by Diana Darke


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About this book

Oman is not merely a desert. While it has the classic sand seas - Wahiba Sands - home to the nomadic Bedouin and their camels, this sultanate also boasts lush monsoon-soaked valleys near Salalah, mountain villages surrounded by green terraced fields of fruit trees and rose bushes, and the reef-fringed Daymaniyat Islands. With such a varied wilderness there is huge scope for adventure.

Tourism has developed over the last few years and there is an increased emphasis on high-end visitors, with new luxury spas in hotels like The Chedi, The Wave, and the Four Seasons in Muscat, and the new Marriott in Salalah. Large international cruise ships now call for a night or two at Muttrah/Muscat harbour and at Salalah in the south. Eco-awareness is on the rise, with many bigger hotels using waste water for garden irrigation and eco-luxe tents are growing in popularity for desert and mountain adventure tours. The first boutique hotels are opening for small-scale tourism to the uninhabited historic villages, particularly in the mountains, where the high altitude gives cooler climates and greener landscapes with village terracing for agriculture.

Oman is increasingly perceived as a high-end cultural destination. The new Opera House has opened, directly supported by the Sultan, with top-notch international performers like Placido Domingo. New sections in this edition include advice on property buying, since Omani law changed to allow expatriates to buy, explaining the rules and regulations. There is also a detailed overview of language schools teaching Arabic, not found in other guides.

With advice on cultural etiquette, basic Arabic phrases and political history - as well as full practical information on where to stay and eat, and what to see and do - this fully updated edition remains the essential guide for travellers looking to discover the real Oman.

About the author

Diana Darke has known Oman for over 30 years when she first worked there for the Omani government in 1980. With a BA in Arabic (Oxford) and an MA in Islamic Art and Architecture (SOAS, London) her in-depth cultural background knowledge is second to none.

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Chapter 1 Background Information
Geography , Climate , Historical overview , Government and politics , Economy , People , Language , Religion , Education , Culture , Natural history and conservation

Chapter 2 Practical Information
When to visit , Highlights , Suggested itineraries, Tourist information , Tour operators , Red tape , Oman embassies and consulates overseas , Getting there and away , Health , Safety , What to take , Money and budgeting , Getting around , Accommodation , Eating and drinking , Public holidays and working hours , Shopping , Activities , Photography , Media and communications , Cultural etiquette , Giving something back


Chapter 3 Muscat
Getting there , Getting around , Tourist information , Tour operators , Where to stay , Where to eat , Entertainment and nightlife, Shopping , Media and communications , Other practicalities , What to see and do , Muttrah, Muscat Old Town , Sidab , Haramil , Al Bustan , Bander Jissah , Qantab , Bander Khayran , Fahal Island , Yiti , Quriyat , Ruwi, Qurum , Qurum Beach , Madinat Qaboos , Al Khuwair , Bowshar , Ghubra , Azaiba , Seeb , Al Khoud , Excursions beyond Muscat

Chapter 4 The Batinah Coast and Plain
Getting there , Where to stay , Where to eat , Other practicalities , What to see and do ,Barka , Al Sawadi , As Suwaiq , Al Khaboura , Saham , Sohar , Liwa , Shinas , The Batinah Plain , The Rustaq Loop , Rustaq

Chapter 5 Musandam
Getting there , Getting around , Tour operators , Where to stay , Other practicalities , What to see and do , Driving tour of Musandam , Bukha , Qida and Tawi , Khasab , Kumzar , Khora'Najd , Sal al A'la , Jebel Harim , Dibba , Madah

Chapter 6 The Dhahirah
Getting there , Tour operator , Where to stay , Ibri , Wadi Hawasina , Al Dariz , Bat , Yanqul , Wadi Fidda , Dank , Buraimi
Chapter 7 The Dakhiliyah
Getting there , Getting around , Tour operators , Other practicalities , What to see and do , Fanja , Bidbid , Al Firfareh , The Sumail Gap , Sumail , Al Hobe , Mutti , Wadi Halfayn and the Persian Steps , Izki , Birkat al Mawz , Wadi Muaydin , Saiq plateau , Jebel Akhdar , Nizwa , Seih al Barakat , Fiqain , Manah , Izz and Adam , Tanuf , Hamra , Misfah , Al Hota Cave and Sharfat al Alamayn , Wadi Ghul, Jebel Shams, Wadi Nakhr Gorge (The Grand Canyon) and Falcon's View , Bahla , Jebel Kawr and Al Ghafat

Chapter 8 The Sharqiya
Getting there , Tour operators , Where to stay , Where to eat , Other practicalities , What to see and do , Along the inland route from Muscat to Sur , Al Rawdah , Akhdar , Samad , Lizq , Al Mudaybi , Sinaw , Ibra , Al Mudayrib , Al Mintirib , Wahiba Sands , Wadi Bani Khaled , As Saleel Natural Park , Jalaan Bani Bu Hassan , Jalaan Bani Bu Ali , Al Ashkhara , As Seelah , Along the coastal route from Muscat to Sur , Wadi Dayqah , Dibab and the sinkhole , Bimah and Umq , Fins to Tiwi , Shaab and Tiwi , Qalhat , Sur , Al Ayjah , Ras al Hadd , Ras al Jinz , Masirah Island

Chapter 9 Al Wusta
Where to stay and eat , The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary , Muscat to Salalah , The Hallaniyat Islands

Chapter 10 Dhofar
History , The Dhofaris , Getting there , Getting around , Tour operators , Where to stay , Where to eat , Other practicalities , What to see and do , Salalah , Taqa , Khor Rori and Sumharam , Mirbat , Jebel Samhan , Sadah , Halaniyat Islands , [may be deleted from ch 10 as already in ch 9] Thumrait , Shisr and Ubar , Wadi Andhur , West of Salalah , Mughsail , Raykut

Appendix 1Language

Appendix 2 Glossary

Appendix 3 Further Reading