Oman

Oman! A name of 4 letters that evokes sumptuous stretches of golden sand, landscapes worthy of a thousand and one nights tales and a deep and living culture

There are many must-haves in Oman. Any good travel agency will put them forward to bait the traveller, well, why not. However, in Oman, the best exploration will not be found in a circuit marked out by a tour operator, but rather on the random roads where Omanis await the foreigner with warmth and generosity

Oman is a beautiful country. The traveler will be served in beautiful landscapes: desert, sea, mountains and some nice picturesque villages. In my opinion, the most beautiful thing to discover in Oman are the Omanis. Proud heirs of a deep culture, the Omanis have only one idea in mind: to honor the precepts of their dear sultan Qaboos bin Said (who died during my trip to Oman). Hospitality, friendliness and good manners are the unshakable values of the Sultanate of Oman. The welcome given to the traveller is worth a paragraph on its own: it is overwhelming.

رحباً عمان ، اسمي كريستين ، أنا فرنسية ، وأنا سعيد جداً بلقائك! وداعا عمان شكرا لك اراك قريبا! Hi Oman!

Mrhbaan eamman , aismi krisitin , ‘ana faransiat , wa’ana saeid jdaan bilqayik!

Smiling and friendly, the Omanis are very proud to welcome travellers

Omanis show great restraint and behave with the utmost correctness towards their visitors. They accompany the traveller to show him the way, offer him tea and don’t send him away as they do so well in Paris.
You will always be asked if everything is going well for you and if you report a scam attempt or a bad experience they find it hard to hide their sincere embarrassment. They will then have to keep on trying to remedy this disappointment by offering their help… or a tea.
If, on the other hand, they hear that your stay is going well and that you are enjoying the country with one hand on your heart, they will be honoured with a compliment and will not fail to say “we try to behave according to the precepts of our beloved sultan: justice and elegance“. And very honestly their benevolence is sincere.
 

The meeting with an Omani invariably begins with a smile

They are very friendly even in places where the tourist is a rare animal. Certainly, since I am a woman, I am often entitled to a frowning eyebrow (a woman alone? Ouch ow!) but never, O great never, have I ever been subjected to scorn or a derogatory grimace.
On the contrary, hospitality here is as serious as the call to prayer.
 

On the traveler’s side, a few simple rules to follow to return the favor

In return, they will appreciate the visitor’s observance of proper outfit. It is not a question of covering oneself from head to toe or dressing up as a local, but frankly clean clothes, a respectful attitude and an affable approach are required. They won’t be angry to see from time to time a pair of shorts or a sports jersey in town, on the beach, the one-piece swimsuit is accepted but they will be delighted to see you make an effort. Let’s say it’s all about context and measurement.
For women, a reserved attitude and discreet postures will be much appreciated, especially in the presence of the whole family.
Don’t insist, don’t be offended if when you are invited to share a meal, men and women eat separately. This is the tradition. In addition, female travellers will eat alone, i mean not with the women, in the kitchen while the men will sit with the other men in the common area. So, don’t take it badly, don’t show out of politeness your embarrassment to be served like a queen but on the contrary, be demonstrative, show that you appreciate!
 

Of course, in this portrait of Oman, few women

Oman is a country where Islam gives rhythm to the daily and spiritual life of its inhabitants. They therefore stay behind their veils and do not speak to foreigners. With a bit of luck, and this was mine, staying with a Bedouin family in the desert, we will manage to have a few conversations with them. But this requires favorable conditions, not always easy to meet. The men will already be absent, the matriarch will have to like you, have a translator, be a woman, and finally that they will have time to devote to you.
 

What’s there to visit in Oman?

One of the biggest desert in the world: the Rub al Khali

The desert in Oman is not just a few dunes, it is 80% of its territory. The Rub al Khali is called the empty quarter, it measures no less than 650,000 km² and crosses several borders: Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.
The Rub al Khali is known to be one of the most inhospitable deserts on the planet: very high dunes stretching for hundreds of kilometres, or dunes that are quite low and spread out infinitely, which really remind us of a sea of sand.
Excursions are generally done by day, a lot of 4x4s and a little walking, rather on the edge of the desert.
Oman’s most popular desert, the Wahiba Sands is not far from Muscat, the capital. Of more modest size, 80 x 180 km, it is nevertheless worth the detour with its beautiful orange colour. All around it now stands desert camps where tourists will find all the modern comforts but not a single real Bedouin. The Wahiba Sands, it is not strictly speaking a discovery reserved to the disciples of Mike Horn. The adventure will be found in encounters with desert Bedouins met at random, those who do not work in tourism, who will open their tents for you, happy and curious to share an evening with visitors from far away.
 

Oman has a beautiful coastline: beach, aquatic fauna and landscapes. In addition, sea turtles can be observed there all year round!

Very popular with turtles, the coast of the Gulf of Oman is famous for its beaches where these prehistoric reptiles come to nest. In the east of the country, the city of Sur has become a mecca for nature-loving travellers. A large protection centre welcomes visitors around 10pm as turtles lay their eggs at night. They invariably begin with a guided tour of the centre (excellent, with an audiophone at the top) which explains everything there is to know about Omani turtles. Then the buses take them to the beaches where it’s possible to watch them lay their eggs. Be careful, do not touch anything, do not bother the beast!
You can also witness the birth of baby turtles that come out of the sand and rush towards the waves. One should not believe that this activity interests only the tourists. Omanis regularly visit the beaches at night. They come there to put the babies back in the right direction because they are naturally guided by the moonlight. Unfortunately,  the city’s street lamps deceive them and lead them to the road. So operation rescue! Let’s pick up the newborns and send them back to the sea!
 

In Oman, everything is worth a visit

Villages don’t always have a particular attraction even if some have beautiful fortifications, the important thing in Oman is the atmosphere! The country is very safe, there is no problem to mix with the natives at all hours of the day and night.
The best way to discover the country is definitely to rent a car so you can really go wherever you want. Transport is good, comfortable, but to go to the pretty corners of the country, it is not ideal. With a car, you will enjoy without depriving yourself of these beautiful landscapes, roadside restaurants and small markets. 
 

وداعا عمان شكرا لك اراك قريبا! wadaeaan eamman shukraan lak ‘arak qaribana!

Oman, Best Of

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