If you want to get away from it all, head to Oman. With a clifftop resort in the Hajar mountains and a luxury camp tucked away between the desert dunes, there is more than one reason to take your luggage to this quiet Middle Eastern sultanate.
While Oman may not have the riches of some of its well-known neighbours, it possesses an unrivalled charm. You will instantly feel the pace of life slow down as soon as you cross the border from Dubai. And while it may be a small country, it has a lot to offer – from the coral-filled reefs to the picturesque wadis and ever-changing dunes… So go on a road trip and get to know the real Oman.
If you plan to go for a few days, you can hire a car and drive from Dubai to the Omani capital of Muscat. You will need to make sure that your car is insured for Oman, but after going through a few border posts at Hatta, you can follow Route 1 all the way to Muscat. This drive will take you around five hours, but along the way you will be able to spy huge desert vistas, roaming camels and picturesque Omani villages. However, if you’re short on time, you can take a one hour flight from Dubai to Muscat and hire a car on arrival.
Kickstart your road trip by booking into the luxurious oasis that is The Chedi in Muscat. This sprawling resort that stretches along the Indian Ocean is the perfect getaway. Set in 21 acres of manicured grounds, it is the last word in luxury. If you want your experience to be even more exclusive, choose the Chedi Club Suite that comes with a private terrace and for those who need to quench their thirst, a fully-stocked free bar.
You can spend the day taking a dip in the Long Pool – 103-metre pool that stretches out towards the ocean. Or head out with a dive trip to swim with the turtles, clown fish and rays that have made their home on the coral reefs.
At night you can venture into the Muttrah Souk, which is a honeycomb-maze of low level shops, overflowing with souvenirs ready for you to take home. Put your best bartering skills to the test and see how cheap you can get your goodies.
After all that shopping you will build your strength up, so take a seat the Kargeen Caffe in Madinat Qaboos, which is a favourite with the locals. Take a seat on the lush terrace and tuck into plates of Arabic grill, fattoush and tabbouleh under the stars. Then after dinner you can stop for a nightcap at the Left Bank. This chic modern bar is loved by the incrowd for its extensive cocktail list and the resident DJs choice of tunes.
Once you’ve topped up your tan on The Chedi’s seemingly unlimited supply of loungers you can then drive into the Hajar mountains and take a bird’s eye view of the country. You’ll find the breathtaking Alila Jabal Akhdar on the clifftop overlooking the moonscape below. A complete contrast to your beach stay, but just as striking. You can take part in treks, nature tours or learn how to cook Middle Eastern food. If you hop in the car you can discover the local farmlands where in the spring you will see crops of Damask roses. If you want to see the farmers in action, you can visit the Friday Goat Market. Just remember to keep quiet, unless you want to be leaving with a mini herd.
Then you should enjoy the most typical Middle Eastern experience of all and spend a night in the desert. Climb into the car and drive out to the Desert Nights Camp at Wahiba Sands. Your friends will be so impressed that you’ve taken a car out into the desert (they don’t need to know that it’s an easy drive and the resort is clearly signposted).
The Desert Nights Camp has everything a luxury lover needs to feel at home in the desert. You can relax in one of the glamorous Bedouin-style tents scattered over 10 acres of sands then take advantage of some of the desert adventures available. Hit the dunes on a quad bike, enjoy an exotic camel safari at sunset or go sandboarding. If you’re spending a couple of days there you could take a hike to the Wadi Bani Khalid and finish your walk with a swim in its refreshing pools.
When you return to Muscat the next day after this mini road trip you will know that you have experienced some of the best that the Middle East has to offer.