Off road fun

WHERE will your GPS take you this weekend? ‘Shoof’ Oman (meaning Look, See!) screams a picture postcard of a beautiful country. These postcards series are from the vast collection of Marina Bruce, a Scot woman whose popular Friday morning posts ask tourists in Oman to plan outings for the weekend.

Marina has driven the length and breadth of Oman and snapped over 50,000 photos of her travels. These include dhow in Masirah Island harbour at sunset, the towering and majestic cliffs at Mugsayl, the spectacular Empty Quarter dunes and a whole host of other places.
Her postcards cover a multitude of sights from unusual signs, amazing trees at Dhofar, mosques, majlis, fishermen, wadis and landscapes. Photos of turtle tracks, shipwrecks and forts are among her most liked posts. “Many of Oman’s sights are almost hidden off the roads that lead to picturesque villages and sheltered beaches, and forts that guard the history and culture of Oman and especially a cheerful Omani inviting you to take coffee and dates.”
Marina and her husband Neil are particularly keen on nature and their most recent series, ‘Wild Oman’ is a collection of just some of the pictures they have snapped on their travels.
A lone heron on a rock at sunrise, a close-up of a fearsome looking golden
orb, spider as well as lizards, birds and scorpions are the stars of this series. “Oman may be on the edge of the Empty Quarter, but there is plenty of life all around,” she mentions.

From her first visit to the Hanging Gardens in Buraimi back in 2007, countless desert excursions and recent wadi trips, she has criss-crossed the Sultanate always driving offroad unless there is no alternative! “To me, one of the most important things about travelling is to share your experiences and encourage others to venture where you have already been,” says Marina.
For the less adventurous traveller or visitor to the Sultanate it’s always comforting to understand the landscape and be better prepared for having read about someone else’s adventure, explains Marina.
Many residents, she says, particularly those new to the Gulf, lack the confidence to load up their 4×4 and travel off the beaten track. Her blog, complete with pictures, will inspire them to seek out new sights and places to enrich their experience of the Gulf region.
Marina has created several photo series, published on her social media pages, designed to show the very best Oman has to offer and assist in pushing Oman’s hashtag (#beautyhasanaddress) out to the wider world.
‘Shoof Oman!’ series was created in response to an acquaintance telling her she had seen all of Oman. It turned out the lady in question had made three hotel-based trips to Khasab, Muscat and Salalah, relaxed by the pool, taken a half day organised tour in each location and felt she had seen everything there was to see!
“Oman is massive and there are many different terrains and landscapes; desert, shore, plains, mountains and wadis, all just waiting to be explored.”
Marina enjoys long-distance driving, taking the time to stop and photograph the hidden gems that she come across. Ever ready to share her discoveries, her blog details her trips giving out sage advice about how to get there and what to see, but most importantly, reminding those wishing to follow her that safety comes first.
After eight years of off-roading, she has built up a collection of trips and memories that cover the length and breadth of UAE and Oman. These days she is spending even more time in Oman and is determined to write as much about all the beautiful and spectacular scenery that the Sultanate has to offer.

Liju Cherian