Want to Visit the Middle East?

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Answered by: William , An Expert in the About the Middle East Category
Are you ready for an adventure? Would you like to visit the Middle East, but the glitz and glamour of Abu Dhabi or Dubai are not what you are looking for? The Sultanate of Oman is the place for you!

Oman is one of the world's best kept secrets. Travel to Oman and see a side of the region that you've never seen before. Oman is a modern country with an old world feel.

English is widely spoken in shops and restaurants. Road signs in Muscat are in both Arabic and English, making it very easy to navigate. Oman is also a very safe country, so it is a good place for seasoned and beginner travelers alike. The locals are very friendly and more than willing to help you if you're lost and need directions.

Chances are, if you are flying into Oman, you will fly into Muscat. Muscat is the capital city and also the largest. It is advised that you rent a car while for your duration in the Sultanate, because public transportation is not as developed as neighboring United Arab Emirates. Cars and SUVs can be rented at the airport for reasonable rates. Taxis are widely available, but prices must be negotiated before hopping in. It is not recommended to take taxis unless you are familiar with prices, because they will overcharge tourists.

While in Muscat, don't pass up the chance to visit Matrah, the old city along the water. Be sure to visit Matrah Souk, one of the oldest bazaars in the region. There you can buy traditional Omani clothes, scarves, perfumes, and jewelry. Oman is famous for its halwa, a sweet gelatinous desert that tastes like cardamom spice. Don't forget to visit the halwa shop in the souk before leaving. You can even try a sample before you buy a bowl.

If history interests you, make sure to check out Bait al Zubair museum, a five minute car ride from Matrah Souq. There you can learn about the history of Oman, its relationship with Zanzibar, and the history of the Royal Family.

If forts and museums do not interest you, Oman has 1,966 miles of coastline and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Visit the white sands of Salalah's beaches or drive across the sand dunes in Sharqiya. There are many companies who will tailor a tourism package to your liking. Popular activities include desert camping, scuba diving, camel back riding, dolphin watching cruises, and off road desert safaris.

The best time of year to visit Oman is during the winter, when temperatures are around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to look at the holidays before you plan your trip. During the Holy Month of Ramadan Muslims and non-Muslims alike are expected to fast in public. Most tourist sites are closed and many businesses are also closed during the day. Other holidays include Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha, which generally last around a week each. Expect most businesses, except for supermarkets and retail chains, to be closed during this time as well.

Oman truly is a beautiful country with mountains, desert, beaches, and ocean. When you visit the Middle East, don't forget to visit Oman. Your adventure awaits!

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