Amid the ever-changing states of the Arabian Gulf, Oman offers a refreshing reminder of a seemingly bygone age. Overdevelopment has yet to blight its most spectacular landscapes and cultural traditions remain remarkably undiluted, making the sultanate one of the best places in the Gulf to experience traditional Arabia. Quiet stretches of coast are shaded with nodding palm trees and dotted with fishing boats. Mudbrick villages nestle amid sprawling date plantations or cling to the sides of remote valleys. Craggy chains of towering mountains are scored with precipitous canyons and rocky wadis, while the wind-blown dunes and gravel plains of the great inland deserts stretch away into the distance.

Of course, it’s not all savagely beautiful, sparsely populated landscapes. Oman has embraced the modern world, and in parts of the country the contemporary is very much in evidence, particularly in the low-key glitter and bustle of the capital, Muscat, and in the burgeoning cities of Salalah and Sohar. Despite the trappings of modernity, however, much of the rest of the country retains a powerful sense of place and past. Busy souks continue to resound with the clamour of shoppers bargaining over frankincense, jewellery and food. Venerable forts and crumbling watchtowers still stand sentinel over towns they once protected, goats wander past huddles of ochre-coloured houses, and the white-robed Omanis themselves saunter quietly amid the palms.

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Oman features

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12 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East

12 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East

The Middle East is a paradox. Located at the cultural crossroads between east and west, the region nowadays tends to make headlines for all the wrong reasons, b…

16 Nov 2016 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
10 reasons to visit Muscat, Oman

10 reasons to visit Muscat, Oman

Compared to flashy Emirati neighbours like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the capital of Oman is a breath of fresh, sea air. Muscat is famous for dazzling souks and super…

21 Jan 2016 • Anita Isalska insert_drive_file Article
The most spectacular deserts around the world

The most spectacular deserts around the world

Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter), Saudi Arabia Part of the Arabian Desert, the Empty Quarter is made up of 650,000 square kilometres (250,000 sq miles) of sand …

16 Jun 2014 • Helen Abramson camera_alt Gallery
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