Oman is situated along the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, sandwiched between Saudi Arabia, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The country is made up of vast spans of desert, mountains over 9,000 feet, and large areas of uninhabited coastline. Native Omanis were seafarers who traded commodities in East Africa, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf. This led to successive migrations and increase in settlements along parts of the East African coast.
Visitors to Oman will be enthralled with its historical forts which dot the country. Over five hundred forts and towers served as the country’s defense and lookout system to deter would be invaders. Muscat, Jalali, and Mirani forts dating from the sixteenth century can all be visited in the capital city. Another example, the fourteenth century Bahla Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mountains of Oman provide dramatic scenery and excellent opportunities to drive through dry wadis. A number of the wadis have roads that are usually not surfaced, but very usable while others require an experienced off-roader to navigate. The beaches in Oman are breeding areas of many species of sea turtles. Masirah Island is home to four breeding species inclusive of the largest leatherbacks in the world.
Shopping is another activity that visitors and locals enjoy equally in Oman. The traditional souqs allow one to experience the typical Arab market, and for history and culture, a visit to Muscat’s Grand Mosque is a must. For those more interested in nature, there is dolphin-watching or hiking in a wadi are possible.
Omani people are very hospitable and friendly. Visitors to private homes are treated with kahwa (a strong, bitter tasting, coffee like drink with cardamom). Omani cuisine in general is not very spicy and is served in generous portions. The best part is that it is relatively inexpensive. Having long coastline means seafood is served frequently, especially shark. For dessert dates or halwa (a mixture of eggs, honey, and brown sugar) are common.
Official Name: Saltanat Uman
Government: Absolute monarchy
Area: 309,500 km² (119,498 sq. mi.)
Ethnic groups: Arab, Baluchi, East African (Zanzabari), South Asian
Other Cities: Dhofar, Salalah, Nizwa, Sohar, Sur.
Currency: Omani Rial
Climate: Hot, humid along the coast; hot, dry in the interior;
Official Language: Arabic ( English widespread in the economic and educational sectors
Dialing code: +968