Tuesday, October 30

Turtle beach

Turtle beach is a marvelous place located 30 minutes away eastward from Sur. The place is supervised by the authorities, and you can only access after recorded at the point of control.

The turtles come here all year long, to lay during the night and they leave just before the rising of the sun. in early morning you can see baby turtles fighting to reach the sea.

You can sleep at the turtle beach resort that we recommend, or go to the Ras al Hadd resort which is just on the turtle beach itself.

Note : Avoid going there during Eid holidays because there is too many people and the authorities just don't know how to handle the crowd.

Sunday, October 28

Blue city

- edit : according to latest comment : Blue City officially closed down the project end March 2011. -

"Blue city" is an $20 billion project which the aim is to build a new luxurious 35km² city, 1 hour away to the west of Muscat. It reflects very well the transformation in progress in Oman and the ambitions of the sultanate for the future.

This project is so huge that it has been divided in 10 phases. The phase1 (only 5,5km²) should be finished only in 2013

Some people already consider the purpose of "Blue city" is to become the new capital of Oman... I think I will come back in Oman in 20 years just to see how the country has evolved and if Muscat is still the capital ;)

more info : official website, wikipedia...

Thursday, October 25

The sultanate of Oman, a revolution in trompe-l'oeil

It does no harm just this once, I will speak about a new french book, named "Le sultanat d'Oman, une révolution en trompe-l'oeil". I wish I could have read this book at the beginning of my expatriation, it would have help me to better understand the country where I've lived for almost a year now.

In this book, the author (a french researcher, Marc Valeri) describes the history of the country (including the war of the Dhofar, 1965-1975), with a great freedom of speech, and then explains how the Sultan Qaboos since 1970 has succeeded in unifying the country by putting in place a welfare state (thanks to the petrol incomes) and by creating an Omani identity. It explains also very well the different categories of population that composed Oman, their relations, and the possible tension between them... At the end, the author gives us his view of the young Omanis mentality, and the futur issues the sultanate will have to face after Sultan Qaboos era.

This is a very exhaustive book, full of details about the Omani society. I give you below a few things that struck my mind :

  • The life expectancy was 40 years old in 1940, and is now 74,5
  • Their is a guaranteed minimum wage for the Omani : 140 OMR
  • in dec. 2006, 52,6% of the Omani working population was in the public sector
  • 38,9% of the Omani are less than 15 years old, 53,7% less than 20 years old, and only 3% over 60 years old.
  • Officially, 35% of the marriage are between cousins. But if you take into account larger blood relations, it can be 55%.
  • 6,3% of Omani live with several wifes (16% in the Dhofar).
  • 80% of the Omani think that censoring the local or foreign television programs is good.
  • For those who wonder who will succeed the sultan, it has been reported that the Sultan has declared having identified 2 possible successors, and has put their names in sealed envelopes hidden in two different regions of Oman. Note also that the Sultan has been married in 1976, but he has divorced in 1980.
  • some rare cases of excision have been reported in rural area of the country.

Tuesday, October 23

Wadi Shab

Wadi Shab is located just next to Wadi Tiwi. You have to park at the entrance of the Wadi and continue by foot. The path and goes inside the gorge and is very lovely, even if Gonu has destroyed a lot of palm trees...

on the path you will find several small natural pools where you can swim. But the big fun is at the end of the wadi (after 1hour walking) : you can access a little cave by swimming, and then you can climb the rocks and make enormous jumps in the water !

NOTE : Too many people are going to Wadi shab and wadi Tiwi during Eid Mubarak holidays. You should definitely avoid this period to visit these places.

Friday, October 19


As Dubai is only few hours away from Muscat, it's not hard to go there for a long week-end if you get bored with Oman. You will need between 4 and 6 hours to reach Dubai from Muscat by car : it depends on how fast you're driving, the traffic jams and the time you'll spent at the border post (If you have a Omani hire car, you will need also to get a 12 OMR insurance policy extension at your rental agency).

Dubai is so different from Oman : you have a lot of towers, it is a crowded city with traffic jams and you have a lot of activities to do in the city ! You can check the Sheikh Zayed road with its hundred of towers (including the Burj Dubai, the tallest tower in the world), you can go to the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah beaches, you can also visit some old typical houses in Bur Dubai (even if they look as new as the towers because of their recent renovation)...

There a lot of Souqs as well, and a interesting Dubai museum. Also you can make some skiing in the Mall of Emirates (which is a change from the heat of the city !) or spend the day in the water amusement park "wild wadi".

In brief, I've spent 3 days in Dubai during the Eid holidays and it has been a real enjoyment and a big change from Muscat. However, more than 3 days I don't know what I could have done more (maybe more shopping ?).

Monday, October 15

Happy Eid Mubarak !

Ramadan Kareem is over since last saturday, so happy Eid Mubarak to everybody !
Ramadan has been a quite a boring period for all the expats in Oman, because bars and clubs were closed, and it was not even possible to drink wine in the restaurants, so it is quite a relief that it is over !

There is now 4 days of public holiday and the ambiance in Oman is very festive, you can see a lot of people in the streets greeting each other. it is also not unusual to be invited by Omani to take kawa and eat alloua, or even have dinner with them.

Friday, October 12

Mutrah Fish Market

Every morning, until 1pm, stands the fish market in Mutrah. To find it, just follow the big smell which spreads around the place. The fishermen are grouped together in a big building and sell their freshly fished items directly on the ground. You can find a lot of kinds of fishes : tuna, shrimps, octopus and even shark sometimes !

Besides the fish market stands a big vegetable markets and some butcher's shops.
If you haven't been to this place yet, you should definitely go for a walk there because it is typical, and you can buy some fresh food at the same time :)

Saturday, October 6

Grand Hyatt in Muscat

Posting about Safari pub, I realised that I didn't write yet about the Hyatt hotel ! This hotel is one of the top luxury of Muscat. It is located in Shati-Qurm, about half way between the airport and the Ruwi, not far from the Intercontinental hotel.

(photo from Flickr)

In the same way that the Chedi excels in a elegant minimalism design, The Hyatt excels in a exuberant Arabic style ! The main lobby is just impressive with its 'rococo' decor, but the rooms are more simple but elegant.

There is one large leisure swimming pool, and an outdoor jacuzzi. The hotel is also located in front of the sea on the main Muscat beach. Of course, the hotel is equipped with a small health club, tennis courts, sauna, Haman and so on...

Inside there are several restaurants, one buffet in the ground floor and one Italian (the Tuscani) which is very good and not too expensive. I recommend this hotel if you like eccentric design and you want to be well located in Muscat.

Note :
There are two other luxury hotels in Muscat : The Sheraton (located in Ruwi which could be considered as the city center of Muscat) and the Al Bustan Palace (which is known has the most splendid hotel in the gulf). But presently they are both closed for renovation, and I don't know if they will re-open before the end of the year.

Monday, October 1

Safari pub in Hyatt

The Safari is a bar in the Hyatt complex. Although this place is completely closed presently because of the Ramadan, I write this post to continue my series about nightlife in muscat. You can compare this place to the Al Ghazal pub, but here the decor is more "exotic" as you could expect with such a name.

There is a live band almost every night after 10pm, and some people are dancing. But when the band is playing the sound is way too loud to chat with your friends. I prefer to come to this place after work to have a beer and play pool downstairs. You also have TVs that broadcat sport events or music clips.

Below the Safari pub, there is nightclub called the "Habana Café". And above the Safari pub, on the terrasse, there is the "Grill House Restaurant" which is very good and has a menu with all-you-drink ! I hope to write a post on these places after Ramadan.