The Sultanate of Oman welcomes travellers seeking to discover the
romantic past of Arabia with genuine friendship and traditional hospitality.
Brief History of Oman,
Eating Out in Oman,
Map of Oman,
Accommodation, Oman Travel Guides,
Omani Travel Tips,
Visa Requirements For Oman,
Available for Travel
Countries neighbouring Oman are:
Saudi Arabia and
Weather in the Middle East:
Local weather forecasts for destinations around the Middle East.
Little is known about Oman's pre-Islamic past, although it appears
that the country was a source of copper around 2,000 BC.
In about 630 AD, Amr Ibn al-As arrived in Oman with a letter from the
Prophet Mohammed to Abd and Jaifar, the two sons of al-Julanda, who at that time ruled
Oman jointly. It is said that their embracing of Islam helped them defeat the Persians.
With the arrival of the maritime trade, the Omanis helped to spread
the word of Islam deep into Asia.
The Portuguese occupied Masqat in the 16th Century, but after they
were expelled in 1650, only the Persians would try to settle in Oman again.
Imam Ahmed bin Said, founder of the present dynasty, expelled the
Iranians in 1741, and made Masqat the capital of newly independent Masqat and Oman.
After 1861 the ruler took the title of sultan, and close ties were
established with Great Britain.
Imams challenged the rule of the sultan, in the early 20th century,
but the backing from Egypt and Saudi Arabia was not enough for them to overthrow him;
especially when he had the support of British forces.
In house rivalry, in 1970, resulted in Qabus bin Said toppling his
father, Said bin Taimur, and claiming the throne.
The new sultan changed the name of the country from Muscat and Oman to
Oman, and then set about unifying the country by liberalising politics and increasing
spending on development.
The prosperity that oil brought to Oman also enabled Qabus to build
himself a fancy waterfront palace; in the capital, Masqat.
Muscat, founded because of its excellent natural harbour, is the
rapidly expanding capital of Oman. Occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century, many
buildings still date from this period.
Beautiful sandy beaches, and mountain ridges that break up the city
into more human sized townships combine to make this a very unusual capital city.
The streets are well laid out and driving on a par with Western
Muscat Must See Sights
The town of Muscat itself with its flamboyant palace flanked by two
medieval forts that overlook the natural harbour.
Dont miss the excellent museum Bait Zubair, the superb Sultan
Qaboos Grand Mosque and the very traditional Souq (bazaar) in the nearby town of Muttrah.
You can also enjoy the experience of hassle free shopping wherever you
The ancient capital of the interior is dominated by the 17th
century tower fort and 9th century castle.
The drive from Muscat takes you beside extraordinarily jagged
The highlight of Nizwa has to be the Friday market with the crowds of
traditionally dressed people doing their weekly shopping that may include the odd live cow
Set at the base of the stark mountains and surrounded by a vast
oasis of date palms this, like many Omani towns, has at its heart a vast fortress that
dates to at least 600AD.
Close by is the town of Nakhl with its hot springs and off the tarmac
road are many Wadis; the steep canyons that are so typical of Oman.
The capital of the southern region of Dhofar, is a popular resort
for Gulf tourists escaping the Arabian heat in summer.
The surrounding mountains become the sub-tropical jungle that must the
most unusual part of the Arabian Peninsular.
Dont miss the chance to visit these mountains at any time of
year as they have a very spiritual atmosphere. This is enhanced by the tombs of many
religious people including, set almost on the peak, that of the Prophet Job -- whose book
in the bible still reflects the cattle, goat and camel culture that is found in these
During the northern winter Salalah is a quiet, fairly typical, small
One of the oldest towns in Oman; two hours west of the capital,
The most eastern town in the Arab world is approached from Muscat
through the Wahaiba Sand desert, from one side, or an impressive coastal drive (along a
rough road) from the other.
This seafaring town still makes the wooden Dhow boats the traditional
way - by hand.
Dont miss the chance to see the giant Green Turtles that nest on
beaches in this eastern region.
Arabesque Tours is licensed by the Oman Ministry of Tourism to provide holidays throughout
Oman, specialising in cultural and interpretative tours for individuals and groups.
Visitors must have a valid visa to enter Oman. Check for
conditions at the local embassy or consulate.
From the UK, Contact:
Consular Section, Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman,
167 Queens Gate, London, SW7 5HE.
Tel: 0171 2250001.
From the USA, Contact:
Consular Section, Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman,
2535 Belmont Road, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006.
Tel: 202 387-1980.
Visitors to Oman will find themselves in a country where Omani men
still wear the traditional white Dishdasha gown and the beautiful Kashmir Mussar turban on
their head. But it's the exquisite silver dagger, the Khunjar, that is the most
distinctive part of a man's attire.
Omani women clothes are colourful. In the main towns the style, while
still very Arabic, is more cosmopolitan than in the interior of the country; where women
still wear trousers with fine silver embroidery around the ankle and the equally dramatic
knee length tunic.
In the desert edges the women wear that most practical facemask, the
Birka, that behind its often golden sheen protect the face from sand blasting and immense
Dressing modestly in this very traditional country, apart from
protecting you against the harsh weather, means that you will receive a more positive
reception from any Omani you meet.
Both sexes should not wear shorts or revealing tops and women, in
particular, should wear a loose long skirt or trousers.
A stroll around the souqs is a must. Life in the markets is always
interesting, and some of the khunjars - Omani daggers - are truly exquisite.
The shopkeepers in the souqs have an old world courtesy and if you
feel like bargaining youll find it's always done with a smile.
Look for souvenirs like Frankincense, the gum of a tree, Omani silver
crafts (always check to make certain it is Omani as there are many Indian versions of
womens jewellery), Kashmiri head wear and even mens or womens
If you're interested in Arabic music, Salim Al Araimi is the latest
Food and Drink
Within Oman, alcohol is available in the major hotels and restaurants
and the standards of food hygiene is as good as can be found in developed nations.
Omanis eat with their hands -- the right hand only -- and are not
allowed alcohol; although visitors to Oman may drink in most hotel bars and restaurants.
If you're meeting an Omani here, don't offer them a beer.
Tap water is potable and mineral water is also widely available; even
in the most remote village.
Changing Money in Oman
Use money changers rather than banks or hotels as the rates are far
better and the opening hours are way longer than banks.
Compare Omani Hotel Prices
Ashkharah, Al Wasil,
In Muscat, the number and variety of hotels is good. Outside of
Muscat the choice becomes more limited.
Palace Hotel in Muscat is among the best in the world and makes up for the sometimes
leisurely service with its superb beach setting and very dramatic design.
Hyatt Muscat has excellent service.
set in its own large grounds, and
set on a cliff, share the Shatti Al Qurm Beach with the best housing in Oman. All three
provide choices of restaurants and more spacious accommodation.
Next to them are budget hotels that have comfortable rooms but you may
be tempted to use the larger hotels facilities for meals.
For business travellers the
Inn, close to the government ministries; or the
all provide good accommodation for a couple of nights stay.
Outside Muscat try the
Sohar Beach Hotel,
in the northern town of Sohar.
Hotel, though set a bit far out of town, is a good hotel.
The Sur Beach Hotel accommodation is basic but passable for a night.
Salalah, in the south, has two good beach hotels - the Holiday Inn or the
- and a range of small hotels in the main town; the best of which is the Haffa House
Hotel, not far from the airport.
The Grand Hyatt's Tuscany Italian restaurant offers an unusual
combination of excellent service, food and ambience; there's even a small Romeo and Juliet
style balcony for dining.
Al Bustan's Al Marjan Restaurant is a French restaurant, where the
food and ambience is outstanding. Its possibly the only restaurant in Oman that
insists on men wearing a tie.
For a taste of Oman try the Al Bustan's Seblat Al Bustan (on
Wednesdays). The live Omani entertainment makes it a very memorable night out.
Restaurants, apart from in the major hotels, tend to offer a standard
range of Indian sub-continent food.
Some recommendations include the Golden Oryx with its Mongolian and
Chinese cuisine; the Mumtaz Mahal for excellent north Indian food and one of the best
views in Oman.
The Pavo Real is Muscat's favourite Mexican themed diner and the do it
yourself entertainment, on some nights, can help break down business barriers.
The Curry House offers simple Indian dining with superb food.
The Oasis' Shatti Al Qurm beach location adds to the enjoyment of the
freshly prepared food.
If you need a snack, many of the small coffee shops will do a chicken
or omelette sandwich in Lebanese bread. Some of them also offer freshly squeezed fruit
Nightlife Centres Around The Hotels
The Bars in the Intercontinental and Radisson SAS are very popular but
the best entertainment is usually in the Grand Hyatts Safari club.
The music may not be the latest sounds from Europe, and the alcohol is
expensive, but the crowds are usually good natured and fun.
Oman Travel Notes was compiled with the help of Tony
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