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Oman Travel Guide

Known fully as the Sultanate of Oman, this Middle Eastern country borders the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen to the west and the Arabian Sea to the east. Within an area of 212,500 square kilometres, live around 3 million people, mainly of Arab, Asian, African and Baluchi descent and of Ibadi Muslim, Sunni Muslim, Shiite Muslim and Hindu religion. The locals speak Arabic, English and Persian and make most of their money from oil, agriculture and natural gas, trading mainly with Japan, South Korea, the EU, UAE, China and Thailand.

Ejecting his father from the throne in 1970, Qaboos bin Said Al Said has been ruling Oman ever since. The new sultan decided to modernise the country, connecting it with other contemporary states and kept a military and political union with the United Kingdom. With Oman's reasonable, self-governing overseas ruling, the country has kept a good relationship with all Middle Eastern nations.

A few good motoring sports can be enjoyed in Oman, due to its vast amount of deserts and mountains and along the countryís extensive coastline many a water sport is available to indulge in, from sail and pedal boating to windsurfing and diving, with rental shops all over the place. Getting back onto dry land, the capital of Muscat is one place to have a look at, once an old port, the town is now where Omansí sultan resides. Shops are far and few between but the areaís three 1580 forts are worth exploring, with two of them found at the entrance to Muscat and the third surviving on a hill further into the town.

Leaving Muscat, visitors should go and look around some of Omanís museums, one of which is in the Medinat Qaboos and displays information going back 5000 years, another is the National Museum in Ruwi, proudly showing off silverwork, with a third, the Sultan's Armed Forces Museum, located in the Bait al-Falaj fort, providing a bountiful supply of history on Oman. Before leaving the country, travellers should try and visit a bazaar, with one found in Mutrah, where swarms of shops and stalls sell an amazing selection of goods, from spices to Reebok trainers to traditional Oman teapots.

Bobbing about the country is done quite simply via Omanís intercity buses, which take folk into the main town areas everyday. For those that can afford that little bit extra, there are daily flights between Muscat and Salalah, and to the islands of Massirah, Khasab, Sur and Dibba. Car hire is easily available and safe to use but costs that wee bit more and unless visitors are wanting to travel to remote areas of Oman, taxis and microbuses will also get them to wherever they need to go in comfort and ease and at an affordable price. Local buses are another option, available in the capital of Muscat, and will scoot its passengers around the city all day long.

Flying to Oman is direct via most European countries, with other nations having to connect through the appropriate European city. Weather-wise, middle of October to middle of March is a good time to visit, when itís not too hot and there are no monsoons, but remembering that Ramadan is soon to appear in Oman, being celebrated in December or January and should be avoided, as nowhere is open!

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