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Oman

Oman

Oman, officially the Sultanate of Oman, is a country located in West Asia. Oman is one of the oldest human-inhabited places on Earth. It is situated on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and spans the mouth of the Persian Gulf. It shares land borders with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, while sharing maritime borders with Iran and Pakistan.Golden desert dunes and soft-sand beaches, 16th-century forts and busy souqs, imposing mountains and grand canyons — Oman's offerings are diverse and accessible and make a great place to visit in the Middle East.

🙂 Rich culture, unique cuisine …. breathtaking desert and wadi scenery

🙁 HOT!!! 45C-50C every day of our trip!

Currency: Omani Rials

THREE things we did not know about Oman:

  1. Oman has a non existent crime rate. This fact about Oman will make you feel safe when visiting the country. While the crime rate fluctuates over the years in several countries, the Omani people boast of a virtually non-existent crime rate. Reasons for this are attributed to the stringent Sharia law implemented in the country, which calls for rigorous punishment for any crime committed. Measures such as these have led to the sharp fall in the crime rate and serve to keep it at bay. 
  2. Honking is prohibited. An unwritten rule. Advocators of the fact that silence builds character, the Omani are prohibited from honking in public and private places unless the direst of situations demand it. Walk down the streets of Oman, and you wouldn’t find a single soul honking unnecessarily. 
  3. Excellent breed of horses / stallions. Ask an equestrian which breed do they desire the most, and the answer would undoubtedly be the Omani breed. The Omani are known for raising horses which have incredible speed, endurance and stamina. Legend has it that King Solomon gifted an Omani tribe a stallion named Zad el-Raheb which was the epitome of an encapsulated all the qualities. It’s said that all these beautiful horses have descended from this horse.

In 1904, Muscat City walls and gates were locked at 6 pm every evening and anybody venturing out after dark had to carry a lantern. Under the reign of Sultan Said bin Taimur Oman was a feudal, backward and divided country. There were almost no roads, schools or hospitals. Citizens had to obtain the permission of the Sultan to buy a radio or to wear spectacles. Only 23 years ago Oman had only three private elementary schools, with a total of 900 students, all boys, and no public schools at all. The only education to which most Omani children could aspire was learning to read just enough to recite Qur’anic verses correctly. In addition to an almost totally illiterate population, Oman, with only two hospitals, had formidable health problems. It lacked even a rudimentary economic infrastructure, with fewer than 6 miles (10 kilometers) of paved roads, and only a scattering of homes in the capital served by electricity.

On July 23, 1970, supporters of Qabus bin Said Al Said stormed al-Hisn, the sultan’s seaside palace in Salalah, and forced his father the sultan to abdicate and accept exile. Two weeks later, the new 30-year-old sultan made his first appearance in the capital Muscat and a new era began. For the next few years, nearly any Omani, when asked what he or she thought of the new ruler, would almost inevitably reply, “Before him, there was nothing. Now, there is everything.” Over the next decade or more, the sultanate made enormous strides in developing its potential and raising the standard of living of its people.

Wednesday, 22 May 2024

We were very excited to do this trip with our neighbours and were collected by Jimmy at 6pm for our 10pm flight. Matt had us rolling on the floor with laughter as he donned the protection kit – the passengers gave him very strange looks! It was quite an eventful flight! Firstly, a Russian sounding old lady came to be seated next to Matt … she was highly agitated and complained next to the man on the other side that he should move his things from her seat, he replied that they were not his things and proceeded to ignore her. She then angrily gestured to the air hostess to come over and demanded that she remove everything from her seat, but then grabbed the pillow back! LOL. Then she jumped up and started vomiting into the paper bag standing in front of us – quite awful. She asked to be moved and fortunately after take off she relocated elsewhere. Then a man was standing waiting for the toilet and promptly passed out! The chap in the seat next to where the old lady had been sitting was dressed to the nines in Louis Vuitton labelled clothing and jumped up and came into the toilet opposite us and got water and wet paper… I tried to wake Paul but he got cross with me …Kim was fast sleep and Matt was so intrigued by his book that he did not even look up once throughout the whole ordeal! All the air hostesses surrounded him and fanned him and they got an oxygen mask on him and then he seemed to recuperate and they helped him up and to his seat a little further forward. I then fell asleep and when I woke up I asked Kim if she had been aware of the commotion as she appeared to be soundly asleep. She then said that she was the one to call the air hostesses – I was a bit confused, and then noticed rLuis Vuitton had a bandage on his head! Apparently he had also fainted and had knocked his head! Three people wiped out all in the space of a few hours! … It was rather irritating as everyone appeared to think that I made it all up about the first man who passed out and they kept insisting thatI was mistaking him for Mr Luis Vuitton…. lol … why would I do that?! None queerer than folk, as my Granny would always say….ho, hum. You can actually see Mr Luis Vuitton in the pic behind Matt!

We flew Qatar so that we could earn Tier Points. The flight was supposed to depart at 22h05 but we left late so arrived in Doha at about 07h30 instead of 06h40 which meant that it was no time to wait for our connecting flight to Muscat at 08h55. We landed at 11h30 and it was already a scorching 46C! Our hire car was ENORMOUS!

The roads are excellent! It is also fairly quiet as Oman only has a population of 4.57m (2022)… it is 1.3 times the size of the United Kingdom which in comparison has a population of 66.97m of which 8.98m are in London! We had to stop at a Police Checkpoint as only 4x4s are allowed up the mountain.

We headed to ANANTARA AL JABAL AL AKHDAR RESORT, located two hours from Muscat on the fabled Green Mountain… elevated luxury reveals dramatic canyon views at one of the world’s highest resorts. It featured in The World’s Best Hotels and when we arrived we could see why! Amazing service and room with a view to die for! I will let the photos do the talking!

After a bit of R&R and a dip in the pool we were staving and headed over to order the High Tea – we felt like we were Alice in Wonderland!

We then headed out with Hussein to to the Three Villages Walk. The Green Mountain now looked rather barren … apparently there was annual rainfall which supplied all the Villages with sufficient water to irrigate their crops (similar system to the Levadas in Maderia) but when the new City was built this water was redirected which meant that the terraced crops failed. We suspect that this matter will be addressed and the Green Mountain will once again be green! The locals were enjoying a refreshing swim to cool down from the 35C heat (MUCH cooler in the mountains!).

We followed the flags … the roses had finished blooing in mid May but the Pomegrtantie flowers were out.

Omani doors are captivating and there is no shortage of variety. They can be made out of wood, metal, or both. The colour combinations, textures, and decorative details are seemingly endless. Omani people say that Doors are often the first thing a guest sees when they are entering your home and you want to make a good impression.

We headed back…unfortunately we had missed the sunset but the golden hour was still beautiful. A couple were dining at at Diana’s Point, where Diana had been photographed in 1986.

It was a bright full moon …stunning! I woke up for sunrise – it was incredibly peaceful watching the light change and welcoming the new day.

Matt, Kim and I had booked the morning Yoga session and headed over for our 07h00 start.

A beautiful setting and an excellent Yogi – lots of balalnce and breathing!

We felt very relaxed and met Paul at Breakfast. There was so much choice! We ate far more than was good for us including some Arabic delights.

After Kim and I finished breakfast we took a walk around the hotel ad stood at Diana’s Point and the Royal Viewpoint.

Then we went to watch the tail end of the Ziplining and Rock Climbing that Matt and Paul had participated in – they loved it! Anantara’s Ultimate Jabal Activity Wall showcases the best of what the mountain resort has to offer, running 200 metres along the plunging cliff face 2,000m above sea level that overlooks miles of mountain terraces and ghost villages in the hills.

Paul said it was actually quite nerve wracking – especially the start!

After the excitement of it all we headed back to enjoy the beauty and splendour of our surroundings from the pool as the hotel had kindly given us a late check out….blissful…

We had enjoyed a wonderful stay and packed alot in …we bade the lovely staff farewell and headed off to our next destination: Oman Desert Camp. we were slightly nervous as we had some reviews saying it was very basic with no air con and it was 50C!

We were very relieved when we discovered that we were actually in very comfortable tents with air con AND a hot tub and a fully stocked mini bar (alcohol free of course).

We headed over to the communal area and enjoyed a varied and filling lunch. We were the only people in camp and were the last guests of the season.

We headed out into the dunes at 17h30 for dune bashing – our guide was an accomplished driver and flew up and over tall dunes – exhilarating stuff! Sandboarding was fun … and very ..sandy! The sunset was magnificent…

Great fun! We headed back and enjoyed a hot tub cool down! Dinner was plentiful and delicious – especially the BBQ’d Camel – quite fatty but very tasty!

And if we had not had enough adventure in one day … next up was the Camel Ride under the stars! Poor Kim got a raw deal and the most uncomfortable Camel of the trip! She also had a four year travelling behind her who lurched in the sand! Matt finally swapped and things went a little better but the bruising was done! The ride was about an hour! The camel and I fell in love! Too adorable…

We then sat around the campfire for a while before heading to bed!

We were up at 08h00 for breakfast and then quad biking! I chose to share with Paul as I went so slowly in Namibia – we were mildly alarmed at the sticker clearly indicating that it was life threatening to be over 80Kgs or two up on a quad bike… Yikes.

Fun, Fun, Fun! We paked up and headed onwards…we did laugh at this ‘Drive Through’ in the Desert! LOL.

Unlike many countries where camels are bred mainly for domestic work and transportation, camels in Oman are bred specially to take part in the many camel racing events that are held from April to August. The camel races here are a must see for its electrifying atmosphere and the number of people who come to witness it. Almost all cities have tracks built for camel races. Seeb is the main city for camel racing. Races start early in the morning around 6 AM and continue only till 9 AM. Races take place only on Fridays and on public holidays.

I was disappointed that I had not booked a camel race – they take place at Dawn and are an Omani obsession… although shrouded in a dark cloud as in the past (and apparently even now, in Dubai!) Pakistani boys were kidnapped at the age of 2/3 years old and trained to be light weight jockies until about 5years old…often abused and malnourished and given growth inhibitors… 🙁

A camel’s price starts from about $55,000 (£40,000) but thoroughbreds can go for a lot more. Back in 2010 an Emirati camel-racing fan spent £6.5m on three camels. The prices of winning camels go even higher – from between $5-10m, but for some can fetch up to $30m.

As we had opted for the shorter Quad bike tor we still had most of the day so headed to Wadi Shab. Wadi Shab is breathtaking. With giant honeycomb walls and crystal clear emerald water, it’s what Arabian dreams are made of. Things get even more exciting when you swim through a narrow passageway and into a cave with its very own hidden waterfall. It’s a magical place and no one who visits would question why it’s become Oman’s most coveted wadi. We arrived and there is a large parking area, toilets and a cafe. We paid the Boatman our 1 Real each for our return trip, a short row across a body of water under a large bridge. The water flowers were stunning.

We were told it was a 5Km round trip hike …but our Fitbits told a different story of 11km?! Interesting! It was VERY hot! After disembarking you meander past some date plantations and then about 1km later you’ll begin winding your way around the canyon walls. The cycadas were singing as we entered the gorge.

It was VERY hot! After disembarking you meander past some date plantations and then about 1km later you’ll begin winding your way around the canyon walls. The path is well made and nice and grippy when dry. It can have the odd slippery bit on the way back when lots of wet feet have walked over it. I raced onwards to the first body of water where American kids were jumping off the high ledge. Paul and I joined them – it was a LONG way down!

The scenery is just spectacular!

This first pool made for a quite a nice swim right to the other end while the others walked above….the heat was too intense for me – at least the water kept me cool

You then follow the canyon wall for 350m and cross the wadi twice once on a little bridge and then on some boulders. The boulders were slippery and both Matt and Kim slipped….Matt thought he had broken his ankle and Kim had a HUGE bruise!

Inbetween climbing a few rocks there is plenty of ‘normal’ track which also helps keep you on course. It’s only around 100m of boulders before you hit a nice path again, so it’s no big deal, but requires a touch more care than the rest of the track up to this point. After the boulders and just under 2km into the walk you’ll reach a falaj (ancient water channel) and you follow it briefly before hitting a path again.

You then arrive at a big opening with a pyramid like cliff in front of you…the pool is 100m further and you can access it from either side of the river.

Then you get to the Cave Pool – There isn’t any shallow ground until you’re just outside the cave, when you can sit on the shallow rock shelf to the right of the cave opening. It is a narrow squeeze through the rocks and then it opens into a cavern with a water fall and slide.

Paul was very proud of himself for swimming through as he hates confined spaces and water!

What a spectacular setting!

We took the boat back and had a coke while we waited for Matt and Kim to get back. We headed off and were shocked to see where the road had been washed away by the floods in April.

Next stop was Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve where we had booked Eco Tents – they had air conditioning which was fantastic! We spotted a fox skulking in the background! We had a little rest and showered and then headed for dinner at 19h00 … we had non alcoholic Mocktails and there was a huge variety of delicious curry and puddings. We took a cheesy pic of a Bedoin Tent – lol!

May to September is the best time to see green turtles at this resort, peaking in July/August when up to 125 lay on the beach a night! We had been informed on e-mail to meet at Reception at 20h30 to join the turtle nesting tour which is free of charge if you are a hotel resident but at check in the chap told me to report at 20h00 as we were in Group 1 with the hotel guests … we turned up along with another two couples but we only left at 20h39 by which there 30 people and two groups! We walked down to the beach with a guide who had an infra red torch and we were meant to be separated into two groups. There were several scouts on the beach with green torches looking out for turtles and hatchlings. We were directed to our first turtle who was heading back into the sea … hopefully after successfully laying her eggs!

The next turtle was digging but the kids were out of control and shining their torches… an Indian woman had the audacity to actually pinch me as she tried to push past, another kept ignoring the guide and standing exactly where she wanted to despite disturbing the turtle… it was atrocious. Such a pity as with a but of organisation and control this could be a magical experience for tourists … 🙁 Never the less once everyone calmed down we saw 4 turtles but they had either finished laying or were disturbed by us so we did not witness the eggs being deposited which was a shame. It was very special. The moon was still shining brightly…

The were so exhausted and would use their fins to dig for 20-30 seconds and then rest for a minute. The eggs which are laid near the sea are a bit cooler at up to 28C and will all emerge as males, the eggs lain further up the beach where it is hotter and above 29C will be females.

Once emerged from the sea, the turtle drags her self onto the beach…she digs a test hole, and then another hole which is used to lay in. Digging stops when the female has reached a depth equal to the length of her outstretched hind limbs. Then, bracing herself on both hind limbs and with the tail centred over the nest, she drops her eggs into the hole. the nest and laying her eggs usually takes from one to three hours, after which the mother turtle then digs another smaller false hole to deter predators before she slowly drags herself back to the ocean. The sea turtle lays up to 100 eggs, which incubate in the warm sand for about 60 days.

On the way back we chatted to an Astrologer who guests could pay to look at the stars. The moon was bright so we did not wait in the queue and went to bed instead.

We were up at 04h30 the next morning to set out again for the 05h00 tour, far fewer of this time which was much better … … our guide said that at this time of the year it would be unlikely to find any turtles nesting but we may see hatchlings … we were lucky as one lady was still digging … she looked utterly exhausted and finally gave up. It was clear to see all the patterns in the sand in the daylight where the turtles had come and gone laid. Several turtles were mating in the shallows of the surf. Fox prints were also everywhere as they searched the beach for eggs or hatchlings! Only two out of a thousand hatchlings survive as they are taken by foxes, crabs and birds!

The turtle finally gave up and headed back into the ocean, so we all headed back for breakfast which was delicious and varied. We then hit the road and headed for the Bimmah Sinkhole. Hawiyyat Najm, known as Bimmah Sinkhole in English, is a water-filled depression, structurally a sinkhole, in the limestone of eastern Muscat Governorate in the Sultanate of Oman, very close to the Al Sharqiyah region just off the highway to Sur, few kilometers before Tiwi. Geologists have confirmed the 65-foot deep pool is in fact a sinkhole, but locals hold on to the legend that a meteorite hit the spot. When the local municipality developed the area into a park to preserve and protect the hole, the name Haweat Najm (The Falling Star) Park was chosen. It makes for a scenic stopping point and a refreshing swim. There are signs indicating that modest dress should be worn. Fish nibble at your toes which is quite ticklish!

Welcome respite to the 47C heat!

After a relaxing hour so we headed on to the magnificent Shangri-La Al Husn. The drive is very grand with a large marble courtyard and the entrance is lovely with view out to the sea.

We were offered an upgrade to a Suite which was very swanky!

Our room contained a stocked and complimentary mini bar including Ferrero Roche chocolates – yum!

This is what the area use to look like… then and now!

As we were starving we headed straight to the Beach Bar and ordered a delicous prawn ceasar salad and some wine.

We chilled on the beach and drank a pina colada cocktail. A nice touch is that they bring you little complimentary cool boxes containing fresh water, lime juice and lip balm.

It was very relaxing… we were told that there were complimentary cocktails every evening from 18h00-19h00 so we made sure that we were showered and ready to take advantage of this great deal…. we certainly got our money’s worth! 🙂

We had room service for breakfast as it was another early start for our diving excursion to the Daymaniyat Islands. We dived with Mola Mola who were excellent on all levels and very reasonable priced.

These UNESCO protected islands are regarded as the very best place to dive in Oman. An hour and a half by boat from Muscat, they are home to turtle nesting beaches, rare marine birds and immaculate coral reefs. The densest nesting grounds in the world for hawksbill turtles are found here. The corals were amazing and we saw several black tip sharks snorkelling. On the dives we saw octopus, squid, turtles and so many different and large eels including a zebra striped snake eel, ribbon eels, large morays etc etc Absolutely stunning. Charlie from the UK was our Dive Master and we enjoyed a nice lunch on board. I left my Svalbaard Polar bear bracelet in the dive bag 🙁

We completed our dives at about 14h00 and headed back in the intense heat just in time for a delicious (and complimentary!) High Tea which is also served daily…. we enjoyed High Tea which is from 15h30-16h30, went upstairs and had a nap and and shower and then headed down for our complimentary sundowners followed by a delicious Indian meal (we had to sit outside as a VIP Government Minister and his entourage had taken over the whole hotel – it was sweltering! We enjoyed a couple of games of snooker before going to bed.

We had the next morning at leisure … I slept in while everyone went for breakfast. We took the buggy to the adjacent hotel as all facilities rae included in our rate and took a trip down the Lazy River (a little underwhelming if you compare to SA or Dubai, but never the less relaxing in the searing heat. We chilled in the sun and ordered some food which was also a little disappointing.

Chillaxed…we did laugh when we realised we could simply have taken a lift rather than a buggy to the neighbouring hotel! LOL.

In the afternoon we were met by Hajer from With Locals who was to be our Guide for the afternoon, evening and next morning. She arrived in her blue Maserati but as we had the HUGE 4×4 she opted to drive that instead (Insurance we asked…?! … All fine…LOL!). And off we went true Omani style! Our first stop was the Royal Palace. Al Alam Palace is the ceremonial palace of the Sultan of Oman. It is used for official functions like welcoming foreign dignitaries and heads of state.

We then paid to visit the Al Mirani Fort which cost 20OMR Each – ie £40!!!! OUTRAGEOUS! The same Government Official who had been dining at the Hotel was there on a photo shoot with Diplomatic cars parked outside. Fort Al-Mirani is a fort located in the harbor of the city of Old Muscat, Oman. The fort existed prior to the Portuguese invasion and was later rebuilt by the Portuguese in 1587. The fort became the first to use cannons in Oman. It is pleasant but not worth £40 per person entrance fee!

It was very so so a cool icecream was so welcome! Note the passerby who was intrigued by us! LOL.

We then entered the Muttrah Souk – MUCH calmer and less hassle than Dubai! Men purchase walking sticks to match the colour of their shoes and hats. The Silver Khanjar (dagger) Khanjar form part of Omani male national dress and are still worn today, tied around the waist using a belt. The blade is not as curved as the scabbard. The khanjar is a sign of status; only the wealthy, including royalty, might wear one made of gold or silver.

Apparently women come from all over Muscat to this Souk to buy their gold.

The Royal Yacht is supposedly almost always moored up in the harbour. There is also a Traditional Omani Dhow Wooden boat in Muscat harbour … the legendary Sinbad the Sailor supposedly came from either Oman or Bagdad…. the Dhow was a gift from the people of Sur, where the last Dhow factory in the world remains in existence.

We then stopped outside of an obscure white building on a side road and Hajer ran in and bought us a national craving in the shape of Mendazi and Oman Chips! The puffy, fried breads are said to have originated from parts of East Africa and the Omanis add their chips with cheese, dips etc – it really was quite delicious!

Next stop was the all important iced coffees and iced teas to compliment our Mendazis … Divine.

The sun was setting and it was time to join all the other locals down at the beach on Love Street on the Mangroves.

Typical Oman evening … very interesting to be a part of.

Our final stop was at beach to sample another Omani favourite: Mishkak – cubes of marinated meat which are skewered and then grilled to perfection. The marinades incorporate salt, black pepper, cloves, ginger, curry powder, cumin, coriander, cardamon, cayenne pepper, oil and tamarind paste. The longer the meat is marinated, the better the flavour, although the key to a good mishkak is taking it off the grill at just the right time. The meat should be well done, but not too dry. It is served with tamarind chutney, chilli sauce and fresh salad.

Hajer speeded back to our hotel to drop us off with very full tummies! We ordered a bottle of wine and played another few games of snooker before heading to bed as Hajer was meeting us at the Opera House Parking the next morning at 10h00. We were touched when we got back to our room as they had left us a delicious cake and sprinkled petals and a message for Paul’s birthday on our bed 🙂

After a tasty breakfast we headed off and parked up. Hajer hopped in our car and drove us to the Grand Mosque. It is STUNNING. Awe inspiring. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in Oman. Its interior can hold up to 6,500 worshippers while the exterior, surrounded by beautiful gardens, can accommodate around 10,000 people. It also has a separate hall for women that can hold about 4,000 worshippers. Women must cover their heads and men and women must be covered from ankles to neck and wrists. Construction lasted from 1994 through 2000, with the Mosque being inaugurated on May 4, 2001, to celebrate 30 years of the reign of Qaboos bin Said bin Said. Its gleaming white sandstone walls and vast prayer halls stretch over 103 acres (42 hectares). Five ornate minarets and a central dome light up like a beacon at night, guiding visitors to this spectacular facility for Islamic faith and studies.

The male area of worship is huge and spectacular. The central chandelier is made of stainless steel , covered with 24-carat gold–plated brass and Swarovski crystals in various colours. The chandelier hangs in the central dome of mosque and cost AED30m ($8.17m) to create and install. It weighs 8.5 tons, includes 600,000 crystals, 1,122 halogen bulbs complete with a dimming system, and includes a staircase for maintenance within the chandelier. Thirty-four smaller chandeliers of the same design are hung in other parts of the building. The mosque also boasts the second biggest carpet in the world ever woven for any other institution, private or public. It was intricately weaved by the best carpet makers in the world, the Iran Carpet Company (ICC) based in Tehran.  It has an area of 4,263 square meters, weighs a massive 21 tonnes and took 27 months to make. It has thousands of beautiful patterns of intricate Islamic designs beautifully woven together in great harmony.

The surrounding areas outside are equally impressive.

An awesome visit. Hajer insisted that we went local and we stopped at a drive by tearoom where she hooted and indicated her order of 5 short karak chais and which arrived promptly delivered by a waiter! Sweet tea with saffron … DIVINE!

We swung by the beach that we had stopped at the day before to see it in daylight.

We were very excited to see the Royal Opera House. We were given a very interesting tour – this is a MUST do on our next trip – we had just missed the season which had closed at end of April and resumes again in September (heat related!). One of the most beautiful and technically advanced opera houses in the world, this multiform theatre can transform from an intimate 1,100 seat opera house into an 850-seat shoebox-style concert hall with the push of a button. It was the first opera house on the Arab peninsula. An orchestra shell tracks downstage from the back of the house, guided on railway tracks, and fits seamlessly with the auditorium walls. The proscenium arch lifts away, the orchestra pit rises, and the front two rows of seats lower into the floor—all guided by automated systems. With the 200,000 square foot facility’s performance flexibility, it has opened the region to a new and enriching world of the performing arts. The second row is reserved for Royalty but otherwise it is an affordable night out starting at 15 OMR and only 150-300O MR for a Box.

It is quite amazing.

We were all hungry and lunch was welcome – the fruit and veg shop looked inviting! But we went to a very traditional Omani lunch stop where you sit on the floor and food is served with a plastic table cloth and you eat with your hands – they boys found this quite uncomfortable! Haneeth is a traditional dish in Yemen that is popular in many Arab countries such as Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. The main ingredients include basmati rice, lamb pieces and a combination of spices…. Harej was concerned that we did not eat sufficient rice!

Parts of the dining area are partitioned off so that you can feast in private. Afterwards you are given a cloth to clean your hands a shot of Qahwa Coffee.

We took our Omani coffee shots across the road to enjoy the perfect accompaniment of traditional Omani Sweets… Halwa. This is one of the most famous desert dish’s in Oman. it is made of margarine, sugar, rose water, semolina and other things to prepare, mostly contains of nuts. There are three main types and sultani is considered the finest type and is given as gifts to visiting dignitaries … we loved the honey and fig varieties. It is almost jelly like and people sit around scoop it with teaspoons while drinking Qahwa coffee. While we were tasting several Omani people came in and bought slabs of Halwa and incense. Frankincense native of the emirate of Oman is considered the best quality frankincense in the world. This Bakhoor / Bakhour is of very good quality, it is flowery and woody. This incense resin comes from the Bursera spp tree from Indonesia. As you enter any room in Oman, the waft of incense greets you.

We said farewell to Hajer at the Royal Opera House and headed straight for the pool at our hotel for a relaxing afternoon as the hotel had given us a complimentary late check-out of 19h00.

As we drove past Lulu’s Supermarket and the lit up Grand Mosque on our way to the airport, we reflected on what an immaculately clean, ordered and friendly Sultanate this was … we will definitely be back for more diving and a visit to the Opera!

Till we meet again….

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