Oman: Everyone loves their country. But only a few go the extra mile to showcase their country.
Meet Maisa Al Hooti, a diligent, passionate and adventurous Omani woman who is always eager to showcase the charming features of her country.
Al Hooti, CEO and founder of the “Oman in Focus” project, dreams of capturing the attention of the global public with the gems that Oman’s tourism sector has to offer, in addition to showcasing the country’s efforts in environmental conservation.
“Oman is a big country and has many unknown creatures and regions. We want the world to see all there is in Oman, ”she said. Gulf News during a recent trip to the neighboring country of the United Arab Emirates. “Oman is a paradise that deserves to be talked about a lot more because this country offers safety, security and peace.”
Al Hooti is currently working on a documentary focusing on Oman’s environment and the splendor of its wildlife, from Musandam to Dhofar.
In 2019, Oman received around 3.2 million tourists, 12% more than the previous year.
A team of international and local wildlife experts and filmmakers will explore 12 iconic Sultanate destinations, which will be featured in two documentaries. Both documentaries will cover various aspects of Oman’s variety of wildlife and natural landscape that make the country a destination worth exploring.
“These documentaries will deal with all the rare species and creatures of Oman that even some Omanis do not know. Our role is to discover these creatures and make them known to the world, ”added Al Hooti, who is also an underwater photographer.
As the UAE’s close neighbor, Oman’s strategic location in the southern Arabian Peninsula has played a leading role in helping the country gain a prominent place in the global community and stay in touch. with ancient civilizations. The Sultanate of Oman is unique in its nature and its rich history which has been written in books. It was one of the oldest nations to gain independence in the Arab world. It has managed to combine modernity and heritage, while preserving the uniqueness of its culture and history. This has made Oman an ideal tourist destination.
Muscat, an oasis of calm
Surrounded by gray rocky mountains and the blue Arabian Sea, the city of Muscat feels like an oasis of calm in the region. Muttrah Souq has become a must-see destination among tourists in Muscat. It is one of the oldest markets in the Arab world dating back around two hundred years. Known locally as Al Dhalam, which means “darkness” in Arabic, sunlight barely penetrates the souk.
Mohammad Ali Murad Al Beloshi, one of the oldest merchants in the Muttrah souk, said Gulf News that he had been in the bazaar for over 50 years. “I was born and raised in Oman. I started with a store. Now I have many who are led by my sons, ”said Al Beloshi.
Visitors can wander the narrow lanes and buy Luban, the finest and most expensive incense in the world. Thousands of years ago, the trees of Oman provided the Luban, which has become a trademark for the country.
“People come to buy Luban, jewelry, Omani silver, traditional antiques and Omani clothes. Luban can be used as an incense and has health benefits if you drink certain types of Luban, ”Al Beloshi added.
Today, Muttrah Souq is a tourist destination where shoppers come to pick up Khanjar, a traditional dagger which is a national symbol of Oman.
The main entrance to the souk is via the Corniche de Muttrah, where people like to stroll, soak up the view of the mountains, the symphony of sea water splashing the shore and the song of the seagulls.
Why are the Omanis the biggest shipbuilders in the region?
Oman’s coastline stretches 3,165 km from the Yemeni border in the southwest to the Strait of Hormuz on the northern edge of the country. Due to its importance in the maritime trade for centuries, Sur is one of the most famous towns overlooking the Indian Ocean and specializes in the manufacture of ships. During the time when northern Europe was invaded by the Vikings, Oman had a huge maritime trading empire. Oman expelled its Portuguese colonizers from Muscat in the mid-17th century, then chased them along the East African coast, ultimately claiming Zanzibar, over 1,800 miles (2,897 km) away, as Oman’s new capital. .
In the 21st century, Oman is now training a new generation of Omanis to take care of its shipbuilding industry. Sur, known for its shipyards, still produces those traditional wooden ships that have played a key role in Oman’s maritime past.
Ali Bin Jumaa, a 47-year-old Omani shipbuilder, owns one of the city’s oldest shipyards dating back to the 17th century.
“This place is the oldest shipyard in the Gulf. It was founded by my ancestors in 1730. It has been passed down from generation to generation to this day, ”Bin Jumaa said. Gulf News. “Our ships navigate the sea more quickly and smoothly thanks to their unique design, which is a trade secret. “
Bin Jumaa said his children initially accompanied him to the shipyard to tour the area. Gradually, they learned the secret craft of their families and themselves became experts in shipbuilding. “As a child, my father took me to the factory. Gradually, I started to take a keen interest in the art of shipbuilding and hoped to pass this expertise on to future generations, ”Bin Jumaa explained.
About 233 kilometers from Muscat and in the middle of the eastern region of Oman is the Bidiya Desert, known locally as the Sharqiya Sands. It is one of Oman’s best natural treasures and one of the most beautiful campsites, spanning over 10,000 square kilometers. Tourists can enjoy desert camping here. It is Oman’s adventure playground with towering sand dunes, some reaching up to 100 meters. The color of the sand in this desert ranges from red to brown, forming a spectacular landscape for photography.
“Many tourists simply come to visit the area and enjoy the desert activities on the sands of Sharqiya. People can climb the dunes and enjoy the breathtaking sunset or sunrise scenery, ”said Ayman Al Toobi, an Omani tour guide. “With so many tourist attractions and historical sites to explore, you certainly can’t do Oman justice with a short visit,” Al Toobi added.
The country, which celebrated its 51st National Day last month, is celebrated not only for its cultural charm but also for its historical and architectural gems.
Oman’s Vision 2040, which was developed during the reign of the late Sultan Qaboos, aims to ensure continued progress in several sectors of the economy.
Vision 2040 is the Sultanate’s gateway to overcome challenges, keep pace with regional and global challenges and seize all possible opportunities to boost economic growth.
As part of its ambitious future plan, Oman expects to earn more than nine billion Omani rials ($ 22.5 billion) per year from tourism by 2040 as it attempts to diversify its economy away from its traditional oil revenues.