Beauty has an address - Oman
Sultanate of Oman is a stunning country situated on the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula where the travelers can experience versatile mountain ranges, beautiful wadis, enchanting desert and the clear blue sea.
Oman combines incredible examples of natural beauty with a rich, proud history to create a holiday experience like no other. Oman's history tells stories of heroism, courage, wisdom, patriotism, love and devotion to homeland.
This brings us closer to understanding the richness of the Omani cultural experience which has contributed to the building of modern Oman. Oman's edifying heritage is inspirational as portrayed through its lively souqs, impressive forts, an assortment of cultural arts, majestic fragrances, affluent architecture, traditional jewellery, folk arts and performances.
Omani people take pride in their enriching cultural heritage and make an effort to conserve this wealth. Oman encompasses an unparalleled number of UNESCO-classified World Heritage Sites. Some of them are Bat with its beehive tombs dating back to 3,000 years; mysterious Bahla Fort and Ras Al-Jinz which is the abode of the exceptional Green Sea Turtles.
A legacy that has been generation; the art, the culture, the folklore and the artistry has to be seen. But there is much more in the heart of Oman to explore: the sense of respect for time, for people, and for nature. Come and taste a part of Oman's rich heritage, kept alive and unchanged for generations. It may help you understand tomorrow a little better.
For its size, Oman boasts an unprecedented number of UNESCO-classified World Heritage Sites including Al-Blaid; site of the ancient city of Zafar, Bat—with its tombs dating back 3,000 years, Bahla Fort, and R'as Al-Hadd; home to the rare Green Sea Tturtle. Oman's heritage features a prominent sea-faring tradition, as one would expect from a country with 1,700Km of coastline. Many museums and galleries around the secluded and historic harbours of Muscat and Muttrah illuminate the importance of the sea and, indeed, of water generally, throughout Oman's 5,000 year-old history.
The national dress for Omani men is a simple, ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves called the Dishdasha. The colour most frequently worn is white, although a variety of other colours such as black, blue, brown and lilac can also be seen. Its main adornment is a tassel (Furakha) sewn into the neckline, which can be impregnated with perfume. Underneath the dishdasha, a plain piece of cloth covering the body is worn from the waist down. Omani men may wear a variety of head dresses. The muzzar is a square of finely woven woollen or cotton fabric, wrapped and folded into a turban. Underneath, the kummar–an intricately embroidered cap, is sometimes worn. The shal–a long strip of cloth acting as a holder for the Khanjar, may be made from the same material as the muzzar. Alternatively, the holder may be fashioned in the form of a belt made from leather and silver–the sapta. On formal occasions, the dishdasha may be covered by a black or beige cloak, called a bisht. The embroidery edging the cloak is often in silver or gold thread and it is intricate in detail. Some men carry the assa, a stick, which can have practical uses or is simply used as an accessory during formal events. Omani men, on the whole, wear sandals on their feet.
The Khanjar is worn in a leather sheath at the front of the body in a special belt, in a tradition which is unique to Oman. It is a symbol of a man's origins, his manhood, courage and deep-rooted traditions. The national dress is not complete without it and men wear the Khanjar at all public engagements and festivals. The Khanjar has played an important role in Oman's history and this fact is reflected in the incorporation of its image into the Omani National Flag. The Khanjar consists of the hilt, which is made of silver, or ivory in the case of the ancient weapons; the shaft– decorated with bands of silver or gold wire; and the blade. The leather sheath is often intricately embellished with floral or scrolled leaf filigree work. It can take up to three weeks to make a Khanjar. Prices of good quality Khanjars may cost OMR 200-800. However, the Saidi dagger, which is generally of pure silver and gold-plated, the largest of the Khanjars, can cost much more.
Omani women are distinguished from their Arab Gulf neighbours by their eye-catching national costumes which distinctively vary from one region of the country to another. The choice of colours, especially in the past, was linked to a tribe's tradition. Nevertheless, all costumes demonstrate vivid colours and vibrant embroidery and decorations. The basic components of the Omani costume comprise of a dress (dishdasha) worn over trousers (sirwal), a loose-overdress-cum-cloak (thub) and head shawl called lihaf. In public, women in the Capital Area wear a loose black cloak (abaya) while in some regions a face mask (burqa) is still worn. The Omani costume has been fashioned not only to protect from outside elements but also to serve useful purposes, often to store important items. The long packets of a woman's dishdasha were a safe place to carry Maria Theresa dollars, while cardamom seeds could be kept in the knotted corner of her head scarf. The Bedu living in sandy deserts wear large masks (burqa) covering the whole face except for a strip for the eyes, to protect delicate facial skin from burning sun and wind.
The jewellery worn by Omani women is fashioned mainly from gold, although the traditional metal was silver. Work is very intricate and elaborate patterns and symbols, including Quranic calligraphy, is engraved into the metal. Omani women have used natural cosmetics and beauty preparations for centuries and despite the supply of brand name cosmetics sold in department stores and supermarkets, the traditional products are still available at souqs all over the Sultanate. Kohl is still used to enhance the eyes and is applied with a small stick made from silver (marwat) or wood. Indigo is also used as a 'skin wash'. Indigo is also applied to the face in decorative patterns for festivals and celebrations, such as weddings. Many women in Oman paint their hands and feet with pastes of henna, particularly before special occasions such as Eid holidays or weddings. The paste is applied in patterns on the hands and feet, which, when dried, leaves a temporary orange/brown design that fades after around three weeks. Hair is conditioned with oil extracted from the shoo seeds which is said to make the hair shine and delay greying. A popular shampoo is made from sidr and ipomoea nil leaves.
The dress code is fairly liberal in Muscat, although decency is still expected. Women should wear, for example, tops with sleeves, and long skirts or trousers. Men are required to wear trousers and shirts with sleeves. Swimwear should be restricted to the beach or pools.
If you are someone who has an understanding and appreciation of history, arts, architecture and the intricacies of a civil society, Oman is the place for you. From the ancient city of Nizwa to the towns along the coast to the Capital to Salalah, all seeped in history, you can experience Oman's sense of timelessness. The Sultanate enjoys an unspoiled culture and traditional lifestyle in almost every aspect. Even in its modernity, Oman is distinctly Arabic and offers many unique old-world wonders.
The Omani culture has its roots firmly deep in the Islamic religion. Oman developed its own particular form of Islam, called Ibadhism, after its founder, Abdullah Ibn Ibadh who lived during the 7th century AD. Not all Omanis are Ibadhis however; there are also Sunni and Shi'a Muslims. Omanis are not only tolerant of the beliefs of different Muslim divisions; they are also tolerant towards believers of other faiths, who are allowed to practice their religion in churches and temples. Muslims are required to pray five times each day after the call to prayer by the Imam. Beautiful, ornate mosques are found throughout the Sultanate, but they are not open to non-Muslim visitors.
The holy month of Ramadhan is a time of fasting and praying. For around 29 to 30 days each Islamic year, Muslims refrain from smoking, eating and drinking during the hours of fasting (from sunrise to sunset). Ramadhan advances 10 to 11 days each year as it is governed by the lunar calendar. Out of respect, non-Muslim residents and visitors to the Sultanate are expected to observe the same principles in public.
The Sultanate of Oman is situated on the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula and is located between Latitudes 16° 40' and 26° 20' North and Longitudes 51° 50' and 59° 40' East. The coastline extends 1,700 Km from the Strait of Hormuz in the north, to the borders of the Republic of Yemen in the south and overlooks three seas: the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.
The Sultanate borders Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the West; the United Arab Emirates in the Northeast, the Republic of Yemen in the South; the Strait of Hormuz in the North and the Arabian Sea in the East. The Musandam Peninsula forms the country's northern tip, and is separated from the rest of the Sultanate by United Arab Emirates' eastern coast and includes the only coast the Sultanate has on the Arabian Gulf. Musandam is just over 50 Km (30 miles) south of the Islamic Republic of Iran across the Strait of Hormuz. The total land area is around 309,500 Km2 and it is the third largest country in the Arabian Peninsula.
Seeb International Airport is located 40 km from Muscat City Centre and also serves domestic flights. There are frequent direct flights from a number of European, Asian and African cities. There are excellent connections from all over the world with Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, Emirates, British Airways, Lufthansa, Kuwait Airways, Swiss and Thai.
Oman is very much accessible by road from the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is 450 kms away from the Oman capital, Muscat and it takes approximately 4.5 hours to get there by road. There are buses (private and Government owned) buses, which ply between Dubai and Muscat every day.
Oman possesses a rich diverse topography ranging from rugged mountains and rocky deepwater fjords in the North, to the spectacular dunes of Sharqiyah (Wahiba) Sands and two large salt flats in the centre, to the lush green hills of Dhofar region in the South, with rugged coasts and placid beaches stretching along the 1,700 Km coastline. The northern coastal strip along the Gulf of Oman is known as the Batinah Coast; a narrow fertile plain separated from the rest of the country by the Hajjar Mountains.
The highest peak is Jabal Shams (Sun Mountain) at 3,075 m. The southern slopes of the range are notable for their oasis towns where date groves flourish in the dry desert air. In the south lies the second mountain range in Oman; the Qara Mountains, which attracts the light monsoon rains during the mid-summer months, turning them green with vegetation whose roots help delay the effects of erosion resulting in a soft rolling landscape more akin to central Africa. As in the north, a narrow fertile coast plain lies between the mountains and the sea at whose centre Salalah lies, surrounded by lush vegetable farms and coconut groves.
The varied geography of the Sultanate resulted in a wide variety of climatic conditions. Although lying in the tropics, the Sultanate is subject to seasonal changes like the more temperate regions of the world. The hottest months are June through August. The summer monsoon just touches the southern coast of Dhofar during these months bringing regular light rain to Salalah and reducing the average daytime highs to 30° C. The most pleasant months to visit Oman are mid October through March when daytime temperatures fall into the lower 30s and below.
Rainfall varies but in general remains sparse and irregular. In the south most of the year's rainfall occurs during the summer monsoon months. In the north the opposite occurs. Here most rain comes from occasional winter storms which descend out of the eastern Mediterranean during the months of January through March, depositing an annual average of 10 cm of rain on the capital area.