The Sultanate of Oman
The Sultanate of Oman, situated just beside Saudi Arabia and the UAE and one of the Gulf States. I arrived here almost 9 months ago now, having never been out of Europe before. My first impression was of the heat, i arrived at about elecven o clock at night and it was over 30 degrees. The thing i find hilarious is that no one seems to know anything about this place. Before i left ireland people were asking me where i was going and when i told them......''where is that' so eventually i just responded with 'the middle east'. Everyone knows all about Dubai, Avu Dhabi, even Qutar and Bahrain now, some for the wrong reasons of course.
A Brief History
Last year was the 40th Anniversary of the current Sultan being in Power, 18th of November is National Day. Since the current Sultan, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said, took power there have been huge changes to the country. For instance,In 1970 there was only 10km of tared road and just one school in the whole country. Now there are Motorways and Universities. Of course the Oil fields in the Interior (desert) have made this all possible.
What Oman has to Offer
If you were to travel to Oman for a Holiday what could you expect. Firstly you needa visa which can be purchased at the airport for 20 omani rial, which is just under 40 euro. Do try to change your currency before to get here though because if you pay in Euro it will cost you 50. Muscat is the capital city and this is where you would be flying into. It has an array of beautiful hotels from the Hyatt, Shangri La, to the cheaper Holiday Inn and Ibis. The Hyatt is approximately 200 Omani Rial for a suite, bedroom and sitting room, per night but at the right time you can get the second night free. It is a beautiful hotel and well worth a visit. The Shangri La is even more beautiful, although i have only seen the outside of this hotel. Then on the cheaper end of the market, but equally comfortable are the Holiday inn and Ibis.
Once you have chosen you hotel you may need to hire a car. This is relatively easy and cheap, once you have a credit card. You can hire a nissan sunny for 8-12 omr per day and a Hummer will only cost you about 35omr per day. Remember they drive on the Right Side of the road here, i made that mistake a couple of time!!! Once you have somewhere to stay and a car what is there to see. When you are coming from the airport into the city you will see on your right the Grand Mosque, and if you arrive at night you will be amazed by the size and beauty of this building when it is lit up, this is definately a place to see. Now, you may think that because we have lots of sun everyone goes to the beach, wrong. Sunbathing is not done here in public, only at your hotel pool or private compound pools. This is a muslim country and we have to respect and abide by there laws and traditions. Compared to Other Muslim countries though this is quiet ok. Men can walk around the shops in Shorts and a T Shirt and women can wear knee length skirts or trousers. Right, im sarting to ramble a bit.
When here you have to travel out to the desert and to the mountains. Head for Ibra in the desert its an old world village. Turtle beach is another huge camping attraction. Walk the beaches you wont get more beautifull. If you can fly to Salallah its only an hour, or you can drive but 10hrs is a long long drive, ive done it. Salallah is a few degrees cooler than Muscat and in winter the Mountains are green, and look fantastic. Drive out of salallah on the road to Yemem, you will follow a road winding up the mountain to over 3000ft and what a view from the top. When in Salallah look for the cocuned and banana sellers, thers are small huts on the side od the road outside the plantations. You can buy fruit straight from the trees, the bananas are gorgeous. You will not find a more relax country and the people are always friendly and helpful. The crime rate in Oman is almost 0. So take your time when here and have a good look around. Oh, go to the souk (market) in Mutrah it has everything from toilet roll to Gold Jewellery. Its a must!
The Sultanate of Oman is definately worth a visit and can give you a very enjoyable holiday.
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