ME and I traveled to Oman for a long weekend. The flight originated in Bahrain leaving at 9PM and we arrived in Muscat, the capital of Oman at 11:35PM, a 1-1/2 hour flight with a one hour time change. The airport was extremely crowded. We exited the airport looking for a taxi and it looked like an entire third world nation was waiting for a taxi too. I became a little nervous thinking that we made a big mistake coming here. Many quest workers from central and southern Asia work in the Middle Eastern countries and I think we all arrived in Muscat at the same time. It seems like many flights in this part of the world depart and arrive either very early in the morning or very late at night. Now that spring/summer has arrived you can understand why, it is just TOO HOT to be outside or active during the day. We did find a taxi to drive us to the hotel.
Oman is another one of these oil and gas producing countries but their reserves are not as large as most of the other countries in the region. Officially called the Sultanate of Oman it is located on the Arabian Peninsula. It sits at the month of the Persian/Arabian Gulf at the Strait of Hormuz. As of 2010 the population was 2.7 million people with 1.9 being Omanis. The size of their quest worker population is low compared to other Middle Eastern states.
Putting it on the map, Muscat, Oman
Sultan Qaboos took over the leadership of Oman from his father in 1970. He opened up the country by developing economic reforms and starting a modernization program by spending heavily on health, education and welfare. In 1997 he decreed that women could vote and be elected to office. In 2002 all citizens over 21 could vote. Even though there is a political system in place the Sultan really rules by decree. There were protests in 2011 inspired by the Arab Spring and under pressure the Sultan promised greater powers to the governmental assembly. Still the Sultan has absolute power and issues laws by decree, he is the longest serving ruler in the Middle East. Oman has close diplomatic ties to the US and UK.
Overall the Omani citizens enjoy a good standard of living but the future is uncertain with Oman’s limited oil and gas reserves. Oman is currently working to diversify into agriculture, light industry and tourism.
Once we got past the airport, we were very impressed with the capital city. It was very clean, not overly stated with huge mega projects, seemed very cultured and all of our contacts were with local Omanis who were well educated and extremely nice. This is in comparison to living in KSA were I only have contacts with foreign workers.
We stayed at the Al Bustan Palace a Ritz-Carlton property. The hotel was built as a GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council)summit meeting place 25 years ago. The GCC was founded by Oman in 1981 as a regional intergovernmental political and economic union for the Arab states in the Persian Gulf region. Later the palace became a luxury resort known for its huge central atrium lobby and splendid gardens and beach. Just last year the Ritz-Carlton took it over. Supposedly the 9th floor is closed and only available for the royalty of the Arab world. Below are some pictures of the hotel.