Oman is one of the most naturally diverse countries in the Middle East region. Contrary to its popular neighbor Dubai, Oman is a lesser known country aiming to get a spot on the world tourism map in the years to come. The country is home to a vast stretch of 3000km coastline, ruins of the frankincense civilization, the highest mountain peak in the Arabian Peninsula, three UNESCO World Heritage sites, and to the world’s second largest desert, The Empty Quarter. Travel in Oman is not only very safe but it gives a true understanding of traditional Arabian culture and the Bedouin values of the Arabs.
Oman also happens to be one of the very few countries in the Middle East that have stuck to its traditional roots. The country has maintained a low rise skyline, prioritizing the Arabian architecture, which can be witnessed in the many iconic monuments around the country. Living in Oman for all of my life, I have traveled the country many times and understand its cultural sensitivity and acceptance of the locals towards foreign tourism in the country. Based on my many experiences of travel in Oman, I have listed down the top places you should definitely visit during your travel in Oman:
Travel In Oman: Top Most Places
Monuments of Muscat
Muscat the capital city of Oman is the center of some of the most iconic monuments depicting the rich Omani cultural and architectural styles. Travel in Oman is incomplete without getting up and close with the Omani architectural beauty while in Muscat.
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, named after the ruling king of Oman is the biggest and the most lavish mosque in the country. Made up with white marbles, the mosque is located right in the heart of the city. The main praying hall in the mosque hangs the world’s largest chandelier, which is fourteen meters long. There are small chandeliers hung all across the mosque. The mosque is surrounded by five minarets that guard the main dome of the mosque. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is also the only mosque in the country which is open for people from all nationalities to visit and experience the beauty of the Arabian architecture.
The Royal Opera House of Muscat
The Royal Opera House of Muscat is the main center of arts and culture in Oman. The opera house is a marvelous white complex with gardens and auditoriums for different arts and culture-related events. The venue is used for local as well as international cultural events. Visitors are welcome even if they are not attending any show in the opera house. The entire space speaks for Arabesque architecture from every corner of the complex. The place gets even more picturesque after the sunset. There is a different kind of laser show at the Royal Opera House of Muscat every evening.
Travel In Oman: UNESCO World Heritage Site
Oman is one of the oldest places existing on the planet which makes it home to centuries-old cities, forts, and sites. There are a total of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Oman, which should be on every traveler’s list during the travel in Oman.
Bahla Fort In Nizwa City
Bahla fort in the city of Nizwa in northern Oman is one of the oldest forts in the country dating back to the 12th century. The fort is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Oman; it was built by a dominant tribe in the region, the Banu Nebhan back in the 12th century. It was listed as the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Oman in the year 1987. It has been renovated several times after being listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site, however; it was finally open for the public in 2012. A self-guided tour can be taken to explore the fort and it is free to enter too. Bahla fort can be reached by a short two hours’ drive from the city of Muscat.
Al Baleed Archeological Site (The Land of Frankincense)
The city of Salalah in the southern governorate of Dhofar in Oman was the center of the Frankincense civilization dating back to 6th century AD. The ruins of the civilization have been now preserved into an archeological site called Al Baleed. Snippets of the historic happenings and their associations can be found written all across the site. Visitors can either stroll around the site or take a guided tour, which is a fifteen-minute golf cart ride across the site. There is also a museum of Frankincense Land right across the ruins with artifacts found from the old civilization on display, which is free to enter.
Travel In Oman: Natural Places of Oman
The terrain of Oman comprises of sea, rocky mountains and wide unexplored golden sand deserts. Travel in Oman is incomplete without getting up and close with nature, which the country has to offer.
The Daymaniyat Islands is a nature reserve north from the city of Muscat. A cluster of nine small islands makes up the Daymaniyat Islands. The marine life at the island is highly diverse with well-preserved coral reefs that are in the protection of Oman’s government in the Great Reef Protection Project. The rich plankton and strategic position of the islands serve as the main migration channel for marine animals during the breeding season. It attracts a wide array of marine life including pelagic superstars such as whale sharks, humpback whales, and manta rays. Snorkeling at the Daymaniyat Island is a highly recommended activity during travel in Oman.
Jebal Shams (The mountain of Sun)
Jebal Shams, which means ‘The Mountain of Sun’, is the highest peak in the Arabian Peninsula. The mountain stands high about 3000 meters above the sea level near the town of Al Hamra in the north of Oman. The mountain is a rocky giant in the Al Hajar mountain range which is home to small agricultural villages in the mountain. The three viewpoints at the top of the mountain give a panoramic view of all the villages and valleys down beneath. It is also a great site to spot the famous Arabian Oryx. Hiking and camping on Jebal Shams is highly recommended while travel in Oman. It is an altogether experience to witness the sunset and sunrise from the Mountain of the Sun.
Oman has not been able to attract lots of tourists yet, however, the natural diversity, cultural values and an adventure favoring terrain of Oman hold huge potential to make the country one of the favorite destinations to visit in the Middle East. Travel in Oman is all about rejuvenating within nature and experiencing the authentic Arabian vibes.