Muscat , the true Arabian Culture and History - Muscat Visitor's Page .
Some say Muscat is the best place in middle east. With lots of assurance we can say Muscat is one of the best places in middle east.
If you are someone who has an understanding and appreciation of history, arts, architecture and the structure of traditional societies and governments, Oman is the place for you. You can experience Oman's sense of timelessness in the ancient interior city of Nizwa, the towns along the coast, the Capital itself and the southern city of Salalah. All are steeped in history and tradition.
Or if you are looking for truly relaxing, calm, bit of luxury holiday, Muscat will be the ideal place to try out.
The Sultanate enjoys an unspoiled culture and traditional lifestyle in almost every aspect. Even in its modernity, Oman is distinctly Arab and offers the visitor a glimpse of many unique old-world wonders.
The Omani culture has its roots firmly in the Islamic teachings. Oman developed its own particular form of Islam, called Ibadhism, after its founder, Abdullah ibn Ibadh who lived during the 7th century AD. Not all Omanis are Ibadhis however; there are also Sunni and Shi'a Muslims. Omanis are not only tolerant of the beliefs of different Muslim sects, they are also tolerant towards believers of other faiths, who are allowed to practice their religion in churches and temples.
In terms of development, Muscat can be divided into three areas: Western Muscat, Central Muscat and Eastern Muscat. Western Muscat comprises of Al-Seeb, Ghala, Udhaybah, Al-Ghubbrah and Bawsher. The Central Muscat is made of Al-Khuwair, Shati-Al Qurm, Qurm, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos and Ras Al Hamra.
Eastern Muscat comprises of Ruwi, Wuttayah, Old Muscat, Matrah, Sidab, Kalbuh and Al-Bustan. Muscat has a homogeneous mix of government, business and residential buildings that give an interesting peek into the rich cultural heritage of the Arab world. The various districts of Muscat are full of green areas, parks and floral areas adding a graceful charm to the city of Muscat.
Little bit from History books.
The name Oman is said to come from the Arab tribes that migrated to the area from a place called Uman in Yemen.
In terms of history, Muscat is one if the oldest cities of Middle East and is known since the 2 AD. This ancient city has an interesting history replete with the rule of many kings and dynasties. Muscat was ruled by the Imam Sultan bin Saif during the colonial invasion in the early 17th century as Imam defeated the Portuguese and drove them away to the east. Imam Sultan bin Saif made a powerful empire that spanned across Zanzibar to Gwadar. The rule of Imam Sultan bin Saif is well known for a period of economical and political stability in Muscat. However, after his death in 1679, Muscat was invaded by the Persians in 1737. But shortly after wards, Admad bin Said defeated the Persian army and became the new Imam of Muscat. Again, Oman was attacked by the Wahabbis in 1803 but they were defeated by Sayyid Said bin Sultan. Sultan transferred the capital from Oman to Zanzibar and then began the declining period of Oman. In 1964 there was an insurgence by the citizens of Muscat against the king which was called the Dhofar war. But the rebellion was crushed with the help of Iranian, British and Omani forces. Muscat emerged as an integrated modern Sultanate six years after this war when the son of the reigning Sultan ,HM Sultan Qaboos Bin Said became the ruler of the nation.
The economy of Oman is ruled by petroleum. Apart from that tourism is booming as an industry. some of the famous trading items include agricultural products,manufacturing of basic Chemicals. The modern infrastructure of Muscat has attracted ambitious investors and large numbers of workers from each part of the world. In terms of culture, Muscat has a large Muslim population comprising of expatriates from GCC countries along with India, Egypt and Sudan. Muscat is believes in the equality of all religions and is open to other beliefs besides Islam and has two temples and two churches for its foreign minorities. The official language of Muscat is Arabic and some widely known languages of Muscat include English, Urdu, Belushi, Swahili and Hindi.
If you are planning to visit Muscat as a tourist, one should understand the composition of the state as Muscat comprises of three towns. 1) Muscat- the walled city that is well known for its royal palaces. 2) Matrah or matruh is well known fishing village 3) Matrah Souq. On the other hand Ruwi is the commercial hub of the city that is known for its trade and commerce as well as diplomatic centers.
The main road of Sultan Qaboos Highway passes through many remarkable sites and locations. While moving across the Sultan Qaboos Highway, one can visit Qurum, Al Khuwair, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Bausher, Seeb and Al Hail. All these places are well known for their exclusive site seeing and luxurious accommodation facilities. In case one passes across the beach road of Qurum to Seeb, one finds the chain of largest international hotels that offers opulent accommodation facilities. In case you are looking for a good tour operator in Oman please check out following tour operators.
Zahara Tours www.zaharatours.com
National Travel and Tourism www.nttoman.com
Oman Tours www.touroman.org
Mark Tours www.marktoursoman.com
Oman Holidays www.omanholiday.co.uk
The best time to visit Muscat is September to May as it is usually free from sweltering hot winds of summer and monsoon. The national dress for men is the dishdasha and for women the dress varies depending upon the region.
The dishdasha is a long, collarless, full sleeved gown stretching up to one’s ankles. The most commonly worn color is white, although a variety of other colors such as black, blue, brown and lilac can also be seen today especially among the youth. A tassel (furakha) is stitched into the neck line and is usually perfumed. A plain piece of cloth worn from the waist down under the dishdasha completes part of the national dress.
City Temperature: 31- 38 degree Celsius
City Area: 3,500 square kilometer (as per 2008 census)
City Population: 731,730 (as per 2008 census)
Time Zone: Oman Standard Time (UCT+4)
Major Cities: Muscat, Salalah, Sohar, Nizwa, Sur.
Official Language: Arabic
Currency: Omani Rial ( 1 OMR = 2.5976 USD )
Other spoken languages: English, Swahili, Urdu, Hindi and Malayalam
Main Airways: Oman Air www.omanair.aero
Main Airport: Muscat International Airport www.omanairports.com
Weekends: Thursday and Friday. ( banks Friday and Saturday ).
Main Attractions: Qurum National Park, Riyam Public Gardens, Fish Market, Forts, Dhow trips and Muthrah Souq.
Airport Police Station (Oman): 24510099
Royal Oman Police: 999
Country Calling Code + 968
Business Hours :
Government: 07:30 - 14:30.
Private Sector 08:00 - 13:00 then 16:00 to 19:00
Shopping Hours 09:00 - 013:00 then 16:30 - 24:00.
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For those who are looking for an exciting vacation in Muscat, there are various festivals and cultural programs throughout the calendar year that makes Muscat a great tourist destination. In the month of January, one can enjoy the Muscat Festival. The Muscat Festival is a virtual tour of Omani heritage and culture, folklore and handicrafts. It is an educational festival that showcases theatrical performances, literature, poetry and other educational seminars. Muscat Festival is indeed one of the best festivals for those tourists who love the Arabian heritage and want to know more about the cultural heritage of Muscat. January is also the month of New Year Celebration and it is the perfect time to host parties and get together.
Eid Al Adha- the festival of sacrifice. During this time, Muslims take a holy pilgrimage to Mecca. On this day, sacrifices of a camel, cow or sheep are made and the meat is distributed among the underprivileged and impoverished. Eid is a time of communal prayer and harmony.
July is the month of Salalah Khareef Festival which is a celebration of the monsoon season and the culture and traditions of Oman. This festival takes place at Salalah, 1000 Km south of Muscat. This festival is a scenic display of kite flying, jewelery exhibition, folklore performances, and many other interesting activities. With the arrival of September, one gears for the Muscat shopping festival and Annual Trade Fair at the Oman International Exhibition Centre. With November, it is the National Day as well as the birthday of Sultan Qaboos. This day is celebrated with huge Ceremonial and show. This day is celebrated with grand fervor and one finds various events such as camel racing, fireworks and dance performances.
Apart from these national and cultural festivities, other specific annual festivals include Ramadan and Eid al Fitr. Ramadan is one of the most significant festivals of the Muslim world and it is performed with ritualistic fervor across Muscat. During Ramadan, Muslims keep fast from dawn till dusk. However, from a tourist perspective, this time is not suitable as it is the time of holy rituals and abstinence. During Ramadan, one finds altered daily timings and schedules of food outlets and restaurants. Alcohol is strictly unavailable during Ramadan. Eid Al Fitr is usually a three day celebration that takes place at the end of Ramadan. If Ramadan is the time of abstinence, fasting and prayers, Eid is a festival of enjoyment with family and friends.
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Getting there and moving around
As a to visitor to Muscat, you can select out of various airlines and flights that fly on a regular scheduled services such as the British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss, Emirates, Etihad, and the national career Oman Air.
The most popular way to get around Muscat is by car. Road signs are almost always signposted both in English and Arabic, as are street and house numbers. However, people tend to rely on landmarks rather than road names to give directions. Landmarks are usually shops, hotels, petrol stations or distinctive buildings.
You can take the taxis/cabs that regularly available from the airport as well as on the road. near the highway area. These cabs can be identify with their distinct color of white and orange and can be found near most of the hotels and accommodation sites as well. Though these cabs are costlier but they offer negotiable rates when bargained.
Rent a Car is a major choice of many travelers to Muscat. If you are looking for these cabs, check out them from Al Maskry Rent a Car, Budget, Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty and Sixt. Muscat is a well connected place that is easily accessible. So, if you are planning to visit Muscat, you have various means to reach Muscat hotels and other visiting places. The well connected transportation makes traveling Muscat quite easy and a hassle free task. If you are a seasoned traveler who likes to explore Muscat’s by yourself and has an international driving license, you may enjoy renting a car in Muscat. If you have hired a tour arranger, he will help you in solving the traveling woes. Many a times, hotels also provide tour cabs for foreigners and tourists. So, once in Muscat, you will not face any difficulty in making visits to various sites and places.
Taking a tour package is one of the best ways to explore Oman.
Please look more info
Al Nimer Tourism ( www.alnimertourism.com )
Al Nimer offers a full range of tourism packages, including a half-day Muscat city tour. On this tour you will visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the Natural History Museum, Mutrah Souk, the fish market, the old town, Alam Palace and its neighboring forts (Mirani and Jalali). They can also arrange tours to Nizwa and the ‘Grand Canyon’, a tour to Rustaq and a special desert and oasis tour. Activity tours, such as dolphin watching, fishing and diving, are also available. Al Nimer also specialises in water sports like para sailing or rides on various inflatables pulled behind a speedboat.
24 603 555 .
Bahwan Travel Agencies ( www.bahwantravels.com )
Apart from the usual city tours (half and full day), dhow cruises, 4WD safaris, camping trips, camel trekking and scuba diving tours offered by most tour operators, Bahwan can also offer assistance with cruise ship shore excursions, multi-destination holidays (UAE, Iran, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar & Yemen), self-drive holidays and dive packages. Tours are available in English, French, German, Arabic and Italian.
Muscat 24 704 455
Mark Tours ( www.marktoursoman.com )
Mark Tours offers well-organised trips around Oman, armed with an extensive infrastructure, a vast fleet of vehicles, and multilingual guides who are experts when it comes to uncovering the best-kept secrets of Oman. Trips can be tailor-made to include activities such as study trips (to dicover the geography, history or nature of Oman), dolphin and whale watching, mountain and camel trekking, dune bashing, and dhow safaris. Check their website for more information.
24 562 444 .
The state-operated Oman National Transport Company (ONTC) runs a national network of buses and coaches all over Oman and to the UAE. Buses operate to all areas of the capital and timetables, destinations and route numbers are found at bus stops (marked with a red bus on a green sign) at the side of the road. Most trips cost a few hundred baisas, making this the cheapest method of getting around. Fares are paid to the driver when you board, so try to have the correct change ready.
Coaches leave from the bus station in Ruwi (just off Al Jaame street, along from the Sheraton Hotel) and Muttrah Fish Market for long distance trips to Salalah, Al Buraimi, Sinaw, Yankul, Ibri, Sur, Fahud-Yibal, Marmul, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They are comfortable, air conditioned and generally on time. The bus service to Salalah (four times a day) costs RO 16 return and RO 8 one way, and takes a around 12 hours. There are also daily buses from Ruwi to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and from Salalah to Dubai. Tickets from Muscat to Dubai cost around RO 9 return and RO 5 single, and the journey takes five hours each way. Check the daily newspapers or the ONTC website (www.ontcoman.com) for coach schedules.
Other contacts: Oman National Transport Company (24 490 046), Ruwi ticket office (24 708 522), head office hotline (24 492 948), Salalah (23 292 773).
A private bus company, Comfort Line (24 702 191), offers a service from Muscat to Dubai twice a day. Its buses are not air conditioned. Tickets cost around RO 6 one way and RO 10 return, and the ticket office is located behind the Sultan Qaboos mosque in Ruwi.
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Tips for tourists
Oman is a country that keeps its heritage very much alive. While it does have many modern amenities, Muscat is deeply religious. This is seen in all areas, including food, socialization, and even the festivals and events planned in the city.
It is extremely helpful to know some common phrases, such as please and thank you, as well as common greetings, as well as to know the local customs.
While it is certainly possible to make a mistake in some aspect – for instance, a visitors from the West may accept an offering of food with his left hand – it is not a catastrophe if you apologize for your blunder. Omanis receive many guests, and the city of Muscat knows that not every visitor will be aware of the intricacies of its culture: for the most part, they are very forgiving.
Perhaps the biggest area to make sure you are appropriate with is the relations between men and women. Public affection, even between married foreign nationals, is seen as taboo. Men should not touch women in public, women should not wear revealing clothing, etc. Take the time to learn these customs before your trip. It is a wonderful culture, and Omanis will appreciate the time and effort you make in showing your respect.
It is not customary to tip in Muscat, especially in less expensive establishments. Upscale restaurants tack on a service charge to your bill in lieu of a gratuity, though it is not for the wait staff per se. In general, it is appreciated if you tip someone who extends a courtesy or provides an extra service, such as a driver who carries your bag. In this case, a small tip of a few Rial Omani is welcome.
Dress Code - Dress code is of utmost importance. When visiting the country it is important that you dress modestly but comfortably. Women should consider mid-length skirts or dresses (below the knee) with long sleeves, but short sleeves are okay. Tight-fitting clothes should be avoided as they may cause offence. Skimpy shorts should never be worn in public by men or women and beachwear is prohibited anywhere except on the beach or the hotel pool.
While taking a taxi, fare has to be decided before boarding a taxi because it can be possible that you might be overcharged. Therefore, one can bargain over the price so as to settle down for a reasonable fee.
While staying at hotels or any other accommodations such as guest houses or lodges, it is better to keep your valuables safe and secure. One should know the fact that using obscene language and gestures in Muscat can land you in trouble.
However, while going for a Muscat, you do not require any specific vaccination.
Granted by the competent authority to the foreigner who wishes to visit the Sultanate for tourism, in order to authorize the holder to enter and stay in the country for a period of one month maybe extended for a similar period, as follows:
Valid for use within six months from the date of issuance.
Valid for staying in the country for a period not exceeding thirty days from the date of entry.
Number of trips: one trip only.
May be extended for a similar period.
Fees: (20) Omani Riyals.
Fine: Upon expiration of the visa (10) ten Riyals for each day of delay.
If the visa from local sponsor the fees are (5) Omani Riyals
Procedures for the issuing of a tourist visa of the country list No. (1)
From all representations of the Sultanate of abroad without local sponsorship.
All the legal entries.
From the Directorate General of Passports and Residence or any branch thereof at the regional police commands.
Submission of electronic application form by a local sponsor, under his responsibility (one of the tourist companies or offices or hotels licensed for a tourist).
Procedures for the issuing a tourist visa, out of the list of No. (1)
Issuing this type of visa Department of Passports and Residence, or one of its branches in region areas at the request of a local sponsor, (one of the tourist companies or offices or hotels licensed for the same) and in the following manner:
Submission of electronic visa application form local sponsor, under the responsibility of (one of the tourist companies or offices or hotels licensed for tourism).
Enclose a letter from the sponsor a foreigner sponsorship application guarantor or approved by the sponsor or the authorized signature and sealed with the seal of the institution.
Enclose copy of valid commercial registration and chamber of commerce certificate and a copy of signature authorization.
Enclose copy of the foreigner passport and should be valid not less than six months.
Two photographs (4 x 6) cm.
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