• Oman Luxury Glamping in the desert: the once-in-a-lifetime experience

  • Rabbit Island Awards: the best beach in Europe to visit this year

It is the country of

Sinbad the Sailor,

of incense -this is the largest producer on the planet-, of dates of 100 types and of the most expensive perfume in the world.

It also hides one of the most virgin deserts,

beaches with turquoise waters

that are not even seen in the Caribbean, gorges in the style of the Grand Canyon of Colorado and flying daggers only suitable for unwielding them in case of mortal affront.

This is Oman, the sultanate of the Persian Gulf the size of Italy where

4.6 million inhabitants

live (the alpine country is close to 60) considered, even today, one of the great unknowns in the area.

We insist: still.

Because as soon as the benefits of this state at the easternmost end of

the Arabian Peninsula are discovered,

things will change.

Says the newspaper

The New York Times

, which describes it as "the best kept secret in the Middle East

about to cease to be."

And we confirm it.

Because, in how many destinations in the world can one dive in crystal clear waters, wake up in a

hotel-palace,

climb vertigo canyons and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunrises from a tent?

Beach, mountains and desert

in one of the enclaves of the mythical Silk Road.

All in one.

Its curious (and highly varied) topography means that the country even has one of the most interesting cycling tours on the international circuit.

Snorkeling among the canyons of Wadi Bani Khali

It is what Oman

sells

, apart from authenticity and

slow-burn tourism

away from the masses and the ostentation of its Arab neighbors

on the petrodollar bandwagon.

The sultanate also has them (natural gas and oil account for 65% of public revenue and 90% of exports), but prefers to show them off in a measured way.

For starters,

you can't build buildings over six stories

or 100 meters high.

Nor can it be each of your father and your mother.

For this reason, the design with roots in desert settlements and light tones that chase away the sun are constant.

THE SWITZERLAND OF THE MIDDLE EAST

Nothing to do with the pharaonic constructions of Dubai, with which it shares a peninsula, a nomadic past,

ceremonies such as tea

and dates to bore you.

But little more... Even so, it is the first place with which the

sultanate

is compared .

"We want to discover in person what Oman is like because they ask us a lot if it's Dubai-style," says Ana Gil, a Spaniard specializing in

designing tailor

-made tours of the sultanate.

"It is an ideal destination for honeymoons because it has luxury hotels, beautiful beaches, relaxation, adventure, history...", she adds.

Muscat night view.SHUTTERSTOCK

It is a summary of what the traveler who visits this unexplored corner, considered

the Switzerland of the Middle East

for being a strange

island of stability and neutrality

in the region, will find.

We must add curious records such as being one of the cleanest and safest countries.

Especially in

the capital, Muscat

, a quiet city of 1.3 million inhabitants with a

pleasant Corniche

to walk around, an Opera House in the image and likeness of the one in Paris and a covered souk that delights lovers of handicrafts and bargaining.

Another of its emblematic buildings is missing:

the Great Mosque,

with its 8.5-ton Swarovski crystal chandelier and the world's largest Persian rug (4,000 square meters).

It also has some of the most spectacular luxury hotels in the Middle East such as

The Chedi Hotel,

a refuge of traditional Arab and Indian influence, or

Al Bustan Palace

, a palace of the thousand and one nights.

Both are located at the foot of the beach, that beach of white sand and turquoise waters that characterizes the country's coast, with 3,165 kilometers.

Relax in the pool at The Chedi Hotel.

The outskirts of Muscat hide another secret:

the Amouage factory,

the most expensive perfume in the world.

With a Franco-Arabic name, it is made up of 120 ingredients, including frankincense (of course) and myrrh.

"The containers, made of gold, replicate

traditional elements such

as the handle of the Omani dagger (

janyar

), in the case of some

masculine fragrances,

or the domes of the mosques, in the feminine ones", points out Alexandre Helmani, head of

History of Amouage

, during the presentation of its latest

offspring, Rose Aqor

and

Oud Ulya

, inspired by the rose of the mountains and the homonymous oasis.

He also reveals the four bodily points

where a perfume should be applied

: "The wrist, below the neck, on the inside of the elbow and behind the knee, since crossing the legs will spread the smell".

One of the characteristic turquoise beaches of Oman.

A NIGHT IN THE DESERT

We set course for one of the most virgin deserts on the planet.

It should be noted that 80% of the Omani territory is just that,

desert,

which does not mean that authentic oases, with their palm groves and blue lagoons, creep into the landscape.

This is the case of

Wadi Bani Khali,

one of the most idyllic, full of natural pools where it is not only possible to take a bath between film cannons, but also receive a

free pedicure session from

the fish that inhabit its waters.

Two camels in the desert of Oman.I.

GARCIA

Now yes, the desert arrives.

After a path dotted with orderly white villages and forts from the time of the Portuguese colonization (there are more than 500) you reach

Wahiba Sands,

headquarters of

Magic Camps

, a sustainable

glamping

company .

Or luxury camping.

On the back of a camel, members of local tribes such as

Said and his son Mohammed

are in charge of guiding travelers to the tents (there are 10 doubles with their bathroom next to them), but not before enjoying a champagne-based welcome, surfing or 4x4 rally between the dunes and

henna tattoo.

Tent at Magic Camps glamping in the desert.

The tents (or

majlis

), with furniture made of

ecological materials such

as wood or bamboo, have an elegant Berber design, which is repeated in the main tent, where meals are served.

An example of the banquets: Arab salads,

cheese boards, couscous, smoked salmon,

tuna tartar and, for dessert,

lotus flower

mousse .

"You can dine in the tent or under the stars," says Jad Naaman, one of the founders of

Magic Camps

.

Of course, afterwards there is a traditional music show by Bedouins and a master class in astronomy, since it is one of the purest skies in the world.

Nor can you miss the contemplation of the sunrise.

Calm down, they warn at the exact time to wake up.

Niwza city fort.

The next stop leads to

Nizwa, the country's second largest city

, former capital and cradle of Ibadism, the Omani branch of Islam.

The best day to visit is Friday for its

cattle market.

You should also visit the souk and the fort, with a characteristic circular tower full of trapdoors through which boiling oil was once poured to scare away enemies.

A few kilometers away rises

Al Jabal Al Akhdar,

nicknamed the

Green Mountain

, where the highest peak in the country, Jabal Shams, is located at 3,000 meters.

It competes in majesty with the

Wadi Ghul,

known as

the Grand Canyon of Arabia

, with a depth that reaches a difference of 1,000 meters.

Infinity pool of the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar hotel.

In the

Green Mountain

stands the luxurious

Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar

hotel of

Minor Hotels

(NH Group).

Cozy, exclusive and with a great

gourmet

offer translated into several specialized restaurants, it is

one of the highest five stars in the world,

so the views are spectacular from any corner.

We recommend two: the infinity pool and the Diana viewpoint, so named because

Lady Di

herself enjoyed it as a child on one of her official visits to Oman.

Yoga in the so-called Green Mountain.

PRACTICAL GUIDE

HOW TO GET:

Oman Air

,

Qatar Airways

or

Emirates

fly to Muscat with a stopover from €500.

WHERE TO SLEEP AND EAT:

Hormuz Grand Muscat

.

Ideal as a base of operations in the capital.

To the Bustan Palace

.

Luxury and sumptuousness in the style of the thousand and one nights.

The Chedi Muscat.

Muscat's most exclusive hideaway.

It is on the beach.

Magic Camp Wahiba

.

Five-star 'glamping' in the desert.

Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar.

Five stars from Minor Hotels (NH Group) on the mountain with a viewpoint, infinity pool, spa and restaurants.

MORE INFORMATION:

On the website of the

Oman Tourist Office

: www.experienceoman.com

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