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More About Oman
Something of an anomaly in the Arab Gulf, Oman is a country full of traditional culture readily on display. What is more is that Oman tours showcase an incredible landscape of high canyons, rocky mountains, sandy deserts, lush forests, and a fjord-like coastline. Oman is a country that welcomes you with a warm smile alongside a cup of tea and a tasty date with a hospitality few countries can rival.
Inhabited since the first humans moved out of Africa, Oman tours shows a history unique to the area. Originally settled by nomadic peoples who were skilled at fishing, farming, and herding, these people accepted Islam early on. In pre-Christian times this tiny area was one of the three centres of production for one of the ancient world's most highly prized and expensive commodities, Frankincense, as this was the main area in which the Frankincense tree grew. Demand for this gum dried sap product was enormous in the Mediterranean region as it was burnt in huge quantities during religious rites in temples throughout the Roman world. Historical figures such as the Queen of Sheba have ties to both Frankincense and Oman, especially in the Salalah area where it is grown.
Throughout Oman tours, it is possible to see small remnants of the Portuguese colonization which occurred during the 16th century, however what is more noticeable is the large impression that the Omani Empire left. The Empire once stretched as far south as Mozambique and north into parts of Pakistan although remained with Muscat as its capital with the old palace in Muscat still visible. A strong maritime power, much of the empire's strength was built on the trade of slaves and cloves. Places such as Sur were important ports in ancient times, and really came into its own when Oman started to trade extensively with East Africa. Merchants here made fortunes from the trade in slaves and cloves, and used the profits to build elaborate houses.
Forts and castles are among Oman's most striking cultural landmarks and have historically been used as defensive bastions or look-out points. It is estimated that there are over 500 forts, castles and towers in Oman. Palaces such as the Jabreen Castle sit near the Bahla Fort in a tiny town of Nizwa otherwise known for a weekly cattle market.
Beyond the traditional signs of an empire's wealth, much of Oman remains a countryside. It is not principally a land of sand deserts but rather a dramatic area of dry, jagged mountains with narrow river valleys between. The evidence of Oman's tribal past is everywhere, with ruined forts commanding every important vantage point. Much of Oman remains hidden in remote valleys and there is a feeling of self-imposed isolation here at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
From the breathtaking golden sands of the Oman desert known as the Wahiba Sands, to the steep canyon walls of the Jebel Shams, or to the pale limestone cliffs that criss-cross steeply into the sea at Khasab, Oman is a place of beauty and intrigue both geographically and culturally speaking.