Professional shutterbug and avid LUXE fan Shelley Dark shares a few snaps from her recent trip to Oman. A mere skip and a hop from Dubai, this lovely sultanate is on the up for its ravishing scenery, indigenous culture and sophisticated hospitality.
With its sparkling azure coastline, dramatic jagged mountains and spectacular desert dunes, the tiny sultanate of Oman has plenty to offer, yet you can drive from one end to the other in just over 9 hours.
Pastel-hued mountains form a constant backdrop to the coastal plain. Goats are the most common domestic animal in Oman, best suited to the arid environment.
Oman’s ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said has overseen the country’s impressive development. He gifted the must-see Grand Mosque in Muscat to his people.
The Italian chandelier under the mosque’s main dome weighs a whopping 8500 kgs.
Fishing villages dot coastline between long stretches of uninhabited country.
Temperatures in Oman are punishingly hot in the summer, but more pleasant during the milder months of December to March.
The Alila Jabal Akhdar resort overlooks a gorge at 2000 metres above sea level. Guests are whisked from Muscat to Saiq Plateau via a C.21st road – however a 4-wheel drive is mandatory.
A 4×4 is also needed to traverse the desert, with its dunes dotted with Bedouin camps.
There’s no need to compromise on comfort, the Desert Nights Camp is a luxury 26-tent retreat amid the golden dunes.
Traditional architecture in Oman is usually a square, flat-roofed adobe construction. In the mountains, houses blend into the landscape.
Water is a scarce resource. Precious sources of underground water are channelled along a falaj to irrigate crops in oases like this picturesque village of Misfat al Abreen.
Beyond the mountains lies the city of Nizwa. Its souq has been operating for 800 years and today vendors still congregate to sell fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and handicrafts. Local crops are pomegranate, date palms, damask roses for oil and on the higher ground, stone fruit.
The elegant national dress for Omani men is the dazzling white dishdasha gown, worn either with an embroidered kumi (cap), or a scarf tied around the head.
The highlight every Friday morning is the bustling goat and livestock market.
Just outside the souq walls, near the fort is a gun market where vendors trade the locally made silver khanjars (tribal curved daggers), part of the formal Omani costume.
The sumptuously regal All Bustan Palace, Ritz Carlton is perched between the Hajar mountains and glimmering shoreline.
End a perfect holiday with sundowners on an outdoor terrace overlooking the Sea of Oman.
Where to stay:
Shelley bedded down at the decadent All Bustan Palace, Ritz-Carlton (pictured above). ritzcarlton.com
Taking its design cues from trad Omani forts, Alila Jabal Akhdar is a stunning suite and villa resort amid the mountains. alilahotels.com
Six Senses Hideaway at Zighy Bay features 82 rustic-luxe pool villas surrounded by nothing but sand, sea, sky, mountains and your personal butler. sixsenses.com
The Chedi Muscat is a chic central Oman escape with a dash of rock n’ roll. ghmhotels.com
See more of Shelley’s work at shelleydark.com. Bag more Oman sleeping, eating and shopping tips with the LUXE Guide to Dubai