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COMPLIMENTARY


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JEBEL SIFAH +968 9736 8425 THEBANK.CO thebankbeachclub

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editor’s letter

INK PUBLISHING CEO MANAGING DIRECTOR

LUBNA AL ZAWAWI EVA STANLEY-JONES

EDITORIAL

As we head towards the year 2020, has there ever been a better time to explore all things tourism in the Sultanate of Oman? 7ˆÌ…>˜iÛiÀ‡}ÀœÜˆ˜}`iÃ̈˜>̈œ˜«Àœwi] Oman boasts countless locations for adventure, luxury travel, dining, retail and the arts. We look to promote Oman’s vibrant offering to the global traveller and the Muscat-dweller with Oman Tourism as a source for what’s happening next. From business insiders to foodie reviews, off-map features to getaway steals, we look forward to bringing the rich culture and diversity of Oman to the world.

Editor-in-Chief CREATIVE DIRECTOR CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Adela Eileen ALE AL ZADJALI ANTARA BOSE LUCIANA TERRONI MARET MURZABEKOVA Rabia Qaiser SWETHA MADHAVA

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

AHMED AL JABRI ALI MOHAMMADI BADER AL LAWATI BEATE MÜLLER GERI B. SONNY HAITHAM AL FARSI IMAD HASAN KAMRAN AWAN LUCIANA TERRONI MAISA AL HOOTI MICHAEL D’SOUZA MIKO GARCIA MUAYAD AL ARIMI NASSER AL KHANJARI OBAID AL BUDOOR

SPECIAL THANKS

WESTLEY GREENHALF

Thank you for your support.

SALIM AL AFIFI EDITOR

SALIM AL AFIFI MIKO GARCIA

ADVERTISING INFO@OMANMAGAZINE.COM

@OMANMAGAZINEOFFICIAL OMANMAGAZINE.COM

PHOTOGRAPHY imad hasan

HEAD OFFICE: INK PUBLISHING LLC TEL: +968 2450 6421 P.O. BOX 1509 PC 111

PRINTED BY: UNIQUE COLOUR PRINTERS MUSCAT, OMAN

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The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or ommissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the reader’s particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof maybe reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review. Copyrighted © 2019 INK Publishing LLC. All Rights Reserved. Published by INK Publishing LLC. Reproduction in any manner in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited.


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IN THIS ISSUE

TRAVEL

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62 SUBMERGED WITH SEARUSH

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56 NEXT STOP, MUSCAT 58 A DIVER’S PARADISE: EXPLORE OMAN’S AQUATIC LIFE

64 DISCOVER WAKAN 66 THE SUGAR DUNES OF AL KHALUF 68 PINK LAGOONS 70 WANDERING AL MINA

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CULTURE 14 ROAMING THE GRAND MOSQUE - SANCTUARY

72 THROUGH THE EYES OF INSTA TRAVELLER: LUCIANA TERRONI 74 MOUNT THE VIA FERRATA 76 WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE WADI? 80 STAY AFLOAT 82 MAKE WAY FOR THE LITTLE ONES 84 OFF-ROAD WITH ZAHARA

16 TRADING ACROSS TIME 86 THE ROYAL TREATMENT 20 THE STITCHED CROWN 90 STAY AMIDST THE CLOUDS 22 THE MAN BEHIND THE NATION’S FLAGSHIP MUSEUM

92 PALATIAL ELEGANCE: AN INTERVIEW WITH KATRIN HERTZ

26 DINE WITH THE LOCALS 30 PORTFOLIO: HAITHAM AL FARSI DOCUMENTING OMAN, ONE PHOTOGRAPH AT A TIME 38 JOURNEY TO THE ANCIENT LAND OF FRANKINCENSE 42 ALL THAT FOLK 10

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94 AT HOME WITH H.E. FEDERICA FAVI


122

FASHION

142

BEAUTY & WELLNESS

122 ZAMAN AL MANDOOS 142 SCENTS OF MAJAN 128 INTO THE LIFE OF AMAL AL RAISI

144 EXPERIENCE LUXURY AT THE SPA IN KEMPINSKI MUSCAT

134 DRESS A CLASS GAME 146 CHECK-IN FOR WELLNESS 136 BRAND TO KNOW: ARTISTIC QUEST 138 TIMELESS TREASURES 140 JEWELLED IN PEACE

96 DINING

96 MUNCH ON THE BEST BRUNCH

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ART

148 TAKE ME TO THE ARTS 152 STAL SISTERS

102 OH-SO-OMANI 106 DINING DAYCATION

158 CAMEL ARDHA, AN EXHIBITION BY HIL VAN DER WAAL

108 HUQQA 160 AMR ALI’S BODY OF WORK 110 MAD ABOUT THAI 114 MINT & COCO 118 AN INTERVIEW WITH VITO FORNELLI 120 THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MISHKAK

164 CAPTURING THE GREAT OUTDOORS 168 INTRODUCING ROHMA 170 ROHM’S 2019-2020 CALENDAR AUTUMN/WINTER 2019

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THE FUTURE OMAN “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 new strategy to develop this sector so it can stand on its own feet in a severely competitive, flexible and diversified international market.� HM Sultan Qaboos Bin Said

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Photography MUAYAD AL ARIMI


ROAMING THE GRAND MOSQUE

SANCTUARY Story ALE AL ZADJALI Photography MICHAEL D’SOUZA


CULTURE

Nestled beautifully on the highway in Azaiba, the grand mosque has become the number one stop for visitors coming to Oman. The guests do not flock to this museum-like mosque for spiritual guidance only, but also to marvel at its inspired architecture that is an ode to Islamic architecture and to the heritage of Oman.

What makes the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque so grand? Quite literally, it’s the size. Seeing it from a distance is a sight to behold. It makes you wonder what it’s like from the inside. Getting through \PM _ITS NZWU \PM UIQV ZWIL LZWXW‫ٺ‬ point to the main entrance alone is fasciVI\QVO AW] ÅVL aW]Z[MTN  ILUQZQVO \PQ[ concrete beauty and then you accidentally bump into someone else on the steps, because you are truly lost in the glory of this majestic building. As I walked in, I was warmly welcomed and asked “Would you like someone to guide you?” I agreed and began my tour of the Grandest of Mosques. I saw the main hall and made my _Ia \W_IZL[ Q\ \WWS W‫ ٺ‬Ua [PWM[ IVL walked inside! I know everyone loves to talk about the Persian carpet and how it was stitched by 600 artisans into one big carpet, and that is absolutely incredible but, so is everything else. The details on the walls are stunning; There is the wonderful chandelier that’s made of Swarovski crystal and gold plated metals, a must-take photo opportunity for Instagramming once the tour is complete. And there is the equally beautiful and majestic female prayer hall, so often overlooked in other Mosques, but not here, where it is as

equally splendid as its male counterpart and testament to both Islamic and Omani cultural values. After touring the Grand Hall, I found myself just outside the two prayer halls with three sides to explore. The right side took me towards the library, which is stateof-the-art, and the pathway includes the entrance from the back, which shows you the grand fort-like pillars at the entrance that are larger than life and carved to perfection, just like the gate between them. The left side took me to a resource centre where I sat down and got to learn more about the religion and culture of Islam, whilst getting a free kahwa (delicious 7UIVQKW‫ٺ‬MMIVLLI\M[\WPMTXUMLQOM[\ it all. The centre took me to the ablution area that is wrapped around a fountain and set up in grand marble. My favourite part of the Mosque was VW\ VMKM[[IZQTa \PM LM[QOV WZ IVa [XMKQÅK location within the mosque, it was how it made me feel. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque makes you feel special, it brings \WOM\PMZUIVaXMWXTMNZWULQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\JIKSgrounds and whether they’re tourists or locals they are there for one reason and it is to see this magical place and to learn more about the peaceful religion of Islam.

Note: Tourists of all religions can visit the mosque every day, except Fridays, from 8.30 am until 11.00 am. Make sure to wear your most fashionable-yet-modest ensemble and, for the ladies, throw a shawl or hijab in the mix for that perfect modest look. Alternatively, you are welcome to borrow one of the abayas at the entrance.

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TRADING ACROSS TIME Story SALIM AL AFIFI Photography HAITHAM AL FARSI

There is a revered traditional market, where locals from the nearby communities meet to trade their best produce, livestock, and other goods, in a community-like atmosphere that W‫ٺ‬MZ[IOTQUX[MQV\W7UIVQK]T\]ZM Known for being one of the oldest markets, in one of the oldest towns in the country, Nizwa Souq has become a profound cultural destination that sits proudly at the top of the list of places to visit in Oman, making it a memorable stop for travellers. Being originally from Nizwa, exploring the market has always been

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an exciting ritual for the entire family. The souq has maintained its timeless charm, one that tells the story of our beloved heritage, painted on the walls of its muddy coloured alleys. The market continues to be home to an array of local produce and products such as fruits and vegetables, dates and sweets, Omani spices, pottery, traditional hunting guns, daggers; silverware, souvenirs and IV\QY]M[ Å[PMZQM[ IVL I TQ^M[\WKS market that takes place on Fridays.


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MICHAEL D’SOUZA Photography

WHAT TO EXPERIENCE AT THE SOUQ? Perhaps the most exhilarating experience at the souq is found within the livestock market, where locals from remote communities gather to auction their farm animals, mostly cows and goats. Starting at the earliest hour on a Friday, Omani folks would park their rugged trucks, full of livestock, and begin to pull the cows and other animals out, ready to be auctioned. The traditional atmosphere that surrounds the market is impeccable, with men yelling out their rates, while others try to compliment their animals in hopes to sell more. The sight has been a norm for the locals for many years, but when tourists visit the market, they are mesmerised by the cultural interactions that take place at the souq. The auction ends at nine in the morning, so be there as early as 6am to fully immerse yourself in the rich auditory and visual experience. After enjoying friendly battles of livestock business, head over to grab some fruits and vegetables. There are two places \WOM\aW]ZOZMMVÅ`AW]KIVMQ\PMZJ]a your produce from the Omani gentlemen who sell their produce on the back of their

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trucks, which you would spot lined up by the streets, or at the produce section. Piles of limes, cucumbers, and pomegranates can be found on display. Do not hesitate to spark up a conversation with the friendly locals; they are an absolute joy to deal with. And, you may grab a bargain for a bag of your favourite fruit. Close to the produce market, there is something sweeter afoot, where a crisp IZWUIWN KIZIUMTQ[ML[]OIZÅTT[\PMIQZ1\ is the scent of halwa, a staple of the Omani dessert table, made with sugar, rosewater, dates, nuts, and dry fruits. Watching Omani men as they stir gigantic pots of halwa is something to marvel at; the sheer artistry involved is priceless, and the dish takes three hours to UISM )\ \PM [W]Y aW] KIV ÅVL [\WZM[ selling already-packaged bowls for a quick grab but, if you want to get behind the counter, you can stop by one of the halwa factories in Barka. <PQ[LM[[MZ\Q[V¼\\PMWVTa[_MM\W‫ٺ‬MZing at the souq as there are stalls with piles of locally grown dates as well. These dense fruits are a symbol of Oman’s heritage, and come in variations including the popular khalas and khunaizi.

Both desserts are typically served during times of joy. A bite from this heavenly treat hits all the sweet spots, so never pass an opportunity to indulge in such palatable delicacies. .WZIÅVIT[\WX[\Z]\aW]Z_Ia\W\PM crafts souq. You will spot the place once you notice beautiful pottery and other goods proudly on display. This part of the market is famous for selling locally made items. The goods are crafted by local connoisseurs of art, whose craftsmanship carries a tremendous amount of cultural representation and pride. 1V[QLM \PM UIZSM\ aW] _QTT ÅVL ITT the popular items from traditional industry including silverware, handmade jewellery, a variety of khanjars (traditional dagOMZ[IVLI^IZQMLKWTTMK\QWVWN XW\\MZa The Omani khanjar is simply the creme de la creme of all our traditional goods. It is a symbol of manhood, worn with a belt to ornament the gentleman’s national dress. These daggers come in various qualities, depending on the mateZQIT][ML1N aW]PI^MI\I[\MNWZ\PMÅVMZ things in life, then a dagger made of gold should be your pick for a souvenir.


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Photography

VINCENT PRODUCTIONS / BEATE MÜLLER

Photography

MICHAEL D’SOUZA


THE STITCHED

CROWN Story SALIM AL AFIFI

7UIVQ[PI^MIT_Ia[JMMVÅZUTaI\\IKPML to their vivid heritage, and it is well- manifested QV\PMQZKWTW]ZN]TMV[MUJTM[\PI\IZMÅVM[[ML\W perfection and accessorised with hints of traditional elegance, giving them a prominent status in the cultural department. Part of the gentlemen’s national dress is the kumma, a chic headpiece that embodies the identity of the patriotic Omani, worn as a symbol of pride and individualised sense of style. Sitting beautifully atop the head, the kumma takes the form of a round-shaped headpiece that’s similar to an upside-down bread basket, folded and sewn into two layers, and adorned with a colourful and unique selection of embroideries and pat\MZV[\PI\LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\QI\MQ\NZWU other Gulf and Middle Eastern countries.

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Distinguished for its white background, accurate threads and beautiful drawings, the kumma’s design is inspired by contemporary Islamic IZ\IZKPQ\MK\]ZIT[\Z]K\]ZM[IVL^IZQW][ÆW_MZ[ These fabric-made crowns carry a great deal of importance to local gentlemen; it’s not just a sophisticated piece that compliments the dishdasha (a long, traditional garment worn by UMVQ\¼[IT[WIPMILXQMKM\PI\JZQVO[\PM_MIZer’s personality to life, from an array of colours and designs to the overall styling, which can be ÆI\\MVMLXQVKPMLWZ[_WTTMV SO HOW ARE THESE ITEMS MADE? The making of a kumma requires true craftsmanship, mastered from generations of kumma-making experts, who hand-stitched a white cotton material to create a beautiful ornamental cap. It became a fundamental part of an Omani man’s national attire, and until this day, the profession has remained a revered tradition, practiced by Omani women in the interior regions of Oman. Handmade caps sewn by the locals are expensive, with an average price tag of OMR60, and it may take a month to make just one piece, using an elaborate technique called tanjeem, where the embroiderers stitch the kumma in full and half circles (hence the naming: najm, which \ZIV[TI\M[\W[\IZJ]\\PMa[MZ^MIUWZMIM[\PM\ic value than the machine-sewn ones, which can be found as cheap as OMR3 in traditional souqs and tailoring shops. This beloved accessory is marked by comfort and simplicity, an accessory that carries uniqueness and a sense of belonging to the land.


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The Man Behind The Nati An Interview With Jamal Al Moosawi, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL MUSEUM The National Museum of Oman is a fundamental stop that truly celebrates the nation in all its glory. Spread across 14 state-of-the-art permanent galleries, the museum showcases the cultural heritage of Oman from the early ages through the present day. ;ITQU)T)ÅÅPIL\PMXTMI[]ZMWN QV\MZ^QM_ing the museum’s Director General, Jamal Al Moosawi about his experience as the lead executive curator during the project phase. The museum uses space, light and height to enhance the experience when showcasing the heritage of Oman. How did the idea come about? The privilege that we have here is that we had a museum project planned and envisioned from a blank slate. It wasn’t a case of adapting museographical needs to a historical building that already existed, it was the leisure of working towards establishing a holistic experience, taking into account all the elements of interior design, exterior architecture, lighting, materials, ambiences and colour schemes; textures, perspectives, all of these factors combined in to one holistic experience. Every gallery in this place generates beautiful energy full of history and cultural heritage. How did you structure the halls and how did you want people to experience them? Decisions were made in close consultation with the heads of archaeological missions to Oman, those whom have been involved in unearthing our ancient past for the past two, three, and even four decades. We worked closely with TWKITIVLQV\MZVI\QWVITPQ[\WZQIV[IVLW‫ٻ‬KQIT[JZIQV[\WZUQVO[M[[QWV[\WWSXTIKM_Q\PW‫ٻ‬KQIT[NZWU\PM

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ion's Flagship Museum

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5QVQ[\ZaWN 0MZQ\IOMIVL+]T\]ZMIVL[XMKQÅKITly with His Highness the Minister of Heritage and Culture. Also, there were focus groups set up within the museum. Newly appointed Omani [\I‫_ٺ‬MZMOQ^MV[XMKQÅK\I[S[MIKPNWK][QVOWVI [XMKQÅK[M\WN Q[[]M[<PMZWTMWN KQ\QbMV[M`XI\[ and local communities should also be acknowledged. All of these viewpoints helped us to develop and to agree on a set of headlines, which now constitute the 14 galleries. What was the most intriguing or fascinating hall to curate and why? Each gallery is unique and very demanding in its own right, but speaking on a subjective level, for me personally, it was the introduction of a gallery dedicated to the intangible heritage of Oman, because museums traditionally involve tangible cultural assets. One of the questions asked in the very beginning, in fact, it was raised by His Majesty the Sultan, was “what are you going to showcase and exhibit in this museum?” This question brought many discussions and prompted new ideas, one of them was that the very nature of Oman’s cultural heritage, in essence, is intangible in many of its aspects, given that we IZMIV-I[\MZVK]T\]ZM7]ZKWV\M`\Q[LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\ it’s more to do with intangible things, with spirituality and poetry, storytelling, writing, 26

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performance and so forth. So how can we translate that into a tangible museum experience? I feel proud that we are the ÅZ[\U][M]UQV\PMZMOQWV\WPI^MI permanent experience that is dedicated to intangible heritage. Is there a favourite piece or corner in the museum that means a lot to you, that is a highlight you wouldn’t want anyone to miss when visiting the museum? Ideally, the museum experience should be lived holistically, however, given the philosophical principle that we have adapted, the chrono-thematic approach allows our visitors the freedom to select their own experience, as opposed to traditional linear experiences in a traditional museum. Experiences can be customised. Key elements would include the Mihrab, or the Mosque niche of Al Owaina Mosque. it is a 16th-century masterpiece that has been salvaged through a archaeological rescue operation, a unique operation that took us six UWV\P[WN ÅMTL_WZS<PQ[Q[WVMWN \PMXQMKM[ that shouldn’t be missed.

JAMAL AL MOOSAWI

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM As Sayidiyya Street, Opposite Qasr Al Alam Palace +968 2208 1500 nm_oman


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DINE WITH THE LOCALS Story SALIM AL AFIFI Illustration KEMSKY

You may have heard about the hospitality of the Omani family, but have you truly experienced it yet? Immersing yourself into the local culture is inarguably a dream for many travellers. It is through a heartfelt meal that people build a lovely connection that lasts a lifetime. Yes, it all starts with a meal, and in Oman, a group of local dwellers have found a way to bring that dream to reality. Inviting you to savour a local experience over a cultural meal. A few weeks ago, I came across Zayr, a new experience-based service that’s dedicated to connecting travellers with local families for a homemade meal, founded by two couples who are passionate about meeting new people: Sultan Al Qamshouai, Hamed Al Amri and their wives, Manal Al Nadabi and Wiam Al Salmi. Zayr’s concept revolves around exploring the Omani culture through food. By stopping by an Omani household for either lunch or dinner, visitors get an opportunity to spend some quality time with the families, which adds a special spark to their trip to Oman. I had the pleasure of meeting Sultan, one of the founders of Zayr, who shared his thoughts on why food is the key to a long-lasting cultural connection. “Why choose dining as a perfect cultural experience?” I asked. “There is something special when interacting with locals over a meal,” he answered. “Tourists are more curious to explore the local cuisine in an authentic setting rather than having a dish served at a restaurant; it’s

that authenticity and genuine hospitality \PI\UISM[ILQ‫ٺ‬MZMVKMºPMILLML Prior to launching Zayr, the folks used to host guests at their own home. <PMa_MZMXIZ\WN I[MZ^QKM\PI\W‫ٺ‬MZMLI KW]KP[]ZÅVO SQVL WN  I LMIT \W KaKTQ[\[ travelling across Oman. Sultan, who re-

“There is something special when interacting with locals over a meal; it’s that authentic and genuine hospitality that makes ILQ‫ٺ‬MZMVKMº

space. As you’d guess, the results were overwhelmingly positive: in less than 12 hours, Zayr had more than 70 families ready to be part of the experience. The W]\KWUM[WTQLQÅML\PMQZX]ZXW[MIVLN]Zther cemented their desire to plan for an W‫ٻ‬KQITTI]VKP SO HOW DOES IT WORK?

The idea is to spend two to three hours with an Omani family for lunch or dinner. The experience may be food-centric J]\ Q\ W‫ٺ‬MZ[ UWZM \PIV R][\ I bite to eat as guests get to select an experience that matches their interest and explore it along with the Omani family. Tourists usually aren’t as interested in the food itself as they are in exploring the walls beyond the traditional dishes; they strive to live the cultural experience that is the essence of their whole travelling journey. They are eager to dive deeper into the cuisine and meet those behind the scenes, sides in Muscat, used to host people in the IVL\PI\Q[[WUM\PQVO\PI\UIaJMLQ‫ٻ‬K]T\ capital, while Hamed and his family lived \WÅVLI\IKWUUMZKQITZM[\I]ZIV\I[\PI\ in Shinas, in the Al Batinah region, and \W]KP WN  JWVI ÅLM P]UIV QV\MZIK\QWV Q[ invited cyclists who passed by the coastal lacking. Given that hospitality and kindroad to stay with them. As time passed by, ness are in the Omani DNA, guests are \PM[MM`XMZQMVKM[JMOIV\WQOVQ\MIÆIUM promised an unforgettable session. of passion that needed to come alive. One )[WN \WLIaBIaZW‫ٺ‬MZ[MQOP\NIUQTa day, Sultan phoned Hamed and decided experiences in Muscat and two others in to turn that passion into a real business. Al Musanah (a city in the Al Batinah reWith excitement overload, the busi- OQWV QVKT]LQVO \PM U][M]UTQSM IUJQness partners got their funding in check ence at Maryam and her mother’s, seaand contacted local families around town NWWL [XMKQITQ\QM[ I\ \PM UIZQ\QUM J]‫ٺ‬ to see if they’d be interested in hosting Usama Salim’s place, the art of fwala and welcoming guests into their living (Omani welcoming tradition involving AUTUMN/WINTER 2019

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NZ]Q\[IVLLM[[MZ\[I\;ITQU*I[PMMZ¼[IVL \PM 7UIVQJ]‫ٺ‬M\WV\PM\MZZIKM _Q\P Khalsa and her family. Each family serves a unique experience and adds their own touches to the package such as dressing the guests in traditional ensembles, burning homemade incense, and applying henna.

was already rocking my black dishdasha, but Priyanka had the pleasure of learning how to properly wrap a hijab. We had a lovely lunch and talked about lots of cul\]ZIT\PQVO[?MPILKW‫ٺ‬MMIVLLI\M[IVL then dived into the main courses, which were absolutely delicious. After about an hour and a half of savouring the best of Omani dishes, Um THE EXPERIENCES Maryam gave us a tour of her place and the surrounding neighbourhood, which Even though I am an Omani, I was depicts countryside living. sold on the concept and was eager to meet ¹?MUM\[WUIVaXMWXTMNZWULQ‫ٺ‬MZsome of these families. So I phoned my ent countries and realised that we don’t expatriate friend, Priyanka, and decided have to travel to meet and learn from difto plan a quick Saturday with Um Mar- ferent people. We can have that at our yam in Al Musanah, and then indulge in a home,” said Um Maryam, as we had our seafood dinner at Usama’s. ÅVIT[QX[WN 7UIVQSIP_I At around 12pm we drove to the Al After paying farewell to Um MarBatinah region to lunch at Um Maryam’s. yam, we drove back to Muscat, arriving at The lovely lady and her 18-year-old around 5.30pm, and went straight to Usadaughter are known for their impeccable ma’s for an early dinner. cooking. As we arrived, we were warmly Usama is an encyclopaedia of mariwelcomed to the main living room, in time history. He is a marine biologist at a which it looked as if I had stepped into a local research centre and resides with his museum. The place served a true cultural beloved wife. His place is home to a numI\UW[XPMZM_Q\PI_PQ‫ٺ‬WN J]ZV\NZIVSQV- JMZWN M`W\QKÅVLQVO[NZWU\PMLMMX0MQ[ KMV[M \PI\ ÅTTML \PM IQZ [W]^MVQZ[ IVL I [MINWWL IÅKQWVILW _PW MVRWa[ I OWWL Omani decorative elements on display, as conversation that mostly ends with a surwell as a couple of dishdashas (men’s na- prise. After we got to know each other, we \QWVIT LZM[[ IVL _WUMV¼[ \ZILQ\QWVIT PILW]Z_MTKWUQVOKW‫ٺ‬MMIVLLI\M[IVL numbers hanged and ready to be worn. I began exploring the beautiful samples Us-

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ama has collected from the ocean. A few minutes later, shrimp pasta was served, with a side dish of Rocca salad tossed with strawberries and halloumi cheese (PriyanSI¼[NI^W]ZQ\M?M[I\WV\PMÆWWZIVLLMvoured the dishes to the last bit. Then we ended the session on a sweet note with a traditional dessert of khabeesah. Both experiences were equally inKZMLQJTM IVL W‫ٺ‬MZML IV QV\MZM[\QVO XMZspective on experiencing local cuisine. Even for an Omani gentleman, it was quite lovely. With future plans to further develop their dynamic website, add a few cooking classes and food tours to places like halwa factories and date plantations, and expanding to notable cities such as Nizwa, Sur and Salalah, Zayr seems to be headed for glory in the tourism department. ?PI\UISM[Q\[XMKQITQ[\PI\Q\W‫ٺ‬MZ[ wonderful experiences that not only tourists can enjoy, but also residents of Oman and the locals themselves are bound to have a an amazing time and make a bunch of new friends too. The connection built is indescribable and rather rewarding, so give it a try when you’re in town. +968 9556 6757 zayr.om zayr_om


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HAITHAMALFARSI DOCUMENTINGOMAN, ONEPHOTOGRAPHATATIME Capturing the essence of the intangible heritage of Oman occupies a special place in Haitham Al Farsiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart, one of Omanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national treasures. His numerous I_IZL[QV\PMÃ&#x2026;MTLWN XPW\WOZIXPa\WJM[XMKQÃ&#x2026;KPI^MITTW_MLPQU\WWJ\IQV an iconic status in the local community and to be respected overseas. In his work, \PMIZ\Q[\Wâ&#x20AC;«Ùºâ&#x20AC;¬MZ[IOTQUX[MQV\WJMI]\QN]TUWUMV\[NZWbMVQV\QUMWVTa\W\MTTQVspired stories of his beloved country. His work has been featured in many reputable publications such as the National Geographic International, the Daily Mail in the UK and other magazines.

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JOURNEY TO THE ANCIENT LAND OF

FRANKINCENSE Story ANTARA BOSE

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In a bygone century grew a tree which when wounded with skillful slashes from its reapers, would bleed a milky sap so exquisite that it rivaled even gold. Mysteries surrounded the sacred lands where it grew, limiting access to a possessive few; and the blessed land that it considered as its home ground was enviously described by the western world as the Arabia Felix (which translates to ‘Arabia the Fertile’, also in\MZXZM\MLI[»)ZIJQI\PM.WZ\]VI\M¼1VIVM`KMZX\NZWUIV ancient inscription by Herodotus, he described the keepers of this precious tree vividly – ‘For winged snakes, small in size and spotted in appearance, guard these incense-bearing trees, a great crowd around each tree.’ With a history so powerful, it makes this otherwise bashful product sound like a legend in itself. Fast-forward a few centuries, today the frankincense, or luban, as it is commonly referred to, is a household product in the Middle East. Famous for its distinctive fragrance, meLQKQVIT XZWXMZ\QM[ IVL [XQZQ\]IT [QOVQÅKIVKM[ NZIVSQVKMV[M was presented as gifts to royals, chewed for good health, and used by Romans, Greeks and Egyptians in important rituals. To date, it is not uncommon in the Middle East to witness the practice of burning frankincense to scent the room, with \PMJMTQMN \PI\\PM[UWSM_QTT_IZLW‫ٺ‬M^QT[XQZQ\[ The story of the frankincense trail dates back to 1000 B.C. – a time where even the languages of its people still remain indecipherable. The ancient trade route along with this much sought-after commodity was bartered in what is called the frankincense trail. Its demand spawned across all four Cradles of Civilization which included Egypt, India, China, and ancient Mesopotamia, reaching even the European countries of Greece and Rome. The worldwide deUIVL NWZ NZIVSQVKMV[M IVL \PM ZM[]T\IV\ ÆW]ZQ[PQVO \ZILM M^MV\]ITTaTML\W\PMM[\IJTQ[PUMV\WN \PM^MZaÅZ[\KQ^QTQbItion along the Arabian Peninsula. One of the main reasons for the high demand for frankincense was the exclusivity it enjoyed. The otherwise rather unimposing frankincense tree has demanding criteria to thrive – an isolated desert land with soils rich in white

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limestone, cool winters, tropical sun with temperatures of only 25° Celsius, and the power to escape the monsoons but [\QTT JMVMÅ\ NZWU \PM PQOP P]UQLQ\a UQ[\ IVL NWO ITT \PM while enjoying the coastal breeze. Satisfying its stringent criteria with the green Qara Mountains providing the right barriers, the Dhofar region in Southern Oman provides the right microclimate for frankincense to thrive. During its golden era from the 4th century B.C. to 300 A.D., the region of Dhofar became a trade hub. It held a strategic place on the map – a halfway point for traders from India, China, Persia, Rome and Egypt to stop, replenish their supplies, and exchange goods. The homegrown frankincense was a popular item of trade and was sought after by more than mere traders – it caught the admiration of royals. To think that this pale yellow, almost translucent, pebble-like hardened resin commanded the desires of the crème de la crème of the ancient world is fascinating. A commodity so revered, one of its greatest patrons was the Queen of Sheba who built a summer palace at Sumhuram (present-day ;ITITIP_PMZM[PM_W]TLPWIZLTIZOMY]IV\Q\QM[WN NZIVSQVcense for her personal use. Though one can quite often pick up the sweet fragrance that still wafts through the air, today, what remains of the pompous civilization, the busy ports and bustling caravan-oasis are rundown citadels, shards of pottery, vessels and ornaments that signal to the various trades from diverse countries, and an ancient struggling foundation that attempts to rise above the earth to peer at the now calm ocean \PI\ WVKM _I[ \PM PQOP_Ia NWZ I ÆW]ZQ[PQVO \ZILM <PM[M grounds, now maintained by the UNESCO as World HeritIOM ;Q\M[ W‫ٺ‬MZ \PM WXXWZ\]VQ\a \W [WIS ]X I TQ\\TM PQ[\WZa lend an ear to ancient myths and let the mind conjure from the very foundations of the ruins, our own depiction of a beautiful civilization that once put this bountiful land on the world’s map. To experience the various archaeological sites deemed as the ‘land of the frankincense’ by UNESCO, one needs to


CULTURE travel down the path less trodden in Salalah. The frankincense trail begins from Wadi Dawkah, 40km north of ;ITITIP R][\ W‫\ ٺ‬PM ;ITITIP5][KI\ PQOP_Ia _PQKP Q[ home to over 5000 Boswellia sacra trees – the only unchanged element that has survived in this ancient incense route. Like we say ‘beauty is skin deep’, the true pulchritude of these crooked trees that seem to thrust its way up from parched rocks, can only be appreciated when a reaper slashes the papery bark to reveal what lies beneath. The best time for a harvest begins as the summer starts creeping in, as the warmer temperature allows the sap to ooze W]\MI[QTa<PM[IXNZWU\PMÅZ[\aQMTLQ[[QUXTaTMN\\WKWIO]TI\M IVL PIZLMV JMNWZM JMQVO [KZIXML W‫ ٺ‬IVL ZM \IXXMLIV]UJMZWN \QUM[JMNWZMQ\ÅVITTaaQMTL[\PMXITM[\ yellow resin called ‘kushum’. This is also what gives away the expensive frankincense from the cheaper quality produce – the paler the color, the purer the form. Standing at the edge of the forest, the view is almost surreal. The olive-colored leaves contrast the ochre beneath the barks, the backdrop of the distant wadis lend a majestic feel to \PMTIVLIVL\PMJTW[[WUQVOÆW_MZ[ILLI\W]KPWN \MVderness to this otherwise seemingly unforgiving land. Following the trail northwards, where these hardened saps were packed and transported lays the ruins of a city that was for years believed to only be of mythical existence. The lost city of Ubar was coined by T.E. Lawrence as the ‘Atlantis of the Sands’ and was only uncovered in the nineties. However, Ubar was the center of the trade, the last stop before the long convoys of camels _W]TL[M\W‫\ٺ‬WKZW[[\PMNWZUQLIJTM[IVL[WN \PM»:]J)T Khali’ or the Empty Quarter that connects Oman to Saudi Arabia. The trade of frankincense was also facilitated through the port of Khor Rori, which lies along the rugged coastline, 40km east of Salalah at the mouth of Wadi ,IZJI\ _PMZM \PM IVKQMV\ NWZ\QÅML KQ\a WN  ;]UPIZIU once stood. Perched on a higher platform, one can see the remains of the monumental city gate that somehow still

does not want to give up its regality. A maze of temples, buildings, storage units, wells, and fortresses lets you imagine the life of its inhabitants in its heyday. Providing a picturesque backdrop to this site is a trail of sparkling fresh water that unites with the Indian Ocean in a scenic lagoon. The sea has its own stories to tell; drenched in [WTQ\]LM _Q\P WVTa I [UITT V]UJMZ WN  Å[PQVO JWI\[ VW_ dotting its waters, it reminisces the time when ships, large and small, laden with valuable commodities set sail from its ports as it connected the bountiful Arabian land to the wider world. To hear more of these tales, a trip to the nearby museum is what would complete the experience. The immaculately-maintained museum of the Land of Frankincense is considered one of the most prominent historical museums in Oman as it showcases various cultural items NZWU LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\ MZI[ \PI\ _MZM ]VMIZ\PML L]ZQVO \PM IZchaeological excavations. The enthusiastic guides are happy to sing praises about their prized possession and W‫ٺ‬MZ U]KP QV[QOP\ QV\W \PM LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\ OZILM[ WN  NZIVSQVcense. The highly-sensitive Boswellia sacra tree yields primarily four variants. The purest cultivated form called the Al Hojari is the one that grows at an altitude of 1,300 meters above sea-level in Jabal Samhan. Annajadi and Ashazari follow with a colour slightly darker than the former, thereby signaling a lower quality. The last one is [\IZSTa LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\ NZWU \PM XZM^QW][ OZILM[ _Q\P I LMMX JTIKS\QVOM\WQ\<PM)[PI¼JQ^IZQIV\Q[\PMWVMI‫ٺ‬MK\MLJa the monsoon air due to their location in the coastal regions of Mughsayl. Though the demand for this once much sought-after resin has declined over the years, horticulture enthusiasts all over the world still try to replicate its desired climatic conditions to grow it in their little greenhouses. But this adamant scraggly tree is joked to be only truly happy in its native environment, true to its native soil, and content only amongst its own people, thereby maintaining its exoticism even in the present age.

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ALL THAT FOLK

An insight into the heart and soul of omanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s intangible heritage

Story ANTARA BOSE Photography IMAD HASAN Style DAR AL AMEER

Hair and Make-Up IMAN AL BALUSHI (V SPA) Models LINA AL SAYYID, SAIF AL MALKI AND

YAQADHAN AL JABRI (FACES AGENCY)

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Lina wears kaftan from Bthainaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Al Mandoos Collection


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CULTURE “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the ]VQ^MZ[M_QVO[\W\PMUQVLÆQOP\\W\PMQUIOQVItion, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” – Plato. And indeed music is something that has stood the test of time, often evolving to include a new chord, a new beat or an expression of words. But what these timeless pieces hold on to is the core elements of a symphony composed by sometimes unknown creators who have left their sweet signature in melodies that later mark history as traditional folk music. So is the history of Omani folk music. Talking to Musellem Al Kathiri, the Director of Oman Centre for Traditional Music, we learn that the Sultanate had a passionate love towards music since bygone times - when creations didn’t need a copyright, when life was simpler, and music was just the expression of the soul. The soulful melodies of Oman’s ancient musical compositions and heritage still remain anonymous and even have unknown origins. The intellectual property rights of these melodies are, therefore, open to the public and performed by everyone. And every time these instruments and songs come together, it is a magical walk down memory lane for the audience. A legacy passed down over hundreds of years (because humans have a tendency to yearn for heritage, and a stronger urge to protect it, XZMIKPQ\IVLXZIK\QKMQ\\PMM^WT^MUMV\WN \PM KW]V\Za W^MZ LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\ XMZQWL[ Q[ QVLQKI\ML through the folk music and dance. “Omani folk music is Oman’s cultural identity to the outside world, because it is our musical identity that has JMMV QVPMZQ\ML NZWU OMVMZI\QWV[ _PQKP R][\QÅM[ the existence of music and how it is natural for human beings; because people are creators of art, and music is considered the food of the soul,” says Al Kathiri. <PMU][QKITK]T\]ZMWN 7UIVQ[IT[WZMÆMKtive of its multi-ethnic background. The result is a unique style that arose from a symbiotic amalgamation of a variety of musical and dance genAUTUMN/WINTER 2019

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Over 130 known forms of traditional songs and dances practiced across Oman ZM[QVÆ]MVKMLJa1VLQIV-I[\)NZQKIVIVL8MZsian culture. Oman belongs to the Eastern music system by virtue of its geographical location. What distinguishes it from others is that it’s rhythmic and is not created according to the Arabic music system (as can be found in Iraqi and -OaX\QIVU][QK7UIVQNWTSU][QKQ[KWUXW[ML according to the theory of rhythm and is accompanied by a dance, which forms an essential part of the performance. ;\ZWVOTa QVÆ]MVKML Ja Q\[ OMWOZIXPQKIT boundaries and terrains, much of the music draws inspiration from the sea and desert. 7UIV¼[ZQKPUIZQ\QUMPQ[\WZaIT[WÅVL[Q\[PIZmonious component in the music and dance of the Alrazha. Traditionally, it was often performed before or after a war or a sea voyage; however, today the Alrazha is popular as a sendW‫\ٺ‬W\PMVM_Ta_ML[<WZMQV[\I\MR][\\PMSQVL WN M‫ٺ‬MK\\PM[MI^WaIOM[PILWV\PM7UIVQUMV a glimpse of the Maidan dance music performed by the people of Sur are worth a mention. The performance comprises of six sea music dance genres – the galfat shobani, which shows the strenuous upkeep of a large boat; the shallat al-baura, or the act of pulling an anchor, the nazag sheraa, which points to the hoisting of a

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large sail, the shambi, which refers to the entertainment onboard in the form of plays, and the yarah mashumah, which means rowing a small JWI\ITTIKKWUXIVQML_Q\P̱I_\U][QK Though the Alrazha is the most common and remains unaltered through the regions, there are other dance forms that are typical to WVTa\PMQZ_QTIaI\[OW^MZVWZI\M[<PM[W]\PWN  Al Batinah is known for the art of Liwa, while Buraimi is distinguished by the Al Ayal. In Musandam, it is called Riwah and is exclusive only to the people of this region. Holding a special place in the hearts of its people, what sets it apart is that it does not have any poetry or singing, and is solely performed by a large number WN  UMV )[ \PM UWZVQVO XMZNWZUIVKM LQ‫ٺ‬MZ[ from that of night, each man has his own drum IVLTMIL[\PQ[IK\I\ILQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\\QUM<PMVIUM of the act also changes depending on the time it is performed. There are over 130 known forms of traditional songs and dances practiced across the country. In olden times, this was passed down from one generation to another by oral transmission and practical communication rather than written verses or musical notations. Since the renaissance, new technological advancements


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Omani folk music is composed according to the theory of rhythm and is accompanied with dance, which forms an essential part of the performance.

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made it easier to preserve the ancient culture, and the compositions and performances started being recorded through sound and image. Now it is relived in private and public celebrations. With a strong love for traditional music, His Majesty established the Oman Center for Traditional Music in 1985. 35 years in running, the center pays homage to the origins of Omani traditional music and related cultural practices. The centre is a library of more than 50,000 documents which are recorded by sound and image. It represents traditional music from different parts of Oman. Field surveys are also conducted on a timely basis to observe how these practices have evolved in various governorates, indicating how the society has embraced a more contemporary style of music and dance. Today music has become a part of the educational system – students are not just taught the history, but also encouraged to learn what their ancestors once mastered so beautifully. Associations dedicated to spreading the love for music have been established, such as the Oud Hobbyist Association. The Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra :7;7 _PQKP ]VLMZ \PM XI\ZWVIOM WN  0Q[

Majesty, performed its inaugural concert in the auditorium of Al Bustan Palace Hotel in July 1987 has come a long way since. After hundreds of private and public, domestic and international concerts, the ROSO performed for the ÅZ[\\QUMQVI\\PMAW]VO-]ZW+TI[[QK.M[tival in Berlin where they were well-received. Their music is a beautiful blend of traditional Omani folk music interspersed with strong western techniques. The ROSO also plays at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, which was inaugurated in 2011. Three traditional Omani dance forms, Alazi, Alayalah, and Taghrodah, have now been recognized by the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Oman’s participation at the World Congress of Dance held in Athens was another glorious milestone for the Sultanate’s traditional dances. A country that has earned itself a strong cultural identity with its unique music style, its devotion to keeping traditions alive, and its willingness to fondly embrace the modern take on music, one can be assured that playing audience to an authentic Omani musical concert is something that will leave a resounding memory.

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CULTURE Lina wears traditional Omani ensemble AUTUMN/WINTER 2019 | 53 by Khalijia Boutique


Instruments Used by Omani Musicians Rahmani. One of the most important instruments, the deep, soulful beats of the rahmani LZ]UÅVL[Q\[XTIKMQVLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\\aXM[WN M^MV\[ Historically, it was used by the marines, but today it has found its way into other pompous social occasions. In Dhofar, the rahmani is sometimes called the mahga. Kasir. The kasir is essentially the same instrument as the rahmani, but on occasions when the rahmani is being used only for rhythmic embellishment, it may be called a kasir. The kasir, in this case, is made to produce a lighter sound than the rahmani as it is meant to only ILLIJQ\WN ÆIQZ\W\PMU][QKIVLVW\IK\I[\PM main beat. Kasir al Qasir. This drum is a smaller variant WN \PM3I[QZITUW[\PITN \PM[QbM,Z]UUMZ[ usually play with sticks, but it can also be played using both hands. It is almost always accompanied by songs. Kasir al Mufaltah)T[WSVW_VI[\PMÆI\SIsir, it is shorter in length than the kasir al qasir. Its diameter is similar to the kasir al qasir and therefore produces a more high-pitched sound. Players usually compete with this instrument, raising it up in one hand and beating the drum with the other. Qirba. Similar to the Scottish bagpipe, this instrument became popular in the early 1970s. However, the music produced by this unique QV[\Z]UMV\Q[Y]Q\MLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\NZWU\PW[MWN \PM traditional bagpipers. This string bagpipe has numerous pipes that give rise to a steadier hum.

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The player blows into the pipe (which acts as a [\WZMIVL\PMV\PMIQZQ[X][PMLQV\W\PM^IZQW][ melodic pipes, thus producing a beautiful, uninterrupted tune. Tambura. A six-string instrument with its inÆ]MVKM\ZIKQVOJIKS\W)NZQKI\PQ[JW_TTaZMQ[ also called fann at-tanbura or nuban. The strings are called ‘khiyut’ and are beaten with a horn. Apart from the oud, the tambura is Oman’s only known chordophone. Oud. Probably one of the most well-known instruments in Arabic music, the oud has a short, _WWLMVVMKSIVLQ[OMVMZITTaUILM]XWN Å^M or six strings. Rababa. Considered the ‘mother of all string QV[\Z]UMV\[¼\PQ[QV[\Z]UMV\KWUM[QVLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\ versions with one, two, or four strings. The Omani version boasts of a single string and is called the rababit ash-shair. Though one might ÅVL I ZM[MUJTIVKM \W I ^QWTQV \PM ZIJIJI Q[ however played by placing the instrument vertically on the player’s thigh. One of the more ancient instruments, the rababa once formed an integral part of Oman’s music but doesn’t feature as much in the present times. Qassaba 5WZM MI[QTa QLMV\QÅML I[ I [QUXTM Æ]\M\PMYI[[IJI_I[WN\MV][ML\WIKKWUXIVa Omani folk songs. Surnay. Essentially a wooden oboe, the surnay comes in either a single or a double reed. Considered as one of the few melodic instruments, it traces its root to Baluchistan, spreading from Oman throughout the Arabian Peninsula.


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The New Muscat International Airport

next stop, MUSCAT Story ANTARA BOSE

If there is something the beautiful country of Oman prides itself on, it is hospitality; and that begins right from the airport.

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TRAVEL Awarded as the Middle Eastâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Leading Airport in 2019 by the World Travel Awards, the Muscat International Airport is a true representation of the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s warm hospitality and its traditions. The Omani-themed architecture is a fascinating amalgamation of modern designs infused with elements that are authentically Omani. A state-of-the-art airport, it stands on par with leading airports around the world and has received a fourstar rating by Skytrax for its departure, arrival and transfer experience, based on an evaluation of the airport facilities, terminal KWUNWZ\ IVL KTMIVTQVM[[ [PWXXQVO NWWL  JM^MZIOM[ [\Iâ&#x20AC;Ť[ Ůşâ&#x20AC;ŹMZvice, and security and immigration. Equipped with the latest \MKPVWTWOa \PM IQZXWZ\ Wâ&#x20AC;ŤŮşâ&#x20AC;ŹMZ[ IV M`KMX\QWVIT XI[[MVOMZ M`XMZQence through well-organized operations, cooperative ground [\Iâ&#x20AC;ŤŮşâ&#x20AC;ŹIVLUW[\QUXWZ\IV\Ta\PMPMIZ\\WJMWN [MZ^QKM The new Muscat International Airport opened its doors in early 2018, and within a month bagged the award for the Best New Middle East Tourism Development Project and subsequently won the prestigious title of the Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Leading New Airport in 2018 at the World Travel Awards. This was followed by the Sultan Qaboos Award for Excellence in eGovernment 2018 in the Best Private Sector eService category. Built, designed and operated following the stringent guideTQVM[ WN  \PM 1V\MZVI\QWVIT )QZ <ZIV[XWZ\ )[[WKQI\QWVÂź[ 1)<) KTI[[QĂ&#x2026;KI\QWVNWZ\WXIQZXWZ\[\PM5][KI\1V\MZVI\QWVIT)QZXWZ\ KW^MZ[ I OZW[[ Ă&#x2020;WWZ IZMI WN   [YU _Q\P \PM KIXIKQ\a \W seamlessly handle 20 million passengers per year. The airportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s southern runway was enhanced, increasing its length to 4km, while another new 4km long runway was built to

accommodate wide-bodied A380 and Boeing 747 aircrafts. It also has a 32,000sqm cargo terminal with a capacity of around 350,000 tons per year and a potential to expand to 500,000 tons per year. Currently, the national carrier, Oman Air, operates IJW]\Ă&#x2020;QOP\[MIKPLIaNZWU\PMIQZXWZ\ With well thought out public amenities such as mobile KPIZOQVOXWQV\[I\MI[a\WĂ&#x2026;VL[XW\[[TMMXMZ[MI\[I\\PMNIZMVL of departures, and strategically placed tourist information booths, the airport also has ample dining options that cover a OZW]VLWN [YUIVLWâ&#x20AC;ŤŮşâ&#x20AC;ŹMZI[MTMK\QWVWN XWX]TIZKI[]ITLQVing eateries. The Duty Free Shop is another great place to do some last minute shopping. For spa enthusiasts, the Be Relax Spa Wâ&#x20AC;ŤŮşâ&#x20AC;ŹMZ[ZW]VL\PMKTWKS[XI[MZ^QKM[NWZ\ZIV[Q\XI[[MVOMZ[IVLQ[ the perfect place to unwind and submit oneself to the hands of a professional masseuse. Those yearning for a little extra can avail of the star amenities at the Primeclass Muscat Lounge that has everything from a cinema, game zone, and spa to private suites, family rooms, and SQL[XTIaZWWU[1\[WXMVJ]â&#x20AC;ŤŮşâ&#x20AC;ŹM\Q[ILMTQOP\WN NZM[PTaUILM\ZILQtional and international cuisines with an exclusive section for children. The Prime Valet Service, Primeclass Meet & Assist Services and Fast Track Services, and the Aerotel transit hotel are all specially tailored to ensure that travel is smooth, comfortable and enjoyable. Aerotel Muscat also has an exclusive Flight Club, a [_QUUQVOXWWTIĂ&#x2026;\VM[[KWZVMZIVLQ\[W_VJ][QVM[[KMV\ZM ?PM\PMZQV\ZIV[Q\WZITQ\\TM\WWMIZTaNWZ\PMĂ&#x2020;QOP\\PM5][cat International Airport has an abundance of options to soak in, making it an experience in itself.

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adiver’s paradise EXPLORE OMAN’S AQUATIC LIFE Story SALIM AL AFIFI Photography NASSER AL KHANJARI

About an hour off the coast of Oman, between Barka and Seeb, lies a gem of a place where snorkelers and diving enthusiasts plunge into the ocean to meet exotic creatures at their aquatic home.

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The Dimaniyat Islands are such a dream for those of us who enjoy exploring rich marine life. <PM[MKWV[MZ^MLQ[TIVL[W‫ٺ‬MZIKWTW]ZN]TTWWSQV\WTQNM ]VLMZ\PMWKMIV_PMZMaW]KIVÅVLI^IZQM\aWN [XMcies mingling and swimming in crystal clear waters. It is a premier spot that’s tough to beat, making it one of the holy grails of diving in all of Oman. Floating atop the turquoise waters of this insanely beautiful island is not all there is. You can stroll on its grainy powder-white sands that surround its nine little isles, and explore an abundance of marine life that comprises exotic creatures and coral reefs. One of the most surreal experiences is gazing at \PMÅ[PI[\PMa[_QUXI[\aW]QV^QJZIV\U]T\QKWTW]Z OZW]X[ W‫ٺ‬MZQVO LQ^MZ[ I UWUMV\ \W UIZ^MT I\ \PM beauty of the underwater world. If you’re lucky, you might spot a shark or two, serving a rush of adrenaline for the adventurous folks. Given its status as a protected nature reserve, the place is home to some of the rarest organisms in the country. Divers can spot hawksbill and green turtles, as well as migratory raptors and birds such as the [PIZXTWWSQVO [WW\a NITKWVI[ \PMa [_WWX IVL Æa around the islands. Some of these creatures nest and breed on the island from early May to late October, which prompts a restriction for visitors during that particular period. For the remainder of the year, a minimal fee is requested for a visit. The islands may be the go-to place for diving, but they have increasingly become a great destination for those seeking an exclusive getaway to camp in the middle of the sea. If camping is not your cup of tea and you would prefer a less rugged experience, you can book a boat and have yourself a yachting experience around the islands. How to reach these islands you ask? You can contact a travel agent and they shall guide you through the best point of entry, which includes Almouj Marina in Seeb anåd Bandar Al Rowdha. The Dimaniyat islands have quickly become a must-visit place for both locals and tourists who are on the lookout for an unparalleled journey below the waves. I had an unforgettable experience, and I believe you would too. So put on your snorkelling mask and dive in.

Photography

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MAISA AL HOOTI


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SUBMERGEd WITH SEARUSH ABOVE THE SEA, BELOW THE OCEAN Discovering hidden gems on the coastal stretch of Oman has never looked so tempting, especially with one of Omanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s latest tourism offerings: Searush.

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Searush is a water sports-based tourism company out of Marina BanLIZ)T:W_LPI\PI\W‫ٺ‬MZ[MVLTM[[XW[sibilities for exploring beautiful locations while living your best life away from the mundane. From diving excursions and dolphin-watching trips to having a well-served daycation at sea, Searush has it all. <PM KWUXIVa W‫ٺ‬MZ[ I ^IZQM\a WN  experiences that truly highlight the coastal beauty of Oman without compromising on the fun element. One of these experiences is a tour aboard the only semi-submarine vessel in Oman, where guests are invited to indulge their senses with picturesque views of Bandar Al Khiran, and a peek at the aquatic life below the ocean. Experiences We Love Go On An Edutainment Trip Take your students on a day trip outside the classroom, where they’ll get to learn all about marine biology. Guests will get to enjoy glimpses of life underwater, watch a theatre show about aquatic creatures, and snorkel away the day, exploring the corals of Bandar Al Khiran. Party Aboard Who said exploring Oman has to be dull? Put on your dancing shoes, because Searush promises quite the party. <PM[MUQ[]JUIZQVMÅ\[]X\WXMWple with options for a beach setup and full catering service. Throw in banana JWI\[ OQOIV\QK ÆWI\[ KPQTTML U][QK I DJ on request, and various beach and diving activities, and you’ve got yourself an unforgettable experience.

SEARUSH OMAN Marina Bandar Al Rowdha +968 9696 9281 searush.om searushoman

Dine By The Beach Combing two of the most exciting things in life: adventure and food. Guests can book a private dining tour with a banquet of mouth-watering gourmet dishes. From designer sushi rolls, Thai green curry, and butter KPQKSMV \W [UWSML J]ZOMZ[ Å[P IVL chips; and my favourite: the Angus ribeye sandwich, to name a few.

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discover Wakan

At the peak of the Al Hajar Mountains, there is an enchanting village that sits 2000 kilometers above sea level, known as Wakan Village. This gem of a place is located at the border of the Al ,PISPQTQaIP ZMOQWV IVL Q\¼[ W‫ٻ‬KQITTa KWV[QLMZML XIZ\ WN  \PM Wilayat of Nakhal in South Al Batinah, which is about 150 kilometers away from the capital. It’s a perfect addition to your itinMZIZa QN  ^Q[Q\QVO 2IJIT )SPLIZ \PM /ZMMV 5W]V\IQV Q[ XIZ\ WN  your plan. 64

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The residents of Wakan Village are known for their agricultural and farming practices, cultivating a variety of seasonal fruits, such as apricots and pomegranates, among other things, and for that very reason, you’ll spot a bed of beautifully manicured gardens stretched across the mountains, with a few houses occupied by the villagers. If you happen to visit the place at the ZQOP\\QUM_PQKPQ[JM\_MMV2IV]IZaIVL)XZQTaW]_QTTOM\\W MVRWa\PMJZMMba_MI\PMZ\PM[QOP\WN JTWWUQVOIXZQKW\ÆW_MZ[ IVLXMZPIX[UQVOTM_Q\P\PMKWTW]ZN]TJ]\\MZÆQM[


travel Story SALIM AL AFIFI Photography MICHAEL D’SOUZA

with unparalleled views of the village and the nearby canyon. Treks starts from Wadi Mistal at the bottom and heads towards the mountain, taking you past the picturesque terraced garden of Wakan, all the way to the watchtower at the top. The hike comprises 700 steps that take about 30 minutes to conquer. Trekkers who have a ton of stamina can take even more challenging routes that lead to Jabal Akhdar. Note that it may take a few hours to reach the famous Green Mountain, so be ready for the hike! Driving to Wakan Village is a lot of fun. From Nakhal, take the Nakhal-Awabi road towards Wadi Mistal, drive for about 25 kilometers and then start to ascend the mountain. You’ll pass the wadi through a narrow gorge that leads to the Ghubrah Bowl. As you drive around the mountain, you’ll start spotting signs with names of various villages written on them, including Wakan Village, which has a steep and narrow road The apricot season that takes place between March and that leads up the mountains. Make sure you have your 4WD April is a true highlight. During this time, the locals grab their ready. If you happen to be a novice driver or have a certain fear baskets and head to the gardens to harvest their best produce. of heights, hire an expert to take the wheel. You may spot children sprinting around the steps, carrying basIt’s worth noting that the village is not a free-for-all touristic ketfuls of honey-coloured apricots, adding a joyful atmosphere to destination; it’s a residential village with families, so be a dear the village. and stick to the designated pathways that were put to respect the If you are not convinced by the scenery, come here for the privacy of those residing in the area. And, inhibit yourself from adventure. This charming pocket will make all your trekking XQKSQVOÆW_MZ[WZ\PMQZNZ]Q\[I[\PMTWKIT[ZMTaWV[]KPXZWL]KM LZMIU[KWUM\Z]MW‫ٺ‬MZQVOIKW]XTMWN PQSQVOZW]\M[\PI\KWUM for a living. AUTUMN/WINTER 2019

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THE SUGAR DUNES OF AL KHALUF Story SALIM AL AFIFI Photography GERI B. SONNY

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TRAVEL The mystical land of Al Khaluf has always been one of the most picturesque wonders of Oman, and an absolute fa^W]ZQ\MWN UQVM_PMV[MMSQVOI[MKT]LMLUWUMV\1\W‫ٺ‬MZ[I tranquil atmosphere encapsulated in a place where the desert meets the sea, literally. Oman has long joined the countries with the most exotic landscapes, that comprise beautiful mountain peaks, expansive deserts, and coastlines, with superb ocean views, but there’s something particularly absorbing about this spot that puts it atop the list. Its unmatched geographical qualities combine two of the most enjoyable activities out there: beaching and desert-camping. Located in Al Wusta region, about 450 kilometers south of the capital, the Khaluf area is blessed with 50 kilometers of pristine, powder-white beach that overlooks a bed of endless []OIZL]VM[?Q\PIVW‫ٺ‬ZWIL[\IZ\QVOXWQV\I\)T3PIT]N Å[Ping village, nestled on the northern end of the beach, visitors can kick start their desert escapade and ride their 4x4 vehicles into the desert. The place is an undiscovered gem reserved for the adventurers who enjoy a calm sense of solitude and love to dive into parts unknown and to explore new spots for camping. Given Q\[ NIZ Æ]VO TWKI\QWV Q\¼[ TM[[ NZMY]MV\ML Ja JW\P TWKIT[ IVL tourists, making it the perfect getaway. During my last visit to the place, my friends and I unanimously agreed to camp by the beach; waking up to the crashing sound of the ocean is quite de-stressing. For the three days we stayed here, we religiously barbecued our favourite meats while soaking in the sun, and then we dipped into the azure waters of Al Khaluf beach to splash a good time before hopping into the 4x4 for some dune bashing. Travelling to Al Khaluf village is relatively reachable with smaller all-wheel cars (although many prefer to park their cars I\VMIZJa5IPW]\J]\QN ÆWI\QVOI\WX\PMLM[MZ\[IVL[Q[\PM experience you’re going for, then a group of two to three 4x4 vehicles is recommended. It’s all fun and games until you get stranded in the desert, alone. Though camping on a secluded beach and desert may sound somewhat daunting, it is the pinnacle of camping in Oman. As long as caution is taken, the place will take you on an unforgettable ride that will remind you of how beautiful Oman truly is.

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PINK LAGOONS Story SALIM AL AFIFI Photography OBAID AL BUDOOR

Pink lagoons are a true bucket-list type of experience. Talk about Instagrammable moments that seem to have come straight out of a canvas! These colourful, shallow waters that contrast the typical azure palette may take some time to believe that they actually exist in Oman, but UAE-based photographer Obaid Al Budoor gives us a view from the top to remind us that they actually do. As the majority of us beach-loving folks, we are accustomed to taking a dip in waters that come in a combination of orange and teal, but this time around, we witness an exotic forma\QWV\PI\_QTTTMI^MW]ZRI_[LZWXXML\W\PMÆWWZ The pink lagoons are a beautiful natural XPMVWUMVWV\PI\WKK]ZQVLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\XIZ\[WN \PM world, formed in patches of saturated waters that sport a strawberry hue, surrounded by thick layers of salt. The same wonders can be found In Oman in the central region of Al Wusta and at the coastal beach of Al Sharqiyah. If you have all the time you need and an itinerary that leads to the south of Oman, traverse to the town of Al Jazir in Al Wusta region, located on the picturesque coastal road to Salalah, past the Duqum area. You can spot these formations along the shore between Al Jazir and Mahout. Once you reach the place, you will be in awe of how magical (and pretty much ZMIT\PMXQVSKWTW]ZML_I\MZ[IZM<PW]OP\PM pink shades may vary from one season to another, the inexplicable joy of being next to one is more than enough to capture a memorable moment. Given its long distance and infrequent existence, this attraction barely sees people, which makes it a true hidden gem for explorers. Alternatively, you can stop by Al Suwih Village in the Wilayah of Bani Bu Ali in Al

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Sharqiyah region, which is a mere three-hour drive away from the capital. Located between Ras Al Hadd and the famous camping beach of Al Ashkhara. What makes this place special is \PI\Q\W‫ٺ‬MZ[UWZM\PIVIXWVLWN _I\MZ1\¼[I popular attraction for campers, lovers of hiking and those fascinated by migratory birds such as \PMMTMOIV\TWWSQVOXQVSÆIUQVOWUISQVOQ\I perfect destination for a quick weekend escape. WHERE DID THE PINK SHADE COME FROM? )ZMaW]I[NI[KQVI\MLI[1_I[_PMV1ÅZ[\ came across such places? I bet. Now that you have decided to visit the place, let’s explore the reason behind its vibrant colour. According to studies, the colour is a result of a combination of salt waters that have unique algae called dunaliella salina, which is known for possessing high concentrations of salt and B Carotene, and lots of harmless bacteria such as bacillus megaterium and bacillus subtilis. The phenomenon happens when sea levels decline, leaving ponds of water with high salinity near the shore. With the help of the aforementioned mentioned algae and bacteria, these waters then begin to slowly transform into the beautiful shade of pink. Isn’t the amalgamation truly spectacular? Science aside, this is probably one of 5W\PMZ6I\]ZM¼[ÅVM[\_WZS[)^Q[]ITUI[\MZpiece that occupies a place in the top 10 for best places to visit in Oman. I mean, the colour itself should give you a reason to head over to one of these spots. It is something you’ve got to see to truly believe.


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WANDERING

Story SALIM AL AFIFI Photography HAITHAM AL FARSI

Muttrah has consistently served as the setting for picturesque Muscat. This charming pocket is known for serving unrivalled ocean views, good food, and a unique cultural atmosphere.

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AL MINA Muttrah has a strong reverence in our history. It’s one of the few places that maintained its charms and contin]ML\WW‫ٺ‬MZIOTQUX[MWN \PMWTLIVL\PMVM_UISQVOQ\I quintessential tourist attraction in Muscat. Spending a day at this olden neighbourhood is a must. From the appetising smell of homemade cooking wafting out of local kitchens to the distinctive architecture that stretches along the corniche, to probably one of the oldest traditional markets in Oman, there is a chance to make memories at every corner. AW] KW]TL [\IZ\ aW]Z RW]ZVMa I\ \PM ZMVW^I\ML Å[P market that sits next to the Sultan Qaboos Port, which is a striking architectural masterpiece that sports a contempoZIZa M`\MZQWZ LM[QOVML Ja ;V¦PM\\I IV IZKPQ\MK\]ZM ÅZU JI[MLQV7[TW6WZ_Ia_Q\PK]Z^ML_ITT[IVLXTIaN]T][M of light and shadow. On the inside, you’ll get to mingle _Q\PTWKITÅ[PMZUMVIVLTMIZVITTIJW]\\PMQZTWKITÅ[PQVO tradition as they sell their catch of the day, and hopefully _ITSW]\_Q\PIOWWLJIZOIQVNWZT]VKP<PMÅ[PUIZSM\ may not be for the faint of heart but it is an experience you wouldn’t want to miss exploring. )N\MZ ^Q[Q\QVO \PM Å[P UIZSM\ aW] KIV [IVQ\Q[M aW]Z senses with beautiful scenery that awaits you at the two-kilometre corniche, accompanied by the soothing sound of the ocean and views of titanic ships at bay. As you reach the centre, you can stop by the magical souq of Muttrah, a traditional market known for its narrow, incense-laden alleys and colourful fronts that display jewellery, silverware and a massive range of eclectic prod]K\[ IVL [W]^MVQZ[ <PM [W]Y W‫ٺ‬MZ[ I \WV WN  QUXWZ\ML goods, but what you want to do is dig for the gold, the one-of-a-kind local artefacts such as those found at Ali Baba Gift Shop, one of the essential stops at the market, owned by local gentleman Akhtar Al Balushi.

The shop has been running for more than 90 years, serving pure Aladdin dreams. It’s more of a museum than a store that sells handicrafts. It houses a little corner that exhibits a collection of ancient ensembles and other exotic paraphernalia, collected for generations by his great grandparents and the travellers that stopped by. Items that date back thousands of years can be found here. Some of these items may not be for sale, but are worth a photograph or two. He also has a number of colourful beads and precious stones on display, among other things. You’ll probably be starving at this point. After wandering around this maze-like market, head over for lunch. There are little cafes to suit every taste and budget, but if you’re not on a budget and fancy some curry by the corniche, you can stop by one of my absolute favourite stops: Kurkum, a boutique diner that stays true to Indian cuisine. The restaurant never fails to rise to the occasion, with spiced up curries, buttered naans, coconut bowls of rice, and rosewater sips – yum! Bait Al Luban is another great place for experiencing the hospitable culture of Oman while indulging in palatable dishes. The restaurant is adorned with traditional decWZI\Q^MMTMUMV\[IVLPI[ILMLQKI\MLIZMI_Q\PÆWWZ[MI\ing. A must-visit. If time allows, you can explore Bait Al Baranda to learn about the heritage of Oman, and after that you can visit the revamped Muttrah Fort, an iconic landmark that [Q\[ I\WX \PM KTQ‫ ٺ‬W^MZTWWSQVO \PM PIZJW]Z )T\MZVI\Q^MTa you can put your hiking boots on and trek across the Muttrah Geotrek, which is a route that takes you across the mountain ranges of Muttrah, a side you probably haven’t seen, even as a local dweller. Muttrah is truly a gem of a place that still brings in the crowds to get their own little piece of Oman.

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LUCIANA Memories are quite the perfect gift, so what better way to celebrate my birthday than with a road trip to Oman. The e-visa was a few clicks away. We mapped out our driving route and in no time the hotels were booked. The next morning, IN\MZIUIVLI\WZaKW‫ٺ‬MM_M[\IZ\MLW]ZLZQ^MNZWU the city of Dubai. 7]ZÅZ[\[\WX_I[6Qb_I<PQ[PQ[\WZQK\W_V used to be the capital of Oman and a hub for trade, education and arts. We decided to stay the night at the Antique Inn, a hotel that is built on the ruins of several mud houses. The owner warmly _MTKWUML ][ _Q\P 7UIVQ KW‫ٺ‬MM IVL LI\M[ NZWU the region. He told us more about the history of the place and explained that not only does the ho\MTW‫ٺ‬MZIVI]\PMV\QKM`XMZQMVKMJ]\IT[WXZM[MZ^M[ their ancient way of life. We watched the sunset from the hotel’s rooftop terrace; it was a perfect place to admire the beauty of the old city intertwined with countless palm trees. Just a few steps away was the Nizwa Souq, there we found plenty of souvenirs and enjoyed talking to the locals who were so curious as to where we came from. They recommended a nearby restaurant called Al Aqr and told us to have the mixed grill platter. Let’s just say they knew what they were talking about, the food was delicious! One of the main reasons we visited Nizwa was to see the Nizwa Fort, one of the oldest forts in Oman. We were up very early and were lucky to have the entire place to ourselves. I must say, it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen; a highlight for me was taking the steps all the way to the top of the Fort, where we could see the town NZWUUIVaLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\IVOTM[IVLM^MV\PM[]ZZW]VLing mountains. We took a break for fresh juices at a local café IVL _M _MZM W‫\ ٺ‬W 5][KI\ I [KMVQK PW]ZIVLI PITN LZQ^MI_Ia1\_I[W]ZÅZ[\\QUM^Q[Q\QVO5][KI\IVL_M_MZM[WM`KQ\ML\WÅVITTa[MM\PMKIXQ\IT of Oman. We arrived just in time for lunch; with a

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bit of research, I found Copper, an Australian res\I]ZIV\[MZ^QVOOZMI\NWWLIVL[XMKQITQ\aKW‫ٺ‬MMQV the neighbourhood of Qurum. We chose to stay at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort because of its location, nestled between rocky mountains and clear blue water. It’s hard to believe that it’s only a 15-minute drive from the city centre and yet so quiet. The resort has three hotels and plenty of dining options; we loved Bait Al Bahr located just by the beach, where we enjoyed the fresh catch of the day followed by drinks at the Piano Lounge. Since we were in Muscat for a short time, we could only pick one place to see and that was the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. This architectural masterpiece is surrounded by a beautiful garden, making a statement for people passing by. We got goose bumps walking inside the main prayer room and seeing the grand chandelier; it’s said to be the second largest in the world. We could not leave Oman without visiting the famous Wadi Shab, and honestly, it was the best way to end our trip. Reaching it was so enjoyable since most of the road was on the coastline, giving us a glimpse of just how beautiful the Gulf of Oman is. After reaching the starting point, we had to walk for about 45 minutes across the emerald water pools and in no time, we found a secluded part just for ourselves. Before visiting Oman, I had done my research and had an idea of what to expect. I knew we would see breathtaking mountain ranges, pristine waters and white sandy beaches. What I did not know was how welcoming and warm the Omani people truly are, how proud they are of their origins and how they love to share their culture with their guests.


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MOUNT The Via Ferrata Story SWETHA MADHAVA

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They say fear is a product of thoughts created by yourself, they’re not real. I, on the other hand, have always been fearful of heights, so I decided to test my fears by hiking and climbing the third highest peak in the Arabian Peninsula: the UIOVQÅKMV\UW]V\IQV[WN  Jabal Shams.


TRAVEL \IQVOWI\[KPIVKQVONWZMLQJTMW‫ٺ‬MZQVO[?M were also met with sparse greenery in the form of olive trees. Finally, we made it to the intimidating vertical climbing route, >QI .MZZI\I I [MZQM[ WN  Å`ML _QZM KIJTM[ and metal rungs, and that’s when Will I can’t call myself athletic but I cer- Smith’s dialogue popped into my head “... tainly enjoy the glory of emulating one, so Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very when I decided to answer the beckoning real.” I had never climbed before in my of the mountains, it had to be aided by the life, not even a jungle gym. However, walkmost professional and skilled organisation. ing all the way back was not an option, so One, that supports my sense of self-preser- with my shaky legs and hands, I started vation and understands my unique needs climbing, making sure not to catch a and abilities, given the mammoth psycho- glimpse of the looming canyon. Slowly, fological and physical challenge I was about cusing on the techniques being instructed, to embark on. I couldn’t have found a bet- I trudged the sides like a nauseous lizard, ter adventure house than Twenty3 Ex- sticking my feet into cracks, pulling on the treme, and their humble and skilled in- metal cable, hoisting myself with momenstructor, Abdulhamid Al Shabnooti, did tum one crevice at a time, all the while lismore than guide me to the summit and tening to Abdulhamid’s voice like a guidburst the dopamine meter. ing beacon. <WJMOQVUaRW]ZVMa1_I[Å`MLQV\W What is worth mentioning is that Hamy gear. Gloves and helmet, check. Har- mid seldom physically supported me, inness, check. Running shoes pretending to stead showed me the path and made sure I be hiking boots, check and check. We start- found a way to climb it myself because he ed the trek from Jabal Shams Resort and had no doubt I could. After almost three hiked through the staggering Balcony hours, stoic patience and guidance from Walk, with awe-inspiring views of the Al Hamid, I made it to the top. I can never Nakhr Canyon. It took us almost two explain how that moment felt, one would hours to complete the walk and all that have to be there and do it to feel it. A sense time I was overwhelmed, thinking that this of euphoria took over me and the adrenaplace holds more than 65 million years of line rush was at an unprecedented level. geology in its making, it truly is a stunning <PQ[_I[LMÅVQ\MTa\PMJM[\UWZVQVO1 natural phenomena in the fossils cemented had ever had, despite the binding fear. The onto the sedimentary rocks, in the various adventure addict in me is certainly returnbands of limestone and the beautiful, dis- ing to experience a spoil of other thrills tinctive landscape shaped by millions of with Twenty3 Extreme and their decidedly years of erosion by wind and water. For professional instructors. I look most forprofessional scientists, Hamid being no less ward to trekking Oman’s rugged terrain with his passionate rendition of in-depth amidst a boulevard of mountains and canknowledge, this could truly serve as a geo- yoning beautiful wadis with a dash of ablogical utopia. seiling and caving. To end with, I realised <PMZW]\MIT[WW‫ٺ‬MZ[W\PMZQV\MZM[\QVO climbing a mountain taught me a thing or stops along the way such as the abandoned two: my fears and life in some terms are village of Al Sab, where you can see re- like a mountain, it’s hard to climb but the mains of old stone houses visited by moun- view from the top is worth it.

TWENTY3 EXTREME Qurum, Muscat +968 9068 9823 twenty3extreme.com twenty3extreme

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WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE WADI? Story SALIM AL AFIFI

Weekending at one of Omanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s many wadis has become a ritual amongst the residents of Oman. The wadis are also frequented by visitors who seek an adventure out in the open; these picturesque valleys boast an atmosphere that allows us to relax, unwind and picnic the days away. The local dwellers have a number of wadis at which they enjoy spending time, some of which are hidden gems within the city such as Wadi Al Khoudh, one of the largest wadis in Oman. Tourists, on the other hands prefer remote spots like Wadi Shab and Wadi Bani Khalid. What visitors may not know is that Oman has a tremendous amount of wadis scattered across the country. From the Northern side of Oman to the Dhofari land in the South. 76

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WADI DARBAT A trip to the southern part of Oman is incomplete without a stop at Wadi Darbat, an oasis of waters with spectacular views of Salalah’s green landscape. The place is a tourist favourite during the Khareef season )]\]UVI[\PM_MI\PMZJMKWUM[XTMI[QVO to the senses. In addition to its captivating virgin nature, the place houses a number of water springs and caves, too.

WADI AL KHOUDH Wadi Al Khoudh is located in the capital, in the old village of Al Khoudh. The place has an open space with patches of exotic greenery, and shallow pools of water following heavy rains, serving some of the most beautiful vibes for picnic enthusiasts. If you have your 4x4, you can further explore the _ILQIVLÅVLaW]Z[MTN IXMZNMK\ spot for the whole family. NASSER AL KHANJARI

23.5887° N, 58.1262° E

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AHMED AL JABRI

17.1052° N, 54.4532° E

WADI BANI KHALID This is one of the few wadis that UIQV\IQV[IKWV\QV]W][ÆW_WN  clear waters throughout the year. The wadi is known for its scattered boulders and large pools of water. And, if you seek foot massages, \PMV_WZZaVW\\PM\QVaÅ[P_QTTJM nibbling your feet as you dangle and splash them in the water. 22°36’7.20 N, 59°04’58.80 E

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WADI SHAB Another wadi that’s located close to Wadi Bani Khalid is Wadi Shab, one of the most beautiful attractions, with a rugged atmosphere and wonderful views, loved by tourists for its pools and hiking tracks. If you are an adventurer at heart, then a swim into the cave through the wadi is a must, as it will be an experience to remember. The lower end of the wadi is deep, so caution is advised. 22°50’13.72 N, 59°14’34.71 E

Wadi Tiwi is located a couple of kilometers away from Wadi Shab in Al Sharqiyah. What sets it apart you ask? Thanks to the wadi’s soil, the place has a number of farms and green spaces, as well as pools of water and mountainous views. A must-visit.

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22.8220° N, 59.2585° E

ALI MOHAMMADI

WADI TIWI

WADI AL HAWQAYN

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23.546292 N, 57.3415276 E

NASSER AL KHANJARI

AMIZZW]VLÆW_QVO[\ZMIU[JMI]\QN]T_I\MZNITT[IVLXQK\]Zesque springs is what Wadi Al Hawqayn in the village of :][\IYW‫ٺ‬MZ[AW]KIVPQSMIJW^M\PM_I\MZNITT[IVLPI^MI walk in an oasis full of palm trees surrounding a historic fort. What’s not to like?

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WADI DAYQAH The valley of Wadi Dayqah comprises many smaller wadis stretching from Wilayat Al Dima’a Wa Tayeen in Al Sharqiyah region to the farms WN 9]ZIaaI\<PMVI\]ZITI\\ZIK\QWVQ[SVW_VNWZQ\[aMIZZW]VLÆW_WN  clear waters that attract an immense amount of both locals and tourists who seek a refreshing dip in the pond.

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ALI MOHAMMADI

SNAKE CANYON (WADI BANI AWF)

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NASSER AL KHANJARI

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LUCIANA TERRONI

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KAMRAN AWAN

23.0821° N, 58.8489° E

The challenging wadi of Bani Awf is the perfect spot for adventurers seeking a real rugged experience. Located by the suspended road of Al Dakhiliyah region, the fun aspect is absolutely guaranteed; visitors will get to explore the steep mountain road that takes 3 hours to cross, and will get to swim and hike to reach their destination. 23°12’47.7 N, 57°24’13.5 E

WADI AL ARBEIEEN Dubbed as one of the most beautiful wadis in Oman, Wadi )T)ZJMQMMV\ISM[Q\[^Q[Q\WZ[WVIVIL^MV\]ZMÅTTMLZQLM?Q\P 4 villages to explore, farmlands that cultivate fruits such as bananas, and a number of waterfalls, pools and lakes, this particular wadi is considered a gem of a place that cannot be missed. *alternatively spelled Wadi Al Arbaeen or Wadi Al Arabieen. 23°03’49.5”N 58°59’13.9”E. AUTUMN/WINTER 2019

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AFLOAT Photography MICHAEL D’SOUZA

If you’re on the lookout for a perfect postcard material to add to your list of picturesque places to visit, then Bimmah Sinkhole should occupy the very top of that list. Here are five fun facts you should know before visitng.

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This beautiful sinkhole is believed to exist as a result of a meteorite that hit the ground (which explains the name, 0I_aI\6IRU\ZIV[TI\QVOI[NITTQVO[\IZKI][QVOILMMX hole in the ground, but that it just a legend; it was actually formed naturally due to underground water carving away the rocks and caving in the waters.

Visiting Bimmah Sinkhole has its perks; the spot is located nearby some of the most sought after tourist attractions and will truly add a spark of adventure to your itinerary. There’s the famous Wadi Shab and Tiwi, to name a few.

Bimmah Sinkhole serves a unique natural phenomenon. It is connected to the ocean through a small underground tunnel, which results in having water that tastes fresh but salty at times. 80

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The sinkhole pool is about 20 metres deep, which UISM[Q\IVM`KQ\QVO[\WXNWZLQ^QVOIÅKQWVILW[ Floating in its emerald waters may sound tempting, but if you are novice swimmer, stay away from the deep end and stick to swimming at shallow waters.

+IZMNWZÅ[PILUQVQ[\MZMLXIUXMZQVO'AM[\PM [QVSPWTMQ[WKK]XQMLJa\QVaÅ[P\PI\W‫ٺ‬MZNZMMXMLQcures for everyone. The massage provides a nibbling and ticklish sensation that will leave your feet dead-cells-free.


YOUR FOOD DELIVERY APP YUMMINESS

IS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS.


Story MARET MURZABEKOVA Photography HAITHAM AL FARSI

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TRAVEL Watching turtles hatch their eggs on a nesting beach is truly a magical experience. However, if done without care and guidance, it results in harming them in their natural habitat. Every year, between April and August, \PW][IVL[WN XMWXTMÆWKS\W7UIV\WUMM\ baby turtles during the hatching season as they make their way to the waters of the Arabian Peninsula. It’s an equivalent to a spectacular evening show — fully enjoyed at night, and guests get the front row seats. With that said, protecting these creatures and their environment is a fundamental duty. Speaking with Rumaitha Al Busaidi, Executive Board Member at the EnvironUMV\;WKQM\aWN 7UIV-;7IJW]\Å^MW]\ of the seven species of sea turtles gliding through Omani waters and beaches are \PZMI\MVML_Q\PKTI[[QÅKI\QWV[ZIVOQVONZWU vulnerable to critically endangered. It’s important for locals and tourists to practice responsible tourist behaviour to ensure the sustainability of these turtle populations. “Locals and tourists while heading out to enjoy this experience, should keep in mind expressing appreciation for nature by minimising human impact and maintaining the integrity of the area” said Rumaitha, adding that visitors are advised to listen to the instructions by the local guides very carefully when stopping by a turtle nest, and most importantly keep litter away and avoid the use of any type of lights, as this is the number one cause of disturbance for turtles. Most of the turtles return to the same beach each time they are ready to nest. Not only do they appear on the same beach, they often emerge within a few hundred meters of where they last nested. They make their way from the ocean and continue to crawl on the JMIKP]V\QT\PMaÅVL\PMJM[\[XW\NWZVM[\QVO Actively using the tips of their paws, they dig a deep hole in the sand to protect the nest from predators. After digging the egg chamber, the female turtle begins to lay eggs. It’s not a secret that while laying her eggs, sea turtles will likely abort the process of nesting if they are harassed or feel in danger. Luckily, Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve in Al ;PIZYQaIP W‫ٺ‬MZ[ \]Z\TM_I\KPQVO \W]Z[ _Q\P carefully selected routes with perfect views of egg-laying and egg-hatching moments. The natural reserve is dedicated to protecting

these marine animals from potential threats. Similarly, the ESO emphasises understanding the importance of raising awareness on saving the turtles from extinction. “We need people to understand the fragility of the world around us and why it is important to protect what we have. After all, we all want to pass on our experiences with the natural world to our children and, but the fact is what we have experienced may be vanishing and most probably will not exist long enough for them to enjoy” said Rumaitha. “Therefore, environmental awareness proves important for fostering a sense of connection to the natural world, promoting sustainable development and encouraging conservation of irreplaceable natural resources and vulnerable plant and animal species, which ensures a brighter future for generations to come” she added. If turtle watching is on your list of things to experience in Oman, take caution and help protect the environment. We have to allow the little ones to continue their pilgrimage to the next destination in peace. Get To Know ESO The Environment Society of Oman was founded in March 2004 with a vision to help protect and conserve Oman’s natural heritage. As the only environmental NGO in the KW]V\Za -;7 I[XQZM[ \W QVÆ]MVKM MV^QZWVmentally sustainable behaviour through education, awareness and conservation. The organisation aims at enabling pubTQK QV^WT^MUMV\ QV KWV[MZ^I\QWV M‫ٺ‬WZ\[ I[ well as cooperating with various sectors, securing funds for environmental activities and projects, and collaborating in research on Oman’s biodiversity to help strengthen conservation initiatives. Currently, ESO is carrying out various marine projects with two of them strictly focused on Oman’s turtle population, in addition to the Renaissance Whale and Dolphin project and the Dimaniyat Islands project that focuses on protecting the marine, terrestrial wildlife and natural resources of the Dimaniyat Islands Nature Reserve. And, they are actively involved in numerous educational and awareness campaigns, including plastic bags, native tree planting and their annual Inter College Environmental Public Speaking Competition, to name a few. ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY OF OMAN Ajit Khimji Building, Darsait, +968 2479 0945 AUTUMN/WINTER 2019 esooman

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OFF-ROAD WITH

ZAHARA

Photography MIKO GARCIA

Oman is a destination blessed with beautiful, diverse landscapes, rich heritage and culture, and replete with an ancient history that’s proven to possess all the drama required to plan out the trip of a lifetime. To experience all of this, you need a people-centric and professional tourism organisation, and there is where Zahara Group comes to play. Since its inception in 1971, Zahara Group has blossomed to become the go-to agency for avid travellers. From booking ÆQOP\ \QKSM\[ ZMV\QVO ^MPQKTM[ XTIVVQVO N]VÅTTMLQ\QVMZIZQM[IVLPQSQVOM`K]Z[QWV[ \W W‫ٺ‬MZQVO TWKIT IVL QV\MZVI\QWVIT TMQ[]ZM packages for the holidays, it’s a one-stopshop for all your travel needs. With a reputation built over the decades, Zahara has to its credit a sizeable loyal client following. The group has managed millions of passengers including corporate and leisure travellers, cruise passengers, MICE delegates, short transit guests, and lots more. With loyal and dedicated trippers and tourers who continue to make unforgettable moments atop the dunes and below the [MIIVLXZWNM[[QWVITIVLMV\P][QI[\QK[\I‫ٺ‬ who are passionate and relentless in building relationships based on trust and respect, and delivering value to society, Zahara is truly the largest name in Oman’s tourism and hospitality industry. The group has won numerous awards that place them in the upper echelon of tourism in Oman. They’ve been honoured and awarded by global airlines, hotels, KZ]Q[MTQVMZ[IVLUW[\VW\IJTaWVÅ^MWKcasions they have been awarded the Oman Award for Excellence in Tourism. Going forward, The Zahara Group [MMS[\WLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\QI\MQ\[MTN \PZW]OPK][\WU84

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er-centricity, innovation, entrepreneurship, trustworthiness and values-driven business operations, whilst maintaining their name atop the list. Experiences To Try Discover oman with Zahara Tours Care to discover some of the best tours and excursions in Oman? Whether you’d like to go for dune-bashing in Al Sharqiyah Sands or have a want to enjoy a day trip with your conference partners, ZaPIZI<W]Z[Q[LMÅVQ\MTaIUI\KP Zahara Tours was honoured by the prestigious World Travel Award at a recently held event in Abu Dhabi as Oman’s leading tour operator. Specialised in FIT groups, conferences, charters, special interest groups, cruises and adventure tours, the organisation promises wonderful trips in the company of multilingual tour guides who are true insiders to Oman. Who is it for? Tourists who seek awe-inspiring natural wonders, stunning architecture, and Omani culture; day trippers who would love to explore picturesque harbours, ancient forts, and the oldest MICE travellers who stop by Oman for meetings, conferences and exhibitions but _IV\\W[\ZIaW‫\ٺ‬PMQZJ][QVM[[Q\QVMZIZa\W unwind amid Oman’s rugged nature; and golfers who want a chance to experience the greatest golf courses in the country. Go On An Adventure With Hike and Bike Getting acquainted with the Omani countryside is a wonderful experience. In 2012, Zahara introduced Hike and Bike

Oman to the world, a home for rugged adventurers and explorers who love to discover the country’s beauty in an exciting way. The company aims at promoting professional cycling and hiking tours in the country, with emphasis on maintaining the highest standards of safety. The tours are crafted to blend a mix of cultural adventures, physical challenges, IVL[XMK\IK]TIZ^QM_[KWUXZQ[QVOW‫\ٺ‬PM beaten-path routes and tracks that will surely make it an unforgettable memory that will last a lifetime. Some of the guided adventures on offer include the Water Trail biking tour, Canyon biking tour, and Old Village hiking tour, to name a few. Stay At The View This marvellous, up-in-the-clouds eco-resort serves a magical vacation spot atop the mountains. Situated away from the hustle and bustle of the city, on the road between Al Hamra to Hail Al Shas. The View is surrounded by panoramic views of Al Hamra village that promises a breathtaking experience. <PMZM[WZ\W‫ٺ‬MZ[]VUI\KPMLPW[XQ\ITity, which makes for a comfortable stay. Guests can spend their day lounging by the QVÅVQ\a[_QUUQVOXWWTWV\WXWN IUW]Vtain, marveling at the beautiful sunset while dining at the terrace of the in-house restaurant or go for expeditions and tours in the surrounding neighbourhoods to truly explore life in traditional Omani towns and villages. Places such as the ancient town of Al Hamra, Jabal Shams and the revered traditional market of Nizwa souq IZMITTWVW‫ٺ‬MZ/]M[\[KIVIT[WJWZZW_QV house mountain bikes for a quick spin.


ZAHARA GROUP Safeway, Dohat Al Adab, Al Khuwair, Boushar +968 2440 0811 zaharatours.com AUTUMN/WINTER 2019 zaharatours | 85


The Royal Treatment Story SALIM AL AFIFI

SHANGRI-LA Al Husn Resort & Spa is offering a taste of a refined Omani heritage in its finest form. 86

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The concrete beauty carries hints of the Omani identity while serving an unparalleled resort experience full of breathtaking scenery, rugged mountains, and clean, white sandy beaches, making it a perfect getaway for the avid traveller and for those seeking an escape away from the mundane. The hotel retains its modernised traditional ambience that celebrates the Omani lifestyle but enhances its NIKQTQ\QM[\WQVKT]LMMTMUMV\[\PI\W‫ٺ‬MZQ\[O]M[\[I\ZMI\ment for the kings. From exclusive couple treatments to sophisticated spas, and everything in between. THE EXCLUSIVE STAY Al Husn hotel is known as an adult hotel that delivers a one-of-a-kind experience for couples and guests, providing a sense of a unique royal treatment that’s dedicated to serving them in a serene atmosphere. Its exclusivity element is what sets it apart. With custom-design activities tailored to the guests’ interests, the place is nothing short of a personalised paradise for the pickiest of visitors. Guests seeking a retreat to disconnect from their hectic lifestyle will appreciate the peace and quiet that the place W‫ٺ‬MZ[IVL\ISMIL^IV\IOMWN \PMÅ^M[\IZ[MZ^QKMIVLT]`ury amenities that the hotel is renowned for, including a private butler, daily afternoon teas, and access to a private beach, to name a few. Guests also have the luxury of exploring the other Shangri-La properties, Al Bandar and Al Waha, and enjoying their amenities while staying at the Al Husn.

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THE SOPHISTICATED SPA There are a lot of elements where the hotel has gone an M`\ZIUQTM\WKZMI\M[WUM\PQVO^MZaLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\_Q\PI^MZa LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\[\WZaaM\ZMTM^IV\\W_PMZM_MIZM5][KI\7VM of the exciting elements is Hareer Spa by L’Occitane, named after the Arabic word ‘hareer’ meaning ‘silk.’ ;Q\]I\ML WV \PM OZW]VL ÆWWZ ILRIKMV\ \W \PM QVÅVQ\a pool, the boutique spa sports a beautiful, simplistic design that boasts four spacious treatment rooms that include two couple suites, and a designated retail area. The spa has introduced sophisticated treatments that W‫ٺ‬MZ \PM O]M[\[ [WUM\PQVO VM_ M^MZa \QUM \PMa KWUM back. Its rituals draw inspiration from the fabric’s smooth texture and brilliant lustre to create a seamless experience within a relaxing setting, in the hands of L’Occitane, connoisseurs of massage and therapy. 7V \PM [XI¼[ UMV] aW] KIV ÅVL ZMR]^MVI\QVO \ZMI\ments made with carefully selected ingredients by the French brand such as immortelle from Corsica, lavender and almond from Provence, and shea butter from BurkiVI.I[WI[_MTTI[\ZMI\UMV\[KZMI\ML[XMKQÅKITTaNWZ0Ireer Spa that incorporate traditional local ingredients such as honey, which combines a delicious softening scrub with a deeply relaxing massage, to ease tensions and leave the mind truly calm, while skin is left wrapped in the subtle and delightful fragrance of Omani honey.

SHANGRI-LA AL HUSN RESORT & SPA Barr Al Jissah, Muscat +968 2477 6388 shangrilaalhusn

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THE DINING EXPERIENCE Dining at Al Husn takes you on a culinary adventure full of Spanish delicacies, Lebanese favourites, and Omani specialities. Giving your taste buds a treat to remember. You can enjoy an elegant dinner at Sultanah, where K]TQVIZaUMM\[[\aTM<PMZM[\I]ZIV\W‫ٺ‬MZ[KZMI\Q^M;XIVish cuisine for the lover of colourful and taste-rich dishes. Sultanah’s interiors reveal an original nautical design, based on the renowned Sultanah cruise liner, which promises a unique and sophisticated dining experience. Shahrazad is another restaurant serving authentic Lebanese, Morrocan, and Omani food accompanied by live entertainment. Furnished with elegance and a character of its own, the place is a perfect stop for romantic dining sessions in an alfresco terrace.

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Stay Amidst The Clouds Story SALIM AL AFIFI

There is something magical about spending a weekend amid the clouds, surrounded by a pile of ruggedness and natural beau\aM[XMKQITTaQN \PMM`XMZQMVKMKWM`Q[\[_Q\PIÅ^M[\IZ[MZ^QKM1V 2IJIT)SPLIZ\PMZM¼[IJW]\QY]MZM[WZ\\PI\W‫ٺ‬MZ[IOTQUX[MQV\W that lifestyle known as Sahab Resort and Spa, a charming getaway, up in the air. Located two hours away from the capital, this retreat is a perfect destination for those of us who love to unwind in a calm ambience, with picturesque views that stretch and unfold for miles. The minute I pictured myself sipping a refreshing drink by \PMXWWT\PI\W^MZTWWS[IKTQ‫ٺ‬1_I[QUUMLQI\MTa[WTLWV\PMQLMI of traversing to the mountains to experience it all. Staying at Sahab serves a lovely opportunity to indulge at your own pace. I had the pleasure of luxuriating at the resort and exploring its facilities, marvelling at its stone-made structure that retains the impression of fossils that date back to thousands of years, visiting abandoned villages in the nearby mountain communities, trying out new hiking routes and immersing myself into the aromatic culture of rose farming – All while enjoying an excellent service. At the resort, guests get to enjoy panoramic views of rocky surfaces that stretch as far as the eyes go, regardless of the angle, there’s always something to marvel at. The exterior is designed with arched windows that mimic the ruggedness of the area and is contrasted with a polished interior that perfectly combines the old with the new. I was welcomed with a cup of cardamom-infused Omani kahwa as I checked-in, then escorted towards the lawn area, where the rooms are laid out in a symmetrical zigzag design that leads to one of the most beautiful views in Oman. 90

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On the inside, the rooms are furnished with contemporary XQMKM[\PI\[TQOP\TaZMÆMK\\PMJMI]\aWN 2IJIT)SLPIZ Other facilities include a beautiful pool that sits on the edge of the mountain, suitable for both adults and children, a playground for the little ones; a beautifully decorated indoor restaurant with rugged-yet-elegant elements, a dining area by the pool, and my absolute favourite facility: The Uru Spa, which features two ensuite treatment rooms and a menu full of refreshing treatments. If you want to truly experience the mountainous beauty of Oman, then Sahab Resort and Spa is the place for you.


A stonemade boutique resort in Jabal Akhdar, filled with impressions of ancient fossils.

SAHAB RESORT AND SPA Jabal Akhdar, Nizwa, Oman +968 2542 9288 sahabresortspa

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PALATIAL ELEGANCE An interview with Katrin Hertz

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TRAVEL You have been opened for a year since renovation, what were guests and visitors most excited about? 1\PI[JMMVM`KQ\QVO<PQ[Q[V¼\\PMÃ&#x2026;Z[\\QUM\PM)T Bustan Palace has been renovated, but I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s \PMÃ&#x2026;Z[\\QUMaW][MM\PMQUXIK\M^MZa_PMZMNZWU arrival at the lobby, through to the rooms and the .*W]\TM\[)VLQ\¼[\PMÃ&#x2026;Z[\\QUM\PMZMPI^MJMMV new additions. I think the highlights are the wing rooms on the lagoon pool, where we have brand new rooms from which you can jump right into the pool from your room. They were designed by the Royal +W]Z\WN )â&#x20AC;«Ùºâ&#x20AC;¬IQZ[_Q\PITW\WN JMQOMIVLJWTL\WVM[ that brighten the space a little bit. In addition, our presidential suites and rooms have also been given a full makeover. Our beautiful auditorium is pretty much the only place that hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been touched or renovated. That is still a very beautiful place to host events and concerts. Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a true gem for the country. ?PI\LWM[Q\Wâ&#x20AC;«Ùºâ&#x20AC;¬MZ\WQ\[^Q[Q\WZ[VW_' What are you most proud of from the renovation? <PM8ITIKMPI[ZM\]ZVML_Q\PIKWUXTM\MTaLQâ&#x20AC;«Ùºâ&#x20AC;¬MZMV\ level in regards to the rooms, the products, and it is a family-friendly property. We have added a Family )Y]I4IVL\PI\KWV[Q[\[WN VM_XTIaOZW]VL[IbQX line ad a childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pool as well as new additions in food and beverages. As you know, restaurants are a major part of the hotel experience nowadays, and we are very happy and proud of how the revamped outlets look and feel. The hotel has a family-friendly element to it, how will you ensure that that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t impact or infringe on those who come for an adult experience? How do you keep that divided? I think we are blessed to have such a large space. That was the feedback from before as well, except back then we did not have a separate area for them, but it really spreads out nicely, and I think having \PW[MP]OMOIZLMV[XITU\ZMM[LQâ&#x20AC;«Ùºâ&#x20AC;¬MZMV\XWWT[IVLI one-kilometre long beach distributes itself rather VQKMTa.IUQTQM[_PW_IV\\WOW\W\PMNIUQTabWVM

_QTTPI^M\WÃ&#x2026;VLQ\TI]OP[\PW[M_PW[MMSUWZMWN  a quiet and peaceful experience would go to relax in the cabanas or lay by the pool. The Palace has a number of restaurants that serve nothing but culinary excellence. What are some of the most exciting dining experiences? There are several that we have, each one has its W_VÃ&#x2020;IQZ)T3PQZIV3Q\KPMVQ[I^MZa[XIKQW][ restaurant in white and blue, with a live cooking [\I\QWVIVLIP]OMW]\LWWZ\MZZIKM\PI\Wâ&#x20AC;«Ùºâ&#x20AC;¬MZ[^QM_[ of the pool and the garden. As well as Beach Pavilion Bar & Grill, which has a brand new exterior and interior. We have built a new terrace and three new cabanas for special events. China Mood has also been enhanced and now features a \MZZIKM<PMVM_NZWV\Z]VVMZ_I[<]ZS]IbW]Z Ã&#x2026;Z[\XWX]X<]ZSQ[PZM[\I]ZIV\IVLTW]VOM\PI\ transported guests to the land of the Crescent Moon as they delve into an authentic culinary experience _Q\PI^IZQM\aWN ZQKPIVLÃ&#x2020;I^WZN]T[QOVI\]ZMLQ[PM[ Do you have a favourite restaurant or dish you would recommend people to try? I love seafood, and now itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the lobster season. We have very talented chefs that do unique dishes, but I love the classic Omani lobster. What about activities, are there events taking place at your private beach? ?MPI^MINIUQTaWZQMV\I\MLIK\Q^Q\aKITTML:Q\b 3QL[_PQKPQ[W]Z:Q\b+IZT\WVSQL[XZWOZIU?M have two activities per day during which we not only entertain the kids but educate them as well, _Q\PLQâ&#x20AC;«Ùºâ&#x20AC;¬MZMV\IK\Q^Q\QM[[]KPI[KWTTMK\QVO[PMTT[I\ the beach and snorkelling, where kids get to see the Ã&#x2026;[PIVLTMIZVUWZMIJW]\\PMIY]I\QKTQNMWN 7UIV We also have adult activities as well, where we XIZ\VMZML_Q\P\PM;Q`;MV[M[[XIIVLÃ&#x2026;\VM[[ XZWNM[[QWVIT[;W\PMZMQ[aWOIIVLLQâ&#x20AC;«Ùºâ&#x20AC;¬MZMV\Ã&#x2026;\VM[[ activities. In the afternoon, we have a little ceremony where we explain traditional Omani elements such I[J]SPWWZQVKMV[MIVLZW[M_I\MZIVLaW][MM\PI\ guests are really interested in exploring the culture.

AL BUSTAN PALACE, A RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL Al Bustan St, Muscat +968 2479 9666 albustanpalace.muscat

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Photography

H.E. FEDERICA FAVI

MIKO GARCIA

AT HOME WITH

THE AMBASSADOR OF ITALY TO OMAN ?PI\_I[aW]ZĂ&#x2026;Z[\QUXZM[[QWVWN  Italian culture and community in Oman? As soon as I arrived in Oman I understood the sincere love of the Sultanate for Italy and its people, culture and traditions. The Royal Opera House, which stands as a landmark of Muscat, is home to prestigious performances of Italian music ranging from opera to modern blues; just to mention a few recent shows, Rossini Opera Festival and Teatro Massimo of Palermo. Italy has always been in touch with Oman since ancient times. At the National Museum in Muscat, we have recently celebrated 40 years of 1\ITQIVIZKPIMWTWOaQV7UIV_Q\PLWbMV[WN  Italian researchers who have worked to bring a great past back to life. The forts of Muttrah were designed by an Italian architect in the 16th century. Today, around 500 members of the Italian community in the Sultanate are mainly professionals, architects, engineers and artists who are highly appreciated for their commitment to supporting Oman in its development and in the XZWKM[[WN MKWVWUQKLQ^MZ[QĂ&#x2026;KI\QWV

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For tourists travelling from Muscat to Milan or Florence, which attractions would you recommend visiting? Visiting Italy is a memorable experience; the diversity of landscape, architecture and gastronomy is exceptional. Along with the fast pace of Milan’s design district to the sophisticated elegance of palaces and gardens in Florence, and surrounding Tuscany, I would recommend exploring a variety of places in Italy, starting with the glorious history of Venice, skiing in the Dolomites or driving south towards the enchanting beauty of Rome, Naples and Sicily. Sailing in Sardinia or visiting the Puglia countryside and riding a mountain bike will also be unforgettable. I would also recommend a trip to Matera, European Capital of Culture for 2019, an ancient city where houses are built in caves, reminding me of some remote villages in the wonderful interior region of Oman. Italy is known for having the best fashion houses in the world, and Milan of course, being one of the global capital of Fashion. Where do NI[PQWVIÅKQWVILW[OWNWZ[PWXXQVO when in Milan? Milan is indeed home to many of the most famous brands in the world when it comes to NI[PQWV+ZMI\Q^M[IVLNI[PQWVNWTTW_MZ[_QTTÅVL

their home around the so-called Quadrilatero della Moda, namely four streets with innumerable showrooms selling jewellery and the most sought after fashion labels. Still, Italian beauty and quality are not only in Milan. As we highlighted during the Italian Design Day last March in Muscat, design is part of our daily life, as we believe that every object deserves to be aesthetically pleasing. This is why in every Italian city you _QTTÅVL\PW][IVL[WN [UITTNIUQTaZ]V traditional boutiques, which have been making the most beautiful handicrafts for generations. Custom-made is the key word to understand the Italian approach to quality. This care also applies to the food you will buy in Italy, where excellence is of the utmost importance, from the sustainable agricultural production of Coldiretti to the hundreds of geographical indications from all over Italy, you will never get bored of this great diversity. Let’s talk about food. Italian K]Q[QVMQ[LMÅVQ\MTaIK]TQVIZa experience. Which restaurant would you say is your go-to place for a nice Italian dinner in Oman? For Italians, food is not just a matter of nutrition; it’s a cultural feature of our life. Thanks to the climatic variety of the peninsula IVL\PM[\ZI\QÅMLPQ[\WZaMIKP^QTTIOMPI[Q\[W_V culinary tradition, making eating a gastronomic

experience every day. Our Mediterranean diet is most of all healthy. The Embassy will explore this theme in our next cuisine week in November 2019, when we will promote the good habit of cooking at home with high-quality ingredients. .WZZM[\I]ZIV\[OWMZ[5][KI\W‫ٺ‬MZ[[M^MZIT[XW\[ NWZ1\ITQIVK]Q[QVM_Q\PÅVMLQVQVOWZIKI[]IT ambience. I hope that more places serving original Italian dishes and products will be available in the Sultanate in the coming years, to allow our 7UIVQNZQMVL[\W\I[\MIPQV\WN W]ZÆI^W]Z[ enticing them to travel to Italy. I am committed to achieving this result. What is your most memorable Omani experience so far? Having been in Muscat since last November only, I must admit that I have not had the opportunity to travel around Oman as much as I had wished. Still, the Sultanate has welcomed me with its warmest hospitality and I am sure that many more unforgettable moments will come. So far, a memorable moment was a sunset I had the privilege of seeing at the Khor Rory archaeologiKIT[Q\MQV;ITITIPIUIOVQÅKMV\XTIKMWV\WXWN  a hill in front of the ocean. I was there to admire the excavations conducted by Italian researchers over the last years and I was really impressed by the splendour of this ancient city, which built its wealth on the trade of frankincense.

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MUNCH ON THE

BEST BRUNCH Story RABIA QAISER

Brunching is a dining culture that has now become a ritual of some sort in Muscat. Whether you enjoy festive sips by the pool, at the beach, or next to a DJ â&#x20AC;&#x201D; These brunching spots promise a fabulous experience for lovers of all things food.

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DINING

1

Kempinski hotel muscat The Kempinski hotel’s Friday brunch at The Kitchen Restaurant promises a refreshing afternoon with their Plunge & Indulge package, which features multi-dining options and IKKM[[\W\PMPW\MT¼[UIQVQVÅVQ\aXWWTW^MZTWWSQVO\PMWKMIVJT]M[-[KIXMQV[\aTMIVL QVL]TOMQVIVIZZIaWN K]TQVIZaW‫ٺ‬MZQVO[_Q\PIVQV\MZVI\QWVITJ]‫ٺ‬M\NZWU-]ZWXMIV\W Middle Eastern food, alongside light seafood selections. While the adults mingle and [_Ia\W\PMQVPW][MRIbbJIVL\PMPW\MTIT[WW‫ٺ‬MZ[IPW[\WN IK\Q^Q\QM[NWZW]ZaW]VOMZ friends at Dippy’s Clubhouse. So the little nuggets are occupied while you take in the fresh ocean breeze and lull away to some chill tunes. Kempinski Hotel Muscat, Al Mouj, Al Hail

North; every Friday, 1pm to 4.30pm; starting at OMR28.

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AL BUSTAN PALACE, A RitzCarlton Hotel

2

Friday brunch returns once again to the Beach Pavilion Bar & Grill at Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The weekend spread allows guests to enjoy a spectacular brunch with live food stations and grills fea\]ZQVO \PM ÅVM[\ 7UIVQ [XMKQITQ\QM[ ITWVO with live entertainment. Showcasing unparalleled views of the Sea of Oman, this outdoor experience promises a soulful and loving time with friends and family. Al Bustan

Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Al Bustan Street; every Friday; +968 2479 9666; starting at OMR25.

the Chedi muscat If you want to treat yourself to a relaxed garden brunch, then do yourself a favour and head on over to The Restaurant at The Chedi Muscat. A brilliant international selection with a huge array of cuisines and lots of mixed drinks, and live stations. Don’t worry, there’s live entertainment too, so everyone can enjoy the magic of brunch. Surrounded by an oasis of palm trees, wind down at the Chedi’s garden party curated especially for you and your desired brunch squad. You can also choose to dine at the elegant dining room of The :M[\I]ZIV\I[\PMJ]‫ٺ‬M\KWV\QV]M[ inside. The Chedi Muscat, Athaiba; every Friday, 1.00pm to 4.30pm; +968 2452 4343; starting at OMR26.

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Shangri-la barr al jissah resort and spa Shangri-La’s Friday Brunch at Al Tanoor offers a lavish spread full of good food, while also providing some delicious bubbly drinks \W[QXWV.ZWUP]OMQV\MZVI\QWVITJ]‫ٺ‬M\[\W high-end à la carte cuisine, there’s something NWZM^MZaWVM<PMJ]‫ٺ‬M\KWUXZQ[M[[KZ]UXtious meals with hearty salads, seafood classics and much more, although their carvery brunch with roast meats are worth the mention. It’s a perfect weekend getaway from the city and into the mountains, with 360 panoramic views of beautiful landscapes and incredible sunrises. Al Tanoor, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa; every Friday 12:30- 4:00 p.m; +968 2477 6565; starting at OMR25 net.

CROWNE PLAZa Muscat OCEC

5

The Friday Big Chill Brunch at Mosaic Restaurant is a top option for a casual afternoon that’s accompanied by an entertaining DJ. This brunch has a true party vibe and has slowly gained quite the popularity since its opening last year. You can feel the beats pumping as you walk down the stairs to the restaurant, greeted by lovely waiters welcomQVO aW] _Q\P I ÆWZIT OIZTIVL 1\¼[ OW\ I T]I]QVspired theme, with party-goers dressed in groovy tees, turning up to latest hits, while holding on to mysterious, yet delicious drinks. From a banquet of succulent food, featuring oysters, seafood hits, international cheeses, to an array of street food, 5W[IQK[I\Q[ÅM[aW]ZXITM\\M[I[_MTTI[aW]ZXIZ\a appetite. Location: Mosaic, Crowne Plaza OCEC; every Friday, 2pm to 5pm; +968 2479 9666; starting at OMR20.

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MUSCAT HILLS RESORT

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Do you like being barefoot and getting caught in a scenic backdrop? Well, you can do all this and a lot more at the Barefoot Brunch at Muscat Hills Beach Club. The club’s laid back charm and relaxing vibe allow the guests to enjoy this picturesque setting over some mouthwatering food on a Friday IN\MZVWWV<PMJMIKPNZWV\JZ]VKPW‫ٺ‬MZ[ZMTQMN \W aW]ZKZI^QVO[_Q\PÆI^W]Z[WUMXIMTTI[I[_MTTI[ bubbly sips and vanilla-orange sherbet to satisfy your sweet tooth. Get lost in the mountains, while the DJ sets the mood with some chill deep house music to go with your barbeque classics. Muscat

Hills Resort, Al Jissah; +968 9121 6645; starting at OMR28. NOTE: This brunch happens once a month, next one is on 19 October 2019.

Grand hyatt muscat Grand Hyatt’s brunch is a perfect way to spend your Friday, setting a distinct family approved spirit that promises an excellent festive vibe. Curated by Executive Chef Ilias Doulamis, the brunch features international cuisine, live stations, seafood favourites, signature specialities including paella and taco stations, awesome carving station with our prime bone-in rib eye and a dessert wonderland. The designated kid zone will present a fun place for children with games and activities while being treated to their own kids’ special menu tailored by our culinary team. The brunch also features live entertainment by Adam Cole and his band. Grand Hyatt Muscat, Shatti Al Qurum; every Friday, 1.30pm to 5pm; starting at OMR24.

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FLOWERS | WEDDINGS | CHOCOLATES | FRAGRANCES

+968 9550 7124

City Park Hotel Apartments, Al Khuwair, Muscat AUTUMN/WINTER 2019

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Oh

-so-

Omani Story SALIM AL AFIFI

Sampling the local cuisine is one of the fundamental parts of \ZI^MTTQVO\PI\W‫ٺ‬MZ[IVM`KMTTMV\WXXWZ\]VQ\a\WQUUMZ[M aW]Z[MTN QV\WIVM_K]T\]ZMIVL[I^W]Z\PMJM[\WN ÆI^W]Z[1V this issue, we elbowed out the tourism hype and dug deep into the country’s dining scene to unearth some of the trendiest boutique restaurants that serve culture on a platter.

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GRANDMA’S SECRET RECIPE Â-DEERK

A visit to this lifestyle cafe will paint a lovely picture of how the locals have their breakfast. Founded by Nawaf Al Wahaibi and his family, Habboh (which colloquially means OZIVLUI[MZ^M[7UIVQ[XMKQITQ\aJZMISNI[\QV Al Amerat. With his mother in the kitchen, concocting a dinner likely to appeal to your tastebuds, you can’t help but sense the warm, familial ^QJZIVKa\PI\ÅTT[\PMIQZ)VLQ\¼[IXMZNMK\ [\WXNWZIVIN\MZVWWVÆI\JZMILIVL\MI beyond Aqabat Boushar. The witty approach to the menu is quite a joy for the Arabic reader; You’d spot the grandma character and feel her tone throughout the menu, ready to take your order. Local breakfast foods such as red beans cooked in thick tomato stew; siweah, a sweet dish made of vermicelli cooked in sugar syrup; and Al 5IZLPWWNI\ZILQ\QWVITÆI\JZMIL\PI\KWUM[ with an assortment of spreads like cream cheese, Nutella, honey, and strawberry jam. You may not be served by Habboh herself, but the hospitable family is undeniably welcoming. Order yourself a cardamom-inN][MLSIZIS\MIWZIK]XWN ZW[M_I\MZKW‫ٺ‬MM With that ambience, we promise you’ll feel right at home. AUTUMN/WINTER 2019 +986 9616 9191

habboh_

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SOPHISTICATED DELICACIES Â9DUPD

Situated in the neighbourhood of Al Khoudh in Seeb, Tarma restaurant succeeds in blending the best of both worlds: Traditional delicacies and sophisticated plating. Think shuwa with a contemporary touch. The menu, which was curated by Oman’s beloved celebrity chef, Issa Al Lamki, is ÅTTML_Q\PUWLMZVQ[MLTWKITLQ[PM[TQSMSQVOÅ[P[MZ^ML_Q\POIZTQKJ]\\MZ[I]KMIVL qabooli rice, harees topped with pit-roasted shuwa, savoured with pieces of rakhal JZMIL7UIVQÆI\JZMILIVLKP]VS[WN TIUJ[XQKML_Q\PTWKITQVOZMLQMV\[<PMXTIKM W‫ٺ‬MZ[IVWXXWZ\]VQ\a\W[IUXTMNIUQTQIZTWKITLQ[PM[QVVM__Ia[)XIZ\NZWUQ\[ NIJ]TW][Å^M[\IZXTI\QVO<IZUIW‫ٺ‬MZ[KI\MZQVO[MZ^QKM[NWZ\PW[M_IV\QVO\WM`XMZQMVKM an elegant-yet-homemade treat that has Oman written all over it. +986 9527 7125

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09:00 - 00:00


BREAKFAST STEALS Â)XNDQDK Dukanah is an all-day breakfast cafe and restaurant specialised in Omani traditional food, set in a traditional ambience that pays homage to the olden days of Oman. With muddy palettes overtaking the diner’s atmosphere, guests are invited to relive ancient times while having a delightful dining experience. Tucked in South Azaiba, this popular hotspot is the go-to place for those wishing to try a local homemade breakfast. Dishes such as qellyah, pan-fried meat seasoned with local spices and [MZ^ML_Q\PZISPITÆI\JZMIL#PIZMM[I_PMI\IVL chicken-based dish served with a splash of local ghee, and a variety of curried beans best de^W]ZML_Q\PÆI\JZMIL[I[_MTT1N aW]¼ZMI[_MM\ toothed person, then dive into their desserts menu and try jaula with honey, a bread mixture bathed in date syrup and honey; luqaimat, crunchy sweet dumplings; khabeesa (not to be mixed with the 4MJIVM[M\ZILQ\QWVITLQ[PILM[[MZ\UILMWN ÆW]Z and milk, and blended with hints of aromatic ZW[M_I\MZIVL[I‫ٺ‬ZWV1VOZMLQMV\[[]KPI[ZW[M XM\IT[LZQMLTQUM7UIVQTWWUQOPMMIVLLI\M syrup are infused into the menu to create traditional delicacies. Make sure to try their rosewater lemonade, it’s heavenly refreshing. +986 2450 2244

dukanahcafe

08:00 - 23:00

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)D\FDWLRQ DINING

beats - bites - beverages

Story SALIM AL AFIFI Photography BADER AL LAWATI

The Bank Beach Club’s concept signals quite an interest for lovers of beachfront dining, serving the best of Asian and international cuisines right at the edge of the marina at Jebel Sifah. With equal parts casual and lifestyle chic, this place is where you’d come for a memorable experience and probably have a LM[QZM \W KWUM JIKS WN\MV 1VÅVQ\a XWWT' Check; designer sushi? Check. Thirst-quenching bubbly sips? Check and check. I say you’ll JMW‫\ٺ‬WIOZMI\[\IZ\ Tucked away at the foot of Siwafy Boutique Hotel, the Bank Beach Club is an outlet W‫ٺ‬MZQVOIJZWIL[MTMK\QWVWN OW]ZUM\UMIT[ and set in an al-fresco lounge that sports contemporary ambience and unmatched views of the Arabian Sea. The place serves fresh-caught seafood such as soft-shell crab, king crab tempura, crispy squid, oysters and sushi varieties, as well as your favourite beach diner staples such as steaks, salads, and burgers and fries. The Bank Beach Club Siwafy Boutique Hotel, Jebel Sifah +968 9736 8425 thebank.co thebankbeachclub

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What to order you ask? Well, there’s a lot to explore. Miso black cod, an Alaskan black cod, wrapped on an oba leaf, made with white miso and sake marinade; Ribeye Yakiniku, beautifully sliced Angus Beef, KWWSMLI[ZMY]M[\MLIVL[MZ^ML_Q\PÆI^W]Zful vine cherry tomato and crispy triple cooked chips; Beef Tataki, pan-seared rare JMMN  ÅTTM\ TIQL WV I JML WN  AISQVQS] [I]KM crispy garlic and baby herbs; rainbow superfood salad, a bunch of garden-fresh beetroot, tossed with roasted pumpkin, mushrooms, parsley, mint, toasted seeds, red quinoa, baby herbs and a bunch of red cabbage; and the star of the show: spicy tuna maki sushi, made with maguro, shichimi togarashi and spring onion. The dishes here are impeccable and crafted with the utmost quality. Extra points for the sushi, it was heavenly delicious. This place is a perfect weekend getaway or even a mid-week break. The DJ will keep you ready for a tropical party, so come with a pair of dancing shoes too.


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Huqqa Story ADELA EILEEN

at huqqa, they serve turkish breakfast for kings.

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They say you can fool a person’s mind and eyes, but never the mouth. This gem of a restaurant is a testament to that. After only a couple of visits to Huqqa – an international Turkish restaurant serving the best of the world kitchen – I fell in love with their crafted dishes that transport me to the alleys of Istanbul. I am truly hooked on Huqqa. Yes, it’s become my new dining therapy, and I love every second of it. Launched recently at Al Mouj Marina, Huqqa and Huqqa The Market serve some of the most contemporary delicacies and the juiciest steaks in town, all while overlooking a breath-taking marina. The venue brings an entirely unique experience to 7UIV _Q\P I ^QJZIV\ IUJQMVKM IVL IXXM\Q[QVO W‫ٺ‬MZQVO[ \PI\ elevate a typical dine-out. Their menu is well-crafted to feature some of the best dishes from Turkey and beyond, but I was mostly blown by their massive breakfast spread. Yes, I had the pleasure of curating my morning feast, which presented a combination of breakfast staples and Mediterranean favourites, served in a Turkish fashion. This quintessential breakfast ritual starts with shareable plates of kaymak, a Turkish clotted cream with honeycomb; börek, a


baked pastry with cheese and eggs; acúka spread, made of red pepper, walnut and tomato; soslu patlican, an eggplant dish UILM _Q\P \WUI\WM[ XWOIȔI I JQ[K]Q\\M`\]ZM JZMIL QVN][ML _Q\PLQTTTMI^M[IVLKPMM[MIVIJ[WT]\MNI^W]ZQ\M#<]ZSQ[P[\aTM XW\I\WM[#IXTI\MWN KPMM[M_Q\PÅOIVL_ITV]\[#OIZLMV[ITIL[ and seasonal fruits; a bunch of mixed olives bathing in extra virgin olive oil, savoured with an assortment of preserves including sour cherry jam, strawberry jam, and Nutella. The breakfast spread is enjoyed with a lavish basket of homebaked breads including simit, a Turkish bagel covered with generous sprinkles of sesame seeds. For the mains, we opted for eggs with a small pan of sujuk (dry, [XQKa [I][IOM IVL OZQTTML PITTW]UQ XIQZML TW^QVOTa _Q\P NZM[P juices and unlimited sips of the ever-popular Turkish tea. If you are someone like me who loves trying everything in [UITTY]IV\Q\QM[\PMV\PQ[JZMISNI[\Q[LMÅVQ\MTaNWZaW])[XZMdicted, the entire experience was amazing. I had a wonderful time with the family, and I trust you will, too.

HUQQA MUSCAT Al Mouj Marina, Al Hail North, Seeb +968 2454 9977 huqqamuscat

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Thai MAD ABOUT

Story SALIM AL AFIFI

Can the greatness of a country’s cuisine be sampled in one XTIKM'1\¼[IY]M[\QWV1ÅVLUa[MTN I[SQVOY]Q\MWN\MV_PMVM`ploring a new dining culture. In this issue, we are going on a trip to Charm Thai, a restaurant that sums up the heart and soul of authentic Thai cooking. Tucked in the lower ground of Crowne Plaza OCEC, the restaurant encapsulates a cuisine that may have required multiXTMTQNM\QUM[\W[IUXTMQV\WIXMZNMK\J]KSM\TQ[\UMV]\PI\W‫ٺ‬MZ[ IXMMSQV\W\PMXQY]IV\JW_T[IVLÅMZa[MINWWLZQKP[XMKQITQ\QM[ of Thailand. The restaurant has been the talk of the town for quite some time, not only for its authentic menu but for the mystical interiors and the backstory of the golden princess Suphankanlaya, who seemed to have had a lovely voyage to Oman. With tons of curiosity, I had to stop by and experience the fantasy myself. As you’d guess, I was truly stunned. )[ 1 ZMIKP \PM XTIKM 1 [XW\ I OWTLXTI\ML ÆWWZ\WKMQTQVO gate that sports intricately designed pillars, and a friendly waiter awaiting my arrival with a warm, traditional welcome that consists of palms pressed together and a slight bow. “Welcome to Charm Thai Lounge & Restaurant” she said. Eager to explore beyond the gilded wall, I greeted the waitMZJIKSIVLI[SMLPMZ\WÅVLUM\PMXMZNMK\[MI\)[_M[\MXXML into the restaurant, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fashionable interior, said to be inspired by the princess’ journey to Muscat. Iconic battle gear, lyrical poems written on beams, prominent symbols of Kraken, walls adorned with drawings of psychedelic, abstract art, and purple sofas are some of the things that caught my attention. For a quick moment, I felt as if I had walked into a ÆIUJWaIV\^MZ[QWVWN \PM[M\WN /IUMWN <PZWVM[¸Q\_I[JMyond magical. After getting acquainted with the princess and her sea silk route voyage, the waiter escorted me to the terrace, which sports an ambience that contrasts the interior part of the diner; rugged aesthetics and dark woods take centre stage, serving that perfect island vibe of Patong Beach. I decided to have a sit at Suphankanlaya’s boat-shaped table that’s docked by the entrance. I sat and sipped on my welcome drink, made of coconut goodness, excitedly waiting to meet the chef and explore the menu. 110

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DINING Now that we’ve met the princess and marvelled at the décor, Q\¼[\QUM\WLQ^MQV\W_PI\JZW]OP\][PMZMQV\PMÅZ[\XTIKM"\PM food. The menu at Charm Thai is crafted by patron chef Shakriya Kanasasanat, whose passion lies in experimenting with new ÆI^W]Z[ \PI\ W‫ٺ‬MZ I VWL \W \PM K]T\]ZM WN  <PIQTIVL )VL [PM succeeded. The menu is full of absolute hits from all over the country, dressed in hints of the chef ’s own culinary imagination. As I explored the menu, my regal impression of this place M^IXWZI\MLITQ\\TM<PMXZQKM[IZM]VJMI\IJTMNWZIÅ^M[\IZW‫ٺ‬MZing, which was a fabulous start to the evening.

1LQLVW\_IV\\WR][\[KZI\KP\PM[]ZNIKMWN _PI\¼[WVW‫ٺ‬MZ 1_IV\ML\W\Z]TaLQ^MQVUW]\PÅZ[\;W1KIUMXZMXIZML_Q\PI small army of people who talk a good dining game, ordering food like we’d never heard of money. After a while, blue ceramic bowls and plates started to roll W]\_Q\P\PMÅZ[\WVMJMQVO\PM\WUSPI\ITIaIÆI^W]ZN]T[MIfood soup with hints of citrusy ginger and earthy lemongrass, [_QUUQVOQVKWKWV]\UQTS<PW[MLMTQOP\MLJaÆI^W]Z[WN \PM [MI_QTT\Z]TaMVRWa\PQ[-^MV\PMUQTLM[\XITI\M[_QTTÅVL[WTIKM in this warm bowl of goodness. AUTUMN/WINTER 2019

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For the main, we had a wok-fried chicken dish called gai kratiam, illustrated on a blue plate, served with a peppery dip. <PMKPQKSMV_I[XMZNMK\TaR]QKaIVLXIKSMLY]Q\M\PMÆI^W]Z[ Another dish that stood out was the famous red curry with king prawns and diced pineapples; staple dish in almost every Thai restaurant. But this particular one tasted impeccable; the curry served a thrilling rollercoaster of salt, sugar, and funk, best enjoyed with a plate of fragrant jasmine rice. Ped yang num makhan was our last stop, a charcoal-grilled duck dressed in tamarind sauce and bedded on crispy tempura. 6W_WVLMZ\PQ[LQ[PQ[\PMZM[\I]ZIV\¼[JM[\[MTTMZ\PM[UWSaÆIvour of the duck and the sweet-tangy zing of the tamarind makes for a perfect bite. We also tried other dishes including the papaya salad and the peppery beef but they weren’t as memorable as the four dishes above. To end the session, we had delicious Thai mango. Dining at Charm Thai was such a beautiful moment that exceeded all of my expectations. It’s a restaurant and lounge that truly takes you on a gastronomical journey to the Land of Smiles. Is it safe to say that this place lives up to the hype? Absolutely - it’s an authentic Thai experience that should not be missed.

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CHARM THAI, LOUNGE AND RESTAURANT Crowne Plaza OCEC, Madinat Al Irfan +968 9065 4364 charmthai_it_is

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Mint & Coco muscatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favourite boutique restaurant

an all-day destination restaurant that encapsulates the essence of lifestyle dining in the heart of Muscat.

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A year has passed since Mint & Coco opened for business, yet it still occupies the very top of my list when it comes to dining. Yes, It’s safe to say we’ve hit the jackpot with this culinary heaven, serving quality food, sophisticated-yet-whimsical plating, and a chill ambience that reminds us of _Pa_MNMTTQVTW^M_Q\PQ\QV\PMÅZ[\XTIKM Nestled in Salam Square, this homegrown gem was founded by Loaya Al Mammari, a lovely and passionate restauranteur who travelled the culinary world to search for a new dining concept. She came back inspired by the lifestyle boutique ZM[\I]ZIV\[\PI\ÅTT\PM[\ZMM\[WN -]ZWXMIVLLMcided to bring that wonderful energy to Oman. Today her brand sits among the best, with a prestigious Oman Restaurant Awards under her belt. What’s the secret to her success? Well, I have no idea but I can tell you this: Her restaurant offers me more than a typical lunching session, it serves an experience that’s quite refreshing. This year, the restaurant has introduced a seasonal menu that includes appetizing starters, healthy bowls of garden-fresh salads, palatable mains and designer treats that use locally sourced QVOZMLQMV\[[]KPI[MLQJTMÆW_MZ[ I usually skip the starters and dive right into the main, which is a salmon marinated in sweet miso sauce, served with sautéed vegetables on a bed of warm Japanese rice, or their glorious juicy steak sandwich (which is dubbed as the best in \W_V +PQKSMV X]UXSQV [ITIL IVL \PM ^Mgan-friendly ‘dragon bowl’ are also popular. On the sweeter side of things, I used to enjoy \PMQZ KWKWIÅTTML XIVKISM[ _PQKP 1¼U [\QTT JQ\\MZ \PI\ \PMa¼ZM LQ[KWV\QV]ML J]\ 4WIaI SMX\ ][ ITT dribbling with artsy creations that taste good and UISMNWZIXMZNMK\]VÅT\MZML1V[\IOZIUUWUMV\ .ZIOZIV\ZW[MWZ[I‫ٺ‬ZWVUQTSKISM[ILWZVML_Q\P MLQJTMÆW_MZ[IVLXQXM\\M[I[_MTTI[\PMJIVIVI loaf served with homemade blueberry jam and cinnamon butter are highly recommended. Mint & Coco is without a doubt a name that will be on everyone’s lips for years to come, as long as they keep their quality and friendly service in check. I cannot wait to come back during the mango season where mango-infused treats await. The Courtyard by Mint & Coco

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The Courtyard by Mint & Coco is a new sister restaurant to Loaya’s critically acclaimed restaurant that promises a new, loud and outrageous dining experience. Inspired by gourmet street food from around the world, the restaurant dishes up fusion cuisines crafted to entice palates and visionary senses. Nestled in a park facing the Hilton Garden Inn Muscat in Al Khuwair, the place celebrates the idea of having fun with your food, kicking back, and just letting go of being serious. Diners have the option to eat inside its beautiful coral-coloured interior or dine in the tranquil setting of the park. The food is described as pushing the conventional boundaries of today’s dining culture, giving the diners a glimpse of what tomorrow’s food may become. Is this will be another one for the books for Loaya? Probably, and I look forward to fully experiencing it soon.

MINT & COCO Salam Complex, Dohat Al Adab St, Al Khuwair, Bousher +968 2200 7779 mintandcoco.om THECOURTYARD BY MINT AND COCO Public Part in Hilton Garden Inn, Al Khuwair, Bousher thecourtyardbymintandcoco

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An Interview WITH

Vito Fornelli

Cluster Executive Chef at Grand Millennium Muscat

What was it like growing up in Italy, one of the best destinations for dining? 1\_I[IUIbQVO1OZM_]XQVI[UITT\W_VQV\PM South of Italy where I spent most of my time with family and friends, savouring tasty Italian dishes cooked by my grandmother. The food in my hometown is very genuine. Mediterranean cuisine, tons of olive oil, farm-to-table produce, PWUMUILMKPMM[M_QTLKI]OP\Å[PaW]VIUMQ\_M PI^MQ\1\¼[_PI\UISM[W]ZK]Q[QVMÆI^WZN]TIVL healthy as well. Dining with my family takes me on a culinary journey to the Italian kitchen; usually on Sundays we have lasagna made from grandmother’s secret recipe. She’d wake up at 5am and start preparing the dish. Fry a bunch of petit meatballs and dish up some fresh tomato sauce. This is what I used to wake up to every morning. 118

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It’s fascinating how food experiences hold on to memories. Which dish brings back the most memories for you? ?MTTJMQVOIV1\ITQIV1TW^MXQbbIXI[\IIVLTI[IOVI that my grandmother used to make, which is something that holds wonderful memories for me. Since I left my beautiful country, 16 years ago, I began exploring LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\K]Q[QVM[)\\PMUWUMV\1VLQIV)[QIVIVL Far East cuisines are my favourite; I enjoy the sharp IVL[XQKaÆI^W]Z[\PMaKIZZaI[_MTTI[\PMVM_ memories from my time in the Middle East. What was it that triggered your interest to work in the Middle East? 9 years ago, when I arrived in the Middle East, I was surprised by the quality of hotels and concept restauZIV\[WVW‫ٺ‬MZAW]KIVPI^MI^IZQM\aWN LQVQVO


experiences for all palates. I think having a Middle Eastern experience will enhance the CV of every chef, aW]VMML\WW‫ٺ‬MZ[WUM\PQVOVM_IVLQV\MZM[\QVO\WaW]Z guests, especially now when there is a lot of competition in this dynamic industry. Given the current trends of molecular OI[\ZWVWUaLWaW]ÅVLaW]Z[MTN  curious about trends or do you enjoy a good old homemade meal? I am not a big fan of molecular gastronomy. I like to have food that tastes like real food and not olive oil caviar that melts in my mouth. This kind of culinary art is well-presented and requires the chef to have excellent skills to execute such dishes, but the trend is slowing down, as we’re going back to basics.

Your plating at Bahriyat Restaurant is a work of art, where do you get the inspiration from? Research is key in this industry, you need to read KWV[Q[\MV\TaIVLQV[XQZMaW]Z[MTN JaÅVLQVOVM__Ia[\W present food. I like to add simplicity and colour to my plate, which is the concept at Bahriyat. What do you love the most about your job as the Cluster Executive Chef at Grand Millennium Muscat? The level of satisfaction is very high. I love seeing guests happy after having a great dining experience. It’s quite a feeling. `

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Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Som

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Story ALE AL ZADJALI

When it comes to food, Oman is known for many notable and delectable delicacies. From pit-cooked Shuwa to Mashawai’s charred meats, qabooli (a pilaf dish consisting of rice cooked in stock and mixed with vegetables, spices IVLI[W]ZKMWN XZW\MQVIVLPIT_IJ]\\PMUW[\KWUUWV name in Oman’s food diary (and probably the most accessiJTMWN \PMUITTPI[\WJMUQ[PSISIKPIZZML\ZMI\[MZ^MLWV the streets of Muscat. Now, I know you must be wondering… what is mishkak? In simple terms, it’s essentially skewered meats marinated with tangy tamarind sauce, yoghurt and a bunch of species, bathed in chilli, and served with extra tamarind on the side. Other variants include chicken, squid and camel meat. In Oman, it’s the ultimate choice in street food, it’s delicious alone, it’s delicious mixed with other foods and it’s delicious when drenched in your favourite sauce. And, it’s widely available all over the country. In Muscat alone you can almost count the miles by the amount of young adults grilling away their nights, making it a popular on-theOWLQVQVOWX\QWV\PI\W‫ٺ‬MZ[IJIVO for your buck. Mishak has become a cultural favourite food. It’s an ever-growing experiment to play around _Q\P \PM ÆI^W]Z IVL that keeps it exciting, especially when the KTI[[QK ÆI^W]Z Q[ [\QTT widely available. Each [\ZMM\ ^MVLWZ _QTT W‫ٺ‬MZ their spin on the meats, prepared with their grandma’s recipes that use traditional

Omani ingredients and other spices to make it a distinctive IVL ÆI^W]Z[WUM \ZMI\6W\M^MV IÅ^M[\IZPW\MTKIV W‫ٺ‬MZ \PM [IUM \I[\M" NZM[P W‫\ ٺ‬PM OZQTT IVL [\ZIQOP\ QV\W aW]Z mouth, literally. My favourite thing about mishkak is that it brings people together. It’s almost my favourite thing to do when getting to know someone. Despite its popularity in the streets of Muscat and its wide availability, you often stumble upon mishkak in campsites and beaches; it serves such a feel-good vibe that makes for great group activity food. From your trip to the Butcher’s Block to marinating the meat, all the way to preparing the grill, it is a fun thing for people to bond over. So where to have this smoky delight? I like a twist on my dining experiences so I would recommend two very different choices. One is by the beach, at Qurum Beach (just before you enter Love Street there are various vendors and extended choices, from corn to burgers and more, but nothQVOJMI\[\PMÅZ[\^MVLWZWV\PMMV\ZIVKM)U_IO)T9IZQya, grilled by Nasser Al Balushi, whose passion for mishkak is unmatched. It’s the best place to go to after watching a show at the Royal Opera House Muscat. Nasser’s mishkak skewer alternates cubes of meats with chunks of fat, which means every bite is heavenly palatable. Come here if you want to live the Omani street food experience. My other favourite gem is hidden in Al Ghubra with VWVW\IJTMVIUMJ]\»KINM¼WVQ\[JWIZL<PMXTIKMW‫ٺ‬MZ[\PM ultimate twist on the mishkak as it’s served mixed into a cabbage-heavy salad and fries, drenched in tamarind sauce. While it may not be the nicest thing to look at, if you ignore that and feast, it will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. My third recommendation is for lovers of cheese. At Hilal Burger in South Al Hail, they have an Omani-Swahili variant inspired by the French poutine dish. Called ‘happy fries’, a massive portion of fries and mishkak, topped with molten cheddar and mozzarella. All that at the price of OMR2. This is ultimately what I love about mishkak, that on LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\[QLM[WN \W_VaW]_QTTPI^M\PZMM^MZaLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\M`periences because it’s the greatest thing to get creative with and you will never have to salt and pepper it. If you are ever QV\W_VÅVLUM1_QTT\ISMaW]IVLaW]_QTT\PIVSUMTI\MZ

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zaman al mandoos B T H A I N A â&#x20AC;&#x2122; s l at e s t C O L L E C T I O N AUTUMN/WINTER 2019

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Taking inspiration from a Mandoos or wooden chest, Bthaina’s collection ‘Zaman Al Mandoos’ references the delicate, brass nail patterns that decorate the antique boxes. Previously used by families in Oman to hold their precious possessions, a Mandoos was crafted from hardwood and is now considered a symbol of tradition and heritage. Combining past and present, Bthaina’s latest collection boasts viJZIV\ \WVM[ Æ]QL [\aTM[ IVL M`Y]Q[Q\M hand embroidery. 4QOP\_MQOP\ NIJZQK[ KZMI\M Æ]QL movement in georgette, silk and chinnon highlighted in majestic shades of stone, amber and lapis. Silhouettes are [WN\IVLÆW_aNMI\]ZQVOKIXM[IVLÆ]\ed sleeves while origami pleating and colour-blocked panels add a modern touch. Gold, silver and white threads are intricately hand-embroidered into antique patterns while glittering sequins recreate the brass nail patterns of the Mandoos.


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BTHAINA Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat +968 2440 9993 bthainaoman

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Into the Life of

AMAL AL RAISI Story ANTARA BOSE

<PMa[IaILM[QOVMZ¼[[XQZQ\Q[ZMÆMK\ML\PZW]OPPMZKZMI\QWV[-VKPIV\QVOM^MV\PMUW[\LQ[KMZVQVO[\aTMIÅcionados, fashion designer Amal Al Raisi has nurtured a brand that has risen to fame for exhibiting a collection that while encompassing the modernity of changing fads, holds on to a distinct element that draws inspiration NZWUPMZ_MTTMUJZIKML7UIVQZWW\[/WQVOJMaWVL\PMOTIUW]ZWN \PMQVL][\ZaKW^MZ[PWW\[IVLPQOPXZWÅTM NI[PQWV[PW_[7UIV5IOIbQVMMVRWaMLIVM`KT][Q^M\ITS_Q\P\PMTILaPMZ[MTN I[[PM]V^MQTML\PMTM[[\ITSML about aspects of her life, work and what truly keeps her going.

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AMAL AL RAISI Azaiba, Bousher, Muscat +968 2449 9440 AUTUMN/WINTER 2019 | 129 COCNCNTCKUKQHÆ&#x201A;EKCN


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Stepping inside the plush boutique along a not-so-busy street in Azaiba, I was greeted by a [\I‫ ٺ‬UMUJMZ _PW ZMÆMK\ML \PM [IUM TM^MT WN  vibrancy as the delicately showcased attires that border the walls. Each collection enjoys its own niche where it hangs in sheer exuberance. Al Raisi appeared only a few seconds later dressed QV _PI\ KW]TL JM QUUMLQI\MTa QLMV\QÅML I[ I XQMKM NZWU PMZ KWTTMK\QWV 1 LQL KWVÅZU \PQ[ _Q\P PMZ TI\MZ )[ _M M`KPIVOML XTMI[IV\ZQM[ there was an unmistakable aura of warmth that surrounded the seemingly ever-smiling lady, something that she attributes to the happiness she achieves from being in the midst of what she loves doing best. Al Raisi, though, never studied to be a designer. She was just a young girl who liked experimenting with fabrics, colours and styles. <PMWVTaLQ‫ٺ‬MZMVKMPMZ^WT]V\IZaM`XMZQUMV\[ on friends and family ended up as quite stunning pieces in themselves. Contemplating between a full-time, secure and commendable

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position in a conventional corporate job and designing full-time, Al Raisi realized she was TMIVQVO\W_IZL[\PMTI\\MZ1VÅVITTa\ISing the plunge, she found herself signing up for PMZ^MZaÅZ[\NI[PQWV[PW__Q\PIZMTI\Q^MTa]VZMILaKWTTMK\QWV?Q\P\QUM\QKSQVOM^MVÅVLQVO a name that resonated with her designs seemed a challenge, until she found solace in ‘Dar Al )[MMT¼ <P][ \PM ÅZ[\ JZIVL _I[ JWZV _PQKP today has grown to be a multi-designer boutique as Al Raisi endeavors to support local talents. After the successful show at the ShangriLa for the prestigious Muscat Festival, Al Raisi dedicated herself to her new-found passion. “I always thought I’d be designing for friends and family; it’s been 12 years” laughs the designer. Considering herself fortunate, Al Raisi is of the opinion that several talents are lost because they do not get a chance to tap into their hidden potential and try their hand at what they think they’re good at - all in fear of failure, but failure is not something that Al Raisi is ever willing to


accept; and neither was she willing to accept UMLQWKZQ\a¹6WUI\\MZ_PI\ÅMTL1UQOP\JMQV I would want to stand out from the rest.” The ability to not handle rejection has also worked in Al Raisi’s favor as she takes pride in having a perfectionist streak when it comes to her designs. Whether it is her local clients who she customizes bespoke pieces for or her retailers who distribute her collections internationally, she has never let a complaint about quality ever seep in to tarnish the brand’s image. The brand, Amal Al Raisi, which launched its ÅZ[\ZMILa\W_MIZKWTTMK\QWVQV_I[M^MZa bit of the same perfection, sophistication and elegance that it has since then been admired for. The following years saw the brand exhibit at prestigious fashion shows in Dubai and then to Italy, Paris and London. But between the star-studded fashion shows, Amal Al Raisi found her most memorable moment at the Conde Nast International Luxury Conference in Muscat. From what seemed like a casual lunch with Suzy Menkes, editor of Vogue International, to a personal letter a year later inviting her as a speaker at this luxury event, Al Raisi glows every time she reminisces the story. Sharing the stage with international designers she has idolized will probably go down in her personal book of achievements. Talking about idols, Al Raisi looks up to brands that have a long-standing history in the industry. “These are brands that have seen the rise and fall of trends, they’ve made mistakes, and they have learnt a great deal from these experiences” she nods. Al Raisi confesses to havQVO »TMIZV\ Q\ \PM PIZL _Ia¼ IVL WVTa Y]ITQÅM[ mistakes as stepping stones to a kind of lesson that won’t be easily forgotten. Contrary to popular beliefs that designers are often secretive because they are wary about competition, Al Raisi claims to not have any inhibitions when it comes to sharing knowledge. She believes that ‘jealousy begets jealousy’; instead she often turns to other designers to simply admire their works, OM\IVQV[QOP\QV\WPW_LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\[\aTM[XIVW]\ and even use her insights to learn how she can enhance her own creations. “Because when you cease to learn, you cease to improve” she states. She believes that every good designer has a sig-

nature style that cannot be copied. When it comes to Amal Al Raisi, her signature style is something that inherently imbibes itself to her creations, even if she assumes otherwise – just like the recently launched Al Baleed inspired collection. “I thought the colours SS19 were brighter than usual, but my clients can instantly recognize the Amal Al Raisi DNA.” The SS19 Spring/Summer collection ZMÆMK\[KWTW]Z[QV[XQZMLJa\PM)T*ITMMLPMZQ\age sites, cuts that are native to the Dhofar region and prints that proudly narrate the ancient [\WZaWN \PQ[[QOVQÅKIV\ZMOQWVWN 7UIV +ZMI\Q^Q\a Q[ )T :IQ[Q¼[ NWZ\M · [PM ÅVL[ PMZ place in the workshop where she spends most of her time. But pragmatic in her thoughts, she balances commercial appeal with creative force. “You need to create pieces that can sell. Even if you create the most beautiful designs but don’t PI^M XMWXTM J]aQVO _MIZQVO IVL ÆI]V\QVO Q\ it’s all in vain.” A typical Amal Al Raisi piece is an attire that is ‘timeless’ and can be dressed up or down according to the occasion. It’s a beautiful amalgamation of rich colours that submit to the most luxurious fabrics. “When draped in an Amal Al :IQ[Q1_IV\\PM_MIZMZ\WNMMTKWVÅLMV\KWUfortable and beautiful” says the designer as she QLMV\QÅM[ \PM SMa MTMUMV\[ \PI\ [\ZQVO \PZW]OP all her pieces. Though anyone familiar with her brand _W]TLVW_VMMLWVTaIÆMM\QVOOTIVKM\WQLMV\Qfy an Amal Al Raisi as they scroll through their feeds, Al Raisi stepped into the industry at a time when social media wasn’t as popular (no JWW[\QVO [XWV[WZML IL[ IVL ZMXW[\[ ;W [PM took a rather unconventional method to promote her brand - she’d exceed her clients’ expectations by giving them something more than what they had asked for. “I invested my time JMKI][M\PI\¼[\PMJM[\\PQVO1PIL\WW‫ٺ‬MZº[PM said modestly.

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Despite her rising fame, Al Raisi remains grounded and is extremely family-orientated. To her, ‘travel is purely for work’ and she refrains from long work trips. On a personal note, she attains supreme happiness when she sees her daughters appreciate her work. Al Raisi acknowlMLOM[\PMÆQX[QLMWN \PMJ][QVM[[\PM\QOP\LMILlines, the long working hours and the need to constantly be productive. “I feel guilty when I ÅVL\PI\MVKZWIKPQVOWVUaNIUQTa\QUMº0W_ever, despite her hectic schedules, she manages to balance her passion for work with her love for her family. She even takes time out for brunches with her tight-knit group of friends who never fail to give her the occasional pep talk when she’s in need of some motivation. )T :IQ[Q ÅVL[ \Z]M JMI]\a QV SMMXQVO \PQVO[ simple, minimalistic and uncomplicated, forever ÅVLQVORWaQV\PMTQ\\TM\PQVO[WN TQNM;PMJT][PM[ slightly as she admits to a childlike trait of getting ‘overly excited’ about things that matter to her, sometimes even before it actually starts taking [PIXM¹;WUM\QUM[1PI^M[]LLMVÆI[PM[WN QLMas, and I want to get started on them immediateTa1ÅVLUa[MTN ITZMILaQUIOQVQVO\PMOZIVLÅVIle, whereas, in reality, I haven’t even got my 132

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approvals in place” she laughs. “I am rather impatient, and I wish I could mellow down on that.” Like her perfectionist streak, her determination to never have to hear a ‘no’ and her will to stand out from the rest, even this restlessness to constantly create (she calls it ‘restlessness’, but we call Q\»XI[[QWV¼PI[MIZVMLPMZIVIUM\PI\VM^MZNIQT[ to raise an appreciative brow amongst others in the industry. So we leave her to retreat to her workshop with best wishes for the autumn winter and SS20 collection, which she seemed to be twiddling her thumbs to go back to.

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DAR SAAF Al Hail North, Seeb +968 2454 5006 saafoman

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FASHION

Dress aClass Game If you’re looking for ensembles that scream ‘traditional’ yet carry subtle hints of the contemporary, then check out Daar Saaf ’s latest menswear collection. The brand is dedicated to crafting and stitching the best of dishdashas (Omani gentleUMV¼[VI\QWVITI\\QZM[MZ^QVO]VQY]MK][\WUQ[MLTWWS[\PI\ celebrate true individuality. The brand’s latest catalogue presents high-end fabrics in a mix of pastel colours and dark shades such as olive green and dark purple, as well as plain white accented with a variety of architecture-inspired motifs in IUWZMLIZQVOXITM\\M<PMJZIVLIT[WW‫ٺ‬MZ[U][[IZ[UILMWN  genuine Pashmina wool from Kashmir that match with your customised dishdasha, including the trimming and its colours; perfect for evening outings and formal ceremonies. Dar Saaf is currently working on opening their second men’s boutique at the Opera Galleria in Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat. And, at their current store in North Al Hail, they have a variety of items on display including women dresses and abayas, frangrances and incense, among other things.

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BRAND TO KNOW:

ARTISTIC QUEST Story RABIA QAISER

An idea born out of oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spiritual journey, handmade jewellery label â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Artistic Questâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; exudes class AND elegance while embellishing exceptional journeys, crafted for exceptional people. .W]VLMLQVJa5IQ\PI:QKPQM)Z\Q[\QK9]M[\)9\IX[QV\W\PM[aUJWTQKVI\]ZMWN RM_ellery with a dreamy new line â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Arrowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Blending traditional artistry with outstanding calibre designs, featuring diamonds, pink sapphires, beautiful yellow, rose and white gold. Their new collec\QWVQ[ITT]ZQVO_Q\PIVW\[W[]J\TMLW[MWN Ă&#x2020;IQZ*a][QVOZIZMXZMKQW][UM\IT[:Q\KPQMUIVIOM[\W create harmonious designs, combining soft and hard stones, enabling the wearer to mix and match with other accessories. Jewellery is an armour, a representation of oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s personality, which is why AQ is for women who want to make a statement. Their lineup is inspired by African, Asian, and Middle Eastern geometric details, handcrafted with unique pieces. Allowing clients to venture on a journey, generating meaning and expression through adornment. For now, their collections are available for viewing and purchase through their online store. Additionally, you are also able to customize any design to suit your aesthetic. Just get in touch with one of their brand representatives to arrange a one-to-one meeting, where youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be able to discuss and create jewellery designs for you and your loved ones. AQ successfully curates hand-sculpted pieces that are just as vibrant as they are in real life, which is what makes them extra special.

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FASHION ARTISTIC QUEST artisticquest.com AUTUMN/WINTER artistic.quest 2019 |

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HAK THE LABEL hakthelabel.com hakthelabel

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TIMELESS TREASURES Story by RABIA QAISER

Hak The Label delivers a fusion of traditional and avantgarde aesthetic Launched in 2018 by Sayyida Hakima Al Said, Hak the Label is a reshaping the jewellery industry with their contemporary designs and craftsmanship. The designer’s concept sprung from her international upbringing and growing devotion to fusing culture into her jewellery. Inspired by her Middle Eastern heritage, the new Kindred collection features a palette of classic metals (Sterling silver, 18k gold plating and [WTQLOWTLOMWUM\ZQKLM[QOV[ZIVOQVONZWUJIVOTM[\WOWTLPWWXMIZZQVO[ All of the pieces are a modern twist on classic styles and tweaked into statement-making showstoppers. Their simplistic slip hoop earring with no clasps and sculptural designs provide the backbone to their avant-garde jewellery line. As the brand XIa[PWUIOM\W\ZILQ\QWV\PM\PQVLMTQKI\MMIZK]‫ٺ‬Q[_Q\PW]\ILW]J\IV Insta-favourite. ¹0IS<PM4IJMT¼[VM_KWTTMK\QWVQ[ÅVMTaKZIN\ML_Q\P\QUMTM[[XQMKM[ that are versatile yet perfectly balanced with feminine and intricate LM\IQT[ 1\¼[ LM[QOVML NWZ IVaWVM _PW Q[ TWWSQVO NWZ [WUM\PQVO LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\ and minimal with a traditional yet modern touch. It’s also for anyone wanting to make a statement” the young designer explains. Their designs W‫ٺ‬MZOZMI\WX\QWV[K]ZI\MLNWZ\PW[M_PWTQSMI[QUXTMZTWWSaM\_IV\\W be the most elegant person in the room. Much like a great pair of denim jeans, a fantastic piece of jewellery can ILL \PM U]KPVMMLML WWUXP \W IV W]\Å\ .ZWU K]T\]ZITTaQV[XQZML keepsakes to contemporary styles, Hak The Label brings you a plethora of statement pieces for your everyday attire.

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Jewelled In Peace

Perfectly designed architectural pieces, jewelled with \PMÅVM[\WN OMU[Q[_PI\,MMUI[MZ^M[QVQ\[8MIKM collection. It doesn’t get better than this. The bespoke Omani jewellery brand has been quite I KMTMJZI\ML PW][M \PI\¼[ LMLQKI\ML \W KZIN\QVO ÅVM jewellery, inspired by the juxtaposition of modern art and the country’s traditional heritage. It was born to reintroduce the traditional Omani jewellery to the UWLMZV 7UIVQ TILa W‫ٺ‬MZQVO MTMOIV\ IVL \ZMVLa collectible pieces. In this collection, the brand introduces sparkling Islamic patterns elegantly used to promote awareness of the Islamic culture and its richness, while embodying regal beauty. The Islamic eight-pointed star pattern that’s used QV \PQ[ KWTTMK\QWV Q[ \PM LMÅVQ\QWV WN  X]ZM elegance; made of 18 carat yellow gold, diamonds, Swiss Blue Topaz, and Lemon Quartz. And, our absolute favourite XQMKM \PM K]‫ٺ‬ consists of seven carats of diamonds. Deema is not just a luxury brand for the fashionable lady, it is also a storyteller with tales as diverse as our culture and revered history, and this iconic collection is a living proof. One for the books.

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WELL SERVED!

CORPORATE CATERING • PRIVATE EVENTS WORLD FOODS • CUSTOM MADE CAKES

THECRAFTYCATEREROMAN

+968 9128 4340 THECRAFTYCATERER.COM

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8FHQWV MAJAN OF

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BEAUTY Oman is home to some of the most precious ingredients that make for excellent perfumes, and Majan is here to celebrate and enchant the world with its lineup of Oman-inspired scents. Majan is a luxury brand that truly captures the heritage of its namesake in a selection of perfumes that have been encapsulated in six unisex fragrances. The brand brings a contemporary and globally attractive product to the fragrance world. Inspired by the land of Majan (as Oman was KITTML QV \PM XI[\ \PM XMZN]UM[ IZM I KWTTMK\QWV WN  ZMUQVQ[KMVKM[JW\\TML\WW‫ٺ‬MZaW]\PMÅVM[\WN 7UIV¼[ oriental elegance. The brand follows the narrative of perfume-making in ancient Oman, which embraces rich ingredients including handpicked mountaintop blossoms, perfumed oils and a variety of resins such as amber, myrrh and most importantly, frankincense. The brand’s craftsmanship is impeccable, serving heavenly scents for lovers of perfumes. 1VQ\[KWTTMK\QWVaW]¼TTÅVLNZIOZIVKM[_Q\PIJI[M of oud, vanilla and patchouli, infused with sensual aromas and leathery notes, among other ingredients. Some of our favourite picks include Salalah, a mysterious and intoxicating scent, infused with rare oud and leathery notes, and livened with distinctive artemesia and bergamot, as well as TD, a luminous and breezy fragrance imbued with a dewy freshness of citrus, petitgrain, nutmeg and spicy ginger. Paying homage to the ancient tradition of layering perfumes in Oman, Majan truly captures the herQ\IOM_Q\PQ\[]VQY]M[KMV\[ÅTTQVOJMI]\QN]TTaLM[QOVML bottles. At the moment, the perfumes are sold on an exclusive basis at Eye Candy in Oman, as well as Selfridges in London and Birmingham.

MAJAN SCENTS majanscents.com majanscents

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Experience Luxury at

THESPA in

KEMPINSKIMUSCAT

Story ANTARA BOSE

THE SPA BY KEMPINSKI MUSCAT Al Mouj Muscat, Al Hail +968 2498 5000 144 | oman TOURISM kempinskimuscat


You know those not-so-rare times when you’re torn between a facial and a massage? You have your body in the blue corner screaming for it, and your face in the red that has refused cooperation until you pacify its demands. Between clocking the required work hours, keeping up with the social circle, and making an attempt to get the mandatory hours of sleep, tending to the VMML[WN W]ZJWLaIVLUQVLKIVJMITQ\\TMJQ\WN IKPITTMVOM sometimes. Well, the good news is that the beauty and wellness industry has adapted to the needs of the on-the-go spa enthusiasts. And thus, express treatments were born. Caught in a similar not-so-rare battle, I found my answer at the very inviting The Spa by Kempinski, Muscat. I got the best of both - a 30-minute express facial with the award-winning Spanish luxury cosmetic brand, Natura Bissé, coupled with a 30-minute head massage. Though there was an option to choose a back, neck and shoulder massage or a foot massage, I reckoned the head massage would be the most appropriate after a long Sunday. As I made my way through the property, I UIZ^MTTMLI\\PMJMI]\QN]T^QM_WN \PMQVÅVQ\aXWWT the tantalizing aroma of a fresh supper spread, and the thoughtfully done interiors. Slipping into the spa, I was greeted with the distinct sound of falling water, the familiar redolence of a luxury spa, and my beaming therapist; I was ready to soak in the bliss of soulful rejuvenation. After a quick rundown of \PM TQVM WN  XZWL]K\[ \PI\ IZM W‫ٺ‬MZML I\ The Spa, I was served some refreshments in the spacious relaxation lounge. The Spa has an impressive line of skincare products from Natura Bissé. Offered in only select clinics, medical centres, and luxu-ry spa destinations, Natura Bissé specializes in non-invasive, medical-grade skincare treatments that are re^MZML \PM _WZTL W^MZ NWZ \PMQZ QUUMLQI\M ^Q[QJTM JMVMÅ\[ -Vriched with vitamins, collagen, amino acids and minerals, it is one of the most premium skincare brands. Suddenly, it was no longer surprising why my therapist just needed 30-minutes to show me results. The express facial at The Spa uses products from The Cure Collection of Natura Bisse and focuses on restoration of damIOMLKMTT[PaLZI\QWVIVLLM\W`QÅKI\QWVWN \PM[SQV)[\PMÅZ[\ step to any beauty routine, my facial started with a refreshing cleanser that maintained the perfect balance between removing all the impurities and maintaining the skin’s natural hydration levels. My now prepped skin was ready to absorb what followed. My therapist dutifully explained the routine as he massaged my face with what felt like a hydrating cream. The face massage,

apart from being thoroughly relaxing, is an essential part of the XZWKM[[I[Q\[\QU]TI\M[TaUXPI\QKLZIQVIOM[IaOWWLJaM\WX]‫ٻ‬VM[[QVKZMI[M[JTWWLKQZK]TI\QWVIVLKIVM^MVPMTXQV\PMLM^MTopment of collagen. The much-awaited facemask followed – a honey-textured, cool, satisfyingly tingly mask that had this strange ability to assure you that it had immediately started work on uncovering that lost radiance you’d been yearning for. With the mask working its magic, my therapist moved to massage my palms, which was an enjoyable way to make the most of the waiting time. This mini hand massage (which I XQKSMLW^MZINWW\WZPMILUI[[IOMKWVÅZUML\PI\1PIL[KWZML the right therapist. As they say, a good ride is nothing without a good rider; I’d say a good spa session is nothing without an ace masseuse. A delightful few minutes later, the mask was thoroughly cleansed and followed with a toner and moisturizer – a vital XW[\\ZMI\UMV\\PI\ILL[\PMÅVQ[PQVO\W]KP\W\PM\PMZIXa I realized it’s not the amount of time one spends in tending to their beauty needs but the quality of what goes in that time. If you’re short on time, need a little refresher between your regular facial appointments, or simply feel like a quick round of pampering, this express facial at The Spa in Kempinski Muscat is everything you need. However, if you’re looking for some specialized facials, the Diamond Facial Experience and The Spa’s range of Hydra Facial MD Treatments are worth splurging on. I, of course, still had a 30-minute head massage to go, which I was eagerly waiting for. My therapist started with gentle taps, and once we had established the right pressure, he transitioned to brisk lifting strokes with his ÅVOMZ[ ?Q\P M^MZa KQZK]TIZ UW\QWV 1 KW]TL feel the lingering stress slipping away. My therapist’s passion for what he does led him to throw in a bonus neck massage, and he kneaded through what he described as some pretty obvious muscle knots. Despite my best M‫ٺ‬WZ\[\W[\IaI_ISM1_I[T]TTMLQV\WILZMIUa[\I\M Yet another treatment that you can opt for even in your lunch break, the head massage is completely oil-free, and though it does everything to take you to the zenith of relaxation, it also stimulates the mind leaving you invigorated and ready to tackle the next challenge with a clear head. An hour later, I emerged from my bed, content, revitalized and glowing. The Natura Bissé express facial had left my skin feel-ing supple, moisturized and most importantly, with the visible radiance that I was aiming for. My advice: couple a facial with a massage and you’ll be walking out looking and feeling like a million dollars.

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CHECK-IN FOR

WELLNESS

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The Chedi Muscat is introducing a series oF LUXURY spa retreatS FOR THE ULTIMATE WELLNESS ESCAPE.

The Chedi Muscat promises a unique experience for lovers of wellness with the introduction of their Luxury Wellness Escapes, which includes a consultation with the spa director, two 2-hour rituals, two 90-minute massages, one 60-minute beauty \ZMI\UMV\ I UIVQK]ZM WZ XMLQK]ZM IVL I N]VÅTTML LWTphin-watching excursion. While any guests on holiday might book any of the Escapes, travellers of a particular mindset were foremost in the minds of the package planners at GHM, the hotel’s operator. “This isn’t so U]KPIVWXXWZ\]VQ\aNWZIPWTQLIaI[Q\Q[IVWXXWZ\]VQ\a\WI‫ٺ‬MK\ one of those major resets,” said Morton Johnston, the hotel’s OMVMZITUIVIOMZ¹1\¼[IVQV^M[\UMV\WV\PMÅZ[\LIaWN \PMZM[\ of your life.” The venue for these Escapes is founded in the resort’s 800 square-metre spa where 13 fully contained suites exemplify the virtues of understated elegance. Beyond the spa, the resort’s wellness assets also factor into the Escape’s gameplans: the 103-metre Long Pool, the Health +T]J_Q\P[\I\MWN\PMIZ\Å\VM[[MY]QXUMV\XQTI\M[MY]QXUMV\ free weights and Kinesis wall, the Euroclay tennis courts and a 370-metre stretch of private beach. “We’re a world within a world,” said Johnston. “To really I‫ٺ‬MK\\PMSQVLWN KPIVOM_M¼ZM[\ZQ^QVONWZaW]¼^MOW\\WJMQVI XTIKM\PI\N]TÅT[VMML[IZW]VLM^MZaKWZVMZº <PMVM_4]`]Za?MTTVM[[-[KIXM[W‫ٺ‬MZ[\_WNW]ZIVL[Q` full days for the ultimate retreat. The 2-day Escape includes accommodation for three nights in a Chedi Club Suite, one consultation with the spa director, one 2-hour Indulgent Oriental or Nurturing Envelopment Ritual, one 60-minute Rejuvenating Beauty Ritual and one cooking class. The 4-day Escape includes IKKWUUWLI\QWVNWZÅ^MVQOP\[ITTWN \PMLIaJMVMÅ\[I[_MTT as one 90-minute therapeutic massage, a manicure or pedicure and a dolphin-watching cruise. For the 6-day Escape, guests will MVRWaIKKWUUWLI\QWVNWZ[M^MVVQOP\[ITTWN \PMLIaJMVMÅ\[ as well as two of the Rituals and two massages. All of the Escapes include access to the health club and group wellness activities, with personal training classes available on request.

THE CHEDI MUSCAT 133 18th November St, Muscat +968 2452 4400 kempinskimuscat AUTUMN/WINTER 2019

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TAKE ME TO THE ARTS Artwork SAFA

AL BALUCHI

<PM IZ\ [KMVM QV 7UIV ZMUIQV[ ÅZUTa I\\IKPML \W Q\[ vivid culture and heritage, but it does not shy away from con\MUXWZIZaIZ\\PI\W‫ٺ‬MZ[IXMMSQV\W\PMQUIOQVI\Q^MUQVL[ of our youth. Visitors looking for a quick gallery hopping session, we’ve got them covered. In this issue, we are bringing to aW]\PMJM[\WN _PI\7UIVPI[\WW‫ٺ‬MZQV\PMZMITUWN IZ\[ PQOPTQOP\QVO NW]Z WN  \PM JM[\ OITTMZQM[ \PI\ VW\ WVTa W‫ٺ‬MZ I space for expressing creative energy but also celebrate a blend of heritage and modern art.

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ART

STAL GALLERY

Artworks HASSAN

AL MEER

Stal Gallery is an art studio and gallery located in the heart of Muscat, dedicated to celebrating contemporary art in all its forms. Curated by renowned Omani artist Hassan Al Meer, the gallery is home to some of the most acclaimed artists in Oman and is a platform for launching young emerging artists. What sets it apart from other galleries in town is its modern approach to \PMÅVMIZ\[#PWUM\WQVVW^I\Q^MUQVL[ With a focus on visual arts, Stal Gallery has become an artistic hub for fervent followers of art. And, it hosts a variety of international residencies, art classes, and the highly anticipated annual event, the Young Emerging Artist Awards. It’s also worth noting that the gallery is Alserkal /ZW]X¼[ÅZ[\K]T\]ZITXZWRMK\QV7UIV

Al Inshirah St, Madinat Sultan Qaboos +968 2460 0396 stalgallery.com

BAIT MUZNA Bait Muzna is a renowned name in the Omani art scene. Established by HH Sayyida Susan Al Said, the gallery promotes contemporary art from local and global artists, while also supporting projects aimed at preserving traditional AraJQK K]T\]ZM <PM OITTMZa N]Z\PMZ W‫ٺ‬MZ[ MUMZOQVO artists the scope to exhibit and develop their discipline within the gallery, with one of the exhibitions being an art movement called The Community, curated by young emerging artists Ali Al Sharji and Sabrina Al Busaidi.

Al Saidiya Street, Old Muscat +968 2245 7010 baitmuznagallery.com

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BAIT AL BARANDA

Artwork GERALDINE

GARCON

Bait Al Baranda is a museum and art gallery that exhibits the history of Muscat through interactive shows. Located in the bustling tourist destination of Muttrah, the place is recognised for its [\WZa\MTTQVOIXXZWIKP\W7UIVQV\PMÅMTLWN IZ\ from its ancient times to its remarkable achievements of today. Directed by Malik Al Hinai, the museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions that [PW_KI[M\PMJM[\WN TWKITIVLQV\MZVI\QWVITÅVM art, and it is home to a number of workshops and [MUQVIZ[ QV \PM ÅMTL WN  IZ\ IVL XPW\WOZIXPa among other things. If you want to explore culture on a canvas, then keep an eye out for their art exhibitions. Fun fact: Bait Al Baranda had previously housed the American Mission in the early 1930s and the British Council in the late 1970s.

Muttrah, Muscat +968 2471 4262 baitalbaranda.mm.gov.om

Artwork ENAAM

AHMED

Gallery Sarah A quick visit to this place will satisfy lovers of art who want to enrich their knowledge on the heritage and culture of the Sultanate. The contemporary art gallery is part of the Bait Al ZuJIQZ5][M]UIVL[PW_KI[M[[WUMWN \PMÅVM[\ work of local and international artists, with a focus on paintings and photographic artworks. /ITTMZa ;IZIP PI[ I _MJ[Q\M \PI\ W‫ٺ‬MZ[ I platform for local artists to sell their artworks to the international market, making it an excellent place for Omani artists who seek exposure beyond the borders. Al Saidiya Street, Old Muscat +968 2208 4747 gallerysarah.com

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+968 9666 7116 / 9113 1398

Browny.Popcorn

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Available at Muscat Duty Free, Carrefour, Nesto, Mars, Millennium, Ahlain at Oman Oil, Shoppers at Shell, Sultan Centre


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STAL SISTERS Meet The Ambassadors of Stal Gallery As told to SALIM AL AFIFI

Since the inception of Stal Gallery’s Young Emerging Artist Awards, the local art scene has never been the same. Brought to life by the gallery’s curator Hasan Al Meer, the awards have spawned an immense number of young Omani artists, whose remarkable storytelling abilities have proven that art is truly thriving in Oman. At this gallery, four women with unique perspectives met with an aim to express themselves and understand the beauty of contemporary and conceptual art. Alongside their fellow emerging artists, these women built a little eco-system for themselves, a new home to free their mind, share their story and raise awareness on social issues that spark a conversation or two. They trained and honed their storytelling skills, participated in a variety of events and for some, even curated a number of exhibitions. Today, they’ve become true ambassadors of concept art at Stal Gallery, representing the space by heart, and telling impeccable stories of hidden feelings that sit beautifully on canvases and installations. Get to know them in the next spread.

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RAWAN AL MAHROUQI a conceptual multidisciplinary artist

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I remember being young and drawing on anything I could get my hands on, including walls. My passion was unstoppable, so I went to study art education. Today, I feel that I’ve become an artist and K]ZI\WZ _Q\P I XMZ[XMK\Q^M 1 IU UW[\Ta QVÆ]MVKML Ja XMWXTM IVL \PMQZK]T\]ZM1ÅVLQ\\WJM^MZaQV\MZM[\QVO)VLOQ^MV\PMKWUXTM`Q\a of our own culture, I like to dissect it through my art. There are things I don’t understand myself. And often times, I’m asking myself these questions, through artworks and visual installations, to start important conversations. I often remain neutral in my approach, leaving the people to start a discussion and make their own conclusions. I love to speak about our culture and experimenting with it in a conceptual way. I like to ask questions about why we do the things we do, and the blurred line between tradition and religion, and most importantly, my experience as a woman in our society. 1_I[XIZ\WN \PM^MZaÅZ[\;\IT/ITTMZa¼[AW]VO-UMZOQVO)Z\Q[\ Awards. The exhibition and the gallery itself have taught me so much about being an exhibiting artist, about the business, the art world and how things work. I have assisted in curating exhibitions alongside one of the gallery curators, Hasan, and I have curated my own exhibition \Q\TML)[KMVLMVKM6W_1PI^MTI]VKPML5ISIVI[XIKM\PI\W‫ٺ‬MZ[ IZ\KTI[[M[NWZXMWXTM_PW_IV\\WM`XTWZM\PQ[ÅMTLJ]\LWV¼\SVW_ how to go about it. We focus on beginners. We teach them the basics and have great conversations throughout.


RUQAYA Al BALUSHI A CONCEPTUAL ARTIST anD illustrator

ruqaiyabaluchi

I usually have many concepts and ideas stuck in my head with no way to come out, except at Stal Gallery; that space allows me to be myself and gives me the courage to share my personal experience in a beautiful and sometimes painful, yet freeing way. 5aIZ\Q[JI[MLWVUaTQNMWZUaK]ZZMV\[\I\][<PMaIZMZMÆMK\QWV[WN Ua[\Z]OOTM[1ZIZMTaMTIJWZI\M on my illustrations or installations because they are very personal, but it’s beautiful to see how people take them in. I love listening to their interpretations. It’s the best way to release what’s hidden within. It’s the only way I could keep my sanity intact, a therapeutic escape if you will. I love classical arts and I have studied digital and animation but my passion lies in installations because Q\ZMITTaKWUXTMUMV\[\PMKWVKMX\IVLW‫ٺ‬MZ[XMWXTMIPWTQ[\QK\IVOQJTMM`XMZQMVKM_PQKPQ[_PI\1_IV\NWZ Ua_WZS,]ZQVOUa,Q[ÅO]ZI\QWVM`PQJQ\QWV1XW]ZMLUaPMIZ\W]\QVIVQV[\ITTI\QWV_PQKP_I[IZMIT experience of feeling trapped. The audience who turned up at the event gravitated to the idea and some of them even thought of it as relatable. 5aJQOOM[\IKPQM^MUMV\\WLI\M_I[JMQVOXIZ\WN \PM,Q[ÅO]ZI\QWVM`PQJQ\QWV_PQKP_I[K]ZI\MLJa Safa Al Baluchi. I had the chance to free myself from a personal struggle at that very exhibition. The gallery _I[UaÅZ[\OTQUX[MQV\W\PM_WZTLWN KWVKMX\]ITIZ\QV7UIV1\NMT\[\ZIVOMI\ÅZ[\J]\Q\MVLML]XJMQVO my absolute favourite place. My new home.

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SAFA AL BALUCHI a CONCEPTUAL AND VISUAL ARTIST

Art for me is healing. I have to feel it, experience it and get the best out of it. I am more of a conceptual and visual artist who likes to explore con\MUXWZIZaIZ\][QVOLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\UMLQ]U[ such as performances, installations, video and photography. My work is mostly experimental and is centred around my personal life and the conÆQK\[1PI^MPIL\WNIKMWZaM\\WW^MZcome, and I use it to express myself, which makes my own life the number one inspiration for my art. A lot of times, we have the option to either face our problems or hide; for me I face them with visuals. In my art, I tell my story and hopefully, people can relate. My life was never easy, and it took me a long time to become myself and live my best life. So that empowers me and inspires others. When I release an artwork or an installation, I am taking you WV I RW]ZVMa WN  ÅVLQVO Ua[MTN  _Q\P KWVKMX\[QVÆ]MVKMLJa\PMIZ\WN LIZSness, and that’s always exciting. 1PILUaÅZ[\WXXWZ\]VQ\aI\;\IT Gallery and I have recently curated my ÅZ[\ M`PQJQ\QWV \Q\TML ,Q[ÅO]ZI\QWV That has given me the validation I needed as an artist. We feel responsible to tell people about art, to experience it IVLJMVMÅ\NZWUQ\[W1TWWSNWZ_IZL\W sharing more visual experiences with the world. safabaluchi

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NABAA BAQIR a VISUAL artist

nabaabaqir

When I was studying in London, I always enjoyed going to art galleries, but I never thought I’d ever exhibit in one until I was invited to participate at the Young Emerging Artist Awards in 2017 in Oman. It was the start of a new journey, a proper introduction to the world of conceptual art. Only then I truly understood what art was all about. Religion and social issues interest me the most; they create interesting dialogues and various interpretations, which are incorporated in my concept art. I enjoy creating artworks inspired by real stories I have read or heard, portrayed through my lens. In my last exhibition, Untitled, I expressed my personal experience with catcalling. I wanted to raise awareness on such social issues that I‫ٺ‬MK\][_WUMVIVLWXMVILQITWO]M\W ÅVL[WT]\QWV[ The opportunities I have had from Hasan and Stal Gallery have been incredible, I am truly grateful to have gone through the experience, and to have shared my vision with the world. Through Stal, I have met tons of artists who continue to inspire me with their art. I also have an Instagram page called /W)Z\5][KI\(OWIZ\U][KI\_PMZM1 post about art events, workshops and exhibitions happening in Muscat, in hopes to bring contemporary and conceptual art to the forefront, perhaps expanding my Instagram page into an art organization, where I organise art events, talks and bigger exhibitions.

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CAMEL ARDHA, AN EXHIBITION BY HILVAN DER WAAL

Dutch-born photographer, Hil van der Waal has been one to immerse himself into new and exciting cultures, where he would explore traditional lifestyles and lens some of his favourite moments. Be it tribal life in remote Borneo, places of worship in Northeast Thailand, or Bedouins residing in the Omani desert, there’s always a story to capture. His exhibition of Camel Ardha is a living proof. Where do you draw your inspiration from? I read, or rather take in, a lot of photography books. There are so many good, more or less famous, photograXPMZ[W]\\PMZMAW]PI^M\W\ZIQVaW]ZMaMXMZUIVMV\Ta I can be inspired by anything; I’m curious almost all of the time, and there’s so many things to see. My old little iPhone is always with me as my permanent sketchbook, following the principle: the best camera is the camera that you carry with you.

arranged in long rows, the sounds, the smells, the looks of the animals turning their heads, the energy of it all, is a quite impressive experience. Your Exhibition of Camel Ardha was phenomenal. How did the concept come about? When I discovered the Camel Ardha in Al Felaij in 2016, I tried to go back every time the event was on. I was allowed to photograph what I wanted, and to come as close as I needed to capture perfect moments. Hospitality is really a special feature of the Omanis. So 1NWK][MLWVLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\I[XMK\[IK\QWVNZWULQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\ angles, especially quiet – or what I tend to call meditative moments of man and his camel. After photographing them, I selected photos that told the story of Camel Ardha, strong enough to be exhibited in the beautiful environment of Bait Al Baranda in Muttrah.

Tell us about your journey of documenting the intangible culture and What is it about camels and racing that heritage of Oman? catches your interest? From the beginning, I looked at the whole scene as a .ZWU\PMÅZ[\UWUMV\\PI\1^Q[Q\ML\PM+IUMT)ZLPI tradition that has been alive in this way for centuries. event, I was captivated by the intense relationship My portraits of remarkable faces of aged Bedouin men between the camel and his owner. The camels seem to be add to the ancient story. I’m incredibly happy that the very strong, with their own will, and they are very Ardha tradition of Oman is now registered, in 2018, [\]JJWZV\WW<W[MMLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\IXXZWIKPM[\WOM\\PMKIUMT in the UNESCO list of intangible heritage. Camel prepared for the start fascinates me. The massive Ardha will hopefully survive for the coming generations number of camels present on one morning, some 300 in Oman, a country that is rapidly changing.

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ART What was the inspiration behind the style of photography, the mood? I photograph most of the time in colour. For this series I decided to convert my images to black and white. This makes it easier to concentrate on the most essential aspects in the frame, not to be distracted by colour. It helps that a dishdasha, worn by the participants and spectators, is almost always white. That gives a good contrast. Thunderclouds on some days give a strong dark background. Where and when can we next see Hil Van Der Waal? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m working on new exhibitions, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m trying to get in touch with interesting places to exhibit, here in Oman, but also in France and The Netherlands, countries where I live as well. And of course, you can see me in your own house, on your wall. My work is for sale, printed and framed in high quality. hilvanderwaalphotography.com hilvanderwaal

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BODY OF WORK Amr Ali's

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Amr Ali has been an iconic figure and brand in the fashion industry for over a decade, leaving a legacy full of inspired collections and thematic ensembles that stirred many memorable moments, worn by the likes of Madonna and Florence Welch. After leaving a mark on global runaways with BodyAmr, he decided to dive back into his true passion: creative direction, with a focus on interior design and photography. Salim Al Afifi catches up with the artist to talk about his latest work in the field of lensed art.

This is such a great pleasure! Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be featured in your lifestyle UIOIbQVM#1IXXZMKQI\M\PQ[WXXWZ\]VQ\a\W[PW_KI[MUa work to my friends, family and fellow Omanis. Our readers are dying to know when you started your career in photography and how did it come about? Photography and the art of image-making have always been interesting to me; the ability for an image to create an emotion and move a viewer through a narrative or simply through aesthetics is something that has always fascinated me. I picked up a camera early on in my childhood through the guidance of my father who was and still is a keen photographer and collector of contemporary photography. Growing up, I have photographed places that inspired me, and people that I admired, and I brought that passion into my work as a fashion designer by shooting campaigns and stories for the brand. From there, people began to ask me to shoot for their own brands, from jewellery to perfumes. I have IT[WXPW\WOZIXPMLUIVaLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\\aXM[WN XMWXTMNZWU boxers to street kids to royalty. And, my next project will be travelling around Oman for a few months capturing the beauty and landscape for an exciting beauty brand JMQVOTI]VKPMLQV)VL1_QTTIT[WJMÆaQVO\W +PMKPVaI\WXPW\WOZIXP:IUIbIV3ILQZW^IJWLaWN  work in which I look forward to submitting to the National Portrait Gallery in London next year..

You are a hybrid of Oman and Bahrain, how has that rich cultural background QVÆ]MVKMLaW]ZIM[\PM\QK[I[IVIZ\Q[\' Hugely. It has made me who I am. I’ve been very lucky NZWUIaW]VOIOM\WJMM`XW[ML\WITW\WN LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\ people, places, cultures, religions and backgrounds besides my own. I was born in London and lived JM\_MMV>QMVVI6M_AWZS/[\IIL5W[KW_IVL 5][KI\1\PQVS\PI\TQNM[\aTMITWVMPILIP]OMQVÆ]MVKM on me, my work, my understanding of the world and where my purpose in it as well. I have had the pleasure of exploring some of your photos that exhibit the beauty of Oman, quite compelling with its cultural nuances. Have you always been fascinated by the Omani culture and heritage? I began my personal visual diary of Oman many years ago, documenting its phenomenal culture, people, traditions and architecture. I’m drawn to the incredible XW[Q\Q^MQVÆ]MVKM0Q[5IRM[\a;]T\IV9IJWW[PI[PIL WVW]ZKW]V\Za7UIVQ[PI^MJMVMÅ\\MLMVWZUW][TaNZWU

What was it about photography that made you choose to pursue it instead WN W\PMZ\aXM[WN ÅVMIZ\' Photography is innate to me, so instinctive. Its the direction I choose to go with my own brand, plus I ÅVLQ\^MZaXTMI[]ZIJTM_PMZM1[P]\\PM_WZTLW]\IVL just let the creative process take over, but as a creative LQZMK\WZ1_WZS_Q\PIV]UJMZWN LQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\IZ\NWZU[ from painting to sculpture to architecture and interiors.

AMR ALI

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Photography is innate to me… I shut the world out and just let the creative process take over.

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his vision, and through documentation, observation and the use of my aesthetic, I am drawing together a collection of images for a limited numbered edition KW‫ٺ‬MM\IJTMJWWS\WKMTMJZI\MPQ[TMOIKa You’re also known as the Sultan of Style, and your brand has been dubbed as the fashion of tomorrow, how do you \PQVSJMQVOINI[PQWVLM[QOVMZQVÆ]MVKes your eye as a photographer? 5a_WZSPI[I[\ZWVONI[PQWVQVÆ]MVKMVI\]ZITTaI[ my initial love for fashion came through fashion advertising in the ’90s, and I recall being 12 or 13 and UW^MLJa\PMIUIbQVO_WZSWN [WUMWN \PMOZMI\M[\ fashion photographers. Of course, at the time I didn’t know who they were, all I knew was that I became seduced by the power they had to move and impact me. I _W]TLZQX\PMUW]\WN UIOIbQVM[IVLKZMI\MUWWL boards on my bedroom wall, so powerful in their seduction and dangerously provocative. That impact has always remained part of my understanding and really formed the initial steps to my self-taught education in photography. So, to cut a long story short, it has a lot!

What are other common themes you enjoy experimenting with? My work often looks at people through a lens of intrigue, this usually takes place in people’s own personal settings, which leads the viewers to feel they are looking into a ‘world behind closed doors’ and of course, I style and create sets, so fashion and interiors both play ILMÅVQVOZWTTQVUa[QOVI\]ZMTWWSI[\PMaIZM\_W ÅMTL[1PI^MJ]QT\UaKIZMMZWV In the pool of artists, whose work are you rooting for at the moment? There are so many talented artists who have a unique vision coming from Oman. I like the works of Abdulrahim Al Kendi, Tariq Al Hajri, Mahmood Al Zadjali, and Eman Ali. Their works are poetic, stylish and forward-thinking. I support and wish success to all inspiring artists carving out their own unique identity and showcasing their personal vision, and in turn, promoting Oman on a global platform. AMR Studio, my design agency, also collects works from upcoming and established artists, and advises clients on art curation and building their collections.


You have worked with global acts and celebrities throughout your fashion career, who would you love to work with now as a photographer? His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, of course. My dream is to work with Oman, my homeland, and help build a OTWJIT^Q[QWVWN \PMKW]V\Za\PZW]OPLQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\NWZU[WN  artistic expression. My book on Oman will act as a starting point; a journey through its land, culture and people. I want to translate this rich culture into an international language, so it can be truly appreciated in an authentic fashion. A sleek, modern vision of our homeland, a book that would comfortably sit with the JM[\KW‫ٺ‬MM\IJTMJWWS[W]\\PMZM Will fashion photography become an interest in the future or you would prefer to explore other genres? Fashion photography formed a primary step in my evolution, so it will always be part of my signature style. However, having explored so many other genres and industries, I would like to keep moving and be SVW_VNWZUaIZ\Q[\QK^Q[QWVIKZW[[ITTÅMTL[1¼U KWV[\IV\TaLM^MTWXQVOIVLZMÅVQVOUa[QOVI\]ZMVW matter if this is done in a photograph I have taken, a building I have designed, or a product that I have helped bring to market. We are excited to see your future projects. What is Amr Ali working on at the moment? AMR Studio has several London property developments on-going, as well as a chalet in Beirut, a double lateral penthouse in Moscow, interiors for a new building in Muscat, image-making and brand building for a beauty and skincare brand, and of course my book. Our furniture line launches in Paris this year, so I am visiting our factories in Singapore to check on the XZW\W\aXM[IVLÅVQ[PM[1¼U^MZaM`KQ\ML\WQV\ZWL]KM\PQ[ lifestyle to the world of interiors. bodyamr.com amr.media

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THE

An interview with Emirati photographer, filmmaker and artist Obaid Al Budoor, who travelled to Oman to capture nature through his artistic lens.

We are excited to meet you; your work is beyond amazing. Thank you so much for having me. I am truly humbled. Was pursuing photography as a profession your plan A from the get-go? Haha no! I graduated in 2013 with a Finance degree in the USA. After that, I worked as a Corporate Banker until the end of 2017 where I decided it was time to change my career and live with my camera in hand full time. It was a calculated decision, not an ‘Eat, Pray, 4W^M¼[Q\]I\QWV\PI\UIVaZWUIV\QKQbM1[\QTTPI^MI plan B if all else fails. I think it’s safe to say that nature occupies a special place in Obaid’s heart. Why is that? It’s a place where I found myself both in purpose for this life and spiritually as well. I have tendencies that UISMUMJZWWLIVLÅTTUaPMIL_Q\PIVMOI\Q^M\aXMWN  clutter. Open roads and large mountains make things feel smaller than what I perceive them to be, and is my preferred way of healing. Take us through your creative journey and tell us what it is that you look for in an image? I think landscape photographs comprise something like 70% planning, 20% getting there, and 10% luck. So the majority of the time, I spend gliding over Google Maps and Google Earth to understand the typography of some locations. I also use an application to predict

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the movement of stars and the milky way. After seeing whats on the table I make a plan of where to be. The last piece of this whole journey is pressing the shutter button. This is why I love taking photos of landscapes, it is a whole process, it forces you to take things slow and think ahead. There is a unique and mystical vibe to your photography in which we admire. How would you describe your photographic style? My favourite photos that I receive a lot of praise from are images that I’ve shot usually beyond 100mm in focal length, sometimes going up to 600mm. When you [PWW\I\IPQOPMZNWKITTMVO\PUWZMbWWUMLQVL]M\W physics, compression occurs in the images. This means that the backgrounds come closer to the foreground and it gives my images a painting look. Where do you get your inspiration from? <PMÅZ[\PITN WN \PQ[IV[_MZQ[NZWU\PMXMWXTM1NWTTW_ within the industry. Some names are Marc Adam, William Patino, Chris Burkad, Jimmy Chin, Abdelrahman Gabr, Khalid El Kindi, Khaled Al Hashemi, Aysha Abbasi and many more. This KWUU]VQ\aIT_Ia[X][PM[UM\WZMÅVMUaVIZZI\Q^M\W enhance my techniques and better myself. The other is from the landscapes themselves. We have a lot to cover in the region that I want to portray the best way possible. From Morocco to Oman, there’s still a lot to do. It excites me!


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You’ve travelled quite a lot and you’ve visited a ton of places, from Brazil to Oman, and many others. What trip would you say was your best experience and why? Personally, my solo trip to Oman was my favourite. I’ve also made it a goal to do them more frequently. I met [WUMIUIbQVOXMWXTMITWVO\PM_Ia\PI\1_W]TLV¼\ have if I didn’t go alone. Every day of the eight-day \ZQXNMT\I[QN 1\ZI^MTTML\WILQ‫ٺ‬MZMV\KW]V\Za1[\QTT think that Oman is highly underestimated in terms of geographic and cultural variety. Which parts of Oman you enjoyed the most as a landscape photographer? It’s so hard to choose! I have a soft spot for the Eastern Hajar Mountains near Balad Sayt. It is home to some of my favourite sunrises and sunsets. I also really loved the backroads of Wadi Dayqah, and Dofar’s mountains are always calling out to me, too. What’s the key to making a great landscape photograph? Intention and the ability to capture the essence of the sublime. I love images that leave me in awe more than those that inspire appreciation of beauty. For example, I enjoy raging thunderstorms and volcanoes that show [KITMZI\PMZ\PIVIJMLWN ÆW_MZ[JTWWUQVO<PW[M images stick with me better. What are you looking forward to over the next year? Exploring and documenting more of Arabia. I have many trips lined up for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Oman of course. I am hoping to truly understand the essence of these places and to host photography workshops there when times allow. I would love to have some of the readers join one day!

obaidalbudoor.com beedii

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INTRODUCING

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The Royal Opera House Muscat was established to promote intercultural dialogue and artistic collaboration in the performing arts on a global scale. As a further step into the development of this vision, the House of Musical Arts :705) _I[ M[\IJTQ[PML \W IL^IVKM :705¼[WJRMK\Q^MWN LQ^MZ[QÅMLXZWOZIUUQVO The House of Musical Arts celebrates additional cultural domains with permanent and temporary exhibitions on the musical arts as well as hosting seminars highlighting the evolution of these arts and their impact on world history, with a dedicated exhibition hall designed to host international as well as local exhibitions. The new extension is accessed from Opera Galleria through a unique glass and metal, \]JMTQSMXMLM[\ZQIVJZQLOM\PI\ÆW_[NZWUWVM ROHM complex to the other as it exhibits a striking combination of contemporary Omani and international architectural styles. Having crossed though the bridge, the visitor encounters the ROHMA performance foyer with beautiful carved timber and etched glass doors echoing those of the Royal Opera House 5][KI\<PMXMZNWZUIVKMNWaMZW‫ٺ‬MZ[IJZMI\P\ISQVOÅZ[\QUXZM[[QWV_Q\PKWTWVVILM[WN \W_MZQVOXQTTIZ[ÅVMTaKIZ^ML[KZMMV[IVLOTMIUQVO marble surfaces, all in a harmonious architec-

\]ZITLM[QOV<PQ[_WVLMZN]TÅZ[\QUXZM[[QWVQ[ augmented as the visitor tours the rest of the ROHMA complex. What lends ROHMA a special appeal is its community-oriented focus that supports, extends and expands ROHM’s education and W]\ZMIKPM‫ٺ‬WZ\[IVLQVQ\QI\Q^M[_Q\P[XMKQITNIcilities including, but not limited to, its extensive music library and archiving facility, exhibition halls, and open performance areas. The Victoria and Albert Museum’s fabulous exhibition, Opera: 400 Years of Passion _I[ WXMVML WV \P 2IV]IZa ! I[ \PM ÅZ[\ event at the House of Musical Arts. The Royal Opera House Muscat had the honour of being \PM\W]ZQVOM`PQJQ\QWV¼[ÅZ[\LM[\QVI\QWVW]\[QLM London. Opera: 400 Years of Passion retraces the story of operatic masterpieces in important global cities, taking the visitor on a musical journey to the past. An important aspect of ROHMA’s plans for the future is the presentation of the permaVMV\M`PQJQ\QWV_PQKP_QTTW‫ٺ‬MZIVM`KQ\QVOM`hibition experience that combines interactive displays with architectural elements and stateof-the-art lighting, acoustics and visual presentation technologies. For all future events, visit rohmuscat.org.om.

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ROHMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S 2019-2020

CALENDAR OPERA

SPECTACULAR SHOWS

02 N O V

THE STORY OF KAI AND GERDA

Based on Andersenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fairytale The Snow Queen, Sergei Banevichâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s romantic opera, The Story of Kai and Gerda shines with the light of pure love between two young children in a vivid, action-packed portrayal of Gerdaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heroic efforts to rescue Kai from the evil Snow Queen. This opera is one of Bolshoi Theatreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most successful productions.

2 0 1 9

02 03 04 J A N

Die ZauberflĂśte

Artistically staged by Davide Livermore who designed ROHMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s acclaimed co-production of LakmĂŠ last season, The innovative production of &KG<CWDGTĆ&#x192;Ă&#x2019;VGKUUGVKP1OCPYJGTGKVETGCVGU connections between the Arabic cultural heritage of the Sultanate and the universal themes in /Q\CTVoU&KG<CWDGTĆ&#x192;Ă&#x2019;VG

2 0 2 0

ORCHESTRA CHICK COREA

12 13 D E C

Chick Corea is an American jazz and fusion pianist, keyboardist, and composer who has attained the status of a living legend. His phenomenal talent is attested by sixty-three Grammy nominations with twenty-two wins. With music conducted by Ion Marin, Chick Corea will play a special programme including Gershwinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Rhapsody in Blue alongside a variety of his own compositions.

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2 0 2 0

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19 20 D E C

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16 17 18 J A N

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THE NUTCRACKER

Military Music: Oman and the World

Military Music: Oman and the World, a proud display of military pageantry with hundreds of men and women from Omanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s military bands performing in colourful dress uniform, with musicians from Mexico and Turkey opening another window on the world. Che Malambo

Che Malambo an Argentinian dance spectacular with fast-paced zapeteo footwork inspired by the rhythm of galloping horses and performed with gaucho machismo. OMAN WORLD FOLK MUSIC FESTIVAL

Performing artists from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas join Omani and Arab musicians in this spectacular three-day festival to portray the history and traditions of their various homelands.

ARAB PERFORMANCES 14 15 N O V

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05 06 D E C

BALLET 10 11 A P R

05 06 07 N O V

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Najwa Karam

Najwa Karam, one of the most popular artists in the Arab world, greatly admired for her vocal prowess, and Marwan Khoury, the famous Lebanese pianist and composer who stars on the same programme as Najwa, appearing with the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra Ahlam

Ahlam, famous throughout the Middle Eastern region for fabulous songs such as La Tsdegunah and Talqah.

The National Ballet of China presents Tchaikovskyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s The Nutcracker in a fusion of Chinese and Western cultural traditions. ROYAL OPERA HOUSE MUSCAT Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat +968 2440 3300 rohmuscat.org.om roh_muscat

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TAKES YOUR BREATH AWAY.

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www.theviewoman.com | +968 24400873 | reservations@theviewoman.com

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NET-A-PORTER | SELFRIDGES | EYE CANDY OPERA GALLERIA | MUSCAT DUTY FREE

Profile for Oman Tourism Magazine

Oman Tourism Magazine  

Oman Tourism Magazine is a lifestyle and travel publication published bi-annually by Ink Publishing. Your print portal to the Sultanate of O...

Oman Tourism Magazine  

Oman Tourism Magazine is a lifestyle and travel publication published bi-annually by Ink Publishing. Your print portal to the Sultanate of O...

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