With its captivating landscapes, rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality, the Sultanate of Oman stands as an enticing off-the-beaten-track destination to visit this year. From attending one of the star performances at the Royal Opera House of Muscat to visiting the city of Sur, chosen as the Arab Tourism Capital 2024, Oman has something for every traveller.
Below are five places not to miss in Oman in 2024:
1. Visit Sur, the Arab Tourism Capital for 2024
The city of Sur, in Oman’s South Sharqiyah Governorate, has been declared the capital of Arab tourism for 2024. Its selection was based on several criteria, such as the availability of infrastructure and tourism resources, the diversity of tourism activities and policies for preserving the environment.
Two hours away from Muscat, Sur is a coastal city known for its rich history, pristine beaches, and traditional architecture. Some of the attractions visitors can’t miss in Sur include:
- Fatah Al Khair, an open-air museum dedicated to the town’s shipbuilding lineage
- Bilad Sur Castle was built in the early 19th century as a fortification against the Portuguese
- The coastal village of Ras Al Hadd, a nesting site for green and hawksbill turtles
- The impressive lagoon of Khor Jarama, featuring the popular floating chalets
- Marvelous Sur is a famous beach known for its crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches
2. Explore Oman’s cultural heritage at Bait Al Zubair (Muscat)
Bait Al Zubair is a cultural institution that showcases the rich cultural heritage and history of Oman – a must-visit when in Muscat.
The museum was established by the Zubair family in 1998 with the aim of preserving and promoting Omani heritage, traditions and customs. The museum houses a diverse collection of artefacts, exhibits and displays that provide insights into the country’s history, art and culture.
Visitors to Bait Al Zubair can explore various sections of the museum, including displays of traditional Omani clothing, jewellery, weaponry, household items and musical instruments. It also has an ever-growing permanent art collection, which is considered to be the most extensive art collection by Omani artists.
In addition to the museum, Bait Al Zubair hosts cultural events, workshops, and educational programmes to engage both locals and visitors in the exploration and appreciation of Oman’s cultural legacy.
3. Venture to Musandam, one of Oman’s hidden gems
The Musandam Governorate is a northern mountainous peninsula separated from the rest of Oman by the UAE. Accessible by car, ferry and daily flights from Muscat, Musandam is often described as the “Norway of Arabia”, as it features a variety of fjords (khors) that look like the glacier-carved coasts of northern Europe.
The best way to visit the Omani fjords is by doing a pleasant cruise on a dhow – a traditional Arab boat. Visitors to Musandam will also enjoy spotting dolphins and snorkelling in the clear blue waters that surround the peninsula.
As well as maritime activities, Musandam also offers some dramatic mountain landscapes, including the towering red-rock Hajar mountains.
Those looking for a lesser-known destination to visit this year should definitely add Musandam to their list.
4. Listen to the sounds of the world at the Royal Opera House of Muscat
Opened in 2011, the Royal Opera House Muscat is Oman’s premier cultural institution and one of its signature sights. Music lovers flock to watch some of the most famous international bands and legends of fine art that the house hosts throughout the time of year.
Some of the performances scheduled for 2024 include a new iteration of the acclaimed Swan Lake (ballet); STOMP!, the smash hit that uses banging, drumming and clapping to create music; and opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s most beloved and produced work.
Visitors to the Royal Opera House Muscat can also enjoy its upscale shopping and dining mall and marvel at its stunning Arabesque and Italianate design.
The venue is also home to the Exhibition of Musical Arts, an exploration of the sounds of Oman, as well as the ROHM Music Library, the leading institute in the country for musical research specialising in opera and Omani music culture.
5. Explore the Al Hoota Cave, the only one in Oman open to visitors
Embellished with hanging stalactites and towering stalagmites, Al Hoota Cave is an impressive 5-km long cave in Al-Hamra, two hours away from Muscat. Al Hoota is the only cave in Oman open for visitors to explore the underground wonders of the country.
Estimated to be over two million years old, the stunning cave boasts a spectacular range of natural features such as flowstones, soda straws and four underground lakes home to blind cavefish. Other animal species include bats, arthropods, molluscs, spiders, snails and water beetles.
The geological museum at the visitors’ centre is a must, showcasing features that have made Oman internationally renowned among geologists, including some magnificent mineral specimens.
For more information about Oman, please visit www.experienceoman.om.