Tourism in Oman

Tourism in Oman

Oman is a country on the Arabian Peninsula. This article documents tourism in the country.


A single entry visa is issued at the point of entry and is valid for one month. A fine of R.O. 10 per day is charged for an overstay beyond the validity of the visa. There are also an express visa, a multiple entry visa and a common visa with Dubai.


Oman is lined with some stunning beaches. Activity for beach visitors include sunning, swimming, diving, snorkeling, boating, surfing, beach combing and shell collecting.

'The Intercon Beach' faces Muscat Intercontinental Hotel and extends two km to Crowne Plaza hotel. This beach is ideal for family outings, morning walks or a jog in evening. The beach is lined with restaurants, snack bars and cafes. The Qurum beach allows entrance barbecuing. At Qantab beach local fishermen will offer to take you fishing and at Bandar Jissah beach the view of the rocky coastline is just fabulous. The drive to Yitti beach through hilly terrain will lead to a fishing village with winding dirt track that lead to the beach through a long shallow cove. At the beach fishermen are busy at work but there is still ample room for any kind of beach activity. You can wade in the shallows or investigate the shell encrusted outcrops along the shore.

The popular Al Sawadi Beach Resort is about an hour west from Muscat. The resort offers dives, snorkeling, speedboat rides, water scooters, temperature controlled swimming pool and Jacuzzi. The coast beyond Quriyat can be reached by driving southeast on a four wheel drive. There are a variety of beaches between rocky outcrop, the most prominent being Mokallah (also known as White Beach). This spot is very popular for overnight camping on the shore and it is excellent for snorkeling.

What to do

=Photography= Both serious and casual photographers will be more than inspired. Majestic mountain ranges, gold sandy beaches, wildlife, villages, ancient forts, and colorful natives are all within a wink of a shutter.


With Oman long coastline and clean unpolluted waters, there is a wealth of underwater flora, marine life and diving thrills awaiting the underwater explorer. Several companies specializing in diving services offer a complete range of diving courses, diving equipment and activities. The diving available in Oman provides adventure and enjoyment with dramatic wall drop-offs to scenic coral lined fjords. Sea life is abundant with a variety of hard and soft corals. Oman enjoys an average visibility of 20-30 meters. Night dives are popular and divers are often astounded by the amount of phosphorescence found. Several dive sites encircle Muscat and (PADI instruction)is available .

=Turtle, Dolphin and Bird Watching= Several species of turtles living for over 100 years swim the length and breadth of the Indian Ocean and return every year to lay their eggs on the beaches of Ras al Hadd, Ras Al Junayz and Masirah island.

Dolphins frequent the seas of the Oman on a regular basis and can be seen in close proximity to the coast. Whales can also be found swimming in the waters of Oman, albeit less frequently, in particular the Humpback and the Orca. Fahal Island is a good site to spot dolphins in hundreds roaming around or following the tuna. Spinner, Common and some Bottlenose dolphins are the main types. Orcas playing round the island have also been reported. Trips are normally carried out using traditional Omani fishing boats in early morning and at sunset.

Oman is increasingly becoming a significant destination for bird watching. More than 460 different bird species have been recorded in Oman, out of which, 80 species have been classified as resident, while the rest are migrant and seasonal species. Oman offers a unique opportunity to watch birds from Europe, Africa and Asia in one spot during their annual migrations in Spring and Autumn. These migratory periods coincide with the cooler weather between October and April. Some of the common resident species one expects to see within or around Muscat include: Herons (Striated and Western Reef), Ospreys, Swift Term, Laughing Doves, Egyptian Vultures, and Indian Roller. Common Migrant and seasonal species include: Cattle Egret, Little Stint, Greater Flamingo, Caspian Gull, Spotted Flycatcher, Grey Heron, Dunlin, Sandwich Tern, Red and Green shanks, Ruff and White Wagtail.

There is a massive array of bird watching sites in other parts of the country. Eagles are popular in Musandam. Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Al-Wusta Region provides an excellent opportunity to watch desert species, notably Spotted Sand Grouse, Golden Eagle and Houbara Bustard. Masirah Island is the home of thousands of birds especially in the winter such as Greater Flamingo, Seagulls, Terns and Herons. Dhofar with its diverse terrain and monsoon rains is a true paradise for birds particularly African species.

Desert Safari

The most renowned Omani desert is Sharqiyah Sands (formerly Wahiba Sands) with its dunes rising to nearly 200 meters. Witnessing sun setting is an inspiring event in itself but once the sun has drifted below the dunes a truly spectacular blanket of stars is revealed. Desert adventures in Oman can be by camelback or four-wheel drives. Activities generally include sleeping out in Barsti huts, Omani BBQ under the stars, camel riding and visiting the Bedouins. No desert tour would be complete without jumping on-board a sand board. As with snow boarding, sand boarding is becoming a loved sport.

Trekking, Rock Climbing and Caving

Rock climbing enthusiasts of all levels will find plenty to keep them busy as routes of all grades are available. Rugged mountains, steep cliffs overlooking breathtaking sceneries, rouged paths, deep canyons and towering cliffs present an enigmatic challenge. The rocky towers of Wadi Ghool, scales to a height of 300 meters and the gorgeous façade of Jabal Mishfat has climbs from 120 to 500 meters. Abal Misht remains the model location due to its rocky façade that extends roughly for 6 km and rises to 850 m. The book "Rock Climbing in Oman" suggest some of the best climbs in Oman.

From intimidating deserts to rugged mountains, serene beaches and tranquil wadis; Oman's landscape offers some exciting opportunities for adventure. Avid trekkers will enjoy the walks through trails over mountains and into canyons, some which have running water all the year round. At the village of Mazara you will find rocky tracks fording the wadi, crystal clear pools of water ideal for a swim. You can hike 13 km into the canyon clear through the other side. Heading out of Mazara on the track to the coast will take you to unusual limestone formations and a track that leads to another scenic area of Wadis Arbien and Suwaih. Both of these Wadis have running water with spots ideal for picnicking and swimming. If you enjoy narrow slot canyons with sheer faces and crystalline pools of water, Wadi Shab, Snake Canyon and Wadi Hajir have just what you are looking for. The book "Adventure Trekking in Oman" covers a number of suitable routes. Oman Tourism Portal will soon make some trekking maps available online.

The limestone rich sedimentary deposits of Oman's mountains offers some of the most exhilarating cave adventures in the world. There are caves to suit all adventurer's tastes from simple to complex. Oman is home of the world's second largest cave, Majlis Al Jinn (Genies meeting place) with a volume of 4m cubic meters. Be sure to bring long rope as the entrance to the cave is 160 meter free descent. Al Hotah Cave near Al Hamra features an underground cavern and unique underground lake system. Other caves of interest are Moqul Cave in Wadi Bani Khalid and the mostly unexplored Tiq Cave in Dhofar.



Nearly every Omani city and town has it own fort. Most of them were built or had major expansions during Al-Yarubi dynasty rule of Oman in between 1624 and 1744. They represent the fine Omani architecture and prosperity at that time. In times of war and with high and thick walls, their purpose was as a refuge for the people and a last line of defense for the town. Forts were prepared to withstand long siege with water wells, food storing capacity and secret tunnels ending many kilometers away from the walls of the fort. In times of peace they served as a centre of governance, a place for education and a social interaction point.

The list is long but here are some of the well-known names: Al-Jalali Fort, Al-Mirani Fort, Nakhal Fort, Rustaq Fort, Sohar Fort, Nizwa Fort, Bahla Fort, Qurayat Fort, Khasab Fort, Al-Hellah Fort, Al-Khandaq Fort, As-Suwaiq Fort, Barka Fort, Bait An-Nuaman, Al-Hazm Fort, Ibri Fort, Bait Ar-Radaidah, Jibrin Fort, Al-Muntarib Fort, As-Sunaisilah Fort, Bilad Sur Fort, Ras al-Hadd Fort, Mirbat Fort, Sadah Fort and Taqa Fort.

World Heritage Sites

The UNESCO through its International Heritage Preserve Programme Administration, aim to categorise all significant heritage sites worldwide.
*Bahla Fort, its perimeter and adjoining oasis.
*The third millennium (BC) settlement and tombs in Bat, the Al-Khatm and Al-Ain locations in Adh-Dhahira region.
*The luban (frankincense) route in Dhofar. The route comprises the ancient cities of Al-Blaid and Shasr, Khuwr Rori, and Wadi Dooka. These locations collectively contributed to the flourishing of frankincense trade for many centuries.
*Five falajs. A falaj is a channel that brings water from underground sources or springs to support agriculture and domestic use, often over many kilometers. Falajs are a landmark of ancient irrigation system which may date back two thousand years. The fair and effective management and sharing of water in villages and towns still relies on mutual dependence and common values. The falajs are: Daris in the Nizwa, Al-Khatmeen in Barkat Al-Muz (Nizwa), Al-Malki in Izki, Al-Mayser in Rustaq and Al-Jeilah in Sur.wehh....

Bull Butting Contests

In the Omani variety of this, the contests lasts for few minutes and the bulls suffers no more than wounded pride and a bad headache. Two bulls of the same size are pitted against each other. The first one to run away is declared the loser. At arenas along the Al Batinah Region coast in Seeb, Barka, Sawadi, and Sohar, bull contests usually takes place on Friday afternoons in the cooler winter months.

Horse and Camel Racing

Between the months of September and June equestrian races organised by Oman Equestrian Federation are held in various towns. The Royal Stables in Seeb is a good spot to observe equestrian events staged for public and private gatherings. Al Kamil/Al Wafi region of the country has the best breeders and trainers. Horse Races are often opened by the art of Al-Taghrood (chanting) enticing riders and horses. This act signifies both courage and chivalry and lauds the virtues of the horses.

Omani people take pride and full care in raising their camels implementing strict methods of taming and nourishment. Camels bred for racing undergo intensive training in order to compete at national and international levels. Camels are given names reflecting their respective abilities and endurance. A good racing camel can fetch a price of R.O. 30,000 (US $ 77,400). Jockeys are drafted for their size (or lack thereof) and some make their professional debuts around five years old. Camels participate in long distance races held on specially built race tracks. Crowd enthusiasm is high on these occasions. The races are normally held on public holidays and during National Day celebrations. As with Horse Races, camel races are arranged by OEF. Some Regions organize their own local races.


Muscat Festival

[ Muscat Festival] is held annually between January and February. With a large Heritage Village on-site, visitors can experience the traditional Omani lifestyle, through various artistic and cultural activities held daily. As the Festival comes to town, so too does the Circus as well as a wide range of musical stars, both local and international. The Festival also hosts a vast array of international exhibitors. Furthermore, local and foreign troupes engage audience with their folklore dances and amusement parks charm the children.

Khareef Festival

Khareef Salalah Festival takes place in the months of July and August. As the temperature soars in the North of Oman and the rest of the Gulf states, the Khareef (monsoon) season sweeps over the Southern part of Oman dropping temperature to and below 23°C. Salalah in Dhofar gears up to take over the role as the Oman top tourist destination. The monsoon rains nourish the region of Dhofar and fog hangs over the land, resulting in some of the most stunning natural scenery. The festival rolls into town with plenty of family fun in the form of cultural, traditional and modern artistic shows. This combination of idyllic weather, the green land and man-made celebrations make visitors experience something truly unique.

Dubai–Muscat Offshore Sailing Race

Dubai–Muscat Regatta takes place every January. Boats set sail from Dubai passing through the Straits of Hormuz before heading down towards Muscat, ending their quest at the Bandar Al-Rawdah Marina.

inbad Classic

An international deep sea fishing contest, the Sinbad Classic is one of the IGFA World Championships qualifying rounds taking place each April with participants coming from all across the globe to fish in the event. The 2008 event runs from 27-29 March and in contrast to previous years is taking a firm stance on sustainable development within the sports industry. For more information on the Sinbad Classic go to

Oman Adventures

This event which is held annually in November features teams of two individuals each; one runs while the other cycles. Held over a five-day period, with each day constituting a one-day phase, the race starts in the early hours of the morning and concludes in the evening, with a one-off special night phase. The challengers face a systematically organised course parts of which necessitate the carrying of the bicycle on the shoulders. Each team is entirely responsible for the preparation and coordination of their own food and water supply, in addition to any spare parts needed for their bicycles.

Oman Intl. Rally

Oman International Rally; held annually in March, is one of the few rallies that constitute the Middle East Rally Championship.

Oman Desert Express

An annual event held in February, the Oman Desert Express Rally is of great interestto adventurers seeking the ultimate challenge of nature.

Biddiyah Challenge

Held every February in the town of Biddiyah in Sharqiyah Region. Recently introduced to the Gulf Region’s sporting calendar, the aim of the race is to scale sand dunes in the least possible time.


Oman’s mix of traditional and cosmopolitan shopping venues offers a great insight into the life and culture of Omani people. The traditional Arabic market place is called the Souq and it sells household items as well as traditional handcrafts. Beside its economic purpose, the Souq has long been a focal point of social interaction. A visit to Muttrah, Nizwa and Salalah Souqs is a must. Tourists could buy carved hand-made distinctive Omani Khanjers (daggers), rose-water sprinklers, fragrant frankincense, incense burners, garments, rugs and saddles. Women jewellery ranges from small silver boxes, to earrings and rings, bracelets, anklets and necklaces. In some Souqs like Nizwa and Sinaw livestock are auctioned and bartered.


Omani cuisine is a tasty blend of flavor as a long tradition of seafaring and trade has brought culinary influences to Oman. The diverse terrain of the country has created styles of cooking that vary from region to region. The first thing that most visitors will sample is the rich and aromatic Omani coffee (kahwa). Served from the typical metallic or ceramic jug called 'Dallah' into tiny cups 'Fingans'. The coffee powder is brewed with water and spices, notably cardamom and is served without sugar. The traditional accompaniments are dates and 'Halwa'. Halwa is a sticky dessert made from sugar and spices and flavoured with sesame seeds or almonds. This dish is always present in special occasions.

The Omani cuisine uses a variety of spices: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, onion, ginger, garlic and lime. Rice is eaten for lunch almost in daily basis plain or coloured. Plain rice is served with Marak, a curry made from vegetable with lamb, chicken or fish. Makbous is a rice dish, tinged yellow with saffron. The Rukhal bread is a round bread and it is eaten at any meal and typically served with honey for breakfast or crumbled over curry for dinner.

The two main religious festivals Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha feature specially prepared dishes. The principal dish is Shuwa. An entire cow or goat is marinated in a mix of spices, wrapped in banana leaves and then roasted for over 48 hours in a special underground pit oven. Other dishes include Aurssia (lamb or chicken cooked with rice), and Harees (wheat mixed with meat) and Mishkak (char grilled meat chops).

A wide variety of restaurants are available Arabian, Indian, African, Chinese, French and International. Fast food outlets like McDonald’s, Hardee’s and Pizza Hut can also be found.

ee also

*Geography of Oman
*Cities in Oman
*Provinces of Oman

*Al Alam Palace
*Blue City
*Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa


* [ Vogue magazine chooses Oman as 2008 top destination]
* [ Oman shines as hottest new destination]
* [ British media shower praises on Oman’s immaculate beauty]
* [ Discover Oman: One Land, One Breathtaking Journey Authentic Arabia]
* [ The beginner’s guide to Oman]

External links


* [ Oman Tourism Portal]
* [ Your Personal Assistant to Muscat]
* [ Ministry of Information - Tourism Section]
* [ Lonely Planet - Oman]
* [ Destination Oman]
* [ Oman Pocket Guide]
* [ Muscat International Airport]
* [ Oman Air]
* [ Birds Oman]
* [ Oman Tourism and Hospitality Academy]
* [ Geological Society of Oman]
* [ Oman Center for Traditional Music]

Visitors Impressions

* [ Oman Photo Gallery]
* [ Pictures and video from a backpackers trip to Oman]
* [ Andy Carvin's Oman Photo Gallery]
* [ Oman flickr images]

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