7 Luxurious Reasons to Visit Oman

The capital of Oman is a breath of fresh sea air in comparison to flashy Emirati neighbors like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Muscat is known for its exquisite souks and seafood, but the real thrills come from the terrain. This port city on the Gulf of Oman is surrounded by the arid Hajar mountains, so you can go on desert hikes in the morning, see dolphins in the evening, and indulge in plenty of warm Omani hospitality throughout the day. There are seven luxurious reasons to visit Oman'

While the UAE draws international visitors to its flashy five-star hotels and huge shopping malls, its neighbor to the east, Oman, has taken a slightly more subtle approach to develop its tourism industry.

Oman hopes that the preservation of its historic sites and spectacular landscapes, rather than the rapid modernization of both, will attract visitors looking for a more relaxed Arabian experience.

The capital city of Muscat may not have many tall glass skyscrapers, but that doesn't mean visitors to this Gulf state need to struggle.

Oman has a wealth of luxury experiences offering modern comforts in a unique Middle Eastern setting.

1. The Chedi, Muscat

Muscat's waterfront has a lovely promenade alongside the city's old Matrouh Souq, perfect for a sunset stroll. The bazaar next door is small but has narrow alleyways lined with carpet and spice sellers and is one of the most authentic in the Middle East.

The Chedi Hotel on the beach just west of Old Town is one of the best in Muscat. Built-in a traditional Omani style and with a bright white facade, the 158 rooms, and high ceilings provide an air of sumptuous grandeur.

The Chedi's narrow infinity pool, which the hotel says is the longest pool in all of Oman, stretches out to the Indian Ocean and is a major draw.

The Chedi Moscato; North Ghubra 32, Road No. 3215, street no. 46, Muscat;  

2. Royal Opera House

Abu Dhabi and Doha may build world-class museums like the Louvre and the Guggenheim, but Muscat is the only city on the Arabian Peninsula with its own opera house.

The ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said opened the Royal Opera House Muscat in 2011. The main hall seats around 1,000 people and hosts regular concerts, ballet, and theater productions.

It has hosted international artists such as Placido Domingo and the London Symphony Orchestra.

The beautifully constructed building itself is worth a visit even if you can't catch a show; combines traditional Omani design with modern acoustic technology and is one of Muscat's most recognizable landmarks.

Muscat Royal Opera House; Al Kharjiyah Street, Muscat;  

3. The Green Mountain

No visit to Oman would be complete without seeing the breathtaking view from the summit of Jabal Akhdar, located nearly 3048 meters in the Hajar Mountains. It's only a short distance from the capital.

Jabal Akhdar, whose name means "green mountain" in Arabic, is covered in trees and shrubs in an otherwise largely desert landscape.

With its year-round mild temperatures, Jabal Akhdar is the perfect place for visitors seeking outdoor adventures or an off-road trek.

Tourists can experience Oman's green mountains from the comfort of a newly built five-star hillside resort. The luxurious Alila Jabal Akhdar opened earlier this year and offers a swimming pool, spa and 86 rooms with stunning mountain views.

Alila Jabal Akdar; Lot n. 4 Al Roose, Jabal Al Akhdar, Nizwa;  

4. Zighy Bay

The small enclave of Musandam, just north of the UAE, is one of the most geographically unique areas in the Gulf region.

For centuries, only boats have had access to the traditional Omani fishing villages along the coast of this mountainous peninsula.

But a new dirt road built into the rugged cliffs now provides overland access to Zighy Bay, a secluded cove with a beautiful stretch of white-sand beach.

Zighy Bay is also home to a Six Senses resort with over 80 villas, many with private pools. The resort offers the region's most unique way to reach a hotel room: parasailing from a 1,000-foot-high rocky lookout.

Six Senses Zighy Bay; Musandam Peninsula; Dibba Bayeh, Oman;  

5. Sailing Explorations

Centuries ago, Omanis dominated the Indian Ocean, earning a reputation as the best sailors in the world. Omani sailors like the legendary Sinbad used wooden dhows to extend the reach of their Sultanate of the Gulf as far as Zanzibar in East Africa.

Today, the government hopes its maritime heritage will draw tourists to its shores.

“Oman's spectacular coastline with its secluded bays, beautiful sandy beaches, enchanting islands, and rich marine life is undoubtedly best explored by sea,” says Ghada Al-Said of Oman Sail.

Oman Sail is a government-funded project that teaches Omani children modern sailing techniques. It also offers tailor-made charter packages for tourists from sunset cruises to overnight yacht tours. Oman Sail; 18th November St., The Wave Muscat, Muscat;

6. Wahiba Sand

Camping under the stars in the desert is a favorite Omani pastime, and Wahiba Sands is a favorite place to do it: a rejuvenating desert retreat away from Muscat, where Bedouin guides offer desert safaris and overnight camping trips.

The 1000 Nights Camps are undoubtedly the most exclusive "hotels" in the entire desert. The rooms are large air-conditioned tents that have all the comforts of most five-star hotels: bathrooms, televisions, and even a refrigerated minibar.

1000 night camps; Mandinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Oman;  

7. Shuwa

One of the most popular dishes in Oman is shuwa, succulent lamb served with spiced rice.

Preparing shuwa usually involves butchering a sheep, marinating the meat in coriander, black pepper, cumin, and cardamom, then slowly cooking the pieces in an underground charcoal sand oven.

The whole process can take an entire day, so shuwa is usually only served as a treat on Omani holidays and special occasions.

There are several high-end restaurants in Muscat that serve homemade shuwa within minutes of ordering. One of the best is called Kargeen, a family-style restaurant with low-floor garden seating in typical Omani style.

Kargen; Al Bashair St., Muscat;  

When you reserve your Oman tour packages with Mountain Valley Holidays, you'll receive the best price on your upcoming trip to Oman.


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