Oman – An Oasis on the Arabian Peninsula
Oman has an area of three Czech Republics. Desert makes 80 percent of the country . In the west and in the east it borders with the sea so be sure to take a swimsuit with you. The country is generally safe, only be cautious in the region bordering Yemen where currently is a war going on.
What you may see in Oman: fortresses, mountains, desert , camels, falaj (old irrigation system), mosques etc. Entrance fees are mostly symbolic, you pay from 30 – 60 CZK, on some occassions 120 CZK.
Mostly you find here Pakistani or Indian cuisine. People eat here lots of vegetables, chicken or lamb, flat cakes or rice. Food is eaten with hands. Be sure not to use your left hand, the dirty hand. You can crubmle on table on floor. There is a basin at every dinning room but there no toilets mostly. Dates are integral part of Oman cuisine. Over 30 kinds of dates are gorwn in the country. They are very tasty and people chew them instead of sugar when drinking coffee. The Sultan is a non-smoker, therefore you don't usually see hookahs; smoking is banned in restaurants. The country is under harsh prohibition. Alcohol is sold only at some hotels.
You can travel in Oman by bus, car, cab or you may hitchhike. All travel options are affordable. Roads are in good condition, gas is cheap. You may live in a hotel or in a tent (this is allowed everywhere apart from private grounds).
Maskat is the capital of the country. Most of the city was built only in the 1970. Then thanks to oil mining the country experienced economic boom. Unlike Dubai, there are not many skyscrapers in the city. However, you may see here preserved classic Oman architecture.
I recommend you to stay in the districts of Mutrah or Ruwi. Should you make trips to the surrounding areas, Ruwi is a better deal for there is a bus station for local public transportation or intercity buses. There are also lines to Dubai. Ruwi is a great place for shopping as well. There are many places to stay at in Mutrah. Also, there are many restaurants and the district is in close proximity to old Maskat. There is an old bazaar, a perfect place to buy spices or frankincese. Don't forget to bargain prices!
There are many museums in Maskat as well as an aquarium. Old Maskat is the oldest part of the city. It is completely renovated, everythign is perfect clean and shining. Here you may find only museums and government buildings.
People who like guns and military should visit The Oman's Armed Forces Museum. A military man would be your guide here. You'll here an extensive commentary. Don't think that you would skip some of the exhibits. Moreover, there is an open-air gallery. There you may see a bunker, walk through a combat ship, or take a seat inside a bulletproof car made for the Sultan himself.
There are many Sultan Kabus' mosques in Oman. Yet there is only one which is the largest. The largest mosque is open at certain hours even to non-Muslims. Take appropriate clothes because religious police control what you wear at the entrance. Men should wear long trousers, socks, the top must cover arms. Women can have only their face uncovered as well as palms and fingers. In case you didn't wear appropriate clothes, you can buy a clothing kit. However, the price is too high and the choice limited. The mosque is covered in marble and there is one of the largest hand-made carpets in the world. It took 15 years to finish it. The entrance is free.
You can set off to some of city beaches or have a picnic in one of many parks.
Text and photos: Eva Marková
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