Oman is an Arab country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Holding a strategically important position at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the country shares land borders with the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest, and shares marine borders with Iran and Pakistan. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast. The Madha and Musandam exclaves are surrounded by the UAE on their land borders, with the Strait of Hormuz (which it shares with Iran) and Gulf of Oman forming Musandam’s coastal boundaries.
Oman has one of the most diverse environments in the Middle East with various tourist attractions and is particularly well known for Cultural tourism. The capital of Oman was named the Second Best City to visit in the world in 2012 by the travel guide publisher Lonely Planet. Muscat also was chosen as the Capital of Arab Tourism of 2012.
The Sultanate of Oman has a rich and vibrant history which boasts of thousand years of Civilization. in 2011, discovered a site containing more than 100 surface scatters of stone tools belonging to a regionally-specific lithic industry, the late Nubian Complex, known previously only from Northeast Africa. Two optically stimulated luminescence age estimates place the Arabian Nubian Complex at approximately 106,000 years old. This provides evidence for a distinct Middle Stone Age technocomplex in southern Arabia, around the earlier part of the Marine Isotope Stage 5
The origin of the name of “Oman” is a matter of dispute for the Historians and Scholars. But they all concur in their view that this ancient land played a significant role especially with their skills in shipbuilding and maritime trade.
Sumerian tablets refered to a country called Magan or Makan a name believed to refer to Oman’s ancient copper mines. Mazoon, another name used for the region, is derived from the word muzn, which means heavy clouds which carry abundant water. The present-day name of the country, Oman, is believed to originate from the Arab tribes who migrated to its territory from the Uman region of Yemen. Many such tribes settled in Oman, making a living by fishing, herding or stock breeding, and many present day Omani families can trace their ancestral roots to other parts of Arabia
Dereaze, located in the city of Ibri, is the oldest known human settlement in the area, dating back as many as 8,000 years to the Late Stone Age. Archaeological remains have been discovered here from the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. Findings have included stone implements, animal bones, shells and fire hearths, with the latter dating back to 7615 BC as the oldest signs of human settlement in the area. Other discoveries include hand-molded pottery bearing distinguishing pre-Bronze Age marks, heavy flint implements, pointed tools and scrapers.
Oman lies between latitudes 16° and 28° N, and longitudes 52° and 60° E. A vast gravel desert plain covers most of central Oman, with mountain ranges along the north (Al Hajar Mountains) and southeast coast (Qara or Dhofar Mountains), where the country’s main cities are also located: the capital city Muscat, Sohar and Sur in the north, and Salalah in the south. Oman’s climate is hot and dry in the interior and humid along the coast. During past epochs, Oman was covered by ocean, witnessed by the large numbers of fossilized shells existing in areas of the desert away from the modern coastline
The peninsula of Musandam (Musandem) exclave, which has a strategic location on the Strait of Hormuz, is separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates. The series of small towns known collectively as Dibba are the gateway to the Musandam peninsula on land and the fishing villages of Musandam by sea, with boats available for hire at Khasab for trips into the Musandam peninsula by sea. Oman’s other exclave, inside UAE territory, known as Madha, located halfway between the Musandam Peninsula and the main body of Oman, is part of the Musandam governorate, covering approximately 75 km2 (29 sq. mi). Madha’s boundary was settled in 1969, with the north-east corner of Madha barely 10 m (32.8 ft.) from the Fujairah road. Within the Madha exclave is a UAE enclave called Nahwa, belonging to the Emirate of Sharjah. Situated about 8 km (5 mi) along a dirt track west of the town of New Madha, consisting of about forty houses with a clinic and telephone exchange. The central desert of Oman is an important source of meteorites for scientific analysis.
Like the rest of the Persian Gulf, Oman generally has a hot climate — In summer temperatures in Muscat and northern Oman averaging 30 °C (86.0 °F) to 40 °C (104.0 °F). Oman receives little rainfall, with annual rainfall in Muscat averaging 100 mm (3.9 in), falling mostly in January. In the south, the Dhofar Mountains area near Salalah has a tropical-like climate and receives seasonal rainfall from late June to late September because of monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean, leaving the summer air saturated with cool moisture and heavy fog. Summer temperatures in Salalah range from 20 °C (68.0 °F) to 30 °C (86.0 °F) — relatively cool compared to northern Oman.
The mountain areas receive more rainfall, and annual rainfall on the higher parts of the Jabal Akhdar probably exceeds 400 mm (15.7 in). Low temperatures in the mountainous areas result in snow cover once every few years. Some parts of the coast, particularly near the island of Masirah, sometimes receive no rain at all within the course of a year. The climate generally is very hot, with temperatures reaching around 50 °C (122.0 °F) (peak) in the hot season, from May to September.
Tourism in Oman has grown considerably recently, and it is expected to be one of the largest industries in the nation.
Oman has one of the most diverse environments in the Middle East with various tourist attractions and is particularly well known for Cultural tourism. The capital of Oman was named the Second-Best City to visit in the world in 2012 by the travel guide publisher Lonely Planet. Muscat also was chosen as the Capital of Arab Tourism of 2012.
A single entry visa is issued at the point of entry and is valid for one month. A fine of $4 per day is charged for an overstay beyond the validity of the visa. There are also an express visa, a multiple entry visa and a common visa with Dubai and Qatar, and GCC resident visa.
More Information about visa policy of Oman.
Oman’s coast is lined with many soft sand beaches. Activity for beach visitors include sunning, swimming, kite surfing, diving, snorkeling, boating, surfing, beach combing and shell collecting.
Qurum Beach access is possible from several beach side hotels. This beach is popular with families, walkers, and joggers. The beach is lined with restaurants, snack bars and cafes.
At Qantab beach local fishermen will offer fishing excursions and boat rides.
There are an increasing number of resort hotels on the coast west and east of Muscat. These offer dives, snorkeling, speedboat rides and water scooters.
Water sports and diving
Oman offers world class kitesurfing conditions, due to the daily sea breeze effect. Kite boarding centers can be found at Al Sawadi Beach 70 kilometers north of Muscat and especially on Masirah Island where the monsoon in summer guarantees wind steadily over 20 knots. Muscat city also offers clean safe conditions for learning to kitesurf. Al Azaiba Beach is the hot spot for kite surfing and kitesurfing lessons.
With Oman’s long coastline and clean unpolluted waters, there is a wealth of underwater flora, and marine life. Sea life is abundant with a variety of hard and soft corals. The waters around Oman have an average visibility of 20–30 meters.
Turtle, dolphin and bird watching
Several species of turtles living for over 100 years swim the length and breadth of the Indian Ocean and return every year to lay their eggs on the beaches of Ras al Hadd, Ras Al Junayz and Masirah island.
Dolphins frequent the seas of Oman on a regular basis and can be seen near the coast. Fahal Island is a popular dolphin watching site. Spinner, common and bottlenose dolphins are most common.
Whales visit the shores beaches of the Sultanate at irregular intervals, especially in Ash Sharqiyah and Al Wusta regions, in addition to Dhofar Governorate. The most common types of whales that visit Oman are: Bryde’s whales or tropical whales, blue whales, humpback whales, sperm whales, dwarf sperm whales, Cuvier’s beaked whale, pygmy killer whales, killer whales, melon-headed whales and false killer whale.
Oman is becoming increasingly popular with bird watchers. More than 460 different bird species have been recorded in Oman, out of which, 80 species have been classified as resident, while the rest are migrant and seasonal species. Oman offers a unique opportunity to watch birds from Europe, Africa and Asia in one spot during their annual migrations in spring and autumn. These migratory periods coincide with the cooler weather between October and April. There is an array of bird watching sites in other parts of the country.
The most renowned Omani desert is Sharqiyah Sands (also called Wahiba Sands) with its dunes rising to nearly 200 meters. Witnessing sun setting is an inspiring event but, once the sun has drifted below the dunes a truly spectacular blanket of stars is revealed. Desert adventures in Oman can be by camelback or four-wheel drives. Activities generally include sleeping out in Barsti huts, Omani BBQ under the stars, camel riding and visiting the Bedouins. No desert tour would be complete without jumping on board a sand board. As with snowboarding, sand boarding is becoming a loved sport.
Oman abounds with many caves of different sizes, topography and ruggedness, some of which can be accessed with a group of amateurs, like Muqal Cave in Wadi Bani Khalid in Ash Sharqiyah region, while others need considerable effort, training, experience and specialized equipment. The most famous cave in Oman is the Al Hoota Cave. It’s located at the foot of Jebel Shams of Al Hamra.
Omani Souqs (Markets) are preferable locations to purchase handicrafts and are always bustling with tourists. Omani markets are characterized by their diversity. Old markets are full of handicrafts like silver, gold, textiles and masterpieces produced by other Omani industries like daggers and coexist with modern shopping malls and other shopping centers that contain everything the visitor is looking for at the best prices.
As for the traditional markets in Oman, the morning hours are the best time for shopping. There are Souqs in every Omani town. The most famous amongst these are the Ruwi and Muttrah Souq. Shoppers can even get their hands on old Arabian muskets at these souqs.
Trekking and rock climbing
Rock climbing enthusiasts of all levels will find plenty to keep them busy as routes of all grades are available. Rugged mountains, steep cliffs overlooking breathtaking sceneries, rouged paths, deep canyons and towering cliffs present an enigmatic challenge. The rocky towers of Wadi Ghool, scales to a height of 300 meters and the gorgeous façade of Jabal Mishfat has climbs from 120 to 500 meters. Jabal Misht remains the model location due to its rocky façade that extends roughly for 6 km and rises to 850 m. The book “Rock Climbing in Oman” suggest some of the best climbs in Oman.
Nearly every Omani city and town has its own fort. Most of them were built or had major expansions during Al-Yarubi dynasty rule of Oman in between 1624 and 1744. They represent the fine Omani architecture and prosperity at that time. In times of war and with high and thick walls, their purpose was as a refuge for the people
and a last line of defense for the town. Forts were prepared to withstand long siege with water wells, food storing capacity and secret tunnels ending many kilometers away from the walls of the fort. In times of peace they served as a center of governance, a place for education and a social interaction point.
The list is long but, here are some of the well-known names: Al-Jalali Fort, Al-Mirani Fort, Nakhal Fort, Rustaq Fort, Sohar Fort, Nizwa Fort, Bahla Fort, Qurayat Fort, Khasab Fort, Al-Hellah Fort, Al-Khandaq Fort, As-Suwaiq Fort, Barka Fort, Bait An-Nuaman, Al-Hazm Fort, Ibri Fort, Bait Ar-Radaidah, Jibrin Fort, Al-Muntarib Fort, As-Sunaisilah Fort, Bilad Sur Fort, Ras al-Hadd Fort, Mirbat Fort, Sadah Fort and Taqa Fort
World Heritage Sites
Bahla Fort, Bahla Fort lies in Bahla State in Dakiliya region. Since 1987, its name has been included in the World Heritage Sites List. Bahla Fort includes: Bahla Oasis with its traditional souks, old alleys, ancient mosques and its wall that extends over a distance of approximately 13 kilometres and whose construction dates back to the pre-Islamic era. Originally, Bahla Fort was built in the third millennium BC. The length of its South façade is about 112 metres, while its eastern façade is about 114 metres. It is evident that Bahla Wall that extends over a distance of 12 kilometres, with its terraces, apertures for opening fire and guards houses had been designed for defence purposes.
Ancient settlements and tombs
The third-millennium BC settlement and tombs in Bat, the Al-Khatm and Al-Ain locations in Adh-Dhahira region, Bat Tombs historical sites are located in Bat, Al Khutum and Al Ayn in Ad Dhahirah region in Ibri Governorate. They are considered one of the archaeological and historical sites that date back to the third century BC and are located to the east of Ibri. In 1988, Bat Tombs was the second site to be included in the World Heritage list in Oman. In the southern part, the site is a collection of graves built on the lines of those found in Um AnNar, while in the northern part, the graves look like beehives and date back to the third millennium BC. The architecture is similar to the tombs built in the Hafit period. Another cemetery containing 100 tombs built of stone was also discovered, where the evolution from the beehive style to cemeteries built during Um AnNar period is apparent. While the beehive cemetery contained between two and five tombs, Um AnNar cemeteries were mass graves. A similar cemetery of this style was discovered containing 30 burial chambers. The historic significance of the Bat site is that it is located at the crossroads of an ancient trade route. Caravans loaded with goods heading to other nearby destinations passed through Bat. Included with the Bat settlement in the World Heritage List are two other sites: Al Khutum “Al Wahrah” and Wadi Al Ayn Tombs.
Frankincense trees in Dhofar in souther Oman
The luban (frankincense) route in Dhofar. The route comprises the ancient cities of Al-Blaid and Shasr, Khuwr Rori, and Wadi Dooka. These locations collectively contributed to the flourishing of frankincense trade for many centuries. The frankincense trees in Wadi Dukah, the Al Shisur Oases and the ports of Khawr Ruri and Khawr Al Baleed have contributed to the prosperity of the frankincense trade in the region for several centuries. It was one of the most active trades in the Middle Ages and earlier.
The Frankincense Route contains a number of sites where the process of manufacturing and exporting of frankincense took place. Some of the frankincense trails incorporated in the World Heritage List in 2000 are:
• Frankincense Land Museum: The Land of Frankincense Museum is considered one of the most prominent historical museums in Oman.
• Al Balid City: dates back to before 2000 BC. Some archaeological research confirms that the city’s prosperity dates back to the Iron Age.
• Khawr Al Baleed: This lagoon takes its name from the ancient city which lies on the banks of this lagoon. The lagoon flanks the city on the east and north.
• Khawr Ruri (Samhram City): Khawr Ruri is the largest reserve in the Governorate of Dhofar. It is considered the most attractive to tourists as it contains Khawr Ruri port.
• Shisur / Awbar: The ruins of Awbar lie in Dhofar Governorate. This city remained lost for centuries and was considered one of the mysterious archaeological secrets.
• Wadi Dukah: Wadi Dukah lies in Najd region on the northern slopes of Dhofar Governorate, located approximately 25 kilometres north of the city of Salalah. Wadi Dukah is a model valley of the areas where the frankincense trees grow.
Five falajs. In July 2006, the World Heritage Committee endorsed the inclusion of the five Omani falajs in the World Heritage List to express the international standing of this unique water system that represents a cultural legacy created by the Omanis over 2,000 years ago, being the oldest irrigation structure in the region. It is still the major source of irrigation in the Sultanate and a water source that can be relied on in most Omani cities and villages. It is rare to find anything like these falajs elsewhere in the world. They are:
- Falaj Daris is one of the largest falaj in Oman and lies in Wilayat Nizwa in A’Dakhiliyah Region. It is a Dawoodi Falaj. It consists of two branches: The “Big Branch” running for a length of 1,700 metres, and the “Small Branch” with a length of 1,900 metres. Falaj Daris stems from Wadi Al Abyad (White Valley). A lot of this State’s residents depend on Falaj Daris to water their crops that extend from Shariat Al Falaj in Daris to the market area.
- Falaj Al Khatmayn: Falaj Al Khatmayn lies in Birkat Al Mawz village in Wilayat Nizwa in A’Dakhiliyah Region. It is a Dawoodi Falaj and is fed by Wadi Al Muaydin that flows heavily during rainfall. Its total length is about 2,450 metres. It is a branch of the Dawoodi falaj that flows plentifully during heavy rainfall. Its overall length is about 2,450 metres. Falaj Al Khatmayn is characterized by its acute precision in the distribution of falaj water and continuous flow throughout the year. What distinguishes this Falaj is that its course runs through Bayt Ar Rudaydah, one of the famous castles in Oman.
- Falaj Al Malaki: Falaj Al Malaki is located in Wilayat Izki in A’Dakhiliyah Region. and is one of the oldest falaj in the Sultanate. Falaj Al Malaki is considered one of the largest Dawoodi Falaj as it has 17 branches that feed the falaj.
- Falaj Al Muyassar: Falaj Al Muyassar is one of the most important falajs in Wilayat Ar Rustaq in Al Batinah Region. It is characterized by its deep waterway and the large number of its branches.
- Falaj Al Jaylah: Falaj Al Jaylah is an Ayni Falaj. It lies in Al Jaylah town in Sur in A’Sharqiyah Region(Eastern Region) and is fed by Wadi AlShab. Feeding from Wadi Shab, this falaj is the town’s main water source. The length of its open channels that starts from the fountainhead and ends and at the water basin is 161 metres. Falaj Al Jaylah water is used for irrigation. This falaj has been included in the World Heritage List.
- Thank you. shukran
- Thank you very much. shukran jaziilan.
- You’re welcome.’ahlan wa sahlan.
- Please. rajaa’an.
- Yes. ’ajal./naxam.
- No. kalla./laa.
- Excuse me. afwan.
- Pardon me. afwan./auzran.
- I’m sorry. ’anaa ’aasif.
- I don’t understand. la ’afham.
- I don’t speak Arabic. anaa la ’atakallam al- arabiyya.
- I don’t speak Arabic very well. ’anaa laa ’atakallam al- arabiyya jayyidan.
- Do you speak English? hal tatakallam ’ingilizi?
- Speak slowly, please. rajaa’an takallam biboT’.
- Repeat, please.’a id, min faDlak.
- What’s your name?ma ’ismuk?
- How are you?kayfa Haaluka? (m.) (kayfa Haaluki? (f.))
- Do you speak English? hal tatakallam ’ingilizi?
- Where is a good restaurant?hal hunaaka maTamun jayyid huna?
- Is the tip included?hal al-baqshiish maHsuub?
- How much does that cost?kam huwa th- thaman?
- Can I get on the internet? hal ’asta tii ooh ’an ’astamil al-’internet?
- Can you help me?hal tasta Tii ooh ’an tusaa idani?
Ministry of Tourism www.omantourism.gov.om
Royal Omani Police www.rop.gov.om/english/
Numbeo – Cost of Living in Oman www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/Oman/
Royal Opera House Muscat www.rohmuscat.org.om/
PDO Planetarium www.pdo.co.om/Planetarium
Oman Tourism in the News http://timesofoman.com/Oman/Tourism