On the 18th of November, Oman celebrated its 44th National Day. Everyone (and I mean everyone!) takes great pride in celebrating the achievements of the past while looking forward to Oman’s exciting future. It’s a day marked by great festivities, cheer and oodles of patriotism.
Oman, has been a part of my life from the day I was born. Even though I am not Omani (being an expat and all), Oman is home. Life here is blessed. So in the spirit of national day – here are 44 reasons why I absolutely love Oman!
1) His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said – He is a wise, kind and nurturing ruler. His compassion and vision is world renowned. The people (local & expats) of Oman, love and adore him.
2) The people of Oman are the most hospitable, welcoming and lovely. All the stories you hear about the Middle East are easily dismissed as soon as you set foot into Oman. They are warm and always smiling!
3) In all my years living in Oman, I’ve always felt safe. I have never been in a situation where I’ve felt insecure or intimidated. I can drive around the place at any part of the day or night without being worried about my safety.
4) The beaches of Oman are beautiful. You don’t have to drive for hours or fly to an exotic destination, sand and sea is just a 5 minute drive away.
5) You can’t complain about the crowd. I’d have to say that the most crowded places would be Ruwi high street on a weekend, Centerpoint on Sale and Lulu Hypermarket come salary week! It’s not like you have people manhandling you, poking you or falling out of public transport.
6) Oman is super clean! Except for a few bad eggs who think it’s cool to litter in public, the rest of the population is very conscious of their surroundings – which means ‘tip toeing’ is unnecessary for the paranoid.
7) It’s very difficult to not find your way around the city. There is one road that goes from Wadi kabir to Seeb and beyond! There aren’t any confusing exits and if you do miss one, the way back is just one ‘U turn’ away.
8) A ‘full tank’ of petrol is not a mythical creature in this part of the world.
9) The Holy month of Ramadan calls for shorter than usual office timings and although it means finishing up the same amount of work in a shorter period of time, it’s hard to complain when you get home before the sun sets.
10) Omani Halwa is to die for. They come in various types and I love them all. Al Amry Halwa in the Seeb Souq and the Barka halwa factory are two must try places.
11) Chivalry is not dead in Oman. The locals are very courteous and respectful of women. I have yet to come across an Omani who banged a door in my face.
12) You can never eat enough Shwarma! Whether the joint at the Al maha petrol pump in MQ, Istanboly in Al Khuwair, Camilia in Ruwi or some other random place – has the best kind of Shwarma, is a never ending debate.
13) It’s where I met my husband. It’s where we got acquainted, became friends, dated and now live. This country will always be special to me.
14) Oman is blessed with wadis, beautiful wadis! Most are green surrounded by water and tucked in between the mountains. My favorites would have to be Wadi Al Shab & Wadi Hoquain
15) There are so many people from different countries in Oman. Living here gives you a peek into different communities & cultures.
16) You can sample food from all over the world in Muscat. Multi-cuisine restaurants, concept dining, quaint little coffee shops, fine dining – anything you fancy is a 20 minute drive away (or less).
17) Life is comfortable and utilities don’t kill you.
18) The journey to Sur is the most serene, inspiring and picturesque drive ever. You have mountains on one side and the beautiful coastline on the other
19) Most government offices, check outs, hospitals have separate lines for ladies. Love being pampered.
20) This is where Baby E was born. I had an amazing pregnancy here, filled with so many beautiful memories.
21) Salalah is beautiful during Khareef. It’s so hard to believe that the desert suddenly transforms into a lush green oasis. You have to truly see it to believe it.
22) The souqs (traditional markets) in Oman are beautiful. Filled with pots, scarves, antiques and more!
23) Turtle Beach in Sur is an experience! Where else would I have seen turtles in their natural habitat – come to land, lay eggs, watch baby turtles hatch and then run for their little lives into the sea?
24) I love Shuwa (traditional meat preparation) and normally the only time we were fortunate to indulge in it was during Eid. Now places like Ubhar, Shuwa Express etc. serve shuwa all year round! *win-win*
25) Watching music concerts here is like having a forever front row seat! Since the venues aren’t big, all seats are premium.
26) The cheer in the air come National day is awesome. You can’t help but take part in the celebrations. From the cars and buildings to the people, everything is adorned in red, green & white! Patriotism here is contagious.
27) Salalah is famous for Bukhoor (Incense) and the souq has a range to chose from. They tend to vary in color, fragrance and quality. Even though incense is available throughout the country, it’s a must pick item on trips to Salalah.
28) Football frenzy! I love how Oman celebrates football. It’s electric. I remember being in the stadium when Oman won the Gulf Cup and the excitement was intense. We came home DANCING!! Not driving. It took me 3 hours to get home that night when home was just a 20 minute drive away. That was an amazing experience.
29) You have not experienced true Omani hospitality if you haven’t sampled Kahwa (Omani Coffee) and dates & you haven’t eaten dates until you try them here. They differ in quality and age but always taste amazing.
30) The Eid holidays are a welcome break! (Twice a year) It’s also an excellent time to have family visit. You can spend time with them, showing them around without worrying about the office.
31) Oman has its very own grand canyon – Jebel Shams. Although Jebel Akthar is quite the tourist attraction, my personal favorite is still Jebel Shams – you can stand in the ‘pooofy’ clouds for real!
32) The Royal Opera House is a visual treat. The structure is simply breathtaking. Watching the ‘Nutcracker’ was a childhood dream come true!
33) Oman has excellent roadways. The interiors are well connected and easily accessible which makes weekend outings fun! You don’t mind a 2 hour drive when it’s pothole free.
34) Oman is a country full of folk lore and mystery. From the indigenous Bedouins to tales about jinns, it’s hard not to get mesmerized.
35) Living in Oman is a beautiful experience. Some would say that life is slow but to me it’s just peaceful and well-paced. You can get very spoilt living here.
36) Eid is an excuse to experiment with different henna designs. I love the dark Sudanese henna but it doesn’t agree with me. The Arabic henna designs are lovely.
37) You are free to practice your religion, which means I can go to church! Oman is a beautiful tolerant country – people of different religions and cultures live in peace. You can find both Churches and Temples around Oman.
38) Oman is blessed with a beautiful coastline and what better way to use it than to go fishing! It happens to be my dad’s favorite weekend pass time and I know that he is not the only one to enjoy fishing on these shores.
39) The architecture in Oman is noteworthy. Every structure is unique and inspired. The Grand Mosque, the Royal Opera House are just a couple of examples that are breathtaking. Even commercial buildings like the Bank Muscat Headquarters are not far behind in this department.
40) You can spend hours out at sea watching dolphins swim. It’s just a 15 minute boat ride away. And if you are lucky to spot them, photographing them can be quite the challenge – as I have learned.
41) Not until long ago, Oman had some beautiful roundabouts. I still remember the roundabout in Ruwi with the fountain in the middle (I’m talking about a quarter century ago) Now most of these roundabouts have been removed and replaced with traffic lights but the ones that still remain are beautiful works of art.
42) It’s both fascinating and convenient how social media ties Muscat together. Communities like MWCIF & WHMO make finding stuff around town easy peasy. They are also teeming with information on what’s happening in and around the place – you are more likely to hear the latest on FB than read about it in the newspaper.
43) The folks here are always happy to work for a social cause. Be it breast cancer, diabetes or cleaning up the environment – everyone is happy to pitch in and go that extra mile.
44) Oman is where my life is (for now) It’s where I live, I laugh, I cry. It is my home away from home.God Bless this country, its ruler and its people.