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 Editor's Review
The sands of the desert … or the sand of the beaches? Best advice would be to try both. The interior of Oman is indeed desert (relieved by mountains) but studded with fascinating points of interest for the more intrepid traveller. There are the dry valley wadis that provide a little sparse vegetation, and the oases, often now grown into small towns such as that at Buraimi. There are desert forts like the magnificent Jabreen or Naklar. There is a world of cultural history - and entertainment - at a Bedouin market such as Nizwa. There is rare (and therefore endangered) wildlife including the Arabian oryx, gazelle, and leopard. Muscat, the walled city capital, offers further examples of traditional culture – the busy crowded soukh’s for example – but also superb modern ‘oases’ such as the renowned Al Bustan Palace international hotel. The wonderful design of the newly completed Sultan Qaboos mosque perhaps combines the two. Muscat’s golden beaches give on to clear turquoise sea, teeming with tropical fish for divers and snorkelling, along with many varieties of dolphins and turtles. Tourism is still relatively new to Oman, but traditional Arab hospitality abounds.
Flanking the Sultan of Oman’s Al-Alam Palace are the twin forts of Al-Jalali and Al-Mirani, reminders of Portuguese endeavours in the claw of the Arabian Gulf. Modern Muscat is a delightful fusion of colonial and new. A walk around Muttrah Souq’s busy covered market with its antiques, spices and frankincense cues Arabian Nights. Outdoors, divers love the stunning coral reefs and water sports beckon on the beaches, Qurum and Bandar Al-Jissah among the best of them. Desert safaris and camel races will kick up the dust, while sparkling silverwork in the National Museum, a browse in the Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum, a visit to the opulent Grand Mosque or sunset strolls along the corniche are among other Muscat musts.

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