The Sultanate of Oman is a country of breath-taking natural beauty, interwoven with a kaleidoscope of history and legends. As the oldest independent state in the Arab World, Oman has embraced modernisation and progress while retaining the core aspects of its culture and heritage – making it the perfect travel destination for those seeking an authentic Arabian experience.
Thanks to its strategic position at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the Sultanate has always played a major role in trade including the ancient Silk Road and Spice Routes where Oman served as a gateway for all ships traversing the Strait of Hormuz, Indian Ocean or the Arabian Sea.
Al Wattih, in the Muscat region, is thought to be one of the world’s first inhabited settlements, with artefacts found to date back to the Stone Age. Later, and before the coming of Islam, Oman was dominated by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians – each of whom sought to use Oman’s strategic location to trade with the world.
It was with the spread of Islam in Oman, around the 7th century, that the first place of worship was built. The Al Midhmar mosque in Wilayat Samail still stands to this day, having been rebuilt at various times throughout the centuries.
Over the coming centuries, the rule in Oman divided amongst a variety of dynasties, imamates and foreign powers, including the Portuguese from 1498 to 1507. Oman’s history tells the story of Omani people expelling the Portuguese to unite under Iman Nasser bin Murshid in 1624.
In the years that followed, the Sultanate expanded to include cities along the East African coast, from Mombasa to Zanzibar.
In 1798, Oman and Great Britain signed a Treaty of Friendship and, by 1891, Oman and Muscat had become a British Protectorate. For much of this period, the Sultan controlled the coast around Muscat while the Imam governed the interior from Nizwa. Under the 1951 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation, Oman received independence from Britain.
Following this independence, the country was brought under the leadership of Sultan Said bin Taimur. However, it was not until his son – His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said – ascended to the throne in 1970 that Oman entered a modern renaissance, evolving into the contemporary, forward facing country it is today.
It is His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s foresight and benevolence that has helped to secure Oman’s continued prosperity and ensured that the country remains one of the safest in the world.
The Sultanate of Oman is the only country in the world composed mostly of oceanic crust and rocks that originate from the Earth’s mantle. Evidence of continental drift can be witnessed in many of the unusual rock formations and topography around Oman, including the coastline around Muscat.
Oman is a wonderland for travellers with a keen interest in geology. Geological stories can be found just about anywhere, from Oman’s highest mountain, Jebel Shams, to the mega-dunes of the Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali) and the Rock Garden at Duqm.
Oman’s culture is deeply rooted in the Sultanate’s proud heritage and history of seafaring, trading and exploration. Today, long-standing traditions blend seamlessly with modern day living, with the latest fashion and electronics brands sold alongside traditional hand-made crafts, jewellery, and even goats and cattle at souqs around the country.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said has successfully united all tribes since his ascension in 1970, ensuring that the country and its people work together to build the country. Oman has a population of just over 4 million people.
Located in the north-west of Oman and bordering A’Dhahira, Al Buraimi is a semi-desert plain which descends from the southern slopes of the western Al Hajar Mountains. Ruins in the area, such as those found at the villages of Sharm and Madhbah, highlight the existence of ancient trade routes.
Al Batinah is an expansive coastal area running parallel to the magnificent Hajar Mountain range in north-eastern Oman. It is home to many beautiful wadis and villages, such as Wadi Mistal and Wakan Village, and attractions such as Nakhal Fort and the hot springs of Ain Al Thowara.
Muscat is the modern capital of Oman and offers visitors a stunning combination of old and new. From the architectural masterpiece that is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, to its rugged mountain backdrop and breath-taking beaches, this city never fails to entertain and inspire.
Consisting of the governorates of North and South A’Sharqiyah, this part of Oman is widely considered the geographical jewel of the Sultanate. It is here that stunning coastlines give way to the unique ecosystem that is Sharqiyah Sands, making this region a paradise for adventurers and explorers.
A’Dakhiliyah, meaning ‘The Interior’, is a land-locked governorate comprised of a portion of the Al Hajar Mountain range and eight separate districts: Adam, Al Hamra, Bahla, Bidbid, Izki, Manah, Nizwa and Samail.
Once situated in prime position on the ancient trade routes, A’Dhahira in Oman’s west is traditionally the bridge between Oman’s stunning mountain ranges and the neighbouring UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Flanked on the east by the Arabian Sea, on the west by the Rub Al Khali – The Empty Quarter – and by Oman’s most southern governorate – Dhofar – to the south, Al Wusta covers a large area in the middle of the Sultanate.
Although Dhofar lies over 1,000 kilometres from the capital city of Muscat, planning a trip is easy with daily flights between Muscat and Salalah and direct connections from other Arab Gulf states.
The exclave of Musandam is Oman’s northernmost governorate, separated from the rest of Oman by the UAE and home to some of the Sultanate’s most dramatic landscape.