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Travel guide
Oman

Between Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, in the south of Saudi Arabia and facing Bombay, this great sultanate overlooking the Indian Ocean is a jewel, offering magnificent landscapes, rich biodiversity and some architectural pearls. We are talking about Switzerland on the Arabian Peninsula. Oman alternates the fjords of the Musandam Peninsula, from wadis to lush palm groves, spectacular mountains including the magnificent Wadi Ghul Canyon (3,000 m), a desert punctuated by jebels and colourful dunes, and kilometres of coastline. Protected from the excesses of modernity, this Sultanate, rich in a thousand-year history, with an Arabic language and an Ibadite Muslim religion, evokes Sinbad the sailor, the Queen of Sheba and the Thousand and One Nights. Bedouins with caravan traditions still occupy the desert. So Oman is both the kingdom of camel racing and a country where you can make ornithological observations and discover turtle nesting sites. Muscat, the port capital, also has its treasures: an opera house, a formidable national museum with a modern scenography, the Baït al-Zubair museum of popular arts and traditions, the Royal Palace al-Alam of Sultan Qabus ibn Said in power and the Great Mosque of the same Sultan, a contemporary and sumptuous building designed for 20,000 believers. To the west of Muscat, the old port of Matrah is a must see for the entertainment of its souk and fish market. You will appreciate the fragrances of Omani incense, renowned as one of the best in the world, made from resin from the Dhofar mountains. Your tour guide will reveal many more secrets of Oman.

What to see, what to do Oman?

When to go Oman ?

The best season to visit the north and centre of the Sultanate of Oman is winter, between November and March, when temperatures are mild (around 25°C during the day). But October and April are also very pleasant and more favourable for swimming in the sea, which is then warmer. It is during these two months that divers will find optimal visibility. The south of the country can be visited all year round, but to fully enjoy the beauty of the Dhofar region, it is best to visit it in summer, from June to September, during the monsoon season (kareef). The vegetation is extremely luxuriant and the climate very pleasant. The inhabitants of Muscat generally come to take refuge there in order to escape the heat wave of the capital. Since 1995, a festival has been held in August in Salalah

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Suggested addresses Oman

Travel Oman

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Covid-19 : current situation Oman

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, entry and travel restrictions may apply Oman. Remember to visit the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before you leave for the latest information
Practical information for travel Oman

Several themes are available to anyone who wants to visit the Sultanate. It all depends on the length of stay, the interests of each person and the budget. In the short version, one can opt for a long weekend in Muscat - beach and culture, modernity and traditions. In the longer mode, 2 or 3 days in the capital can be followed by a break in another part of the sultanate (mountains, desert...). Unless you opt for the most classic circuit, which, in about 1,000 km, leaves Muscat, passes through the mountains, the desert, the wadis, to return by the coast and the turtle coast - a circuit to be punctuated with cultural incursions (aflaj, forts, museums...) and/or sports activities (trekking, canyoning, mountain biking...). 3 more days, and here is the great tropical south or the fjords of Musandam in the north. The adventurers, them, will find in this still recent destination a huge playground where they can quench their thirst for discovery.

How to go Oman

How to go alone

Going it alone is the best way to get away with it at a good price. Flights connect Muscat with European capitals. If you rent a vehicle, the option with a driver will save you worries and fears, especially in the desert. No problem on the main roads. Use a local agency to organize a particular excursion. If you do not speak Arabic, English will help you, it is widely practiced. And refrain from criticizing the sultan whose power is absolute.

How to go on a tour

Oman is a popular tourist destination! About a hundred tour operators offer you stays and tours in Oman, from 3 to 8 days, often without international flights. The organized trip to Oman is a rather expensive option even reduced to a simple seaside stay. Some more original packages with 4x4 rental included or combined with Dubai.

How to get around

Oman Air operates two domestic flights: Muscate/Salalah and Muscate/Khasab (1h40 flight time). The national bus company serves major cities at low cost. There are also collective taxis. Renting a car is a good option (good roads, low-cost gas). An off-road vehicle is preferable or even essential depending on your itinerary. In town you take taxis. There are also connections between Muscat and Musandam on the two fastest ferries in the world.

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Discover Oman

Welcome to the plural East: that of a great civilization of sailors and conquerors, of a country at the crossroads of the great historical trade routes, which once traded incense with the most prestigious nations and today trades in black gold with other powers. A land of rocks, sand and water, mixed with brewing and passages, with a rich and tormented past, with preserved folklore and traditions. It is an encounter with a wise and peaceful people: its religion, its values, its different heritages - architectural, musical, culinary. It is an immersion in a diverse and protected nature, where environmental issues are a priority, and where one travels from biotope to biotope, magnetized by so many still virgin spaces - desert, mountains, wadis, fjords, dunes, beaches..

The fascinating discovery of a country in the midst of its future: sucked into its future, held back by its past.

Pictures and images Oman

Porte d'une propriété à Fanja. Sylvie LIGON
Site archéologique de Khor Rori. Cathyline DAIRIN
Petite fille et sa poupée. Sylvie LIGON
Entraînement pour les courses de dromadaires. Sylvie LIGON

The 12 keywords Oman

1. Lovemaking

In 1983, Sultan Qaboos decided to call upon a French nose, Guy Robert, to create a line of luxurious fragrances. By mixing more than 120 ingredients, including frankincense and rose, Gold, the first fragrance of the Amouage brand, was born. To this day, it is one of the most expensive fragrances in the world. It is handcrafted.

2. Boat or dhow

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A symbol of Omani power, this traditional wooden sailing ship is the pride of the Sultanate. Partially replaced by motor cargo ships, dhows are still omnipresent in Oman where they are used for fishing, pleasure boating and merchant transport. The city of Sur, in the west, perpetuates its centuries-old building tradition.

3. Coffee with cardamom

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Quite simply THE national drink: a black coffee with a unique taste, without sugar, flavoured with cardamom and served with dates to reduce the bitterness. Symbol of hospitality, kawa is offered at every meeting and is tasted in tiny cups, everywhere, all the time, at home or in tourist places.

4. Dates

Fruit that you give with the cardamom coffee as a sign of welcome. Product of the date palm, an omnipresent tree in Oman, whose cultivation gives rhythm to the life of many Bedouin tribes. The sultanate would count several dozen different varieties especially harvested in the hot months. A single palm tree could produce up to 100 kg of dates.

5. Deserts and mountains

More than two thirds of the country is occupied by desert: the sands of Sharqiyah in the east, the arid stretches of the Rub Al Khali on the borders of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Elsewhere, mountains take over, culminating up to 3,020 metres for the highest of them all, the Jebel al-Akhdar, in the Hajar massif, the backbone of the country.

6. Dromedaries

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And not camels because they only have one hump! Omnipresent and intimately linked to the local traditional culture, they roam almost freely, roaming the desert in search of greenery. There are pack camels for domestic use, riding or racing camels whose value can exceed that of the best purebred Arabian horses.

7. Incense

Aromatic gum that is extracted by making an incision in a Boswellia type tree. It is to its trade that the country owed its prosperity well before the Christian era. The Boswellia sacra tree grows in Dhofar and produces the purest incense in the world or hojari, a particularity that has enabled the country to be classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

8. Falaj (aflaj)

An ancestral irrigation system consisting of capturing a source of water and transporting it through underground galleries or a surface canal to villages (ablution, toilet, household use) and plantations. Present throughout the territory and representative of the traditional sultanate, the aflaj network is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

9. Forts and castles

The sultanate would count more than 500 of them, majestic witnesses of a bellicose past. If the forts and citadels were intended for a warlike and protective use, the castles were mainly used as residences and administrative centres. Nowadays, these jewels of heritage are the subject of a vast safeguard plan and are renovated for tourism.

10. Halwa

A national and traditional Omani dessert made of rose water, brown sugar, flour, sesame seeds and spices that are cooked for hours in a large copper pot. Popular with locals and flavoured in many different ways depending on the region (cardamom, saffron, walnuts, almonds...), halwa is eaten cold, usually with coffee.

11. Kandjar

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It is the country's emblem: a dagger with a curved blade that Omanis wear on special occasions or official ceremonies. Sculpted in silver, wood or horn, it fits into a belt that tightens the dishdasha (traditional tunic) at the waist. An essential accessory of the costume, it denotes the social status of the wearer.

12. Kumma

The kumma is the traditional hat worn by the men of the sultanate. It is a small round cotton hat, embroidered with various motifs (especially floral) and stitched with small holes for ventilation. The kummas come in a variety of colours to match the tones of the dishdashas. Young people wear it in many different ways, flattened, pinched or swollen.

You are from here, if...

You speak calmly and always remain calm and courteous. You do not show any form of affection in public and remain moderate in what you say and how you look.

You wear long, covering clothes that respect the local culture and religion. They are always clean and impeccably ironed. You look as unkempt as possible.

You leave in two cars in the desert and check that no thunderstorms are expected before entering a wadi. You love nature and outdoor life.

You drink cardamom coffee with dates to reduce the bitterness. You hold your cup in your right hand and shake it slightly, tilting it from right to left to indicate to your host that you do not wish to be served again.

You take off your shoes when entering a mosque of course, but also in a house so as not to walk on the carpets with your shoes on.

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