Oman, one of the lesser known and uncommercialized Arabian Sultanate has a different perspective to offer in relation to the Arab culture while it has embraced modernity it is well rooted and grounded to its traditional lifestyle and culture. The geographical platter Oman has to offer ranges from water bodies like Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean to the vast expanse of Desserts and Mountainous terrains which makes it a perfect country for you to traverse along.
To discover what you can expect from Oman and Omani Culture read along:
1. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
It is one of the most prime and serene mosques of Muscat and is the only mosque in Oman that allow Non-Muslim visitors. The interiors of the mosque are adorned with beautiful intricate designs and patterns that are enhanced by the chandeliers studded with Swarovski Crystals. To enter the mosque, one needs to cover the body from head to toe in order to respect their culture. The mosque is open to Non-Muslim visitors from 8am to 11am except Fridays
2. The Parliament Building
As it is a parliament building, tourists and common people are not allowed to enter the premises. But from the complex of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, you can admire the white structure of the Omani Parliament as both these places are situated opposite sides of the road. This building is known as the Majlis Oman.
3. Bait Al Zubair Museum
This is museum is like a time machine to the old era of this Arabian Sultanate. In this museum, you can find collections of stamps, jewellery, attires, swords, old coins and rustic medals, antiques and art collections and much more.
This museum opens 9.30am to 6pm (Saturday-Thursday)
Entry fee of Adult is 2 Riyals and Children (10-15 years) is 1 Riyal
1 Riyal = approximate INR 18
This museum is in proximity to the Al Alam Palace in the historic City of Muscat
4. Al Alam Palace
This palace is one of the 6 Royal Residences of the Sultan of the Oman that is located in Old Muscat. This palace now hosts only official gatherings and functions. The tourists are not allowed inside but can go up to the gates of the Palace and take photographs of this structure. This Palace is surrounded by the Portuguese Forts of the Mirani and Jalali. By visiting this mosque, one can guess the opulence and rich culture of the Oman and its Sultanate.
5. Royal Opera House of Muscat
The Royal Opera House of Muscat is a cultural hub to showcase the global collaborations of different art and culture. If you do not want to watch any shows, you can definitely give a short visit to this beautiful white structure as it is worth the time. To book shows you can visit their official website for timings and cost.
6. Muttrah Souk
Muttrah Souk is situated adjacent to the Muscat Harbour. This local market of Oman has its very own old-world charm and attracts tourist to indulge in some shopping experiences. The souk offers locally cultivated, dates, Kahwa, artefacts, perfumed oils, incense stick, silverware, decorative lamps and a few clothing items, hookah pipes, leather work etc. The Omani halwa that is a very famous sweet item of Muscat is available in Muttrah Souk. This halwa is very similar to the halwa that is available in the markets of Mumbai because of the ancient trade relations with India.
7. The Costal Road along the Muscat Harbour
After shopping at the Muttrah Souk, you can stroll around the breezy coastal road or take a drive to enjoy the panoramic views of the Gulf of Oman. This coastal route follows Ruwi in South of Muscat to Quriyat and Sur on the other.
8. Wahiba Sands
Also known as Sharquiya Sands/ Ramlat-al-Wahiba is situated at a distance of 120kms from Muscat City. The road leading to Wahiba Sands is equally scenic and beautiful and journey is very comfortable and smooth because the roads are well connected and paved. As it is dessert terrain it is always advisable to start early so that you can experience the activities of Wahiba Sands in a pleasant climate. One of the very famous activities and mostly experienced by the tourists is the dune bashing which is even more exciting then the Desserts of Al-Avir in Dubai. Personally, we enjoyed the dune bashing at Oman more than the one which we experienced at Dubai.
After the dune bashing the local tribal people will serve you with local Dates and Kahwas in the traditional huts. Their hospitality is very warm and comforting To know more about the Dubai Experiences of dune bashing follow the link
9. Wadi Bani Khalid
After visiting the Wahiba Sands, visiting Wadi Bani Khalid is like getting transported in altogether different planet. Wadi Bani Khalid is one of the best and popular wadis of Oman. Wadi is basically like an oasis in the middle of an arid dessert regions of Oman. There is constant flow of water in Wadi Bani Khalid throughout the year and the whole region seems like a picture-perfect location on the lines of some beautiful wallpaper. The water is extremely crystal clear with shades of Blue and Green and is like a metaphor to a natural swimming pool surrounded by the Hajar Mountains. If you aren’t a water baby you can surely get a natural fish pedicure for yourself by just dipping your feet on the edges of the Wadis. It also serves as a picnic spot for the locals as well and there are organised shelters and benches to relax and laze around. There is just one café at this tourist point but as it is the only place to eat, the food served is not of a standard quality but the washrooms available at the disposal are clean to freshen up. It is advisable to visit around 4pm in the evening so that you can witness the sunset and the changing colour of the water as per the light of the setting sun.
The distance between Wahiba Sands and Wadi Bani Khalid is around 120kms which can be covered in the span of 1.5 hours and it is advisable to cover these two places on the same day as they are tourist spots outside the city limits of Muscat.
Bellas Suggestion: The tourist spots mentioned from 1 to 8 can be categorised as city sightseeing and is manageable to cover within a day as all the destinations are situated in proximity to each other.
10. Dolphin Watching
For a very unique experience of Oman, you can go for Dolphin Watching that happens everyday between 8am to 12pm and the boats leave at the intervals of 8am, 10am and 12 noon. This Dolphin watching is for about 2 hours and is operated from the Marina Bundar Al Rowdah Boat Club near Al Bustan Hotel. There are definite chances of spotting Dolphins along the coastline of Oman and if at all you are not able to spot any Dolphins, the speed boat ride itself is an exciting experience altogether.
The charges of Dolphin Watching ranges around 15 to 20 Riyals per person. Tickets for kids may vary as per their age. The ticket charges include soft drinks and water. When we went to watch the Dolphins, the sea was extremely rough but was one of the most thrilling 2 hours of speed boat ride that we enjoyed and we also spotted the Dolphins in such rough sea. If anyone has any motion sickness due to sailing in such rough sea then please avoid or take due precautions before you book. Please reach before time as per the slots to get good sitting arrangements in the boats allotted.
Oman is a culinary delight to the non-vegetarian tourist because the Kebabs and the local meat preparations are very famous and have the authentic spicy flavour in them and as Muscat is situated along the coast there are variety of sea food options available as well. You can find high-end cafes along with some budgeted food options in the city of Muscat and it is not a task to find some good food options during your stay in Oman.
Our 2 days stay in Muscat was at Ruwi Hotel which is now also known as Tulip Inn Downtown located on the Al Farahidi Street in Muscat which is situated in the centre point of the city. The hotel has amazing Wi-Fi connectivity and staff is extremely helpful with decent amenities and food options. It is difficult for vegetarian guests to get adjusted to their buffet menu but the staff is very considerate to specifically prepare food as per your vegetarian preferences. In our 2 days in Oman all our meals were at Tulip Inn Downtown. The breakfast spread is very decent and satisfactory to all types of taste buds. They have only one category of room i.e. standard double room. The hotel has swimming pool, gym, fitness centre, night clubs, sun terrace, airport drop and also handles local tours and bookings.
For the costing of the hotel, you can contact the hotel management through their website
We visited Oman in the month of January and the climate during this month is extremely favourable and not at all exhausting. Since it is a dessert country, please avoid visiting during their summer months because you will not be able to even move out of the hotel due to the scorching heat. Ideal time to visit Oman is between December- April.
Bellas Suggestion: Oman is an extremely friendly and co-operative country and it is safe to travel throughout the day and also in the evenings in the city areas of Oman. Make sure to keep your car speed limits in check otherwise you will be heavily fined for over speeding.
What to Wear?
Being an Arab Country, it is not compulsory for tourist to follow their traditional dress code while visiting Oman unless you are visiting their religious places of worship. All said and done please maintain a dress code to respect their culture and tradition. If you are visiting during the months between December- April carry a very light weight jacket because the winters are extremely cold but pleasant.