Colourful markets, beautiful people, deserts & lush wadis: Oman presents itself like a fairytale from the Arabian Nights. There's so much to see in this beautiful country and not enough space in one blogpost, so we've decided to take you on a little culinary journey.
Oman is strongly influenced by Indian and Pakistani cuisine, but Sri Lanka and Zanzibar have also left their mark. Whether cardamom, saffron, cinnamon or cloves, Omani cuisine is rich in hearty spices. One of the most important aspects of eating in Oman is sharing food. Usually Omanis get comfortable on the floor and everyone eates from heaped plates in the middle.
Qahwa & Dates
No matter where you go in Oman, in every hotel, in every private house, even on the market the Omani serve Qahwa – hot coffee brewed with cardamom, saffron and rose water to welcome their guests. As this coffee tends to be quite bitter, dates are served in a silver bowl. Before drinking the first sip, you put a date in your mouth. The spicy notes of the coffee and the sweetness of the date unite in the most delicious way. Important: If you reject a cup of coffee, you reject an important gesture of hospitality.
Dates are the jewels of Oman and can be found anywhere. Unlike the few varieties we know here, in Oman they taste nutty-sweet like caramel and are soft as butter. The dates are used in many different ways in the kitchen. Either to make syrup or to bake delicious treats. What we found quite interesting is that the seeds serve as food for the camels and the palm leaves are used to weave roofs for cottages and kitchen utensils.
Halwa mens sweet in Arabic and is the most famous dessert of the Sultanate. You can find Halwa shops everrrryyywheeere. Sugar, honey, rose water, eggs, various nuts and spices are processed into a sticky pudding-like mass and served with Arabic coffee.
If you plan to visit Oman, make sure to make a stop in to visit the local animal market which only takes place every Friday morning at 7 am next to the fort. From everywhere the Omanis come to sell their goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits and cattle. The sale of cattle follows a strict ritual: The animals are presented in a circle and the seller calls out prices into the crowd. If someone is interested, they check out the animal and begin to bargain. At first glance it seems as if the negotiations are conducted exclusively by men. But it is the women that ultimately decide on the purchase.
Wadi Hab & Wadi Bani Khalid
Make sure to visit one of the many Wadis in Omam. When there is plenty of water, they present themselves as dreamlike oases with lush palm groves and emerald green natural pools and waterfalls. When there’s little to no water, they turn into barren dry valleys with bizarre rock formations. Both Wadi Shab and Wadi Bani Khalid are located only about 2 hours south of Muscat and they are wonderful places to escape to from the busy city and relax. Make sure you go early though as sadly there are many tourists after lunch time.
Jebel Shams & Jebel Akhdar
The Oman is a paradise for hikers. The highest mountain is the Jebel Shams rising over 3009 metres above sea level. You need a 4x4 to reach a plateau, which offers a fantastic view into the 1000 meter deep valley Wadi Ghul, the Grand Canyon of Oman. The plateau, is hardly secured so we don’t really recommend it to anyone who is afraid of heights.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in Oman and the only one that is also accessible to non-Muslims. Women must wear a headscarf, cover shoulders and arms and wear long pants. This is strictly controlled at the entrance. The is a very impressing chandelier located in the center of the men’s prayer hall. It measures a staggering 14 meters and weighs 8,5 tons. It holds 600’000 shining bright Swarovski crystals, 24 carat gold plating and took over four years to complete. The carpet beneath it is also one of a kind. It measures 4’000m² and was knotted by over 600 women for four years.
The Chedi is an incredible hotel to hang out after an amazing trip through this wonderful country. The breakfast budget is to die for.