Oman lies within the South-eastern quarter of the Arabian Peninsula with the Indian Ocean lapping its shores for nearly 3165 kilometres. Oman is rich in history and culture being the oldest independent state in the Arab world - a country that is built on sea faring traditions that live on to this day making the Sultanate a hub of cultural influences from Africa, India and Asia.
A vast desert plain covers central Oman, while the mountains (jebal) pierce the blue skies to the North and South East of the country where the main cities are. The climate is hot and dry in the interior while being humid on the coast. Southern Oman benefits from trade winds during the summer and is lush and green while the mountains offer a beautiful temperate climate in the northern summer months.
Muscat, the capital is easily reached being only 8 hours away from London and 8.5 hours from Manchester with direct flights from London and Manchester respectively on Oman Air the national carrier.
For centuries the Omani people have always prospered on trading along the India Ocean and it was Vasco da Gama discovered the nearby seaway to India. Ten years after his discovery, Oman was occupied by the Portuguese between 1508-1648 whom in turn where driven out by the Ottomans until 1741 when a Yemini tribe pushed out the Ottomans to create Oman as it is now, with the current ruling line of Sultans.
The Omani empire has many influences with its reach stretching to India, Pakistan and down the East coast of Africa. Arabic is the official language with Swahili widely spoken due historical relation with between Oman and Zanzibar, while English is the second language due to the close ties between the two countries.
Omani hospitality is an important part of society. You will often be offered Omani coffee and dates.
Coffee is served in small cups and should be shaken after three servings to show that it is finished. Local Omani men wear the national dress, the Dishdasha, a white collarless gown, while women wear the abaya which has several different styles.
Spice Routes and Markets
Being at the centre of the spice routes which linked Asia, India and Africa to Europe, to this day you can witness the diverse range of produce being sold in Oman’s souks.
Set on the harbour, Muscat’s Muttrah Souk is one of the oldest and most famous in the Arab world. When walking through you will smell frankincense and Arabian perfumes, while you can also buy silverware, daggers, traditional cloth, new clothes and shoes, as well as Halwa (Omani sweets), spices and braziers (for burning incense or frankincense).