Unlike neighbouring Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Oman remains fairly low key as a destination in travel brochures and the general press. But that’s probably what makes it such a great incentive travel destination to consider for your delegates.
Firstly, they’ve probably never been and don’t know many people who have; secondly, it offers a wealth of incredible experiences; and thirdly, it’s just a lovely, friendly, hospitable place where people will be more than happy to help you deliver your ideal trip away.
Getting to know Muscat
From the beaches to the mountains, the deserts to the wadis, Oman has it all. Along with coastlines of crumbling forts, tiny fishing villages and goats and camels lining the roads. An incentive trip will only scratch the surface of this gem, but will leave your delegates wanting more.
The capital of Oman is Muscat. It’s a long, sprawling city located across the northern coast of Oman and can be reached by plane from Heathrow in approximately 7.5 hours, with services daily. To save your delegates’ sanity, it’s best to avoid visiting between June and August when it’s a scorcher and temperatures can exceed 50 degrees celsius! The average monthly temperature in Muscat varies between 40° celsius in June and 25° in January maximum. Perfect to escape the office for some winter sun!
The business district, Ruwi, houses some of the largest hotels in Muscat with modern accommodation, beautiful restaurants, pools and spas, as well as conferencing facilities for any meetings or workshops you plan to schedule in. Don’t expect to see huge skyscrapers though; in Oman, they’re not allowed to be built. In fact, the Sheraton Hotel is the country’s tallest building at 53m!
Oman is great for having restaurants in unlikely places and other hidden gems; to reach these easily as a group, a minibus or coach would be the best option. Public transport can be a little unreliable and not fun in Oman’s heat!
Your delegates will also need to acquaint themselves with local customs and make sure their clothing is appropriate and respectful at all times. Visas must be obtained online before travelling.
Muscat’s best kept secrets
So what does Muscat have to offer the adventure-hungry delegate?! Here’s just a taste of the possibilities…
Visit the souk – Visiting a souk is a must-do while in Oman. Muttrah Souk is a busy, bustling traditional Arab market in a large undercover area, with alleys criss crossing through. You’ll find shoes, clothes, food, antiques, herbs, spices and more!
The Grand Mosque – This beautiful mosque is the only one open to non-muslims to visit. It’s a calm and peaceful place with lovely people on hand to talk to visitors about the building, its customs and the people who go there as their place of worship.
The Sultan’s Palace – The Al Alam Palace is the ceremonial palace of Sultan Qaboos of Oman, located in Old Muscat. It’s big, colourful and picture-perfect!
Royal Opera House – Stunning architecture makes the Royal Opera House in the Shati Al-Qurm district another must-visit, as Oman’s premier venue for musical arts and culture. Some of the most famous names in opera and ballet have performed there.
Museums – Muscat has a number of interesting museums, big and small, from oil and gas, to history, culture, and military.
Sail on a dhow – Who wouldn’t love a two hour sunset cruise straight from the centre of Muscat on a traditional wooden dhow, or Arabian sailing boat?
Shopping – Muscat has a good few modern shopping centres with designer brands to whet the appetite.
Green spaces – Muscat is also home to some beautiful parks that are open late for people to enjoy the cooler temperatures, such as the one in Qurum. Great for a picnic, or just a walk while enjoying an ice cream.
Adventures outside of Muscat
Oman’s best adventures are all within two to three hours’ drive of Muscat, so day trips are entirely possible. Although some of the best cultural experiences come from staying over in original Omani houses made of mud, or camping in the desert!
Mountain driving – Drive straight out of Muscat and you’ll be on your way to some spectacular mountain ranges for some 4×4 action! From the heights of the Hajar mountains, through tiny villages, past thousand-year old beehive tombs, and beautiful spots high enough for roses, fruits and vegetables to grow.
Desert camping – The desert lies just a couple of hours south of Muscat, where a wealth of experiences are on offer; from staying at a traditional Bedouin camp overnight, to camel riding and dune driving.
Turtle watching – The area of Ras Al Jinz, to the south east of Muscat, is renowned for the large numbers of turtles which come to nest on its beaches. The purpose-built reserve has numerous accommodation options, including some fabulous glamping-style tents and the opportunity for early morning and late night tours to go and see the turtles laying their eggs.
Nizwa old town – Nizwa is the old capital of Oman. It’s an amazing ancient city to visit with its own fort built in the 17th century, a souk and much more.
Food and hospitality
Getting to know the wonderful Omani people is part of the country’s charm. Wherever you visit, expect to experience true Omani hospitality, often in the form of dates and coffee, which are offered freely.
Omani cuisine is equally delightful. Some traditional dishes include Harees ( a wheat flour ‘mash’ and pulled chicken, flavoured with cardamom), and Lokhemat for pudding (a deep fried batter ball filled with goats cheese and covered in nuts and cardamom syrup).
If your delegates are feeling a little homesick, you can even take afternoon tea at the Grand Hyatt hotel, while overlooking the sea.
If we can help you plan your next incentive travel trip, either to Oman or elsewhere then do get in touch!