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Oman - At the Arabian Peninsula
Located on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, the Sultanate of Oman is bordered by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the West, and the Republic of Yemen to the South. The United Arab Emirates lies on the North West, and to the East lies the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. 
About Muscat & Oman
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 The city referred to as "Muscat" is in fact three smaller towns which have grown together over time. They are:
  • Muscat - often referred to as the "walled city", Muscat proper is the site of the royal palaces.
  • Matrah (Matruh) - originally a fishing village, and home to the maze-like Matrah Souq.
  • Ruwi - generally considered the commercial and diplomatic centre of the city.
This tripartite division will sometimes cause the visitor an inconvenience, as distances between sites (and accommodation) can be very long. As an alternative to the main CBD area that is considered as these three areas there is plently of places to go and things to see along the main highway that heads North East out of these areas. This main road, The Sultan Qaboos Highway, goes past many areas on its way out to the Airport and further still to Seeb, Sohar and eventually the northern most tip of Oman. Heading along this road you pass the districts of Qurum, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Al Khuwair, Bausher, Al-Hail and Seeb. Each one has a range of sights to see and places to stay. There is also a very long beach road from Qurum to Seeb, some 50km. Situated along this are some of the large international hotel chains but more importantly you discover the true beauty of the Oman coast-line. Km's of beaches, fisherman with drag nets and open space to walk for hours.

Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman, is located on the Gulf of Oman at the south part of Al Batinah coast.
It is confined between Gulf of Oman and the mountains of AI Hajr Al Sharyi.
With the great advantage of a deepwater harbour in the western part of the city, Muscat is the heart of the country’s foreign trade.
The capital has nine villages attached to it, these being Sidab, Haramel, Al Bustan, Al Jussa, Qantab, Yankat, Yiti, Al Khayran Al Sifa and Sifat Al Sheikh.
Muscat is certainly one of the oldest cities in the whole Middle East, being known since the second century A.D.
The first foreign presence in Muscat was in the form of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who passed through Oman on his way to India. The Portuguese returned in 1507 and made of Muscat a trading post and naval base until 1650 when the Imam Sultan bin Saif defeated the and drove the Portuguese away east to Goa, India. Muscat became the capital of an independent Oman in 1741,when the present dynasty assumed power.
The capital’s growth has been greatly accelerated in the 20th century, following the discovery of rich oil reserves in Arabia.


General Information:

  • Population: 2.7 million
  • Official language: Arabic
  • Other spoken languages: English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects
  • Religion: Ibadhi Muslim 75%, Sunni Muslim, Shi'a Muslim, Hindu
  • Area: 309,500 sqkm
  • Coastline: 2092 km
  • Climate: dry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south
  • Capital: Muscat
  • Government type: Monarchy
  • National day: 18 November (Birthday of Sultan Qaboos)
  • Local time: GMT + 4 hours
  • Day off: Friday
  • Official Holidays: National Day is on 18th November every year although National Day holidays are usually taken the week after. Dates vary for the rest of the official holidays as they follow the lunar year. Eid Al-Fitr (1st Shawal), Eid Al-Adha (10th Dhul-Hijja), Islamic New Year around 1st Muharram. The Prophet Mohammed's birthday (12th Rabi Al Awal), Ascension Day (27th Rajab). Local newspapers announce the actual dates of holidays as they occur

Practical Information:

  • Money. Oman's unit of currency is the Omani Rial, divided into 1000 Baizas. Notes come in denominations of Rials 50, 20, 10, 5, 1, 1/2 and 1/4, 200 and 100 Baiza notes are also available. One Rial is equivalent to approximately US$ 2.6 • Payment cards: All major credit cards are accepted in Oman, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Diners Club etc. Most retail outlets, hotels and restaurants accept major credit cards as form of payment. In the traditional souqs, cash is the most preferred means for transaction • Automatic bank tellers: Withdrawal can be made from any automatic bank teller found in any region of the country • Traveler's checks: they can be exchanged mainly at the airport, in banks and exchange shops.
  • Health. Hospitals, pharmacies and health clinics are available throughout Oman. Modern hospitals with state-of-the-art equipment can handle any kind of emergency. Most hotels have medical help available. Doctors are just a phone call away.
  • Security. Sultanate of Oman is a quite secure & safe country for the tourists.
  • Bargaining. Bargaining is expected in the souk and it’s not quite usual elsewhere.
  • Food. All the hotels and restaurants serve international cuisine, from continental and haute cuisine dining to fast-food items. There are Arabic restaurants offering a great variety of dishes.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol is served only in hotels and licensed restaurants and clubs. Drinking alcohol in public is strictly prohibited. It is also illegal to carry alcohol in the car. Drinking and driving is heavily penalised.
  • Tipping. In hotels and restaurants a service charge is included in the bill. However, it is customary to tip for attentive service.
  • Weather. Summer is between April to September and the weather is hot and humid. Winter begins around October and continues till April and the weather is cool and pleasant. Also there is The Khareef season (Monsoon) in Dhofar Governorate which is characterized by its lovely climate and periodic rain. This season usually starts in July and ends in September.
  • Languages. Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken. German and French are spoken by hotel staff in addition to Balushi, Urdu and Indian dialects.
  • Water. Although tap water is clean, it is advisable to drink bottled water.
  • Clothing. For most of the year light, loose-fitting clothes, preferably cotton, are best suited for the Omani climate. At night, light woolens should be comfortable. In the short winter season (December to February), some warm clothing is advisable. To respect Omani traditions, women are requested to wear tops covering the shoulders and non-revealing apparel in public. Beachwear is acceptable only at the beach, as well as in hotel and club premises.
  • Photography. Oman is a photographer’s delight. Photographers will find an enormous choice of subjects in the Sultanate. However, photographing at the border or at military installations and embassies is not permitted. It is considered non-customary to photograph Muslim women. Please ask for permission before taking photographs of people and their property. Always observe 'No Photography' signs.
  • Telephone. Telephone cards are readily available from shops and supermarkets. International telephone calls are cheaper during late evening till early morning (check for local time of country) and the whole day on Fridays and Public Holidays. All local telephone booths can be used for international dialing. No collect calls are possible in Oman. Oman has an extensive GSM network. Visitors can avoid roaming charges by purchasing a prepaid HAYYAK SIM card at Muscat airport or at Omantel counters.
  • Post. It is essential to use postal codes for all mail. Stamps are available at all post offices and other designated outlets.
  • Internet. Internet service is available in Cyber Cafes and major hotels.
  • Electricity. The electrical system is based on 220 volts - 240 volts, 50 Hz with 3-pin British type plugs. US-made electrical appliances may require an adaptor.
  • Transportation. Buses travel throughout the country. The main bus station is in Ruwi, off Al Jama'a Street, where a timetable is posted. Taxis are plentiful; orange and white saloon cars or mini-buses with an orange light on the front. Taxi fares are reasonable and are a fixed rate. The mini-buses are shared taxis and the rate is extremely cheap. Ask for the fare before boarding. Some of them might not be air-conditioned. Driving - Highways within Muscat and linking major towns make driving a pleasure in Oman. Vehicles are driven on the right side of the road, so left hand drives are used. The maximum speed limit on open road is 120 km per hour. Seat belts are compulsory. Residents require a valid Omani license but visitors can use an International license. Residents of Britain may use their British license. Always carry your documentation with you as all accidents have to be reported to the police.
  • Business days. All Government offices are closed on Thursday & Friday from 7.30 am to 2.30 pm. The private sector companies work from Saturday through Thursday from 8.00 am till 1.00 pm and from 4.00 pm till 7.00 pm. Some work half day on Thursdays but Friday is a public holiday in Oman. As for the banks, they open from Saturday through Wednesday from 8.00 am to 12 pm and Thursday from 8.00 am to 11.30 am

Good to know:

Customs duty is not levied on personal effects brought into Oman. However, it is forbidden to import drugs, arms, narcotics and pornographic material. Such materials are summarily confiscated. Non-Muslim nationals are permitted to bring two liters of alcohol per adult person into the country when traveling by air. The import of alcohol via overland routes is not permitted.
Social Courtesy: The people of Oman are extremely hospitable and offer a very warm welcome to guests. It is considered good manners to exchange greetings and these courtesies should be observed wherever possible.
Etiquette: Littering is prohibited. Particularly when hiking and camping, be sure that you do not leave any trash. Polluting a falaj (water source) is not permitted at all. Make sure when traveling to interior villages, you are courteous to all locals. Don't enter a home without being invited.
During the holy month of Ramadan fixed hours of prayer are observed and all Muslims fast during daylight hours. As a sign of respect, visitors are requested to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. Coffee shops in hotels remain open, but bars do not serve alcohol. However, alcohol can be ordered through room service. 
Oman's sites
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 DMC Arabia has selected the most popular sites and activities in OMAN:
Oman, officially called the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast. The Madha and Musandam enclaves are surrounded by the UAE on their land borders, with the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman forming Musandam's coastal boundaries.
Some of the interesting places you must visit Muttrah Souq, Dolphin bay, Barkha, Nakhl, Rustak, Batinah, Sohar, Nizwa & its Forts, Bahla, Jabreen, Wahiba Sands, Sur, Salalah


MUSCAT   

MUSCAT

At the present time – it is natural to honor Muscat the capital of Oman. However it is important to know, that the city achieved this honor only about 200 years ago. Responsible for this new era was the 3 Imam of the present A l-Bu-Said Dynasty – “Sayyid Ahmad bin Saeed”. In the long history of Oman the country was mainly ruled out of the so called “Interior” – nevertheless, Muscat could establish in the meantime it’s name as an important Trading Harbor. The Portuguese Occupation of Oman – aimed to control the Sea Trading Routes to India – lasted 150 years – and used Muscat as their main base, before the Omanis themselves expelled the Intruders in 1650 AD.


In 1840 AD the proclamation of “Sultanate of Muscat and Zanzibar” – made Muscat rich, famous and important. However the city-by-the-Sea could not gain full control over the tribes in the Interior – and always used to be a small place with only several hundred inhabitants. After the death of “Said the Great” in the year of 1856, the Sultanate split from Zanzibar – which affected the city severely. At the same time the introduction of the Steamships from Europe left the Omani Sailors and Traders behind and the city of Muscat lost it’s glory.

MUTTRAH - Muttrah is one of the many districts of Muscat City and is famous for it’s vivid Fishmarket, the Harbour, the Corniche and the Arabian Souq.
The Fish Market offer an interesting glimps on the immense variety of the fish in the Omani waters, as well as fresh vegetables, fruits and meat. It also offers Sandwiches and soft drinks – and is open only until 13:00 pm.
Stroll then along the Corniche – where you might see the private yacht of His Majesty and many typical Arabian Dhows. Also particularly interesting is the House fronts of some old residential buildings – which are still inhabited by the Lawatiyah Sect – famous for their trading abilities.
The Traffic light will indicate the entrance to the Muttrah Souq, which is not made-up for tourists- but part of Muscat’s local life. Here you will find all sorts of household items, as well as garments, gold jewelry, Silverware, gifts of any kind, antiques, frankincense, burners and charcoal, also interesting might be the local Money Changers, which usually offer a better rate than the banks.
At the far end of the Corniche you will see the Majestic “Muttrah Fort” – one of the remnants of the Portuguese era. Passing this fort you will – after approximately 2 km arrive at Riyam Park.

OLD TOWN OF MUSCAT - This is the district which represents Muscat’s History in all the books. And it is actually only one small part of what is called Muscat today. Here you find the two famous Fortresses, the Sultan’s Palace, Government buildings and offices, the Omani-French-Museum. Many of the mentioned buildings have been renovated to keep the charm and the beauty of old times alive.

CITYWALL - The wall itself has been completely renovated –and doesn’t really look like the original. However the location and size still match the earlier days – where not long ago (1960) the big Entrance Doors were closed at Sunset and paraffin lights were used to light up the night. If you picture the wall and it’s entrance gates as a whole you will realize, that it has not lost it’s original meaning. Today you see three Gates: Kabir Gate; Saghir Gate; and Muthaib Gate

MUSCAT HARBOUR - To the rear of the Palace – you will see the “Horseshoe” shaped old harbour of Muscat. The famous harbour, which served for decades as a protective supply point for the big sailing vessels on their way from Europe to India. Providing fresh water from the nearby mountain and hardly visible from the seaside. Take a closer look on the opposite rocks and you will find more than 350 names of ships carved in stone – ships that laid anchor in Muscat between 1870 and 1930.

FORT JALALI - The Fort you are facing while standing at the harbour – used to be a prison. Sultan Qaboos has changed it to a private Museum. Unfortunately it has not been opened yet for public visitors.

FORT MIRANI - This impressive Fort is to the right over your shoulder – and accommodates the watchmen of the “Royal Guard”. Should you be interested to take pictures of the picturesque soldiers – please do not forget, that it is mandatory for you to ask for their permission. Both forts make it quite clear, how difficult it must have been for any aggressor to capture or simply attack those buildings, which where protecting the busy trading port of Muscat.

SULTAN’S PALACE - This Palace is unlike any other Palace you might have seen before Sultan Qaboos has ordered the construction right after his taking over in 1970. Two Indian architects were requested to design a dignified administrative palace and created a Jewel. Take a walk to the left to the rear of the Palace, which will lead you right to the old harbour. Turn your attention as well to the top of the palace – if the Flag is flying, the Sultan is in the Capital Area.


Dolphin Tour   

Dolphin Tour

The coast of Oman is blessed with a variety of Dolphins & whales, About 21 different species of whales & dolphins have been identified along the coast of Oman, including the Blue whale which is seldom seen anywhere else in the world. You would be transferred from your hotel to the jetty. While it is not guaranteed that you would spot dolphins on every trip, it would be enjoyable experience in the sea and our onboard cetacean specialist would enlighten you with Quite a lot of information about these Interesting marine mammals. (Pick-up time from the hotel will be between 07:15 to 07:30hrs)


BARKA   

Barka

Located around 80 km outside Muscat – this small town is however of traditionally big importance to the region of the “Batinah”. This region stretches along the coastline for about 250 km up to Sohar and is called the Garden of Oman, due to it’s fertile soil, big farms and rich agricultural outputs. Barka – or Birka – has it’s own small fortress – built in the late 18 Century by the 3 Imam of the Al Bu Said Dynasty “Hamad Bin Ahmad”. He as well has had established Muscat as his Capital. Today Barka is worth a visit for it’s vivid Fish Market in the morning – it’s small Fort “Bait Na’am” and on Fridays you may usually witness Bullfights, where two animals fight against each other. Please ask your way to the arena – since the places change very often.

NAKHL  

Nakhl

The Fortress of Nakhl can be easily seen from the road – since it is built high on a rock. This beautiful location is one of it’s attraction as well as the stunning views over the attached oasis once you are inside- The history goes back to the pre-Islamic era. The fort was destroyed and rebuilt several times and only during the last years of the Yarooba Dynasty – in the first half of the 18th Century – it achieved importance for the region. Since 1990 the restoration of the fort is completed and is rated to be one of the most interesting forts in Oman.
The village itself – especially the old part of Al-Towarrah – still shows some of the old traditional mud clay houses and we consider it as a must to take a walk through the gardens and plantations – where Mangoes, Dates, Oranges, Lemons, Aloe Vera, Lilies…. are grown



RUSTAQ  

Rustaq

The biggest oasis in the area- former centre of power – residence of many Imam’s capital of Oman… the list is long to prove the earlier importance of this city. Today – however Rustaq has lost its rank to Nizwa – which is nowadays considered to be the secret capital of the interior region. But even today the dates of Rustaq and it’s surroundings, are considered to be best in the country.
The massive fort still bears witness to the old times and also here history dates back to the pre-Islamic days. The fort was destroyed and rebuilt several times and gained special importance as the logistic centre in the attempt to expel the Portuguese invaders from Oman in the 17th Century. It’s present shape is quite different to the original one with every restoration they added another Watchtower – which also represented the power of a capital at that time.


BATINAH  

Batinah

As mentioned already earlier – this area along the coastline is among Muscat – the highest populated district of Oman. About 500,000 people live in all the small villages, which usually spread close to the highway. The Batinah stretches about 250 km – and is between 10 and 25 km wide. Unfortunately it is not possible to see the sea from the road and the landscape does not change dramatically until Sohar. However there are quite profound differences when it comes to local customs, clothes, dialects… The Batinah has the advantage of good water recourses from the close mountains and the people have managed to use this blessing for centuries for extensive agriculture. You can see the farms lining the road. About 50% of Oman’s Dates and a large variety of other fruits and vegetables are grown here. Even cattle food is produced here and transported 1000 km down south into the Dhofar region, since there is a misbalance of food and cattle.
Another important source of income in the area is the Fishing industry. All along the coastal villages you will find early morning fish markets – showing the rich variety of Oman’s waters. Part of the daily catch will be exported – mainly to neighboring states.


SOHAR  

Sohar

Scientists are convinced that already 3000 years before Christ – Sohar was the shipping harbour of copper, which was mined in the mountains nearby. However the harbour has not been found and there is no real evidence. 2000 years later Roman and Greek writers describe the place of today’s Sohar as an important harbour. During the coming centuries the city grew enormously and expanded to three times of the present size.
One of Sohar’s most well known “celebrities” – is Sindbad. His personal record shows Sohar as his birthplace and later he made his fortune in Baghdad. The destruction of Baghdad in the 10th century AD had a quite devastating impact on the city and it’s wealth and influence declined step by step. The Persians and the Portuguese had been unwelcome “guests” – both using the Fortress of Sohar for their own purposes. By the time Muscat advanced to the capital of Oman – the harbour of Sohar turned so muddy, that it could not be used anymore. The former harbour can still be seen today. Today, Sohar performs as the capital of the Batinah and is sponsored with different projects and investments from the government.

SOHAR FORT
- What makes it special is the Museum inside, which provides an interesting show through the cities history. Before entering the Tower – you can see the remains of an archeological site, which was found while renovating the fort 15 years ago.
After the exhibition – follow the stairs to the rooftop of the Tower – it rewards you with a stunning view over the city.


NIZWA & Its Forts  

Nizwa

CITY HISTORY - Since many centuries – Nizwa is the undisputed spiritual centre and the secret capital of Oman. Ruling powers stretched from here to far distant areas. From 751-1154 the oasis of Nizwa was Oman’s Capital and after that it remained almost the same at least for the interior mountain region.
Nizwa is the biggest oasis along the sumail Gap and has been always very tempting to possess for the rival tribes in the neighbour-hood since it supplied water, wood, work, etc… This justified the impressive and solid fortification of Nizwa. Additionally the Fortress was home of the ruling Imam Said bin Saif for example started from here Oman’s rebellion against the Portuguese 10 years later his mission was completed.
In the first half of the 19th century – the power of the ruling tribes of the Interior was cut quite drastically, after Muscat was chosen to be the future ruling capital. Now politics were officially handled from the coast. However Nizwa never lost it’s importance completely and only 40 years ago, Sultan Qaboos had no possibility to mastermind the Interior – the clock ticks also today still differently…
As per the wish of Sultan Qaboos Nizwa is highly subsidised in order to keep its importance and maintain the Heritage. 1994 Oman’s National Day was celebrated in Nizwa – a big award for a city in Oman.

OLD TOWN - Only few meters away from the renovated Fort, Souq and newly plastered roads – you will find yourself in a totally different world. Old facades are visible, small alleys – almost unreal, silent Palm tree plantations where the relaxing sound of water runs through the aflaj channels. The noise and business of the nearby markets has disappeared behind the walls and the silence of the old times welcomes the visitors. Dare to walk these hidden areas, which takes only a few minutes to walk from the Fort.

Old Town



FORTRESS - The massive Tower of the Fort is overlooking the whole city centre and gives a stunning view from it’s top. The Fort had been built after expelling the Portuguese from Oman. After this victory – the Omanis felt so strong, that they followed the Portuguese overseas and overtook many of their possessions in Indian and Persia. The Fort was partly financed with those loots and completed after 12 years.
The Tower itself is built massively – the lower half consists of solid stone material, where there is one set of stairs is leading you to the top.

Fortress



Walking up – you pass through 7 beautifully carved doors. From 30 meters above you have a breathtaking view in all directions – especially to the Jebel Akhdar Massive.
The Fort was highly equipped with all necessities to withstand a long term attack – like water-wells, horses-table, storage-room, soldier quarters – as well as sophisticated living quarters for the Imam and his family.

BAHLA  

Bahla

This is a mystical place – crowned with a huge Fortress, which can be easily seen while entering the village. The fort is reconstructed - financed from UNESCO- to preserve the impressive walls. Bahla had been Oman’s capital for many years – it’s most important time was between the 12thand the 16th century. Still today the former extension of the town can be seen on the untouched city walls on both sides of the street.
Turn left – just opposite the Fort and visit the old Souq and Market place – many Omanis believe, that the huge Sycomore Tree in the centre of the Market place is bewitched and spreads it’s power over the village. However should you dare to enter the village, and explore the narrow old lanes, which will lead you to the famous pottery. Two families still make their living out of designing and burning clay for Water buckets (to be seen all over the country), Flowerpots etc…


JABREEN  

Jabreen

Bil’arub bin Sultan al Yarooba was the 3rd Imam of the Al Yarooba Dynasty – he ruled the country at the end of the 17th Century. Under his reign – Jabreen was the capital of Oman. The Palace is a jewel under Oman’s Forts – especially beautiful – the painted ceiling once you are on the first floor..Before you go there – please do not miss the kitchen – and further in the back the Dates Storage Room. The room decorations are rich – and it is well worth to see almost every room, while climbing all the way up to the top of Fort. This palace has been the gathering centre for artist of the region and also offered a rare Koran School in those times. However the ruler had to face many enemies – finally succeeding him. His tomb can be seen just left of entrance area. The Conference Hall for example was equipped with hiding places – still to be seen.


WAHIBA SANDS  

Wahiba Sands

This is a clearly shaped and closed Sand Desert – flanked by rich farmland or the blue sea. Its North South expansion is about 180KM, the East West expansion around 80 KM. The northern part of Wahiba is characterized by Sand Dunes, which run from North to South in parallel ways – creating almost mountains and valleys of sand. The dune rises up to 100m. The Southern part of Wahiba is a bit more flat and the dunes does not show this correct order, all due to the winds.
Geologists had found petrified dunes below the sandy surface – the biggest ever found. Additionally quite a surprise, the Sands cover a vast area of natural resources.
Two main tribes share this vast sands – both of then live only partly in their barasti houses with their goats and camels – also take care of farms outside the sands. They are half nomads – moves between the two worlds. Today most of them live close to the edge of the desert in order to supervise their camels’ camp. Wahiba’s camels are famous for their ability to run at the camel races – and some of their owners are proud and rich men today.


SUR   

Sur

In former times Sur was the gate to the world ! At least for Oman. The most important harbour and starting point for Caravans – supplying the rest of the country with the rich shiploads from abroad. Especially in those times, where pirates ruled the seas of the Arabian peninsular, trading ships avoided harbours like Ras al Kheima or Dubai. Distributing the goods from Sur took however much more time and effort in those days – and was mainly conducted on camel and donkey backs.
The glorious times of Sur are long over – and the Dhowyard is only a small memory of old rich times and traditions. Boats and Ships have been the main interest for the men of Sur – either by building, fishing or trading. Trading harbours where mostly located in India, Pakistan and as far down to the East African coast.
The main breakdown for the Dhow (Arabian ships) business was the invention of the steamboats, which replaced the sailboat trading with no mercy. Under the new rule of Sultan Qaboos – and the dawn of modern times – new jobs in other areas attracted the locals of Sur. The remaining fishermen preferred the highly subsidized, smaller and faster fiber-glass boats. Today the Dhowyard is mainly busy with orders of Royal Family Members – or few regular replacements of middle size Dhows heading for India and Pakistan.
Sur nevertheless has never really lost it’s beauty, charm and attraction. Even though business has lost it’s roots in Sur – the strong ties of a rich culture and tradition – keeps the sons and daughters of Sur linked with their home. Many rich families own spectacular houses in Sur and use them on weekends and holidays.
1996, the National day was officially celebrated in Sur – causing a lot of beautification activities. Further more the town will benefit from huge investment projects (Fertilizers and Gas) in the neighourhood – which aim to create a new area of prosperity for the region.


DHOWYARD -

Dhowyard
Located on the creek of Sur, which divides the town into an old and new part. The Dhowyard has a long tradition and history for the town of Sur – which is still running today. However in a much smaller size – in difficult situation it is only covered by high subsides from the government. Although everything seems a little run down – we believe it is worth while to take a closer look. Most important to know, that building a dhow in Sur requires a great deal of knowledge, which has been traditionally passed on from generation to generation. The workers do not work with plans, maps or any sophisticated means. The quality of the wood, which comes mainly from India and Burma – combined with the know how of hundreds of years – eventually provides a beautiful carved dhow. Take a glimpse of a place where time is not counted by days, wood is shaped in old almost forgotten ways and the smell of shark-oil, which finalizes the work – is in the air.
The big Dhow at an exhibition place close to the Dhowyard – has been built around 70 years ago. The Boat type is called “Ghanjah” – and has 300 tons of weight. After the first owner could no longer afford the big dhow – he sold the ship to a Yemeni businessman. Only recently the city of Sur bought the dhow back and is planned to be used as a museum.


SALALAH  

Salalah

Salalah is the modern administrative – as well as the economical center of the South. Salalah is equipped with it'’ own airport, hotel'’ and further to the west -–the harbour of Mina Raysut, big enough to offer anchor places for major international cruise-liners.
Parts of Salalah will remind you more of a tropical place – rather than the south tip of the dry arabian peninsula. Coconut and Papaya trees, as well as extensive banana plantations – and on the sidewalks small shops offer their fresh fruits for small money. Reason for this are the monsoon rainfalls, which strive Salalah and it surroundings between June and September.
The first documentary mentioned harbour of this region dates back to the 1st century AD – “Moscha” ! During the middle ages todays Salalah succeeded about the importance as a Frankincense port and export of fine arabic horses. In the middle of the 13th century Dhofar was captured and plundered by a Hormuz fleet and later involved in conflicts with Yemeni tribes. Dhofar was geographically at the end of along line of trading ports to the southern directions and highly profited from the East African trades. This came to a sudden end with the Portuguese invasion to Oman – and the blockade of it’s ports (Beginning of the 16th century) Muscat/Oman and Aden/Yemen developed rapidly and Dhufar decayed slowly.

PLACES OF INTEREST

AL BALAD, AL HUSN, FRANKINCENSE SOUQ, MUSEUM, GOLD SOUQ, TAQA, SUMHUMRAM, BIN ALI TOMB,
MIRBAT, DHOFAR WEST, NABI AYUB


AL BALAD - Here one can see the ruins of the ancient city “Dhufar”- located east of the Salalah. The area is completely fenced and unfortunately not easy to access. The necessary keys are with the Ministry of Tourism – ask for the department of National Heritage.

AL HUSN - This is the official Sultan’s Residence in Salalah – inside the town-center, just around the corner of the Frankincense souq. It is only to be seen from outside. The palace is quite modest – and was built in the seventies as a replacement of his father’s palace.

FRANKINCENSE SOUQ - This local market is not very big – but for visitors however interesting. Many small shops line up to sell different items – particularly incense and perfumes. Here you find the real Frankincense, which made Oman so rich and famous in ancient times. The incense differs in quality and price – but sold in small quantities and for very affordable prices. Try as well all the other smells, which are regularly used in every traditional omani house: oud, bouchur, etc… Most of the perfumes are based on oil – the western way of alcohol base is in this climate simply not affordable, because it evaporates too fast. The myth says, frankincense for baby jesus was bought by three wisemen from Dhofar.
Please respect the wish of the Jebali Ladies, who are selling in the shops and do not welcome pictures taken of them.

MUSEUM - Very recommendable because it provides good information about History, Culture and Archeology of Oman.
Opening times : SAT-WED – 08:00 – 14:30 hrs/

GOLD SOUQ - In the commercial center of Salalah – at the cross-point of Al Nahda Street and A’Salaam Street. Traditional Arabic and Indian design – big variety of wedding jewelry

TAQA - Although it looks like a small fishing village – Taqa is considered to be the third biggest town in the Dhofar region. On the beach you can still see some of the earlier boat constructions, simply tied with Coconut strips. During the main fish season in winter time you can also watch the fishermen – while drying the Sardines.
In the town center you can visit the local Fort. The Fortress was renovated and newly opened for visitors during the National Celebration in 1993. The rooms are quite small but nicely decorated. It is worth wile to visit this place.

SUMHUMRAM - The key can be obtained from the Ministry of Tourism in Salalah. Please contact the reception of Holiday Inn Hotel – for further help.
It used to be in ancient times – part of the Yemeni kingdom of Hadramaut. Their King ordered in the 2 century AD the construction of Sumhumram.
Khor Rouri is the name of the respective bay – which is today only a sandy area – and a big natural bird sanctuary.

BIN ALI TOMB - Shortly before you rech “Mirbat” – slow down a bit and turn your attention on a signpost to your right, which directs you to “Bin Ali Tomb”. Apart from an interesting cemetery – you will find the shape of the attached mosque very attractive. It is built in a south Yemeni style – topped with onion-shaped roof. Buried here is the holy Sheik Muhammed Ali Al Alawi – a famous muslim figure.

MIRBAT - At the town entrance turn to your right and proceed to the renovated local Fort. From it’s rooftop you have a magnificent view over the old part of town. The houses of the old town center are considered to be the most famous of the region. However they are unfortunately quite run down and only rich imagination will bring back the glory of former times, where this town was an important center of Frankincense trade.
Then turn back to the main road – and Salalah – which is around 60 km away

DHOFAR WEST - Today you will pass the famous Frankincense Trees – but first let’s turn your attention on the graveyard of a popular Muslim and Christian figure:

NABI AYUB - This graveyard is witness of the life of Hiob(/ or Job), who’s extraordinary faith is mentioned in the Christian Bible – as well as in the Muslim Kor’an. You may take pictures in these premises – however please take off your shoes before you enter the small house with the grave inside. Women are kindly requested to wear a head cover – and Men – please do not wear shorts.
In front of the premises – you may see an old Jebali Man – who is considered to be a wise man with the local habitants give him a small tip if you want.


 
Oman's Activities
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Oman's best hotels selection for MICE
DMC Arabia has selected some of the best hotels in OMAN. Many others are available and we love to do business with them. However, this small selection will give you the appetite on the quality available in the Sultanate .

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