With vivid options like adventure, culinary, wedding options and easier Visa availability.
With the recent stats of India becoming 2nd highest source market for tourism to the Sultanate of Oman, and with an increase of 12.37% in tourist arrivals. The Oman Tourism is bringing more opportunities for Indian Travellers, keeping in mind the India palate, Spokesperson Ms. Lubaina Sheerazi, India Representative, Ministry of Tourism, Oman, gives us more on luxury offerings at the Sultanate of Oman.
- Oman is looked up to as one of the finest destinations for luxury travellers. What according to you are the distinguished experiences that one should look forward to when travelling to Oman? What are the most popular ‘favourites’ for Indian travellers visiting Oman?
Oman is an exotic, adventurous, historic and geologically stunning country offering the most authentic Arabian experience and we are seeing a lot of evolved travelers from India visiting Oman for its authenticity. The country’s stunning landscape- mesmerizing beaches, majestic mountains and desert glamping experience appeals to every kind of holiday seeker: from families looking for group joint activities, to a perfect honeymoon getaway or a group of friends in quest for an adventure of a lifetime.
Below are some of the distinguished experiences that Indian travelers can look forward to:
Discover iconic locations to go camping in Oman: Choose from camping in the deserts of Sharqiya Sands or the Empty Quarter, on the mountain tops in Jabal Shams (Sun Mountain) or Jabal Akhdar (Green Mountain) or on the magnificent beaches across Oman.
Watch an opulent opera: Watching a world class opera or musical performance at the state-of-the-art Royal Opera House in Muscat is a privilege one should not miss out on.
Discover the underwater magic: The waters of Oman are home to countless species of fish, turtles, sharks, rays, dolphins and vast stretches of exotic coral reefs. Travelers who love beaches and some water adventure must try scuba-diving, snorkeling, kayaking and surfing.
Go glamping in the desert: Stay at any of the luxury camping resorts, gaze at the infinite starry desert skies, experience the perfect Arabian Night gourmet dinner and engage in exciting activities like Sand Boarding, Dune Bashing, Quad Biking, Camel Safari among others.
Explore art and culture: The historical forts and castles of Oman are the country’s most striking cultural landmarks and a major draw for visitors today. Walk up to the gates of the Sultan’s ceremonial ‘Al Alam Palace’, visit the Jabreen Castle or get an insight into Omani life by visiting the Bait Al Zubair Museum or National Museum.
Cruise along the beautiful coastline: Choose cruising to experience the spectacular mountains, incredible rock formations, turquoise waters, picturesque scenery, bespoke luxury and warm Omani hospitality. Also spot hundreds of dolphins jumping in the air acrobatically and swimming along in the blue waters or enjoy some private moments on one of the secluded beaches.
Experience majestic mountains: Rent a 4×4 and go on a off-road drive to explore countless tracks through the mountains in Jabal Akhdar or Jabal Shams. Hiking, trekking, mountain biking, cycling, caving, scaling via ferrata routes are some of the must try activities for adventure junkies. Stay at any of the luxury resorts to experience breathtaking views of the canyon.
- What makes Muscat a hub for luxury destination weddings, especially for the Indian market?
Oman comprises of beautiful beaches, picturesque mountains and golden desert sands. A destination with the most amazing landscape, excellent air connectivity from India, short flying time, simplified visa process, availability of Indian food and flexibility in adapting to the needs of the Indian weddings; has made Oman an ideal destination for weddings. Muscat is a well-endowed city with modern infrastructure and provides a perfect set up for weddings with various urban world class hotels. The country offers plenty of picture-perfect backdrops that are ideal for pre-wedding photo and video shoots as well.
- Keeping in the mind the vivid palate of Indian Travelers, what are specialties one can try in Oman?
Oman’s culinary tradition offers an interesting blend of Arabian and Indian influences and is a paradise for meat lovers. Shuwaa is one of the popular dishes in Oman. It consists of meat marinated with variety of Omani spices, then wrapped in banana or palm leaves and put in an underground sand oven, where it gets cooked. Another must try dish is Majboos also called Kabsa and Makboos, which is a rice dish flavored with saffron and cooked over spicy meat. Apart from these, try Meshkak the Omani kebab made of mutton or chicken that is marinated with different spices, grilled on sticks and served with Omani bread. Harees is another unique Omani traditional dish available at various restaurants in Oman. It is made from wheat mixed with meat and is usually served with a special sauce.
Also, vegetarians travelling to Oman will definitely get impressed with the variety of lip-smacking vegetarian food available there. Apart from Omani food, the country also offers authentic cuisines from South India, North India, Greece, Lebanon and Turkey among others. The classic mezze platter which includes Baba Ghanoush (tastes like Baigan ka Bharta), Tabouleh (vegetarian salad), Fatoush (pita bread salad) served with Hummus (chickpeas paste with olive oil and seasoning) and Pita Bread; is a must try dish. Relish this meal at any Middle-Eastern restaurant or try Falafal served in Arabian-style flatbread (khubz). Dates are another Omani specialty available in different varieties with subtle variations in taste, size and colour. The Omani coffee ‘Kahwa’ mixed with cardamom powder is available at high-end restaurants; often served with dates and classic Omani dessert ‘halwa’. It’s worth a try.
- What are the plans to facilitate the ease of travel for Indians planning on visiting and exploring Oman, like visa-on-arrival, or other such facilities?
The significant increase in incoming tourism has been the result of the economic diversification strategy adopted by the government of Oman. Last year saw the opening of the state-of-the-art Muscat International Airport, giving the country a plush gateway offering unrivaled service and earning the prestigious best new airport in the world. Also, to attract more travelers to visit the country, Oman announced a new short-term tourist visa at 5 Omani Riyal (OMR) equivalent to approximately INR 900, for a 10-day visit. Indians who hold a valid visa to any one of these countries – United States of America, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan and Schengen States can avail the Oman visa through an e-visa process by simply logging on to https://evisa.rop.gov.om/ and make the 5 OMR payment online, whereas other Indian travelers can get a sponsored visa by paying 5 OMR plus processing fee through their tour operators. This is in addition to the existing e-visa for Oman which is available at 20 OMR with a validity of one month. Also, Oman Air, the national carrier is connected via direct flights with major Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Kochi, Goa, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram. Besides, Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo are also well connected to Oman from various cities of India that gives Indians a wide range of flight options to choose.