A Gateway to Arabia

Anyone who has read the story of Aladdin as a kid has probably dreamt of magic lamps, genies, riding magic carpets and relishing beautiful sunsets over golden sand dunes. If you are looking for your very own magical Arabian escapade, the getaway to Arabia is just two andhalf hour away from home.Oman, known as the ‘Pearl of Arabia’, is so full of culture and charisma it is quite hard to believe it wasn’t conjured by magic. Oman is packed with natural wonders and is one of the most alluring tourist destinations awaiting discovery.

With pristine beaches, magnificent deserts, rugged mountains and a history that spans over 7000 years, the Sultanate of Oman is a treasure trove. Although a forward-looking nation, Oman is a perfect mix of distinctive architecture, customs and traditions crafted over the centuries. Here are some suggestions to help you plan your perfect Arabian retreat.

Heritage & Culture
If you are a history buff & want to explore the cultural highlights, you are in for a treat. Oman is peppered with traces of the past. You could start the forays into the history by visiting the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Opulent, spacious & serene, this magnificent centerpiece of Muscat was a gift to the nation from Sultan Qaboos to mark his 30 years of leadership & is a glorious piece of modern Islamic architecture. With the capacity of 20000 worshippers, the mosque is quietly imposing. Next you could visit the Muttrah Souq, the most famous souq of Oman. This maze of indoor stalls offers silverware, antiques, frankincense, garments & spices.

Seas & Lagoons
Oman’s coastline measures 3165 km & harbours an abundance of marinelife, including whales, dolphins, turtles, seahorses, flamingos & colourful fish. Take a boat and head for whale or dolphin watching. In Muscat or Musandam, boats or wooden dhows are available for cruising which often pass humpback dolphins, diving or socializing with their young ones. You could also enjoy the green turtle nesting at Ras Al Jinz. Every year thousands of turtles make their way from the Red sea or Indian Ocean and lay their eggs on the Omani shores. It is one of the most fascinating experience, watching the tiny baby turtles making their way out to the sea.

Then there are the lagoons and khors. Musandam’s fjord-like khors are possibly the Arabian coast’s most dramatic natural feature. Their idyllic waters are hemmed in by sheer cliffs, which rise hundreds of metres into the sky. Just a few miles from Muscat is Bandar Khayran, a magical series of calm, rocky inlets & creeks, ideal for swimming, snorkeling & bird-watching.

Mountains, Dunes & Wadis
If you love nature, the Omani landscapes will beckon you at every turn. Scored with dramatic canyons, the Hajjar& Jebel Akhdar Mountains are utterly unmissable. Daubed in shades of russet and mauve, the Hajar may look barren from a distance, but waterfalls and springs keep their slopes and valleys fertile.

Then there are the Wadis. These deep, rocky gullies, carved out by seasonal floodwaters over millennia, are waiting to be explored. Even in the height of summer, wadis offer shade and a cool breeze. Some wadis like Wadi Shab are lush with palms & dotted with enticing freshwater pools, perfect for a dip. The rugged & highly scenic Wadi Bani Khalid is truly breathtaking. And the deserts! Ash Sharqiya Sands is without a doubt one of the most beautiful deserts in the Arabian Peninsula. Its towering dunes that are 80-100 metres high, ranging in hue from deep red to rich honey, tumble down from the Eastern Hajar before crashing into the Arabian Sea. Staying overnight in the desert at a luxury camp such as the Desert Nights camp, which offers accommodation, food, dune bashing, camel rides & Bedouin style experience, is absolutely thrilling. The Omani deserts support a wide variety of highly adapted insects, reptiles, birds and mammals including Oryx and sand cats.

Luxury Camps, Resorts & Spa
Deciding on where to stay in Oman should not be a difficulty, as all the major cities of Oman such as Muscat, Salalah and Sohar have a number of options for travellers. These popular cities in Oman have accommodation suiting every need and budget, including five star international chains like Shangri La and Grand Hyatt, mid-range hotels like Ibis and Samara and quite a few budget hotels.

Oman is a fascinating place to explore with its diverse and beautiful landscape. Overnight camping on sandy beaches and going on desert safaris are very popular among outdoor enthusiasts craving for adventure. Many specialised tour operators provide complete camping facilities from vehicles to drivers, guides & packed meals. And after all the adventure pampering yourself with a spa treatment is a good idea. Many resorts offer spa facilities; from Balinese therapies, Indian Ayurveda to indigenous rituals, there are a number of spa treatments on offer with a personalized, discreet service.

From adventure activities to watersports, wildlife to nature trails, five star hotels to luxury camps, sumptuous food, and above all courteous people; Oman has so much to offer to suit everyone’s needs that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Packed with natural wonders, abundant wild &marinelife and sheer beauty, this gateway of Arabia is waiting to be discovered. When are you planning your magical journey to this beautiful land?

Team Veena World