Monday, March 27, 2023 | Ramadan 4, 1444 H
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A Parisian smithen by tranquil Salalah

Travelling solo from Paris, a woman traveller made it to most parts of the Sultanate of Oman. She found the Sultanate of Oman an amazing destination, a country that “has nurtured its reputation as a neutral and often tranquil place.”

Noa Avishag Schnall covered the country extensively three months after the Sultanate of Oman lifted its Covid-19 travel restrictions. “I flew from my home in Paris to the southern city of Salalah, intending to explore the entirety of Oman’s coastline from south to north,” she mentioned in her travel account covered in detail by the New York Times.

She heard a lot about Salalah’s monsoon (Khareef) season and loves to make it as and when possible. “For me, that relative calm was one of its most attractive features. That and its unique climate. Because of its location, Oman is one of the rare countries in the Arab world that experiences a Khareef (monsoon) season, which turns the landscape a lush green, floods mountains with waterfalls, fills the wadis (valleys or riverbeds) with fresh water and brings a thick fog to rest on the southern governorates of the country. The Sultanate of Oman doesn’t really have an off-season. The Khareef is popular with khaleejis, and during winter months the Sultanate receives more European and Indian tourists. As I’d missed the khareef, it was the ideal time for a beach-bound adventure.”

Her travel account has mention of length and breadth of the places she visited during her stay in the country. Dhofar seems to have fascinated her the most due to its variety of greenery, desert, mountain and sea.

“In my dedication to travelling the entirety of the Omani coastline, I’d be foregoing inland Oman, famed for the Rub al Khali, or the Empty Quarter, considered the world’s largest continuous sand desert and made up of approximately 250,000 square miles of uninterrupted sand dunes, spanning across the Sultanate of Oman, Yemen, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. And, in a stubborn commitment to driving the entire coastline, I drove some three hours west of Salalah to the border of Yemen to officially begin the trip,” she said.

In her travel account, Avishag Schnall has minute details of mountains, Omani favourite ‘karak, tea, beaches in Fazayah and Mughsail, Khor Rori archaeological site and Salalah signature Wadi Darbat.

She made new friends during her stay in Dhofar who were hospitable, trustworthy and compassionate to a woman who was on a solo tour soon after the pandemic.

“After visiting Wadi Darbat, famous for its plateau of waterfalls, I drove to Mirbat, where my new friend had dropped a pin on my phone to share the exact location. He had ordered takeout, and we took the bags to the beach, where he laid out a mat and we sat eating cross-legged using our right hands in place of utensils, in the traditional manner. Having finished our meal of chicken biryani, we stepped out onto the rocks where the ocean lapped onto the stones. We went as far as we could without getting wet, finding a place to lean back comfortably. And then, as if old friends, we had a long talk about a range of topics, including religion, while staring up at the sky,” the NYT quoted him as saying.

Taken together, several pages are needed to cover Schnall’s travel account, which has also beautiful mention of Muscat, and other parts of the country including Masirah, Sur, Bar al Hikman, Natef Falls. She ended up her account with big praise of Omani hospitality and its unspoiled heritage and culture.

Follow the author on Twitter: @patkaushal

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