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Where to Eat Lunch During Ramadan in Muscat & Salalah

In the Islamic month of Ramadan (link in bolded text to Ramadan blog) daylight abstinence from food and drink is strictly observed in Muslim-majority countries. During this time, non-Muslim expats in Oman or visiting tourists might find it a challenge to locate options for daytime meals. The following is a list of reliable locations we’ve discovered while hosting a few of our guests in Muscat and Salalah. Just remember that if you choose partake, please do so respectfully, and out of the public eye.

MUSCAT

1. $ Lulu Hypermarket – Hot Pre-Prepared food available

2. $ Carrefour Supermarket – Hot Pre-Prepared food available

3. $-$$ Fast food options: McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Subway – open for take away – various locations, and timings.

4. $$ Mackenzies Deli (Scottish)- PDO – Open for dine-in from 9am-5pm, Menu available here: http://www.mackenzies.me/menus/


3 Tips to Mastering the Omani Souq

When traveling to any new country, one of the best experiences is simply getting out and about amongst the local people and seeing what daily life is like. Well, in Oman, nothing encompasses this better than visiting the local souq, or open-air marketplace.

Arab souqs (pronounced “suːk”) have been a longheld practice for hundreds of years, originating from caravans that would travel through the desert and set up camp outside of cities to sell their goods. These caravans often brought luxury items, anything from silks to spices to jewelery and even exotic fruits and vegetables. This tradition has continued into present-day Oman, so whether your in Muscat or Nizwa, Salalah or Sohar, here are a few tips to make the most out of your time in an Omani souq.

1. Try something new.

Souqs are fantastic for finding all sorts of new and interesting items, and the best way to experience it is to put yourself out and try something new! Whether it’s trying on a traditional hat or shawl, tasting an unknown spice, smelling the foreign perfumes, or even chewing on a piece of frankincense resin (for renowned health benefits!), many shop owners are excited to share their goods with you. Some may even offer you a cup of tea or coffee wanting simply to share some of the their famous Omani hospitality.


5 Places To Visit In Salalah

An exploration of Oman wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its second-largest city, Salalah. Located in southern Oman, Salalah is an hour and forty-five minutes away from Muscat by plane. It is a unique city, boasting an incredible monsoon season in July and August (called Khareef) and beautiful places to wander year-round.

Here are our recommendations for five must-see things in this special place (although there are certainly more than just these)!

1. Khor Rori Beach

It takes about half an hour to drive to this spot east of Salalah. The beach is rarely busy the sand is clean, and you can climb a little ways up the cliffs that guard the sides of the beach and jump into the water below. A short hike will take you to the top of a plateau that overlooks a spectacular expanse of ocean scenery. There you can explore the ancient ruins that date back to 100BC. For a more relaxing activity, check out the small museum with local artifacts. The museum also has restroom facilities available for use. A marshy inlet holds great spots for birdwatching and exploring. There is an entrance fee per vehicle ( 2 OMR) which is included in the cost of your tour. Don’t forget sun protection for this beach as there is little shade available.

2. Mughsayl’s Blowholes

On the other side of Salalah about half an hour away is a spot called Al Mughsayl. This is another beautiful beach to explore, with plenty of room for people to spread out. There are well-spaced gazebos for a private picnic, or you can set up mats and umbrellas on the sand. A parking spot past the beach area hosts some vendors selling food and souvenirs, as well as a public restroom. From the parking area, it’s a short walk over stone-paved paths to Marneef Cave. This cave is more of a rocky overhang with benches set up in the shade and a wonderful view. Walk down a series of steps (with handrails) to see the grated tops of the well-known blowholes. The height of the spurts of water will depend on the time of year you visit—the fountains can shoot water over 90 feet (30 metres) high during Khareef!


Finding the Perfect Date in Oman

If you’re imagining a romantic stroll along the beach at sunset or a candlelit dinner for two, stop right there! The dates we’re talking about today are the kind that are green or brown, slightly wrinkled, and grow on palm trees. These happen to be one of the staples of an Omani diet and are a popular souvenir to take home after a visit to Oman. Read on to learn more about these deliciously sweet fruits!

Cultural Significance

People have been eating dates for thousands of years in the Arabian Peninsula. These fruits can be eaten dried or fresh, and are a healthy source of carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. Many people in Oman enjoy dates on a daily basis; they don’t view dates as simply a tasty, healthy food, but as part of their religious culture as well.

Dates are typically enjoyed in Omani households with qahwa (strong Arabic coffee) to create a balance of sweet and bitter flavors. During the month of Ramadan, dates will be eaten with a glass of cold milk to provide the energy for a day of fasting.

Dates or date honey are important ingredients in many Omani sweets. One of the most well-known in Salalah is qatmeem. It’s a mixture of dates, nuts, and local butter cooked together and spread into a pan. This sticky confection is then eaten with a spoon as a special Ramadan treat.


Tips for a Single Woman Traveling to Oman

It takes courage and a sense of adventure to strike out alone as a woman and travel to new places. There will certainly be many people who do not understand this desire and will share their concerns for your safety. Perhaps you will start to wonder if you are making a wise decision in traveling alone after all, or if it would be better to simply stay home.

In his book The Art of Travel, author Alain de Botton says, “It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others…Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companion’s questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.”

Don’t let your relationship status or the unavailability of your friends and family keep you from exploring the world! You may discover the wonder and richness that only come from engaging new cultures on your own.

If you’re a seasoned world traveler looking for an exciting new destination or someone embarking on your first experience traveling solo, here are some tips to make your time in Oman as enjoyable (and safe) as possible.


Visiting Oman During Ramadan

What Is Ramadan?

Ramadan is considered the most holy month by Muslims worldwide. It takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This calendar follows the lunar system, so the dates of Ramadan vary each year, usually moving back a week or so each year on the western calendar.

In order to observe Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunup until sundown. During daylight hours, they do not eat or drink anything. This is a very special, spiritual time for most Muslims. In addition to fasting, they spend time reading the Qur’an (Islam’s holy book), praying, and helping those less fortunate in their communities.

Ramadan is a time to cleanse oneself from worldly things and focus completely on one’s faith. Muslims refrain from listening to music, using bad language, and smoking. In many public places in Oman, recordings of the Qur’an take the place of background music, which can make something as simple as buying snacks at the supermarket a cultural experience.

What Is Ramadan Like For Muslims?

Imagine having Christmas every day for an entire month. That’s the way Muslims anticipate the month of Ramadan. It is a joyful time of spiritual devotion and family connection. Many Muslims consider Ramadan to be their favorite time of year.

Ramadan is one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith. The other four are: taking a pilgrimage to Mecca, giving money to the poor, saying the Shahadah (the Muslim profession of faith), and praying five times a day. Because Ramadan holds such an important place in the Muslim religion, it is also an important month in Oman.

All Muslims in Oman observe Ramadan except young children, pregnant or nursing mothers, soldiers on duty, those traveling, and those with medical conditions that prevent them from fasting. Those who cannot fast during Ramadan will usually try to make up the days later in the year, as they are able.

Children start fasting at different ages. Some families will allow children to fast a few hours a day to get used to the practice before committing to a full day. Usually the child decides when he/she wants to begin fasting. By adolescence, children will be required to fast like the adults.


The Best Time to Visit Oman

Oman is a diverse country with very different weather patterns depending on where you visit—the weather in northern Oman varies greatly from the weather in the south. We want to take the confusion out of the planning process for you by outlining the four seasons of the year, and what you can expect from the weather in each season/region of Oman. Here is our guide to help you decide what time of year will be the best for your next Oman tour.

Spring – March through June

Springtime in northern Oman starts off nice with high temperatures in Muscat staying in the 70s F and evenings cooling off to the 50s. This balmy weather doesn’t last long, however, as the summer heat begins to encroach in April.

June is the warmest month in the north, with temperatures often soaring well-above 100 degrees F and evenings staying in the upper-70s. If you choose to visit the north during these months, bring plenty of light clothing and sun protection, and plan regular evenings at the beach to help you stay cool!


Packing Tips for Oman

You’ve received your trip itinerary from your travel expert, your flights are booked, and you’re eagerly awaiting your departure date to visit Oman! All that’s left to do is pack. But, trying to decide what to bring to a place you’ve never been before can be challenging. Here are our tips to help you pack for your trip with confidence. (You will receive more detailed packing information with your trip itinerary, so consult those lists as well for extra guidance.)

Clothing

1. For men: bring basic lightweight, long pants and comfortable, button-down shirts (short- or long-sleeved). For women: lightweight, loose clothing will be the most comfortable. Try to cover your elbows and legs with 3/4-length shirts and long skirts or pants.
2. If you enter a mosque or local home, you will remove your shoes at the door. Comfortable walking shoes that are easy to get on and off are a good idea in Oman!
3. Bring some sort of sun protectant. Sunblock, sunglasses, a hat with a brim, or a light scarf for women will all help alleviate the desert heat you may experience in parts of Oman.
4. Bring a light jacket if you are visiting the north of Oman during October-March. Bring a light waterproof jacket if you are visiting Salalah during Khareef (monsoon) season in July and August.


How To Mind Your Manners in Oman

What is considered polite in one culture can be quite offensive in another. Navigating cultural differences can be tricky—especially when you’re not aware of them to begin with! Of course you want to be respectful and polite while exploring everything Oman has to offer.

Read on for some tips on how to respond appropriately in common situations.

At A Meal

Omanis are gracious and hospitable people; it is likely that at some point during your tour, you will be offered more food than you can eat. Don’t make yourself uncomfortably full by trying to eat everything that is put in front of you. It is considered polite in Oman to leave a small portion on your plate at the end of a meal. This communicates to your host that he served you a sufficient amount of food.

“Alhamdulilah shabbat.” This simple phrase comes in handy when you are offered a second (or third, or fourth!) helping of something to eat. To politely refuse, simply say this phrase, which is the Arabic way to say, “I’m full”.

It is helpful to know that in Oman it’s considered polite to offer something several times, even if the person declines the first time. If you really do not want what is being offered, just keep declining it politely. Also be aware that when you offer an Omani something, their first response will probably be “no”, as well.


5 Reasons Oman Should Be Your Next Destination

Many people in the United States don’t even know Oman exists. When my friend tried to mail me a package recently, the US postal worker was convinced that my friend mistakenly wrote a city’s name on the line for country. Oman seems to be a well-kept secret—tucked into its corner of the Arabian Peninsula, largely staying out of the world’s news updates.

So, why would you want to spend your time and money to visit a place so few have heard of? What is there to see in Oman anyway?

Here are five amazing things about this hidden country that will have you contacting your travel expert and scheduling your trip dates as soon as possible.

#1: Oman is a land that is truly unique.

The majority of Omanis are Ibadi Muslims, which is a sect of the religion separate from the more well-known Sunni and Shia groups. This unique religious background makes Omanis devoted to their conservative faith, while at the same time being open and friendly towards visitors from other backgrounds. Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, Oman’s leader since 1970, has developed the country incredibly. He is the longest-reigning leader in the Arab world to date, and his influence has made Oman the special, peaceful place it is. Case in point: Oman has no terrorism records – it’s just never happened here.


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