AN ARABIAN GEM WITH ENORMOUS DIVERSITY
It now welcomes visitors with renowned Arabian hospitality and is eager to share both the culture and countryside that the Sultan is determined to protect. An ideal destination for guaranteed winter sunshine, whether on honeymoon, with your family or a group of friends, Muscat is the perfect base from which to enjoy the spectacular coastline, boasting beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise waters and excellent diving. From here the imposing rugged interior mountain ranges, Al Hajar and Al Jabal al Akhdar, can be easily explored.
Desert camel treks, luxury camping under the stars and 4-wheel drive wadi safaris through mighty canyons are some of the adventures awaiting the visitor to Oman. From quiet mountain villages where time has stood still, to magnificent UNESCO forts, swaying date-palm plantations, tempestuous blow holes and beautiful beaches, these are the kinds of images afforded by the fascinating country of Oman.
Rich in frankincense and myrrh (and once upon a time copper) Sultan Qaboos’ four-decade rule has seen Oman transformed from a conservative, isolated country into one of the Middle East’s most progressive and prosperous. Modernisation is key to this country and great sensitivity has been shown towards maintaining traditional values and sustainable development. Ancient crafts such as weaving are actively supported and historic buildings have been restored. You will find few high-rise buildings and low-impact development as Oman is keen to preserve its status and heritage, rather than going down the same route as other Arab states. The country’s heritage of forts is impressive. Numbering more than 2,000 (and several of them given UNESCO World Heritage status), they are meticulously restored, although some of them are not yet open to tourists.
The country is predominantly Muslim, including Shi’ite Muslim, Sunni Muslim and the Ibadi strand of Islam, the latter practised by 60% of the population (the only country in the world to do so). However, there are facilities for the worship of other religions – around 13% of the population are Hindu; Arabic is the official language; English is widely spoken; Swahili is also spoken by Omani descendants from Zanzibar, who travelled with the Spice Route; German and French are spoken by some hotel staff; while Urdu, Farsi, Hindi and Tagalog are widely spoken by Oman’s large expatriate workforce.
This is a country that is worthy of exploration, whether just as a short break from the UK or Europe, as part of a multi-centre itinerary with other destinations in the Middle East, Asia or Indian Ocean islands, or in its own right.
Oman generally enjoys almost year-round sunshine with blue skies and in the winter months (November to March) only a little amount of rainfall falls on the coast, with a bit more in the mountains. The heat and humidity can get very high in the summer months (June to September) with temperatures reaching 40°C. In the winter you can enjoy temperatures of around 25°C. From May to August, it is very hot and humid at the coastal areas, while the interior generally remains hot and dry. In Salalah in the southern Dhofar region, there is a micro-climate and the area catches the Indian Ocean’s monsoon season between May and September and as well as rain the temperatures can be up to 15°C lower than the rest of the country. It is also common to see snowfall on the highest mountain peaks during the winter. Note that during the holy month of Ramadan that the sale of alcohol is prohibited until after dusk.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
The size and diversity of terrain in Oman means that the climatic conditions can vary. Generally speaking the most popular time to visit is during the winter months between October to April when the weather is warm and sunny and temperatures range from a very pleasant 25°C to around 35°C during the day. It does get cooler at night but it’s still very pleasant with temperature ranging from 17°C to 19°C. If you can stand the head and humidity then there are excellent deals to be had in the summer months between June and September. Please note that during the holy month of Ramadan that the sale of alcohol is prohibited until after dusk..
Health & Vaccinations
We recommend that you are up to date with all of the usual vaccinations – Typhoid, Polio, Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus and Rabies. Please contact your local GP for full advice at least 3-4 weeks before travel.
Passport & Visa
British passport holders must be in possession of a full 10-year passport and must have at least 6 months validity beyond the date of the return journey back from Oman. British passport holders require a visa to enter into Oman, which can be issued on arrival at Muscat International Airport. The cost of a 10-day single entry visa is OMR5 (around £8) and a single-entry 30-day visa is OMR20 (around £32). A joint tourist visa between Oman and Qatar, or Oman and Dubai is also available, which allows travel between the two countries
WHERE TO STAY