hotel Apartments AREEN Youth Hotel Apartments Al-Salam Al-Sawadi Beach Hotel Boushar Hotel Dhofar Hotel Dreams Resort Eastern Rimal

Location

Seeb Buraimi Mumtaz Area Rusayal Al Ashkhara Salalah Buraimi Sohar Shatti Al-Qurum Ghubrah Salalah Seeb Ibra

Telphone

Fax

24424400 25652010 24798008 24426900 25566266 25566266 25655789 26840058 24696601 24491105 23290484 24453399 9205112

E-mail

24424620 bahjahtl@omantel.met.om 25652011 buraimihotel@yahoo.com 24794004 alburjin@omantel.net.om 24426400 rslhtl@omantel.net.om 25566179 admin@goldentulipseeb.com 25566179 admin@goldentulipseeb.com 25653779 26841997 24697686 beach@motifoman.com 24499124 boushar@omantel.com 23294358 24453999 drmuscat@omantel.net.om 9207012 ibrahotel@omantel.net.om

Arabic Made Easy As-salaam alaykum - Peace be with you (greeting) Wa alaykum as-salaam - And with you peace (reply) Kayf halek ? - How are you? (to a man) Kayf halesh? - How are you? (to a woman) Al hamdu lillah, bikhair - Fine,thanks be to God Zain - Good. (another response) Tammam - (and another response) Tayyib - (and another response) Sabah al kayr - Good morning Sabah ah noor - Good morning(the response) Misa al kayr - Good evening Misa ah noor - Good evening(the response) Ahlan wa sahlan - Welcome Maharba - Hello Ma’salamah - Goodbye Min fadlak - Please Shukran - Thank you Afwan - You’re welcome Naam, iwa - Yes La - No Insha’llah - God willing (or at such time as God desires) Mafee mooshkalah - No problem Wayn... - Where is ... Hammam - Bathroom or toilet Funduq - Hotel

Teksi Mushtashfa Souq Telefon Bikam? Yillah!

- Taxi or taxi stand - Hospital - market - Telephone - How much? - Lets go!

NUMBERS Sifr Wahid Itnain Talata Arbaa Khamsa Sitta Saba Tamania Tissah Ashara Itnashr Talateen Arbien Kamseen Mia Alf

- Zero - One - Two - Three - Four - Five - Six - Seven - Eight - Nine - Ten - Twenty - Thirty - Forty - Fifty - Hundred - Thousand

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What to eat E

Al Khaima Majan hotel Lyali zaman Near Radisson SAS

AFRICAN

Caravans Zakher mall

24475501

The Chambers Majan Hotel

24592900

Hakuna Matata Muscat Holiday Inn

24487123

Nando’s (Flame Grilled Chicken) Qurum 24561818

ARABIAN

T

24592900 24498818 24480340

Al madina MQ 24696515 Al saseer Al khoud 24542340 Al shatti Corniche 24714636 Al tanoor Al bandar hotel, ShangriLa 24776666 Al zafran Sohar beach hotel

26841111

Arab world Al ghubrah Ruwi high street

24491734 2498119

Arabic court Chedi Muscat

Al areen al khuwayr Near Radisson SAS

24487056

Al Bashasha Book roundabout

24425314

Al barouk Beach Hotel

24604799

Al Akhtam Restaurant Al Khuwair

Al Deyar Nxt to shatti plaza

24603553

Al Fakhr Restaurant Ruwi hotel

24704244

Al Tarboosh Qurum 24565673 Beirut restaurant Near qurum roundabout 24568411 Beiruti Coral hotel 24692121 Bin ateeq Al khuwayr 24478225

Al hoot MQ traffic lights Al Katkoot Al khoud

2015

A

118

24601996

24524400

Automatic Restaurant Al Khuwair 24487200 Seeb 24424343 Qurum 24561500 24603292

O U

T

S

Camilia restaurant CBD 24706663 Hatam City center 24542344 Hormuz Iranian Restaurant Darsait 24709070 Istanbuly Nxt to rawasco

24480900

Kargeen café Al harty complex 24560531 Center point 24694048 MQ 24692269 Meknes Al khuwayr slip road

24475497

Mombasa Radisson SAS

24480340

Ofair Al khuwayr

24482965

Mokha Café Grand Hyatt Muscat

24641234

Khaima Majan Hotel

24592900

La Tarbouche Arabic Night Club Sheraton Oman Hotel 24799899 Omani Hut Al Sawadi Beach Resort 26795545 Sablat Al Bustan Al Bustan Palace Hotel

24799666

Samar Al Nahda Resort 99257553

24542883

To get listed on these pages please contact: Tel - (968) 24810204, 24815434, 98432645, 98459315 Email: info@destinationoman.com


Shiraz Crowne Plaza Hotel

24560100

Samharam Coffee Shop Haffa House Hotel 24707207 Pooldeck Intercontinental Muscat 24680000

CAFES

Al Ahli Café Al Bahjan Hote

24424400

Al Falaj Coffee Shop Al Falaj Hotel

24702311

Al Maha Muscat Holiday Inn

24487123

Al Mas Bowsher Hotel Deluxw

24491105

Second Cup CCC, Qurum

24566616

Sirj Tea Lounge Grand Hyatt Muscat

24641234

Starbucks Café Muscat City Centre Jawaharat A’Shati Madinat Qaboos Qurum Beach

24558861 24601457 24699367 24568213

Surf Café Shangri La’s Resort and spa

24776666

Arosa Al Khamis Plaza

24560439

Barista SABCO Centre

Sidewalk and Deli CCC,Qurum 24563058

24571531

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf 24543169

Café de Muscat Shati Al Qurum 24602585 Café Capuccino Ramee Guestline Hotel

24564443

Café Glacier Qurum 24564974 Café Verganano Madinat Qaboos Cinnzeo Al Masa Mall,Sarooj

FAR EASTERN

24692370 24706727

Costa Coffee Seeb Intr Airport 24519734 Muscat City Centre 24535895 Oasis by the Sea 24605574 Lulu Baushar 24503861 Darcy’s Kitchen Jawaharat Shatti Complex Golden Gate Qurum 24571644 Kargeen café Madinat Qaboos Al Harthy Complex City Plaza

24692269 24560575 24694048

Le Croissant Sheraton Oman Hotel

24799899

Chinese Garden Al Khuwair

24489414

China Mood Al Bustan Palace Hotel

24799666

China Town Qurum 24567974 Chinese Palace Al Wadi Kabir

24812223

Golden Dragon Madinat Qaboos 24697374 Golden Oryx Rex Road 24706128 Magic Wok Muscat City Centre 24537118 Silk Route Qurum 24561741 Tokyo Taro Al Falaj Hotel

24702311

The Noodle House

24558377

Shang Thai - The Wave 24554774

Le Mermaid Café Adjacent to GrandHyatt 24602327 Oasis Lounge Café Radisson SAS

24687777

Olivos Coffee Shop Radisson SAS

24687777

FAST FOOD

Chicking Markas Al bahja

24540200

Coral Express Markhas Al Bahja

24540200

Dairy Queen Jawahart A’shatti Lulu Boushar Seeb Airport

24693031 24504504 24519468

Hardees Qurum 24564642 Al Khuwair 24489575 Muscat city ceneter 24489575 Airport roundabout 24521133 Mc Donald’s Al Khuwair 24482046 Al Sarooj Complex 24691033 Muscat City Centre 24545773 Book Roundabout 24421119 Qurum 24565798 City Centre 24558020 Airport Roundabout 24521133 KFC Al Khuwair 24477777 City Centre 24477777 Ruwi high str 24477777 Qurum str 24477777 Airport Roundabout 24477777 Seeb 24477777 Azaiba Roundabout 24477777 LuLu 24477777 Papa John’s Pizza LuLu 24477777 Qurum 24477777 Seeb Airport 24477777 Pizza Hut Oman (Call Centre) 24822500 Muscat 24822500 Qurum 24822500 MBD 24822500 CCC 24822500 Airport 24822500 MSQ 24822500 Al Khuwair 24822500 Al Khuwair (EDI) 24822500 Al Khaudh 24822500 Gala 24822500 Mabela 24822500 Salalah 23290303 Salalah Lulu 23210215 Tharmad 26810036 Sur 25545388 Sohar 26841155 Sohar Industrial Estate 26752900 Niwa 25412096 Muscat- Wadi Kabir 24822555 Salalah 23225626 Jalan 25553786 Pizza Muscat Al Khuwair 24483393 Al Harthy 24565618 Santinos City center 24536698 Taza

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Al Khuwair Wally’s Masa Mall

24479339

Hotel-Shangri-La 24776666

24540200

Arabic Oven CBD 24797276

FRENCH

Al Marjan Al Bustan Palace Hotel

Alauddin MQ 24600667

24799666

INDIAN

AGS CBD 24780207 Curry House Wattayah 24564033 Kamat Al khuwayr 24479243 Rex Road 24793355 Ruwi 24783300 Khana Khazana CBD 24813466 Khyber CBD 24781901 Mumtaz Mahal Qurum Natural Park

24605907

Palm Restaurant 24707090 Passage to India Wattayah 24568480 Punjabi Dhaba Darsait 24787755 Spicy Village Ruwi 24700175 Woodlands CBD 24700192 Tandoori Bahar Al Sawadi Beach Resort 26795545

INTERNATIONAL

2015

120

24536308

24489292

Musandam Restaurant Khasab Hotel 24680000

Al Khiran Terrace Al Bustan Palace Hotel

24799666

Nandos CCC 24561818

Blue Marlin Marina Bander

24737940

Beach Pavillion Al Bustan Palace

24799666

Chillis City center

24545815

Come Prima Crowne Plaza

24560100

Coral Reef Cafe Al Sawadi Beach Resort 26795545 Cote Jardin Golden Tulip Seeb

24510300

Fish Market Al Sawadi Beach Resort 26795545 Flavours Azaiba 24597600 Toll Free 80077779 Four Seasons Haffa House

24707207

O sole Mio Jawaharat A Shatti Complex 24601363 Olivos Radisson SAS

24487777

Palm Grove Hilton Hotel Salalah

23211234

Pavo Real MQ 24602603 Peppercorns Al Khuwair

24680527

Roast and Grill House Golden Oasis Hotel 24811655 Red Lobster Al Ghoubrah

24591993

Senor Pico Intercontinental Muscat 24680000 Sundowners Beach Bar Al Sawadi Beach Resort 24679545

Golden Spoon Al Khuwayr 24482263 Seeb 24424204

The Chedi Pol Cabana The Chedi 24524400

Green Mountain Sheraton Oman Hotel

24799899

The Restaurant The Chedi Muscat

24524400

Jean’s Grill Sultan Centre

24567666

Trader Vic’s Intercontinental Muscat

24680000

Tropicana Crowne Plaza Hotel

24560100

Tuscany Grand Hyatt Muscat

24641234

Khalab Al Nahda Resort and Spa 992RELAX Khaboura Cafe Majan Continental

Al Bandar Lounge Al Bandar

Mumbai Masala Markaz Al Bahja

Al Akhtam Al Khuwair

Bait Al Bahar Al Waha Hotel Shangrila 24776666

Ambassador Ruwi 24708082 The Bollywood CCC 24565653

Majlis Al Shams Intercontinental Muscat 24600500

24592900

Happy Village Qurum 24566142

To get listed on these pages please contact: Tel - (968) 24810204, 24815434, 98432645, 98459315 Email: info@destinationoman.com


The Edge Crowne plaza Muscat 24660660

ITALIAN

Middle Eastern

PUBS & BARS Capri Court Al Bandar – Shangri La

Al Angham 22077777

24776666

Come Prima Crowne Plaza Muscat

24560100

La Mamma Sheraton Oman Hotel

24799899

Nuovo La Terrazza Hatat House Compound

24571126

Al Ghazal Intercontinental Muscat 24680000 Al Maha Bar Al Bustan Palace Hotel 24799666

O Sole Mio Jawaharat Shatti Complex 24601343

Barrio Fiesta Majan Continental

24592900

Pale Caldo Jawaharat A’shatti

Churchill’s Pub Holiday Inn

24487123

24698697

Mediterranean Grill Intercontinental Muscat

24680000

Tuscany Grand Hyatt Muscat

24641234

JAPANESE

Tokyo Taro Al Falaj Hotel

24702311

MEXICAN

Chilis City Centre

24545815

Pavo Real Madinat Qaboos

24602603

Senor Pico Intercontinental Muscat

24680000

STEAKS & GRILLS

Al Tajin Grill Radisson SAS Club Safari Grand Hyatt Muscat Kobe’s Sizzlers GBM Building, Qurum Grill House Al Khuwair

Club Safari Grand Hyatt Coral Bar Radisson SAS

24641234

24641234

Duke’s Bar Crowne Plaza

24560100

Hot Super Club Al Sawadi Beach Resort

26795525

Muscat Rugby Club Al Khuwair

24604890

Oliver’s Bar Sheraton Hotel

24799899

Piano Lounge AL Bander Hotel-Shangril La Periwinkle’s Al Sawadi Beach Resort

Shiraz 24660660 Buffet

Mokha Cafe

24 641234

Samba

24776565

Buffet Restaurant 24697967 Ambience

24487777

Copacabana Grand Hyatt Muscat

Periwinkle’s Al Sawadi Beach Resort

Al Tanoor 24776565

360degrees 24590398 China Mood 24799666 The Beach Restaurant 24524343 Casual Dining (Independent)

b+f Roadside Diner 24698836 Left Bank 24693699

26795525

Nado’s 24561818 Palmeera 24692368

26795545

Circles 24776666 Safari Rooftop

24641234

26795545

Rock Bottom Café Ramee Guestline Hotel 24564443 24487777

24641234

24563220 24603660

Sports Bar Muscat Holiday Inn

24487123

The Cellar Radisson SAS

24487777

The Wahiba Al Sawadi Beach Resort

26795525

Up Town Restaurant Rex Road

24706020

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Discovering Oman COUNTRY FOCUS

Country : Sultanate Of Oman Capital : Muscat Area : 309,500 sq km, with 1700 km of coast line Population : As per the final results of the 2010 census, the total population of Oman has now gone up to 2,773,479. Residential units now number 551,058, according to the second booklet issued by Census Administration. Geography : Plains, wadis, mountains, sandy and stony deserts. A diverse landscape ranges from the barren fjords of Musandam in the extreme north to the lush, green hills of Dhofar in the far south. Climate : Muscat is hot and humid from lateMarch until September and pleasantly warm with cool evenings the rest of the year. Around Salalah, the second largest city, humid weather with temperatures of 30°C is common even in December, and the area is drenched by the monsoon rains from June to September.

BUSINESS HOURS Government Offices : Private Sector : Banks :

Sunday to Thursday, 7am-2.30pm. Friday & Saturday weekend Holidays Sunday to Thursday, 8am-1pm, 2-6pm, Friday & Saturday weekend Holidays Sunday to Thursday ,8am-2pm Friday & Saturday Weekend Holidays

CURRENCY & BANKING

The unit of currency is the Omani Rial (OMR / RO) comprising 1,000 baizas. In general, banking hours are Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 2pm. Moneychangers

2015

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are also open from 4pm to 8pm.

PUBLIC TELEPHONES

Accept coins and phone cards. Cards available from supermarkets and some smaller shops in units up to RO5.

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Dress : While in Oman, please respect local customs. Please dress modestly but comfortably. Women can preferably wear below the knee skirts or long sleeved dresses. Etiquette : You can shake hands in greeting in Oman. Ramadan : The Holy Month of Ramadan, a month of fasting is observed. Non-Muslims should respect this by not eating, drinking or smoking in public. Dress code should be strictly observed during this time.

LEISURE ACTIVITIES

Shopping: A shopper’s paradise, Oman offers modern day designer shopping as well as the traditional ‘Souq experience. Shopping malls are open from 9 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 11 pm, small grocery shops open early and do business till late hours.

SHOPPING MALLS

Al Araimi Complex 24566180 Al Asfoor Plaza 24564686 Al Harthy Complex 24564481 Al Khamis Plaza 24562791 Al Wadi Commercial Centre 24564782 Capital Commercial Complex 24567338 Centrepoint 24698988 Jawaharat A’Shatti Complex 24692113

To get listed on these pages please contact: Tel - (968) 24810204, 24815434, 98432645, 98459315 Email: info@destinationoman.com


Khimji’s Megastore 24708075 Lulu Hypermarket - Barka 26886855 Lulu Hypermarket - Bausher 24504504 Lulu Hypermarket -Darsait 24701401 Lulu Hypermarket Al Burj Seeb 24423771 Lulu Hypermarket Sohar 26843040 Lulu Hypermarket Wadi Kabir 24821111 Lulu Hypermarket Khaboora 26805544 Lulu Hypermarket Salalah 23288133 Al Markaz al Bahja 24540200 Muscat City Centre 24558888 Qurum City Centre 24470700 Sabco Centre 24562761 Al Araimi Complex, Qurum 24566180 Al Burj Trading & Consumers Co. 24423205 Al Harthy Complex, Qurum 24564481 Al Khamis Plaza, Qurum 24562791 Al Sarooj Centre, Shatti 24691311 Al Wadi Commercial Centre 24564782 Baby Shop LLC, The City Plaza 24698988 Al Qurum Center,Qurum 24563672 Capital Store, Qurum 24562254 CentrePoint MQ 24698988 Ruwi 24817656 City Centre 24558059 Salalah 23289260

WATER/ADVENTURE SPORTS

The coastline, the deserts, mountains etc. make Oman the perfect place for water sports like diving, sailing, fishing, wind surfing and water skiing. On land, you can indulge in horse racing, camel racing, cricket, volleyball, football, rugby, tennis, squash and basketball. Hiking, camping, caving and desert driving is also big here. Dive centres / dive agents arrange water adventure trips for those interested. Adventure Centre Bluzone Watersports Oman Dive Centre Moon Light Dive Centre moonlightdive.com Capital Area Yacht Club Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre Marina Bander al Rowda Samaharam Dive and Watersports Centre Diveco Desert Thunder www.desertthunderoman.com Explore Masirah www.exploremasirah.com Grand Hyatt Muscat Boathouse Gulf Leisure www.gulfleisure.com Ocean Boats Diving and Sea Tours www.scubaoman.com Diving and snorkelling Al Raheeb Marine Tours Blu Zone Watersports Desert Thunder

24485663 24737293 99340096 99317700 24737712 24685663 24737288 23235333 24602101 95555153 25504442 24641234 99819006 24693561 92645889

99144950 99138967 24737293 95555153

www.desertthunderoman.com Dimaniyat Divers Club 26795545 Al Sawadi Beach Resort Dimaniyat Diving 99311350 www.dimaniyat.com www.divingoman.com Explore Masirah 96178776 www.exploremasirah.com Gulf Leisure 99819006, www.gulfleisure.com 24693561 info@gulfleisure.com Muscat Divers, Neil Bedwin 99355671 British Sub Aqua Club www.bsac.com Muscat Diving and Rob Gardner 99239658 Ocean Boats Diving and Sea Tours 92645889 www.scubaoman.com Musandam Extra Divers 99877957 Global Scuba, Monique Borlee. 99317518 www.global-scuba.com Desert Adventures. 95201107 Sub Aqua Dive Centre Salalah. 92471073 www.subaqua-divecenter.com Jet skiing Al Sawadi Beach Resort Moon Light Dive Centre moonlightdive.com Kayaking Dimaniyat Divers Club Al Sawadi Beach Resort Muscat Diving and Adventure Centre Rob Gardner Oman Dive Center www.diveoman.com.om Moon Light Dive Centre moonlightdive.com

26795545 99317700

26795545 24485663 99239658 24824240 99317700

Sailing Castaways Sailing Club 95086284, 24594613 Desert Thunder 95555153 www.desertthunderoman.com Sport fishing Al Raheeb Marine Tours 99144950 99138967 Desert Thunder 95555153 www.desertthunderoman.com Explore Masirah 25504442 www.exploremasirah.com Grand Hyatt Muscat Boathouse 24641234 Gulf Leisure 99819006, 24693561 www.gulfleisure.com Marina Bandar al Rowdha 24737288 Moon Light Dive Centre 99317700 moonlightdive.com Muscat Diving and Adventure Centre 24485663 Rob Gardner 99239658 Oman Dive Center 24824240 Water World Marine 24737438 www.waterworldoman.com

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COURT AND FIELD SPORTS

BasketballOman Basketball Association 24796780 Golf Al Maha Golf Club 24522177 Netball PDO Netball Club netballoman@yahoo.co.uk Rugby Dhofar Nomads Rugby Club 99291548 Muscat Rugby Football Club 24604890 Softball John Chappel 99337593 Squash Al Falaj Hotel 24702311 Al Sawadi Beach Resort 26795545 Crowne Plaza Muscat 24660660 Grand Hyatt Muscat 24641234 Tennis Al Falaj Hotel 24702311 Al Sawadi Beach Resort 26795545 Grand Hyatt Muscat 24641234 Hotel InterContinental Muscat 24680000 Oman Tennis Association 24751402 Indoor Sports Bowling Al Masa Bowling 24693919 Seeb Novotel 24510300 Chess Dilip J Asher 92591954 dilipchessasher@yahoo.com Skating Ice-Skating Centre 24489492 Michael Fernandes Outdoor Hiking Ahmed al Abri 99348440 Desert Thunder 95555153 www.desertthunderoman.com Gulf Leisure 99819006, 24693561 www.gulfleisure.com Muscat Diving and Adventure Centre 24485663 Rob Gardner 99239658 Horse Riding Al Sawadi Beach Resort 26795545 Al Sawahil Horse Riding 95177557 Desert Thunder 95555153 www.desertthunderoman.com Shah Mohammed Khalili 99386978 Qurm Equestrian School 99832199 Rock Climbing Muscat Diving and Adventure Centre 24485663 Rob Gardner 99239658 Sand Skiing Al Areesh Tourism Camp 24493232 Road Cycling Muscat Cycling Club 99324594 Motor Sports BikersOman.com 99556430 Harley Davidson Owners’ Group 99310853 Oman Automobile Association 24510239 Running Muscat Road Runners 99427866 Training & Classes Al Falaj Hotel 24702311

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Martial Arts: (Children) Sunday to Thursday, 5– 6.30pm. (Adults) Sunday to Thursday, 7–8.30pm Tennis: Daily (except Friday and Saturday morning), 8am–12pm, 4–9pm Swimming: Daily, 8am–9pm Grand Hyatt Muscat 24641234 Ballet: Saturday–Monday, Wednesday, 8.10– 9.10pm Salsa Aerobics: Saturday, 6.05–7.05pm Yoga for women: Saturday, Wednesday, 8.30– 10am Hotel InterContinental Muscat 24680000 SupaPump: Saturday and Wednesday, 8.15–9.15 am; Monday, 5.30–6.30pm; Thursday, 2–3pm Tai do: Saturday, 9.30–10.30am; Monday, 6.45–7.45pm Children’s circuits: (10–15 years) Saturday and Monday, 3.30–4.30pm Aerostep and ABS: Saturday, 5.30–6.30pm Spin and ABS: Wednesday, 5.30–6.30pm Mind, Body and Soul: Monday, 6.45–7.45pm and 9.30–10.30am; Tuesday, 6.45–7.45pm Aqua Aerobics: Saturday and Tuesday, 8.15– 9.15am Core Stability: Sunday, 9.30–10.30am Spin: Sunday, 5.30–6.30pm; Thursday, 9–10am Pilates+: Sunday, 6.45–7.45pm; Thursday, 10.15–11.15am

CINEMAS

City Cinema Ruwi (Hindi films) City Cinema, Qurum (English films) City Cinema, Sur City Cinema, Sohar Star Cinema - Indian & Arabic Al Bahja Cinema - English Golden Cinema - Malayalam

24831358 24607360 25540666 26844962 24791641 24540855 24622446

MUSEUMS

Bait Adam 24605033 This museum showcases old Omani coins, documents and postage stamps; Open daily, 9am–7pm Bait al Baranda 24714262 An interactive visitors’ centre showcasing a history of the capital Open Saturday to Thursday, 9am–1pm and 4–6pm; closed on Friday and public holidays Bait al Zubair 24736688 Weapons, jewellery, clothing, books, paintings, photos and maps Timings:-Sat- Thur (9.30am to 6pm) Children’s Museum 24605368 Timings:-Sat-Thur (9am-1pm, 4-6pm) Fri (4-6pm) Ghalyas Museum 24711640 The museum is a group of typical Omani houses from the period 1950 to 1975 that tell the stories of the Omanis and their deeply rooted heritage, customs and traditions. Opening Hours: Sat - Wed 10 am to 1 pm. 4 pm

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to 7 pm. Thur 10 am to 1pm National Museum 24701289 Jewellery, costume, weapons and pots. Timings:-Sat-Thur (9am-1pm, 4-6pm) Fri (4-6pm) Natural History Museum 24604957 Timings:- Sat-Thur (9am-1pm, 4-6pm) Fri (46pm) Oman Museum 24600946 Timings:-Sat-Thur (9am-1pm, 4-6pm) Fri (4-6pm) Omani French Museum 24736613 Timings:-Sat-Thur (9am-1pm, 4-6pm) Fri (4-6pm) Planetarium 24675542 The planetarium, run by the PDO, has shows on five different subjects for the public. Adults and children can attend the shows with prior booking. Arabic: 5–6pm on Wednesdays and 11.30am– 12.30pm on Thursdays English: 7–8pm on Wednesdays and 10–11am on Thursdays Salalah Museum 24294549 Local artifacts and costumes. Timings:-Sat-Wed (7.30am-2.30pm) Sayyid Faisal bin Ali Museum 24641650 This Ministry of Heritage and Culture museum in al Khuwair showcases traditional weaponry Open Saturday to Wednesday (excluding Tuesday), 8am–2pm Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum 24312648 Outline of Omani history with army exhibition. Sun, Mon, Wed & Thurs (8am-1.30pm)

HEALTH CLUBS & SPAS

Signature Hair & Beauty 24490282 Adam’s Fitness 24536353 Al Bustan Palace Hotel 24799666 Al Inshirah Pool Club 24713061 Al Safa Health Club 24605436 Al Qurum Resort 24605945 Al Sawadi Beach Resort 26795545 Al Nahda Resort and Spa 26883710 Al Falaj Health Club 24702311 Blu Hotel 24487777 Crowne Plaza Hotel 24560100 Crowne Plaza Salalah 23235333 Club Olympus 24602888 Elixir Holistic Centre 24602825 Future Health Club 24600030 Gymnasia 24560100 Grand Hyatt Club Olympus 24641234 Golden Tulip 24510300 Horizon Fitness Centre 24571337 Intercontinental Muscat 24600500 Majan Hotel 24592900 Muscat Holiday Inn 24487123 Fontana Club Radisson

Salalah Hilton 23211234 Salalah Holiday Inn 23235333 Samaa 24604360 Sheraton Oman Hotel 24799899 Sheraton Qurum Resort 24605945 Sohar Beach Hotel 26841111 Sky Club Park Inn 24507888

LIBRARIES

Bibliotheque Francaise 24481874 Timings:-Sat-Wed (4-7pm) Tues (9am to noon) Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry 24707674 Accounting, economics, law, statistics, commercial, industrial and trade directories in Arabic/English Timings:-Sat-Wed (7.30am-1.30pm) Thurs (7.30am to noon) Public Technical Library 24673111 Science, computing, art, music, sport Sat-Wed (8am-2pm, 4-9pm) Thurs (9am-1pm) United States Information Service 24698989 Sat-Wed (9am-4pm)

MEDICAL AND DENTAL

Al Hayat Clinic 24565941 Allied Diagnostic Center 80070055 24583619 Al Qabas Clinic 24604466 Al Massaraat 24566435 Al Muthana Physiotherapy 24484046 Al Shatti Hospital 24604263 Capital Polyclinic 24707549 Elixir Health Centre 24602825 El Magrabi Eye Centre 24568870 Gulf Medical Centre 24564639 Hatat Polyclinic Hatat House 24563641 Azaiba 24499269 Lama Polyclinic 24799077 Muscat Private Hospital 24583600 Tahhan Medical Centre, MQ 24694930 Welcare Diagnostic and Treatment Centre

24477666

FLIGHT INFORMATION

(24 hrs) 1101 or 24519223 Aeroflot 24704455 Air France 24704318 Air India 24799801 Air Maldives 24566046 Airlanka 24784545 Air New Zealand 24700326 American Airlines 24604538 Balkan Airlines 24566046 Bangladesh Airlines 24701128 British Airways 24571294 Cathay Pacific 24789818 Egypt Air 24794113

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Emirates Air 24786600 Ethiopian Airlines 24566046 Gulf Air 24703544 Indian Airlines 24791914 Iran Air 24787423 Japan Airlines 24704455 KLM 24566737 Kenya Airways 24788324 Kuwait Airways 24706205 LOT Polish Airlines 24796387 Lufthansa 24796692 Malaysian Airlines 24566046 Middle East Airlines 24796680 Oman Aviation 24707222 Pakistan Intl Airlines 24792471 Qantas 24604258 Royal Brunei 24784933 Royal Jordanian 24796693 Saudi Arabian Airlines 24789485 Singapore Airlines 24791233 Swiss Air 24787416 Syrian Airlines 24797567 Thai Airways 24704455

EMERGENCY NUMBERS

Muscat: Fire 999 Royal Oman Police 24560099 Al Nahdha Hospital 24707800 Khoula Hospital 24560455 Muscat Hospital 24738036 Royal Hospital 24592888 Car Breakdown Services(AAA) 24605555 Salalah Royal Oman Police 23290099

Telephone Directory Enquiries: Talking Pages 24600100 Omantel 1318

BANKS IN OMAN

Ahli Bank 24577000 BankDhofar 80076666 Bank Melli Iran 24815160 BankMuscat 24768888 Bank of Baroda 24817373 Bank of Beirut 24698669 Bank Saderat Iran 24833923 Bank Sohar 24730000 Central Bank of Oman 24777777 Habib Bank Limited 24812871 HSBC 80074722 National Bank of Abu Dhabi 24761000 National Bank of Oman 80077077 Oman Arab Bank 24706265 Oman Development Bank 24812507 Oman Housing Bank 24704444 Oman International Bank 24682500 Qatar National Bank 24725555 Standard Chartered Bank 24773666 State Bank of India 24704232

MONEY EXCHANGE CENTRES

Abu Mehad Money Exchange 24566123 Faiq Money Changers 24562841 Gulf Overseas Exchange 24834182 Hamdan Exchange 23211258 Hamdan Trading 23210000 Laxmidas Tharia Ved Co. Llc 24700065 Musandam Exchange 24834954 Mustafa Sultan Exchange Co. 24706519 Oman & U.A.E. Exchange Centre 24750830 POST OFFICES Oman United Exchange 24794305 Al Harthy Complex 24563534 Modern Exchange 24832133 Mustafa Sultan Exchange 24706519 (7.30am-2.30pm, 7-9pm) Purshottam Kanji Exchange 24830983 Hamriya 24789311 (8am-2pm, 4-8pm Thurs 8-11am)

EMBASSIES IN OMAN

Algeria 24605593 Austria 24694127 Bahrain 24605074 Bangladesh 24698660 Mina al Fahal 24565465 Belgium 24562033 (8am-2pm) Brazil 24640100 Canada 24788890 Muscat 24738547 Chile 24561977 (7.30am-2.30pm Thurs 8-11am) China 24696698 Colombia 24816264 Ruwi 24701651 Cyprus 24490200 (7.30am-2.30pm, 4-6pm) Denmark 24526000 Egypt 24600411 Seeb 24519922 Finland 24701454 (8am-3pm, 5pm to midnight France 24681800 Thurs 8-11am, 8-11pm) Germany 24832482 Greece 24706648 Sultan Qaboos University Holland 24603706 Campus 24513333 India 24684500 (8am-2pm) Iran 24696944 Iraq 24695559 Al Wadi al Kabir Ireland 24797083 (7.30am-1.30pm) Italy 24693727 OTHER SERVICES Japan 24601028 Madinat as Sultan Qaboos 24697083 (8am-2pm)

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Jordan 24692760 Korea 24691490 Kuwait 24699627 Lebanon 24695844 Malaysia 24698329 Mexico 24561977 Morocco 24696152 Mozambique 24594207 Netherlands 24603719 Norway 24526233 Pakistan 24603439 Palestine 24601312 Philippines 24605140 Poland 24563606 Portugal 24561400 Qatar 24691153 Russian Federation 24602894 Saudi Arabia 24601744 Somalia 24697977 South Africa 24647300 Spain 24691101 Sri Lanka 24697841 Sudan 24697875 Sweden 24708693 Switzerland 24568202 Syria 24697904 Taiwan 24605695 Tanzania 24601174 Thailand 24602684 Tunisia 24603486 Turkey 24697050 United Arab Emirates 24400000 United Kingdom 24609000 Uruguay 24568202 USA 24643400 Yemen 24600815

EMBASSIES & CONSULATES OF OMAN ABROAD

Algeria Tel : 002132 941 310 / 941 420 Fax : 002132 941 375 Austria Tel : 00431 310 8644 / 310 8643 / 310 8684 Fax : 00431 310 7268 Bahrain Tel : 00973 293 663 Fax : 00973 293 540 Brunei Darussalam Tel : 006732 446 953/446 954/446 957 Fax : 006732 449 646 E.mail : omnembsb@brunet.bn China Tel : 008610 6532 3692 Fax : 008610 6532 5030 E.mail : omnbeijing@chnmail.com Egypt Tel : 00202 303 6011 / 303 5942 / 303 5673 Fax : 00202 303 6464 France Tel : 00331 472 301 63 Fax : 00331 472 377 10 / 472 302 25 E.mail : ambassade.sultan.doman@wanadoo.fr Germany Tel : 0049 228 357 031 / 357 032 / 357 033 / 357 034

Fax : 0049 228 357 045 / 357 040 India Tel : 009111 614 0215 / 614 4798 / 614 1704 Fax : 009111 614 6478 E.mail : omandelhi@vsnl.com Iran Tel : 009641 541 8198 / 542 9179 / 541 3557 / 541 3621 / 542 9178 Fax : 009641 541 3617 Italy Tel : 00396 3630 0517 / 3630 0545 / 3630 0544 Fax : 00396 320 6802 Japan Tel : 00831 3402 0877 / 3402 0749 / 3402 2122 Fax : 00831 3404 1334 E.mail : omanemb@gol.com Jordan Tel : 00962 686 155 / 686 156 / 686 157 Fax : 00962 689 404 Korea Tel : 00822 790 2431 / 790 2432 Fax : 00822 790 2430 E.mail : omanembs@ppp.kornet.nm.kr Kuwait Tel : 00965 256 1956 / 256 1957 Fax : 00965 256 1963 Malaysia Tel : 00603 245 2827 / 245 2829 / 245 3109 Fax : 00603 245 2826 E.mail : omanemb@jaring.my Morocco Tel : 002127 672 064 / 673 788 / 672 258 Fax : 002127 674 567 Netherlands Tel : 003170 361 5800 Fax : 003170 360 5364 Pakistan Tel Fax Qatar Tel 745 Fax

: 009251 254 869 / 254 925 : 009251 255 074 : 00974 670 744 / 670 746 / 670 : 00974 670 747

Russian Federation Tel: 007095 230 1255 / 230 1587 / 230 2052 Fax: 007095 230 1544 Saudi Arabia Tel : 009661 482 3120 / 482 3067 Fax : 009661 482 3738 Sudan Tel : 0024911 471 605 / 471 606 Fax : 0024911 471 017 Syrian Arab Republic Tel: 0096311 611 0408 / 662 2194 Fax: 0096311 611 0944 Thailand Tel : 00662 639 9380 / 1 / 2 / 3 Fax : 00662 639 9390

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E.mail Tunisia Tel Fax E.mail

: muscat@wnet.net.th : 002161 791 655 / 792 912 : 002161 790 820 : ambassad.oman@planet.tn

Turkey Tel Fax E.mail

: 0090312 447 0630 / 447 0631 : 0090312 447 0632 : oman@marketweb.net.tr

United Arab Emirates Tel : 009712 463 333 Fax : 009712 463 333 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Tel : 0044171 225 0001 / 589 2840 (Consular Section) Fax : 0044171 589 2505 United States of America Tel : 0011202 387 1980 Fax : 001122 745 4933 E.mail : emboman@erols.com Yemen Tel Fax

: 009671 208 874 / 208 875 :

009671 204 586

CONSULATES

Cyprus Tel : Denmark Tel : Fax : Germany Tel : Fax : Hong Kong Tel : Fax : India Tel : Fax: Ireland Tel : Fax : Lebanon Tel : Fax : Luxembourg Tel : Fax : Mauritius Tel : Fax : Pakistan Tel : Fax : Philippines Tel : Fax : 848 Singapore Tel : Fax : Tanzania Tel :

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00357 22 663300 0045 86 17 50 72 00454 86 22 88 29 004969 710 0790 004969 7100 0625 00852 2873 0888 / 2873 2177 00852 2873 6168 009122 284 4938 / 284 4877 / 287 6037 / 287 6038 009122 2523 003531 478 254 003531 478 3987 00961 1817 683 11961 1817 699 00352 405 750 00352 405 760 00230 2124 225 / 212 4607 00230 2124 226 / 2124 308 009221 588 8307 / 541 957 009221 588 7216

Fax Turkey Tel 331 2418 Fax Yemen Tel Fax

: 0025554 31 070 : 0090212 331 4095 / 331 1128 / : 0090212 322 3807 / 331 4247 : 009672 233 433 : 009672 231 857

THE NEW VISA PROCEDURES AND FACILITIES

SINGLE ENTRY VISIT VISA This visa has been introduced by combining the tourist visa, business visa and short visit visa which now cease to exist. This visa is issued to two groups of nationals: Nationals of countries listed in country list 1 : Upon arrival at all land, sea and air terminals whether individually or as part of a group, regardless of their sex or age. Fee : OMR 6 or its equivalent in other currencies Procedures ON How To Get The Visa: It is issued upon arrival in all land, sea and air entry points after filling and presenting the visa application form. Nationals mentioned in list NO. (1) Can also obtain this type of visa once they apply to Oman diplomatic missions and commercial representation offices. Mission and offices can issue them without the need to obtain the approval of the Directorate General of Passport & Residency in Muscat . The validity period of the applicant’s passport should not be lees than 6 months. Visa Validity : One month Extension Term And Procedures: One month with same fee (OMR 6). The extension application should be presented to the Directorate General of Passport & Residency or its sections in the regions. As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for an overstay beyond the validity of the visa. Nationals of countries listed in country list 2 Visa is issued to them upon arrival in Oman through air entry points only either individually or as part of a group. They should have purchased a complete tourist package from specific tourist companies in their countries which are approved by Ministry of Commerce & Industry. The package to include the accommodation and the air ticket using a national airline i.e. Oman Air or Gulf Air. These visas are granted regardless of sex or age. Fee OMR 6 or its equivalent in other currencies

0065 4340 828 0065 3377 266

Procedures ON How To Get The Visa: This visa is issued on arrival in Oman through air entry points only after filling the visa application form. Visa Validity: One month Extension Term And Procedures: One month with the same fee (OMR 6). The extension application should be presented to the Directorate General of Passport & Residency and its sections in the regions.

0025554 30 700 / 30 066

As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged

00632 8211 651 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 00632 8243 549 / 8459 745 / 8451

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for an overstay beyond the validity of the visa. It is granted to a foreigner who wants to visit Oman for tourism. This visa can be used within six months from the date of issuance. If it is granted by the Sultanate of Oman’s legation abroad by co-ordination with the DGPR, it should be stamped within one month only from the date of its issuance, and must be used within not more than six months from the date of its issuance. It is a single-entry visa valid for staying in the country for three weeks from the date of entry. This period is extendable once and for one week only. Fees: RO 5

TOURIST VISA

Application for the tourist visa can be made one of two ways: A visa under a sponsor. A visa without a sponsor. In both cases the tourist visa enables its holder to stay in the country for three weeks from the date of entry. Requirements for Tourist Visa Under a Sponsor: The sponsor must be a local one with full legal capacity, and be responsible for the truth of the information stated in the application form. The sponsor should be involved in tourist business like hotels, tourist companies, etc. Application: Visa application form typed, approved and stamped by the sponsor. For Arabs holding passports issued in Arab countries the visa application form must be filled out in Arabic. For Non-Arabs holding passports issued in non-Arab countries the visa application form must be filled out in English. Tourist Visa Without a Sponsor: An application is submitted by the tourist in person to any Omani embassy or legation abroad, and without the need for a local sponsor.

COMMON VISA FACILITY WITH THE EMIRATE OF DUBAI

National set out List Nos.(1) arriving from Emirate of Dubai to Sultanate bearing an entrance visa or stamp from the Emirate of Dubai are not required to obtain a separate visa for Oman. The Entry stamp/ Visa for Dubai is recognized for entry to Oman, whether individually or as groups entering through different land, air or sea terminals regardless of the sex or age after filling in the forms designated that purpose.

Extension Term And Procedures: The visa may not be extended and the visitor is required to leave when the period expires .As per the law, a fine of OMR 10 per day is charged for an overstay beyond the validity of the visa.

ENTRY VISA FOR FOREIGN RESIDENTS IN AGCC STATES

It is granted to a foreigner who is resident in any member state of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (AGCC), provided that his occupation is not of low grade. It is also granted to members of their families, relatives and those in their company as long as they enter together. This visa is valid for staying the country for four weeks, and is extendable for one week. It is granted at the entry point directly. Fees: RO 3 Fees: RO 3 (RO 1 for entering Musandam Governorate Only) Delay fine : RO 10 Per day. Requirements: 1- An applicant must have valid residence per mit in an AGCC state. 2- They should be in an occupation approved for entry. 3- Their passport must be valid for not less than 6 months. 4- Families, drivers, servants, attendants, and dependants of those residents are eligible for this visa , provided that they present their labour cards, and their passport are valid for not less than 6 months . 5- All nationalities in AGCC states are eligible for this visa. The Royal Oman Police is the authority for visas. Please visit www.rop.gov.om for upto-date information on obtaining visas.

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Fee: No fees are charged. Fees are only paid to the relevant authorities in the Emirate of Dubai Procedures ON How To Get The Visa: On completion of the joint facility from which is available at the airports and sea port and at Hatta Hotel for those arriving through Al Wajaja terminal. Visa Validity: The bearer of the visa is allowed to stay for the period of the visa issued to him from the reverent authorities in the Emirate of Dubai or a maximum of 3 weeks for nationals, which do not require entrance visas to the Emirates.

Interactive Communications & Publishing PO Box 332, PC 117, Wadi Kabir, Muscat Sultanate of Oman Tel: +968 24810204, 92535695 Email: info@interacoman.com Web: www.interacoman.com

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Advertisers Index Al Reyami Interiors......................................................................................................................... 23 Amouage........................................................................................................................................... 05 Bank Muscat..................................................................................................................................... Back Cover Crowne Plaza................................................................................................................................... 06 Crowne Plaza................................................................................................................................... Inside Back Cover City Seasons..................................................................................................................................... 64 Destination Oman.......................................................................................................................... 59, 82 Golden Tulip Nizwa........................................................................................................................ 43 Interac Oman................................................................................................................................... 24-25 Mezoon Travels................................................................................................................................ 33 Millennium Resort.......................................................................................................................... Divider Page-4 Ministry of Tourism........................................................................................................................ 10-11 Muscat Hills...................................................................................................................................... 49 National Bank of Oman................................................................................................................ 01 Oman World Tourism.................................................................................................................... 13 Oman Arab Bank............................................................................................................................. 14 Oman Observer............................................................................................................................... 38 Oman Observer............................................................................................................................... 69 Oman Observer............................................................................................................................... 73 Omantel............................................................................................................................................. 15 Oreedo............................................................................................................................................... Inside Front Cover Royal Opera House........................................................................................................................ Divider Page 1-2 Sohar Beach Hotel.......................................................................................................................... 39 Sur Gate............................................................................................................................................. 07 Times of Oman / Al Shabiba....................................................................................................... 94 Times Of Oman............................................................................................................................... 98 Turtle Beach Resort........................................................................................................................ 83 Thousand Nights Camp............................................................................................................... Divider Page-3 The Chedi Muscat........................................................................................................................... 22 Fadhil & George and Partners Restuarant & Coffee Shop LLC........................................ 103

Concept, Design & Execution: Interactive Communications Advertising & Publishing PO Box 332, PC 117, Wadi Kabir, Sultanate of Oman, Tel: (968) 24810204, 24815434 Email: info@interacoman.com Web: www.interacoman.com Founder, Editor & CEO: Deepak Nair Editorial & Photography Contributors: Jaap Croese, Bait Al Zubair Foundation,

Robert Angus, Deepak Nair, Nandini Pravin, Athira Krishna Prasad, Priyanka Ghosh Sales Team: Ramkumar B K and Antara Bose Design & Layout: Anil Davis, Nandini Pravin, Athira Krishna Prasad. Web: Midhun Babu

TO ADVERTISIE IN THE NEXT EDITION OF THIS PUBLICATION

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Destination Oman 2015