5 reasons Oman should be on your bucket list
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As the oldest independent state in the Arab world, Oman is noticeably very traditional and a far cry from the skyscrapers and giant shopping malls that make up Dubai and Abu Dhabi. At the same time, it feels almost more developed than Jordan, but more relaxed and less bustling than Israel.
I’d previously visited four places in the Middle East — Israel, Jordan and the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates — which were all very different. With Oman, I was expecting a mix of Jordan and the UAE, but instead, what I discovered was an entirely unique country.
I can’t wait to go back and spend more time there — here’s why.
1. Almost perfect weather
The tropical desert climate of Oman means that the weather is pretty much the exact opposite to the U.K. — very low annual rainfall and very hot summers. Along the Gulf Coast in the north of the country, the weather is drier and less humid. With temperatures in the height of summer from June to September reaching around 40 degrees Celsius, it might be best to visit off-season to avoid the blistering heat that us Brits really aren’t used to.
Unlike in other Middle Eastern destinations where eating out in the evening can be uncomfortable due to heat and humidity, in Oman, it’s a lot more bearable due to it being in the desert but not as urbanised. The hot day time temperatures drop significantly in the evening to around 17 to 19 degrees Celsius even in the peak summer months, making those long dinners by the beach a lot more pleasant.
2. Amazing luxury properties
Oman has quite an array of luxurious places to stay. Here are a few of our favourites.
The Chedi, Muscat
If you have a thing for five-star luxury, look no further than the Chedi Hotel, a stone’s throw from the centre of Muscat. We’d heard great reports about the Chedi from everyone we spoke to, so during our visit, we absolutely had to visit one evening for a pre-dinner drink and dinner on the beach.
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Everything about the hotel’s minimalist style was beautiful. From the unique design of each of the three pools to the breathtaking beachfront restaurant, the modern and sleek design was consistent throughout. I loved the way that the interior and exterior were so well blended together.
It’s worth noting that due to COVID-19, the hotel will be suspending normal operations until 14 September 2020. The first weekend that the hotel is bookable after the reopen works out at around £235 per night, with the third night for free.
Dunes by Al Nahda, Barka
For that authentic desert experience, look no further than the Dunes by Al Nahda — it’s all in the name really. Situated slightly inland and away from the coast, it’s the perfect place to get real Bedouin vibes.
At first glance, it might just look like a load of tents in a car park, but these are no ordinary tents — they are the height of luxury.
If relaxing at the stunning pool with a view isn’t really for you, then there are plenty of activities to keep adults and kids alike occupied. Dune bashing is, of course on the agenda, as well as a nine-hole sand bunker golf course and sand volleyball.
The resort is currently closed due to COVID-19. When it reopens on 1 October, you can expect to pay from £210 per night.
Alila Jabal Akhdar, Barka
Head around three hours southwest from Muscat and you will find yourself in the heart of the Al Hajar mountains and the Alila Jabal Akhdar Hotel — a stunning Hyatt property. The location of the hotel offers a completely different experience with rugged mountain scenery as far as the eye can see.
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The design of the rooms is inspired by ancient forts and traditional Omani construction techniques. Oh, and some of the private villas have their own pool.
It’s also a perfect spot for some relaxation in the hotel spa where you’ll be reborn through ancient Asian healing techniques.
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Room rates start at around £193 per night, or 25,000 Hyatt points.
Six Senses Zighy Bay
This super-luxe resort is located between the craggy Hajar Mountains and a mile-long sandy beach in Musandam, in the north of the country. Think stone villas with a private plunge pool, your own butler and a magnificent spa offering a wealth of wellness programmes. And how cool is this? You can arrive by speedboat or even paraglide into the reception. Guests are encouraged to go barefoot and phones are discouraged.
There’s also five restaurants, complimentary homemade ice cream and tons of stuff to do including snorkelling, yoga, sailing and mountain biking. Villas start at about £531 per night in low season.
3. Natural wonders and rugged landscapes
Due to its location in the Middle East, you could be forgiven for presuming that Oman is probably just sand and desert. In fact, Oman has a really diverse landscape. Of course, there is still plenty of sand in the form of dunes as far as the eye can see in the Rub al-Khali and Wahiba deserts.
But in contrast, to the west of Muscat you’ve got the Hajar Mountains and to the north in the Musandam Peninsula, there are even fjords.
For more tranquil and relaxing scenes, Oman boasts over 3,000 kilometres of coastline, which is dotted with palm tree-lined beautiful sandy beaches.
It really does have something for everyone.
And for those who like a bit of adventure, Oman has oasis-like sinkholes, like this one at Wadi Shab. All it takes is a hike for around an hour and then you can reward yourself with a dip in the crystal clear, warm waters. Remember to take lots of water as hiking there is thirsty work.
4. Amazing coffee
If you love coffee, Oman is the place to be — it’s the nation’s national beverage. You will be offered traditional Omani kahwa (coffee) pretty much everywhere you go, along with a side of dates. It will be served to you in a cute little cup called a fenjan and poured from a rather ornate-looking pot called a dallah.
To give the coffee its unique Omani flavour, extra ingredients such as saffron, cardamom and sometimes even rose water, cloves and cinnamon are added.
5. It’s very safe
Oman has a very low crime rate, with a strict moral and legal code.
According to the World Population Review, Oman has a crime index of just 21.55, securing its spot as the ninth safest country in the world just behind Switzerland, Armenia, Georgia and Hong Kong.
If under very rare and unfortunate circumstances, you do find yourself getting into a spot of bother, the Omani police are known for being trustworthy and don’t take bribes, which is added peace of mind for tourists.
If you’re looking for something a little different for your post-COVID trip, then Oman comes highly recommended. The weather, the people, the food, the culture — everything about the place makes it one of my favourites.
Featured image by Abdullsalam Abdullah Aloliyan/EyeEm/Getty Images
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