Last updated: 08:00 AM ET, Thu November 28 2019
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman (typhoonski / iStock / Getty Images Plus)


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Shangri-la Muscat (2Good2BeReal / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Shangri-la Muscat (2Good2BeReal / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The Sultanate of Oman is on the southeastern end of the Arabian Peninsula, the prime coastal real estate on the tip of the peninsula, surrounded by water on its north, east and south sides. The Gulf of Oman is to the north and the Arabian Sea is to the east and south. On land, Oman borders the United Arab Emirates on the northwest, Saudi Arabia on the west and Yemen on the southwest.

Archeological remains have been found in Oman from the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. Stone implements and fire hearths have been discovered from 7500 BC. Rock art from the same period has been found in the Wadi Sahtan and Wadi Bani Kharus areas of Rustaq. From the 6th century BC to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD, Oman was controlled by three Persian dynasties, the Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids. Oman was one of the first places to embrace Islam. When that happened, it became an Ibadhi state, ruled by an elected leader, the Imam.

The Portuguese occupied Muscat, Oman’s capital and major city, for 140 years from 1508 to 1648, fortifying and building the city’s infrastructure, leaving an architectural legacy that can still be seen. In 1741, the leader of a Yemeni tribe took power in Oman and set up a line of sultans that leads to the current line of sultans. Oman was later occupied by Persians for a short time, but otherwise has been self governing.

Oman is hot and dry in the interior and humid on the coasts. Oman’s capital city, Muscat, is a beautiful fairy tale city, facing the ocean, framed behind by mountains, surrounded with forts and full of clean white houses. New hotels in Muscat include Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, the Chedi Muscat, the Muscat Intercontinental, the Al Bustan Palace and the Grand Hyatt. The tallest building in Muscat is the Sheraton Oman. A new opera house is being built as well as a new international airport.

Tourist attractions include beaches, deserts, mountains and wadis, which are lush oases with palm trees, greenery and flowers. Some have perpetually running spring water that is good for swimming. Oman has more than 500 historic forts, castles, towers and city walls to explore. Traditional Arabic souks are wonderlands for shoppers. Popular tourist activities include sand skiing in the desert, diving, rock climbing, trekking, surfing, sailing, kayaking, cave exploration. Popular spectator sports include bull fighting, horse races and camel races.

There’s a great variety of restaurants. Seafood is popular in this coastal country. Small restaurants and street vendors are popular. Restaurants can be found offering many kinds of cuisine from around the world.