World Peace Travel
The Muscat Festival
A special opportunity for the IIPT family… The governmental leaders of the Sultanate of Oman invited the International Institute for Peace through Tourism to sponsor a booth at the annual Muscat Festival.
The twenty-four participants of this tour had the opportunity each day to see the significant cultural and natural attractions of Oman and then each evening extend and receive hospitality at the IIPT booth in beautiful Qurum Park, along the coast of the Gulf of Oman. It was the best of both worlds…during the day, seeing the sights of the Arabian Peninsula, and in the evenings, advancing the cause of peace by meeting and greeting the very hospitable citizens of Oman.
Dates were January 23 to February 3, 2006.
For more information call 888-836-5464, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
about travel to Oman
So… you’ve thought about traveling to the Middle East. Is that really a good idea?
The idea of traveling to the Middle East invariably creates among Westerners at least a little initial trepidation.
So… is it a good idea to travel to the Middle East?… to the Arabian Peninsula?… to Oman?
I’m glad you asked.
Let me answer the question this way…my wife and I liked it so much after our first visit that we leased an apartment and stayed for eight months! (We were smart enough to arrive in October and depart in May. No person with a choice wants to be in Oman during the summer—it is intolerably hot.)
If the Arab world is known for hospitality… then Omanis are known to surpass the rest of the Arab world in that category.
A personal example: shortly after we arrived, we began exploring the country for interesting destinations for tour groups. (An aside here: I don’t believe any small country in the world provides as many different kinds of natural attractions—oceans, mountains, caves, deserts, wildlife—as does Oman.)
My wife and I and another American couple drove down the coast to investigate the Bimmah Sinkhole (it’s on our itinerary for the February tour). The jagged Eastern Hajar mountains rose up on our right and the Gulf of Oman lay on our left as we checked our guidebook for that side road.
We couldn’t find it.
I flagged down a water truck for directions. In what we were to discover was not atypical Omani hospitality… rather than give us instructions…the driver insisted on leading us to the site. Soon after we arrived, an Omani family showed up and although we had very little Arabic and they had very little English, we soon understood they were inviting us to their home. We accepted.
A few minutes later we were sharing coffee, dates, oranges and melons in the second-story room of a small house, the breeze coming off the ocean which was less than 50 yards away. (The coffee was bad. The fruit was good.) After our snack, the head of the family asked if we would like to take a ride in his fishing boat. We loaded up along with several of his family and went out on the sea to view the dolphins.
(If I told you how many dolphins we saw, you wouldn’t believe me and then you wouldn’t believe anything else I said—so don’t ask.)
When we came back from the boat excursion, the lady of the house had lunch ready for us! We tried to refuse, but to no avail… we had fresh fish, vegetables and rice sitting on the floor looking out the window at the ocean. After lunch, the family insisted we take a nap! This time we really refused. As we drove away, all four of us were shaking our heads at what had happened during the last 4 hours. (I have used this illustration several times to chide my fellow Southerners who claim to be hospitable… how many of them, I ask, invite total strangers—foreigners!—home for lunch and a nap?!)
I could offer other examples of Omani hospitality, but this one will suffice.
Consider this my personal invitation for you to give and receive hospitality in the fascinating land of Oman.
An Oman Adventure…
The Muscat Festival
Day by Day Itinerary
"Fill up your time to escape nostalgia and regret, and travel the earth."
--Sinbad the Sailor (whose legendary sailings originated from Oman)
Monday, January 23—Check your documents one last time and depart your gateway city for Muscat.
Tuesday, January 24—Arrive at Seeb International Airport, where you will be met by a World Peace Travel representative and taken to your hotel for a few hours sleep. Plan to be surprised at a couple of things: how many people are at the airport at this late hour and how the main road into Muscat is so well groomed with trees, grass and flowers. The Omani government spends a lot of resources on landscaping and you will see the evidence in your 20 minute ride from the airport. The streets will have some special decorations for the Muscat Festival, but year around they’re neat and clean. The reputation of Muscat as the cleanest city in the Middle East is never disputed by those who visit.
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."
Wednesday, January 25—Our first day will be spend mostly in orientation and setting up the IIPT booth at Qurum Park. However, before we get to work, we will make a visit to the Grand Mosque of Muscat. Middle East travelers will tell you it’s their favorite modern mosque. It is truly a wonderful piece of architecture. The floor of the main worship hall is covered by the world’s largest Persian carpet—one acre in span!
Then we will go to Qurum Park to put together the IIPT display. After lunch in a nearby restaurant we’ll go back to our hotel for some rest and some additional orientation prior to assuming our posts at the booth. It will not be hard duty. Omanis are known as the most hospitable people in the region, so conversations will be easy to initiate.
"Tourism is about going somewhere. Traveling is about being somewhere."
"The places I like best are the places that ask the best questions of me."
Friday, January 27— Friday is the day of worship in Oman--for both Muslims and Christians. For those who want to take advantage of this opportunity, we will have transportation available. There is both a Catholic congregation and a Protestant congregation that meets in Muscat. Later we’ll arrange a picnic lunch at Al-Riyam park and provide an opportunity for you (if you want to climb 100+ stairs) to explore the nearby watchtower to get a higher view of the harbor. And… if you’re still in climbing mode… you can go up to the observation deck (fashioned like an incense burner…pretty tacky, really) for another great view of the ocean.
We’ll return to the hotel for some rest time before we return to the Muscat Festival in the evening to again meet Omanis who are celebrating their cultural heritage.
"To feel at home, stay at home. A foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It’s designed to make its own people comfortable."
Saturday, January 28— This morning we depart Muscat for an excursion to the interior city of Nizwa and the Hajar Mountains. It’s about a 2 hour drive to Nizwa, through some stark, dry hills, but the road is good, so take in the scenery. Oman is known for its forts and the Nizwa Fort is one of the most significant ones in the entire country. After we tour the convoluted passageways of the fort, we’ll have a chance to browse the Nizwa Souq, which some travelers prefer to the Muttrah Souq.
After lunch we’ll continue our exploration of the interior of Oman as we wind through the spectacular wadis of this area. Our 4 wheel drive vehicles will be essential as we go "wadi-bashing" through the spectacular vertical cliffs near Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountains). We’ll arrive back in Muscat just in time to assume our duties at the festival.
"To live in one land is captivitie"
Sunday, January 29-- Pack the sun-tan lotion. We are going to spend the day at the beach. We’ll take a short tour by boat along one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world and then we’ll be dropped off at a secluded beach. Snorkels and masks will be provided for those who want to explore the clear waters of the coves. All sorts of exotic brightly-colored fish inhabit the coral in the bays, so you should have a wonderful underwater experience. For those who would prefer to just laze on the beach, mish mushkili ("not a problem" in Arabic). We’ll bring our own picnic lunch and then be picked up mid-afternoon to go back to the hotel prior to returning to the festival for the evening.
The poetry of motion! The real way to travel! The only way to travel!
--Kenneth Grahame Wind in the Willows
Monday, January 30—We’ll plan a fairly early departure because we have an extensive day trip on the schedule. We’ll head southeast along the coast driving about 2 hours to reach the Bimmah (Bama) sinkhole. The geologists say this 40 meter wide, 20 meter deep water-hole was created when a limestone cavern collapsed, but the locals say a piece of the moon fell from the sky and make the hole. We’ll stay out of the argument as we spend a few minutes exploring before moving down the coast line. Most of the coast is rocky, but there are a couple of white sand beaches where we will have our picnic lunch looking over the blue waters of the Gulf of Oman.
Then we head to Wadi Shab. We’ll park the vehicle and start up the canyon. You may want to wear your bathing suit under your clothes, because you will need to get wet in order to see the best part of the wadi. Water shoes would be valuable.. After walking about 20 minutes through this canyon we’ll begin to wade, swim, scramble and walk another 20 minutes to arrive at what appears to be the end of the canyon. However, they say there’s a magical waterfall on the other side of that boulder. Should you swim under the rock to see? It’s up to you.
Back to Muscat for clean-up and the festival.
It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.
Tuesday, January 31—All activities today are optional. We’ll have transportation for anyone who wants to revisit the souq. Or perhaps you’ve made a friend at the festival that you would like to meet for coffee or lunch…we’ll make whatever transportation arrangements you need. Tonight we’ll have a special dinner together and go to the booth a little late.
Wednesday, February 1—Today’s destination is Wadi Bani Awf, one of the most spectacular canyons in Oman. Our 4-wheel drive vehicles will be requires as we explore this section of Northwest Oman.
Thursday, February 2—Today is wind-down day, our last full day in Oman. We’ll leave most of the day open so that we can meet any special requests you may have.
". . . the sundry contemplation of my travels, which, by often rumination, wraps me in a most humorous sadness."
Friday, February 3--Goodbyes are in order… to friends we have made and to this special destination. We are certain a portion of both will remain in your heart forever. We will transport you back to the airport for your return journey
International Institute for Peace Through Tourism