When you open an atlas and find the Sultanate of Oman, the first reaction is usually, “Small isn’t it?” But it’s quickly replaced with, “You can’t seriously mean that we can do and see all of that there???”
After thinking about it, doing a Kaun Banega Crorepati move by phoning a friend, doing research online (the Ministry of Tourism has a very visually appealing website), I’ve come to believe that I will probably need more than just a few days there to truly take it all in; from miles and miles of endless golden sand to pristine beaches to a seemingly perfect blend of the old and the new. Oman seems to have it all and these are some things that I don’t want to miss when I’m there:
First up, I’ve got to confess that I’m a sucker for romantic movies and “Pretty Woman” has been high on my list of favourites since I first saw it years ago. There’s a scene in the movie in which Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts to the opera and looks tenderly at her while the performers evoke emotions so powerful that she has tears in her eyes. Imagine my joy when I learnt that Oman has it’s very own Royal Opera House in Muscat, its capital city! If I close my eyes, I can almost see myself walking into the spectacular building. admiring the Arabian inlay work before making my way up to plush seats waiting with bated breath to be treated to a performance of a lifetime with my very own salt and pepper haired Richard Gere. Maybe my Pretty Woman moment will come sooner than expected! So for romantic ol’ me, the Royal Opera House is a must-see.
I want to go to Wadi Darbat, just outside Salalah city.
It’s probably the most naturally scenic place in the country and being able to spend a day there would be perfect. It’s the sort of place that in pleasant dreams, I end up living in some day. Like the stills from a nature documentary the sheer beauty of this place would take my breath away. It’s almost unbelievable that something so picturesque exists in a country that is a desert. I think a trip there would be just what I need…a break from the hustle and bustle of my everyday life, rejuvenating and relaxing. It would leave me refreshed and ready to get back to life as I know it. Wadi Darbat, here I come!
When I was younger, going through the motions of having a different career choice every few days, there was a time when I saw myself as an explorer, sailing away to foreign lands. I was quite disappointed when I learnt that all the “new lands” had already been discovered and I had been born a century or two too late. In the olden days, dhows were used as vessels of trade. If I am able to go to a dhow building yard and watch the locals at work making one, it will be special experience and if I’m allowed to take a ride on one of them, it would be like, if only for a little while, I turned into the explorer I once dreamed I would be. So a visit to a dhow building yard and a dhow ride would be the next thing on my agenda.
You can’t go to the desert and not go on a dune safari. I want to visit the Wahiba Sands and feel the thrills of going up an apparently impossibly high dune only to come plummeting down the other side at break-neck speeds while my stomach drops! Perhaps a camel ride, swaying back and forth on the animals back looking out at the almost never-ending expanse of golden sand will follow. The perfect end to a day like that would be a traditional Omani dinner under the canvas of a colourful tent perhaps watching the hypnotic moves of a belly dancer. Learning the dance form has been on my bucket list forever and where better to learn than in the Arabian desert? Dune safari and belly dancing in Wahiba Sands…I can’t wait!
To carry back the scent of the desert, I want to visit the Amouage store where I’ve been told I’ll be able to watch the masters themselves as they create the various unusual alluring arresting fragrances that go into their many perfumes. Honestly, I think it would be most interesting to see something like that being created before my very eyes and not just hope to have a similar experience when I get the rare opportunity to travel across the world.
I find that apart from being in beautiful surroundings outdoors, being in places of worship calms my soul and eases my mind. Where better to attain that inner solace than at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque? Opened in 2001 this grand mosque has the most exquisite architecture not to mention the most amazing interiors. No expense seems to have been spared in its making. Even the prayer mat that covers the floor of the prayer hall is hand-woven and the second largest in the world. Grand Mosque; spiritual and architectural wonder, I am ready to be amazed!
I’d love to come back with a little bit of Oman in my bags as souvenirs of a wonderful trip as well as to gift others so they make a visit to the diverse country as well. Mutrah Souq in Muscat seems to be the place to go. I believe you haven’t fully enjoyed a city unless you’ve been to its market place and the experience is enhanced when you are in one which has historical significance. (Also I think the souq is worth a visit because I am a girl and shopping makes me happy). Renovated and redecorated, It’s supposed to be a shoppers paradise where not only can you buy the run-of-the mill things but authentic Omani trinkets and outfits too, while being treated to the intoxicating fragrance of frankincense, jasmines and spices. Mutrah Souq…beware the arrival of me!
Oman! I wish I could get on a plane right now to explore all that you have to offer. It’s true what they say…tiny things do pack a punch!