Why should your next trip be to Oman? We’ll tell you why. Our girl Vanessa had the pleasure to visit the Arabian peninsula last week and she hasn’t shut up about it since.
Rich in cultural history with a unique and exotic vibe, Oman is a place everyone must visit at some point in their life; mainly known for being a major oil exporter yet the country has so much more to offer. It’s history is perfect for history lovers; once under Portuguese rule with old ports, defences and a jail, which there is now no need for due its non-existent crime rate.
It’s one of the safest regions in the Middle East, has four UNESCO world heritage sites and it’s buildings are awash with pastels; no dark colours or skyscrapers here, not even in Muscat, making it simply picturesque.
As a country it is super stable and ruled by a monarchy; Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said attended university in the UK and made many changes to the country, modernising it and its culture. He recently passed and has been succeeded by his cousin, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said. So over the next few years it will be interesting to see what the new Sultan brings to Oman.
Omani’s are vibrant, friendly and beyond polite and the country is immersed in the culture of Islam, so throwing yourself into the culture is necessary. A visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a highlight, with the largest carpet in the world and a 1,120 lightbulb Swarovski chandelier, it is a grounding experience; just remember to dress appropriately and respectfully. Venturing into the city to discover old Muscat, new Muscat and their ports allows you to appreciate what the country has to offer. Getting lost in the Souks is a must and even in this environment the Omani stall owners are super polite, with an array of perfume oils, trinkets, clothing and local food, it’s the perfect place to absorb the dynamic atmosphere.
Dates, obviously play a huge part in Oman and we definitely recommend trying a variety, yet they aren’t the only sweet treat in the nation. Halwa, is a sticky gelatinous dish made from brown sugar, honey, eggs and various spices, that is seriously worth indulging in.
The rest of Omani cuisine revolves around meat, spices, bread and rice. Majoboos is meal worth trying it’s rice cooked with saffron and served with a spicy meat of your choice. Mushalat is also a good option, it’s a soft flat bread stuffed with honey, meat, spinach or cheese and of course there is Shwarma.
Due to it’s ports and coast Oman is renowned for it’s seafood and if you’re a fan. Mashuai is the dish for you; roasted kingfish and savoury lemon rice. Some places also allow you to experience the traditional Oman Shuwa which is a celebratory dish of roasted lamb and rice, normally reserved for special occasions.
Oman’s landscape is breathtaking; mountains whose rock formations vary from one to the next, vast deserts with scatterings of trees and shrubs to the whitewashed buildings of the city. There is always something to look at and explore.
To get the best of Oman, you need to know where to stay… Sahab Resort and Spa is a boutique hotel in Jabal Al Akhdar, built on the canyon edge of Al Hajar Mountain range. The resort sits at 2000m above sea level so temperatures can get a little chilly but the views easily make up for that. So whether you want a little pamper or adventure this is the perfect location. Spa treatments and sunbathing vs hiking and abseiling; the choice is yours.
Mountainous landscape with breathtaking views checked off, so the next choice is of course the desert. Dunes by Al Nahda is a tented hotel in the South Batinah region, located in the heart of the desert you are surrounded by the sands of the Wadi Al Abyad. The resort is spread out over 17 acres and has 50 individual tents, an incredible restaurant, the best hotel reception you will ever encounter, an open air spa, an incredible restaurant, a bar that can conjure up any cocktail and of course a resident camel.
All in all, Oman is a secret treasure that isn’t going to be a secret for much longer.