O is for Oman

Oman sparkles. In the three years, from 1996 to 1999, that we lived in Abu Dhabi, we drove to Oman several times. And every time, we felt a difference when we crossed the border. The streets looked as though they had just been swept for our arrival. The rocks at the side of the road washed and sprayed with oil or shellac so they would shine in the sunlight.

In exchange, Omanis expect those who live in the country to keep their property clean, too, especially cars. In fact, there is a law against dirty cars, with fines ranging from about $30 to $120. Since the roads are so clean, it’s unlikely your car will pick up dirt just from being driven–unless you drive off road.

Of the countries on the Saudi peninsula, Oman is better prepared for tourism than the others. Most times we drove to Oman, we stayed at the Al Sawadi Beach Resort for at least a day, to relax and wind down. We just wanted to hang around the beach, collecting shells and dipping toes into the water. But it was clear we could have arranged to take part in any number of other activities as well–diving or snorkling on water or tennis or horseback riding on land. Trips into the desert for camping and camel rides can be arranged as well.

Some of the most elegant hotels and restaurants can be found in Oman’s capital, Muscat, including the Al Bustan Palace, one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever seen.

For more information about traveling in Oman, check out one of the following travel guides:

Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula (Travel Guide)

The Rough Guide to Oman

Insight Guides: Oman & the UAE

Oman (Bradt Travel Guide)

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