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Maps tell history of Oman across ages

“Oman in the Historical and International Maps” exhibition kicked off at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre on Monday. The expo was inaugurated by Shaikh Abdullah bin Mohammed al Salmi, Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs, in the presence of Sayyid Saud bin Hilal al Busaidy, Minister of State and Governor of Muscat, ministers, under-secretaries and senior officials.
The minister and attendees toured the exhibition, which was organised by the Governorate of Muscat, represented by the Wali of Muscat Office. It included more than 90 maps displayed in an innovative and attractive manner. The minister and the attendees were briefed by Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al Shueili, researcher and academic in history. >>

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Oman Observer
Oman Observer

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Our deserts

When it comes to enjoying the desert, there is no other region as stimulating as the Middle East. And, in the region, the Sultanate boasts some of the most fabulous deserts that offer the best experiences for travellers.

A terrain of savage dignity? If this is what a desert can be ultimately, if we align with Deanne Stillman, we’d do well to meditate deeply in a desert and get connected with the mostly unfamiliar terrain and get enlightened a bit. And what about, ‘a life without music is a journey through a desert’?
How and when did the desert shift away from us, even as each one of us continues to carry a desert of unmanifest emotions in us? Why we tend to conjure a negative image of the desert, which as Walter Elliot noted, has its holiness of silence? And, I’m not sure if Nadine Gordimer’s view of desert as ‘a place without expectation’ should be taken as a compliment or not? Either way, it absolutely unravels the eeriness of the place, and eventually, what matters is individual perception.

Stillman holds that people who are drawn to the desert derive comfort and nourishment from its wide open spaces, and looking across a desert panorama calms interior noise. The eye can rest and therefore, the heart.
Philosophising apart, today, deserts are gaining in popularity as the choicest tourist destinations, globally. And, along with this upsurge in tourist flows to deserts come a plethora of challenges, including the threat to their fragile ecosystems and limited resources. Notwithstanding our rough images of the deserts, desert tourism demands delicate management: is it a paradox? Another question is who benefits from desert tourism’s economics, the local tribes or tourism companies?
We can’t overlook the ethno-cultural landscape of the deserts, and this demands consistent efforts at the preservation of not just the deserts but indigenous communities.
Nobody has analysed why travellers listen to the call of the deserts, and decide to undertake a journey braving the tough and crude elements of raw nature. Is it the lure of experiencing primordial nature, can be anybody’s guess. Be it hiking, camping, sand-boarding, cross-desert trekking, carting or photography, the connection a desert tourist makes with the arid region is unique.

When it comes to enjoying the desert, there is no other region as stimulating as the Middle East. And, in the region, the Sultanate boasts some of the most fabulous deserts that offer the best experiences for travellers.
As the Sultanate’s tourism strategy targets 5 million annual visitors by 2040, desert tourism is sure to play a key role in its success, along with establishing dedicated tourism clusters in various destinations and developing the frankincense trail.
The deserts in Oman that attract visitors include the Ramlat Tawq in Al Batinah South, which stands out for its vast beautiful sand dunes; and the Bausher sands, which lies near to the fantastic beaches of Muscat, and is noted for its golden-hued sand hills that are a hit among tourists who like sand-duning or gliding.

Al Sharqiyah Sands is another popular desert destination among international and domestic tourists. The region that spreads across 10,000 sq km ranks among the most captivating camping areas in the Sultanate. The major attraction is the shifting colour palette of the sands, that range from red to brown and all that lie in between. This desert has the added distinction of being the homeland of the Bedouin tribes.

And who hasn’t heard about the famed Empty Quarter? As the largest desert in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula, its mysteries are yet to be unravelled, for the terrain has large expanses of unexplored and uninhabited places.
Deserts never cease to amuse us. Because, they continuously question our entrenched and mostly dull perceptions about beauty, nature, solace and leisure. Desert tourism begins with our humble acceptance of the arid terrain’s magnificence and an earnest quest to get connected in a subtle way. And as a humble and responsible desert tourist, one can’t afford to skip the Sultanate’s amazing deserts.
source: Oman Observer

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Tourists Flock to A'Dakhiliyah during Winter to Enjoy its Tourist Sites

The Governorate of A'Dakhiliyah is witnessing a huge influx of tourists during winter season. New investments and projects are strengthening the tourism elements of the governorate. Mountain heights and tracks, heritage sites and ancient lanes are some of the most diverse, multiple and unique experiences and options for tourists visiting A'Dakhiliyah.

Khalil bin Saif al-Tobi, Director of Tourism in the Governorate of A'Dakhiliyah said that there are more than 30 tourist establishments in the governorate. They include seven tourist resorts, 15 hotel inns, two high-level tourist camps, a heritage accommodation built on the original Omani privacy standards and specifications, four guesthouses and two Green Inns.

The work is underway on a number of tourism projects. They are expected to be completed soon. There is Green Cliff Resort in Seih Qitna, which includes chalets, rooms, gymnasium and other facilities which are a distinctive addition. There is also a tourist resort project in Wilayat of Nizwa, as well as other projects, which are expected to be implemented in the future on government lands of the governorate. There are also other accommodation and services projects to be built.

In addition to this, work is underway to improve and develop forts to prepare them to receive tourists. The work is being carried out, in coordination with the Ministry of Heritage and Culture. Some old lanes are being readied for the purpose. Contacts have also been developed for the local residents to encourage investments in these lanes. These lanes would be managed by local companies, which are being formed.

He added that these diversified types of hotel facilities have helped in revitalisation of tourist attractions.

There are 28 tourist offices in the governorate which have contributed to organising these tourist options according to the available natural elements in the wilayats of the governorate. The projects implemented by the ministry have also helped in activating the tourist movement. The ministry has recently sought to set up developmental projects, in coordination with various government organisations.

Khalil al-Tobi said that when the winter season begins in the Sultanate, there is an influx of tourists to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere every were in the country. Al Jabal Al Akhdhar or the Green Mountains becomes a unique destination preferred by tourists for various activities. Most important activities in the area is exploration tours, adventure activities and experiencing Omani culture and history in its own environment.

He added that Al Jabal Al Akhdar was known for its exceptional climate and spectacular nature. It is located on a high mountain range 2000 meters above the sea level. During summer, temperature is moderate here and dips below zero during winter. The Green Mountain or Al Jabal Al Akhdar enjoys wadis, heritage villages and a number of caves in its surroundings, which have always fascinated those who love adventures and exploration.

There is an abundance of perennial and rare wild plants in Al Jabal Al Akhdhar, which gives the visitors a very different experience. There is cold climate, pleasant mountain life and the unique agricultural products, which are rarely found in other governorates. The visit to Al Jabal Al Akhdar gives tourists an opportunity to meet the local community and see their daily life. Tourists here can have fun and enjoy interesting adventure trekking through the mountain trails.

Al Tobi said that the ministry wanted to take care of this tourist destination by encouraging investment. A set of tourist projects, such as five-star resorts including Anantara and Alila Resort have been completed, in addition to other hotels and hotel apartments, which meet all sorts of requirements and services of tourists.

He said that the number of tourists who came to Al Jabal AlAkhdar, according to the statistics of 2017, stood at more than 132,000. The statistical work of the number of tourists was carried out by personnel of the Royal Oman Police (ROP) at the entrance to Al Jabal Al Akhdar.

The tourists here are received at tourist services centre in Tawi Saada. They are provided information, brochures and maps to guide them while they are roaming in various locations in Al JabalAl Akhdar. There are areas to take rest and other facilities including washrooms and umbrellas available for them. These facilities have helped in strengthening the tourist movement. Tourists spend their pleasant moments everywhere in Al Jabal AlAkhdar said.

The Ministry of Tourism always seeks to provide brochures and tourist maps. They are offered when asked for by the tourists either in hotels or rest houses. They are also distributed through tourist information centres in Tawi Saada. Similarly, there is permanent contact and coordination between the ministry and other accommodation facilities of the governorate to maintain quality and standards of the services given to tourists. This was also seen necessary to know the remarks of tourist either through the call centre or through other means of communications, said al-Tobi.

He said that Jabal Shams was one of the tourist destinations, which see flow of tourists during winter. Most of tourists who come to Jabal Shams are Europeans. This is the highest peak in Oman and can be seen from long distances north of Oman. If you see from its peak towards the south, you would find areas where tourists can reach when they come from the Wilayat Al Hamra. Here, air is refreshing for walk around the necks of the necropolis from the small village Al Khatim to the abandoned houses in the village Al Sab. This is a unique experience of its kind. In winter, snowfall sometimes covers the upper edges forming a rare scene in Oman.

The Governorate of A'Dakhiliyah is also full of natural, historical and cultural elements, on the forefront of them are the natural mountain heights. Despite the temperature plummeting below zero degree Celsius sometimes in Jabal Shams and Jabal Sharqi in the Wilayat of Al Hamra, it attracts large number of tourists during the winter season. He said that the case is the same for the wadis, such as wadi Tanouf, wadi Al Mu'aiden in the Wilayat of Nizwa and wadi Al Nakhr in the Wilayat of Al Hamra, which is flowing continuously.

About the historical sites, al-Tobi said that due to its historical importance, Nizwa Castle is a primary choice of tourists to visit.

Similarly, there is Jibreen Castle, which is located in the Wilayat of Bahla, which is a tourist destination. The tourists would like to visit the castle and closely view its architectural drawings and engravings of this fortress. There is also Bahla Castel that is included in the tourists’ map after its restoration and opening to visitors.

On the other hand, the village of Misfat Al Abryeen in the Wilayat of Al Hamra is one of the most distinguished tourist places. It retains its old architectural character, so many tourists can walk between the old buildings and farms located below the village.
--- ONA

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2018. 12. 10.
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Scan stamps, see Muscat airport

Oman Post and Oman Airports have issued two new interactive stamps on Muscat International Airport on Wednesday. The new stamps offer an augmented reality experience through the Oman Stamp App. By scanning the stamps, one can explore the new international airport and all its splendor. The stamps were unveiled by Shaikh Aimen bin Ahmed al Hosni, CEO of Oman Airports, in the presence of Abdulmalik al Balushi, CEO of Oman Post and officials at the airport premises. The new interactive stamps can be reserved now by emailing Oman Post on:
“Following the successful commencement of the Muscat International Airport’s operations earlier this year, the new stamps highlight the airport’s status as a gateway to beauty and opportunity. As one of the Sultanate’s most iconic landmarks, it was recently named the World’s Best Leading New Airport in 2018 and ranked 20th Best Airport in the World in the 5-15 million passengers category,” said CEO of Oman Airports. Oman Airports won the Sultan Qaboos Award for Excellence in eGovernment 2018 in the Best Private Sector eService category for the Airport’s Data eServices on Wednesday. >>

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2018. 12. 07.
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Sultan Qaboos Port Receives 3 Cruise Ships

Three cruise ships arrived today at Sultan Qaboos Port, including Horizon Pullmantur, which visits that the Sultanate for the first time with 1200 tourists and 611 crew members on board.

The Ministry of Tourism prepared a reception program for the tourists including exhibition for craft industries, traditional arts performances, Bedouin tent and other recreational activities to raise the tourists' awareness of the Omani culture and promote the tourism and cultural potentials of the Sultanate.

It should be noted that Sultan Qaboos Port received 19 vessels in November 2018. The total number of visitors stood at 35,600.
--- ONA

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2018. 12. 06.
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Joint Winners Celebrate after Crossing Finish Line of OMAN by UTMB®️

Hands raised in mutual celebration, two of the world’s leading ultra-trail runners crossed the finish line of the first ever OMAN by UTMB®️ event together as joint winners while hundreds of fellow competitors run on into their second night out on the trail.

American runner Jason Schlarb was arm-in-arm with the extrovert Swiss athlete Diego ‘Zpeedy’ Pazos as they completed the challenging mountain course at Al Hamra.

Both high-profile members of the international ultra-trail community, the winning duo took 20 hours, 45 minutes and 37 seconds to cover the 137km route through the Akhdar mountain range.

Schlarb, from Durango in Colorado, was the top US finisher in the 2014 UTMB®️ Mont Blanc classic, while Lausanne-based Pazos is renowned for his world-class performances as well as his bow tie.

Soon after the finish an elated Schlarb said: “It’s an honour and a privilege to win the first ever OMAN by UTMB®️ and to share it with someone like Diego was a dream come true. We didn’t discuss it until the last 20k when we worked together and pushed each other – we both ran faster and harder than we would ever have done on our own.”

He added: “The course was unbelievably challenging – technical and exciting all at once. The people were hugely inviting and wonderful, shaking my hand, it was great.”

His emotions were seconded by Pazos: “It is a unique emotion and to share it with Jason is very nice as well. I am more than happy as I did not expect that!
“The course was more than challenging. It’s really incredible – the most challenging race I have ever done that’s for sure.”

Third place overall went to Russian ultra-trail regular Aleksei Tolstenko, 42 minutes behind the leading duo, with Lithuanian star Gediminas Grinius – the 2016 Ultra Trail World Tour champion – in fourth ahead of Uganda-based British runner Alfred Pearce-Higgins.

As promised, OMAN by UTMB®️ delivered a course that was as beautiful as it was challenging, with stages that were demanding and technical as well as awe-inspiring.
Predictably, a highlight of the event was a tricky traverse of a steep and exposed rock face on the way up to the Hotel Alila Jebel Akhdar, one of the event partners. Uniquely for a UTMB®️ event, cables were provided to assist the runners on this section.

And one of the final sections of the race, just before the stunning Misfat Al Abriyyin, saw the runners face a daunting 1,100m ascent which the leaders managed to negotiate in an impressive hour and a half.

The leading runners enjoyed the world-renowned Omani hospitality and a well-earned good night’s sleep while their fellow competitors continue running for a second night out on the OMAN by UTMB®️ trail.

It is worth mentioning that 70 Omani athletes have joined the race, including Sami Al Saidi , Jamal Al Hatmi and Saleh Al Saidi, as well as some Omani women including Nadhira Al Harthi and Hamida Al Jabri.

The event is supported by the Implementation Support and Follow-up Unit, the Ministry of Tourism, Alila Jabal Akdhar, Garmin, Bahwan Projects & Telecoms, and Oman Sail.
—- ONA

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