Sultanate is a rare tourist destination

NEW DELHI: The Sultanate enjoys tourism potentials particularly the beauty of diverse wildlife, which made the Sultanate a rare tourist destination, according to a report published by the Indian Firstpost newspaper. The newspaper highlighted Ras Al Jinz, a nesting site for the endangered green turtle, one of the five of a total of seven species of sea turtles in the world that make their home in Oman. Every year, over 20,000 turtles migrate from the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea and Somalia to lay their eggs in the Sultanate.
An escorted night walk to the beach to gather in small groups around a large female turtle vigorously digging a hole in the sand with her flippers. Occasionally, breaking the silence in with questions for the knowledgeable guide. It feels like intruding upon a private moment — of an endangered animal that easily weighs above 130 kg, and some hippie souls wander off to gaze at the starlit sky instead of the industries turtle mom.
Oman’s wildlife is one of the many surprises that’s thrown up to the unsuspecting visitor. From spinners dolphins that prance off the coast of Muscat to Arabian leopards prowling the Dhofar mountain range in the South, there’s much magnificence beyond the clichés of sandy dunes.
The Indian newspaper also highlighted Wadi Shab gorge in the Governorate of South Al Sharqiyah. It is the perfect spot for an hour-long adventurous hike and a dip in the natural pool, followed by a barbecue. This picturesque scene encourages jumping from a mountain cliff into cool aquamarine waters and walk around with frisky goats and boatmen lazing on a weekday. Another 20 minutes ahead is the Bimmah Sink Hole, a 40 meter depression in the rocks bearing crystal-clear turquoise waters that host with tiny fish ready to offer an instant foot spa. The sinkhole’s Omani name, Bait Al Alfreet — translating to ‘House of the Devil — is a misnomer. Both the wadi and the sinkhole bring much-needed respite from the heat and the chance to play mermaid in the midst of nowhere.
The newspaper added that another night on the road is spent at a scenic eco resort — The View — overlooking the Wilayat of Al Hamra in the Governorate of Al Dakhiliyah. The property has 30 pods (rooms) that cling valiantly to the jagged edge of Oman’s tallest mountain, Jebel Shams (Mountain of the Sun). The excitement kicks in when a 4×4 picks me up at Al Hamra for a bumpy, winding ride up to the property.
The newspaper also talked about the Wilayat of Nizwa, the ancient capital of Oman. At just a two-hour drive from Muscat, it makes for another nifty day trip to poke around the old castle and shop up a storm at the atmospheric souq. The latter — one of the oldest in the country — is dotted with stalls selling everything from watermelons, frankincense, goats (at a segregated goat market), saffron and dates to pottery, artefacts, jewellery and guns for hunting.
Further, the report highlighted Muscat’s weekend attractions, there’s the city itself to plunge into. From the serenity of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the bustle of the souks to art galleries and mall-hopping, there’s much to do. The experiences are absorbed with an evening stroll along the Muttrah Corniche.
The Indian newspaper affirmed that visiting the Sultanate will not be completed without visiting the Governorate of Dhofar, which was described by the newspaper as “lush pictures of Salalah, the waterfall-laden paradise city of Dhofar and Musandam’s magnificent khors (fjords). Clearly, the Omani odyssey has just begun”. — ONA