Crystal Magazine Jan 03, 2023

Sultanate of Oman: A Vacation Paradise for Tourists

Oman emerges as a top tourist destination mainly due to its exceptional natural, cultural, and tourist attractions, especially as the New Year and holiday season are here.  The key attractions include scenic coastlines, seas, mountains, deserts, hot springs, caves, and valleys, particularly during the winter season when many cultural, heritage, and sporting events are held. Oman's modern hotels and advanced facilities, coupled with the warmth and generosity of Omani hospitality, allow visitors to experience the unique aspects and characteristics of Oman in a safe, tolerant, and luxurious setting.

As per the World Tourism Organization, the global travel and tourism industry saw a resurgence in 2022, with international tourist numbers going up by 172% in the first half of the year. If the trend is any indication, the number of visitors to Oman will grow further in the coming period from various countries around the world. This trend is supported by studies and promotional tours, as well as the efforts of the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism to promote the Sultanate of Oman and its cultural and natural attractions in various countries. These efforts have successfully piqued the interest of tourists in visiting and experiencing all that the Sultanate has to offer.

To boost tourism and meet the growing demand for travel to the Sultanate of Oman, authorities have removed the need for a prior entry visa for citizens of 103 countries, making it easier for these visitors to enter the country. Residents of other Gulf Cooperation Council countries can enter the Sultanate of Oman without a prior visa, which supports the tourism industry and helps make it more accessible for these visitors. The Gulf Cooperation Council countries are a major source of demand for tourism in the Sultanate of Oman, and many survey respondents have expressed a desire to visit and learn about the country's culture, heritage, and tourism offerings. By exempting these visitors from the visa requirement, authorities are helping to make it easier for them to experience all that the Sultanate has to offer.

The Sultanate of Oman offers abundant vacation opportunities like relaxation, medical tourism, adventure tourism, and exploration of natural areas for visitors. The key draw for the tourists is its authentic cultural elements, including its architectural character and traditional way of life. Impressed by the safe, tolerant, and luxurious atmosphere, many tourists learn about the Sultanate and its cultural varieties.

The Sultanate of Oman is home to many climbing areas, including Wadi Ghul in the Governorate of Al Dakhiliyah, which features Jabal Shams, one of the highest points in the region at over 3000 meters, and Jabal Mushatt in the Wilayat of Ibri, with a rocky facade reaching a height of around 850 meters on some sides. The Governorate of Musandam also boasts numerous mountains. Additionally, the capital city of Muscat has several highlands that attract amateur and professional mountain climbers.

The Sultanate will have races organized in the desert, covering short and long distances, offering an opportunity for sports lovers to join or watch while also experiencing adventure tourism, a favourite among travellers to Oman. It boasts a variety of natural landscapes including mountains, seas, and deserts, providing a thrilling and safe tourist experience. Some popular activities include mountain climbing, exploring caves and valleys, and diving in the sea.

Oman is a highly sought-after location for diving enthusiasts, boasting a diverse range of marine life and an abundance of sea cliffs, small islands, and bays containing exceptional corals.

For many Muscat, the capital of Oman emerges as a popular destination due to its mix of natural and urban landmarks and its blend of ancient and modern elements. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a modern Islamic monument, is one of its most notable features and is renowned for its diverse architectural design featuring corridors, domes, lighthouses, gardens, and water fountains. The Royal Opera House, the first of its kind in the region, is also a popular attraction in Muscat, drawing visitors with its unique architecture and a range of activities including opera concerts, concerts, plays, conferences, and cultural and artistic forums.

Representing Omani culture and history, the National Museum, one of the major cultural landmarks, features a variety of collections. Muscat is home to Al Alam Palace which is known for its mosaic columns. A major tourist attraction in Muscat, this place is one of the oldest in the Sultanate of Oman.  Another popular destination is the Bait Al-Zubair Museum which has a diverse collection of antiques, furniture, jewellery, clothing, stamps, old coins, household items, and ancient weapons, including traditional Omani daggers, as well as models of traditional Omani village and market. The museum's design has its admirers too who honoured the brilliance with the Sultan Qaboos Award for Architectural Excellence.

Muscat is home to several historical castles that showcase the city's rich history and culture. Al-Jalali Castle, a former defensive fort situated on a rock overlooking the sea, is just one example of these impressive structures. Another castle, Al-Mirani, can be found at the entrance to the Sea of Oman. In addition to these historical landmarks, Muscat also boasts a variety of parks, gardens, and entertainment venues for visitors to enjoy. Some of these include Al Sahwa, Al Naseem, Riyam, Al Qurum Natural Park, Kalbouh Park, and Marina Bandar Al Rawdah, which offers a range of water sports activities such as fishing, diving, and swimming.

Muscat is home to several premier diving spots, including Bandar Al-Khiran, Al-Fahal Island, Daymaniyat Islands, and Al-Jissah Beach. These areas are renowned for their diverse and abundant marine life, making for a truly unforgettable diving experience.

Dhofar is home to the Land of Frankincense, a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring numerous monuments showcasing the depth and originality of Oman's civilization. Al-Baleed, which dates back over 2000 years BC, is one of those. It served as a major port on the Indian Ocean for the export of Omani frankincense to China and Europe. Sumhuram (Khor Rori), located about 30 kilometres from Salalah, was also a major port in the frankincense trade throughout history. Another notable attraction, The Wadi Dawka Reserve offers a glimpse into the areas where the frankincense tree grows and serves as a model for similar locations.

The Governorate of Musandam is a popular destination for visitors due to its many archaeological and natural areas that make it suitable for both professionals and amateurs of sea and land sports, adventure tourism, and other activities such as mountain climbing, cave and valley exploration, and beach and marine activities such as kayaking and diving.

For a unique New Year's holiday experience, the Sultanate of Oman offers a variety of desert areas such as the Sharqiyah Sands in the North Al Sharqiyah Governorate. These sandy landscapes attract thousands of visitors who enjoy the natural scenery and camping among the dunes. The camps provide a harmonious environment that complements the natural surroundings and allows visitors to participate in activities such as sandboarding with custom wooden boards, driving or hiking over sand dunes, camel riding, sand biking, and attending concerts featuring traditional folk music and folkloric performances.

The Sultanate of Oman is a desirable destination for tourists and visitors from around the globe, as demonstrated by the cultural and tourism events held in various governorates. The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism is dedicated to preserving the country's rich and diverse heritage and utilizing the unique cultural, heritage, and natural elements to promote tourism as part of Oman's Vision 2040.

The Sultanate of Oman has seen a rise in the number of tourists and visitors due to the efforts of various authorities in promoting the country's tourist, cultural, and heritage attractions. These efforts have also resulted in the selection of the Sultanate of Oman as a host for international tournaments and events, which draws in more visitors and tourists and helps to elevate its standing on the global tourism map.

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