zondag 14 september 2014

Alila Jabal Akhdar Resort

Times of Oman | Breaking News, Features, Columns, Your Voice & Multimedia...

Alila, the new five-star resort opens its doors in a stunning location perched on the edge of a dramatic canyon. It can take up to an hour to make the ascent to the Sayq Plateau and then higher still to the village of Al Roos, meaning 'Head of the Mountain'. While focus and concentration is needed on the twisting roads the growing expanse as you rise becomes increasingly impressive as you scale the heights of the Al Hajar mountains. Finally having reached 1,900m you'll arrive in Al Roos and you will find Alila Jabal Akhdar. From the outside this resort resembles a collection of fort-like structures, hewn out of dark grey slate giving it a stark contrast to the lighter hues of the mountain rock.

maandag 18 augustus 2014

Oman’s top-end hotels see notable rise in occupancy

Times of Oman | News :: Oman’s top-end hotels see notable rise in occupancy

Occupancy of four and five-star hotels in the country increased significantly during the first half of 2014 compared to the figures for the same period last year, the latest data released by the National Centre of Statistics and Information (NCSI) says.

zaterdag 31 mei 2014

Muscat duurste hotelstad

Hotels.com presenteert Top 10 exclusieve steden waar reizigers het meest spenderen aan overnachting #Muscat: Het afgelopen jaar betaalden reizigers in Muscat gemiddeld het hoogste bedrag voor een hotelovernachting. Dit blijkt uit de Hotel Price Index van boekingssite Hotels.com. De hotelexperts zetten tien exclusieve steden op een rijtje waar reizigers in 2013 het meest spendeerden per hotelovernachting.*

Reizigers uit de eurozone spendeerden in Muscat gemiddeld 234 euro per overnachting in 2013. Hoewel de hotelprijzen in de Omaanse hoofdstad het afgelopen jaar met 7% daalden ten opzichte van 2012, bleef Muscat de meest exclusieve hotelstad ter wereld. De bekendheid van Oman onder Nederlandse en internationale reizigers is groeiende. Dit resulteert in de bouw van nieuwe accommodaties in het sultanaat.

woensdag 5 maart 2014

The graceful gazelle of Ras al Shajar reserve

The graceful gazelle of Ras al Shajar reserve

One of the animals protected in the Ras al Shajar Nature Reserve includes the Arabian gazelle (also known as the mountain gazelle). This herbivorous mammal is of slender build with a long neck and long hind-legs. It has a brown coat with a darker tail and white underbelly. These beautiful creatures are very shy, they will often hide up in ranges of the Al Hajar mountains during the day, and come down to the exposed flat landscape, and sometimes across the sand-dune border of the nature reserve, to forage for shrubs and greenery at sunrise and sunset when the natural light is dim and the temperatures are cooler. This is also the time they are less at risk from predators -both human as well as animal — such as the Afghanistan leopard and the caracal lynx that also inhabit the grounds of this nature reserve.

It is interesting to note that the Arabian gazelle is often found across the Arabian peninsula where there is a prevalence of Simr (Acacia) trees, this makes their prevalence in the Ras al Shajar nature reserve seem apt, duly named because of an abundance of this very tree. Currently, the well-being of the Arabian gazelle faces risks such as habitat loss and hunting. Nature reserves such as Ras al Shajar are therefore essential in maintaining their population and ensuring a rise in their numbers while still being able to live free and in their natural habitat.

zondag 19 januari 2014

Muscat Festival 2014

Muscat gears up for more visitors

Muscat Festival 2014, which begins on Thursday and runs till February 22, will attract participants from more than 60 countries. The festival, which will be held at a number of sites in Muscat Governorate, will include a number of cultural, arts, sports, marketing and recreational activities by teams from sisterly and friendly countries.

An official source at Muscat Municipality said that preparations are made to host this important event. The Municipality has prepared and maintained all the sites that will host the festival. He added that the municipality has dedicated all resources to ensure the success of this year’s Muscat Festival under the theme ‘ Festival for Everyone’. The number of visitors this year is expected to be in excess of last year 1.6 million due to moderate weather conditions.

The Muscat Municipality will unveil the details of the festival, its sites and the countries taking part at a press conference to be held at Grand Hayatt Muscat. Al Naseem Park will host the consumer exhibition, the art performances, the recreational activities, the family village, theatre performances, singing and performances, fireworks and governmental participations. Al Amerat Park will host the traditional crafts, traditional art and cultural village performances. Many sports activities, on top of which ‘Tour of Oman’ will be organised during this period at Al Seeb Beach site. On her part, Maithaa bint Saif al Mahrouqiyah, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, said that the ministry hopes to attract more tourist groups during the Sultanate’s tourist seasons.

In response to a question about the availability of hotel rooms, she said that the ministry has increased the number of hotel rooms to meet the growing demand. It granted a number of licenses for hotel apartments and opened new hotels. ‘The number of hotel rooms available in the Sultanate now stands at 12,500, she concluded.

zondag 22 december 2013

Tourism on growth

Tourism on growth trajectory

The Sultanate’s tourism sector is on a high growth trajectory, thanks to the top priority attached to this vital industry by the government as it has strong inter-linkages with all the key economic sectors of the country. This was stated by Khalil bin Abdullah al Khonji, Chairman of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), here yesterday at the First Oman Tourism Investment Conference, organised under the auspices of HH Sayyid Taimour bin Asaad bin Tareq al Said, Assistant Secretary-General for International Cooperation at The Research Council. On this occasion a copy of Get Going, Oman’s official guide and atlas, was presented to the chief guest. The 308-page book, containing 101 detailed geographic maps, depicting all road networks in the Sultanate, comprehensive write-ups on geography, history, climate, heritage and 975 destinations in various wilayats of Oman, is the first of its kind publication in the Middle East.

Al Nahda Advertising Company conceived, developed and produced the Get Going project in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism. In his paper on “Facts of Tourism Landmarks in the Sultanate”, Shaikh Ibrahim al Nabhani, Chairman of the OCCI Tourism Committee, said Oman holds out great tourism destinations in terms of outstanding natural scenery, 3,165 km of beaches, bays, islands, caves, sand dunes, mountains, plains, deserts and oases.
In his comments in Oman’s official Guide and Atlas, Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism, says: “Endowed with nature’s bounty and blessed with beautiful beaches, mountains, deserts, wadis and islands, Oman is described as a dream destination and is gradually being unveiled in all its glory to the outside world now”. The two-day conference, organised by OCCI, in conjunction with the Federation of the GCC Chambers of Commerce (FGCCC), highlights the tourism potentials in the Sultanate and the investment atmosphere in the sector, as well as showcasing the country’s massive projects such as the International Medical City, Duqm development schemes and projects of Omran.

The second session taking place today will include three working papers under the themes of Insuring the Tourism Investment, the Latest e-Marketing Methods for Tourism and the Outcomes of the Study on Promoting Tourism in Member States of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to be presented by the Tourism Organisation of IORA. Meanwhile, an expert in his research paper concluded that given the current ‘take-off’ position in economic development for tourist arrivals to Oman, hinted at the country’s tourism potential in its favour. The study treats the Sultanate’s tourism targets as realistic and sustainable that fits into the economics of demand and supply being offered in the tourism market. Oman’s potential emphasis on archaeology, conservation, natural beauty and suitable climate distinguishes it from its immediate Gulf competitors and it has all the potential to emerge as a major tourist hub by 2017. This observation was made by Prof Lindsay W Turner, in his research paper titled ‘Oman Tourism: An International Perspective on International Tourist Arrivals’.
Making a comparison between major tourist destinations and Oman, Prof Lindsay has examined the Oman tourism potential in the perspective of other developments world-wide. The assumption is made that Oman is closer regionally in terms of cultural identity and social structures to the broad Asia Pacific world region. “In examining the countries of Asia Pacific, similarities can be identified with several other markets. The conclusion is that for the development of demand for foreign international tourism, it is useful to place the Oman market into a world perspective, and from this position to identify future market size, sustainability and marketing,” stated Prof Lindsay in the abstract of his research paper. Though 2008 and 2009 were worst years in terms of movement of tourists worldwide, “in 2007 Oman received 515,808 foreign (non-Gulf country) tourists, an increase of 20.37 per cent from 2006 and foreign exchange earnings increased by 32.8 per cent over 2006. This makes Oman a small tourism destination on the world scale, but also one that is growing rapidly and there are expectations of strong growth in the near future,” he mentioned while discussing Oman’s future in tourism sector.
Prof Lindsay has forecast huge growth in arrival of foreign (non-Gulf country) tourists in Oman. The forecast suggests arrival of 1,352,644 tourists in 2013; 1,526,270 in 2014; 1,716,210 in 2015 and 1,886,388 in 2016. Elaborating further, he said in his research paper: “Oman is now at important cross-road in economic and social development, and needs to determine the path ahead in regard to the level of international tourism development.” Given the current ‘take-off’ position in economic development for tourist arrivals to Oman, a first point is to set targets that are realistic, sustainable and bring the type of tourism market that Oman decides to develop as a community. In determining these issues a major first step is to attempt to forecast arrivals under current conditions, and to set realistic targets, observed Prof Lindsay. According to sources in the ministry, Oman recently launched a scheme giving importance to tourism sector as a major way to expand the country’s economy away from oil.

dinsdag 17 december 2013

Probe of Wadi Jizzi’s Region archaeological wealth

Probe of Wadi Jizzi’s archaeological wealth

A joint team of experts from Leiden University of the Netherlands and Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Culture is preparing to launch a landmark study of the archaeological heritage of the Wadi al Jizzi region of the Sultanate.
The multi-year study, which will commence next month, is described as the first major archaeological dig targeting Wadi al Jizzi — an area dotted by prehistoric settlements and burial cairns, ancient copper mines, abandoned medieval irrigation and farming systems, and the ruins of villages and fortresses.

The Wadi al Jizzi region is of great archaeological significance for a variety of reasons, according to a leading Dutch expert who has been selected to head the excavation.
“Firstly, the natural passage through the Hajar al Gharbi mountains leading to the Buraimi Governorate has been an important transport route from times immemorial,” said Dr Bleda Düring, Associate Professor of Near Eastern archaeology at Leiden University.
“Secondly, there are important copper deposits in the mountains directly behind Sohar, which were mined in the Early Bronze Age (3000-2000 BCE), the Iron Age (ca. 1200-600 BCE) and the early Islamic period. Finally, the region witnessed a marked population increase between about 900-1200 CE with large irrigation and farming systems in the flourishing hinterlands of Sohar,” the archaeologist added in remarks emailed to the Oman Daily Observer.
Dr Düring, who will be joined by four graduate students from Leiden University during the first season of the study, says the excavation is designed to gain a better understanding of the rich antiquity of Wadi al Jizzi, an area located in the hinterlands of Sohar.
“The aim of the project is to document and investigate the rich archaeological heritage of the Wadi al Jizzi region in all its diversity and to obtain an understanding of the ecological setting of sites and how the long-term cultural developments of the region are best understood,” he said.
“For example, do the thousands of burial cairns relate to the Wadi al Jizzi passage through the mountains (in which case they might have been constructed by mobile groups of people moving in and out or the region) or do they also occur away from this main passage (in which case they might have been constructed by people who lived in the area more permanently)? We have many such detailed questions that we want to investigate,” the Associate Professor pointed out.
Significantly, the upcoming dig will represent the most far-reaching archaeological investigation to date of the Wadi al Jizzi area, says Dr Düring. An early study by experts P M Costa and T J Wilkinson in the 1980s focused primarily on medieval and traditional farming systems in the area directly behind Sohar — which is now part of the greatly expanded city of Sohar. Another German team looked at the ancient mining activities in the Arja region.
“Much however remains to be done. No systematic study of the thousands of prehistoric cairns and medieval field systems and villages has been executed to date, and this is what we plan to do. Modern technologies (eg Google Earth and GIS software) have made such studies much simpler than they were in the past. At the same time many sites are affected by modernisation and development, and there is an urgent need to document archaeological data while it is still available,” Dr Düring added.