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Beyond the Burj

The Sultanate of Oman is phenomenally diverse, comprising mountains and wadis, serene beaches and bustling city centers. What you won’t find here are copious skyscrapers so a jaunt to Oman provides the ideal antidote for anyone who has become over-acquainted with the UAE skyline. If you are on the lookout for a breakaway weekend out of the modern Dubai metropolis, you can drive to Ras al Khaimah and then cross the border of Oman (where you need to pay both exit fees and then entry fees).

Straddling the world’s most important shipping lanes (Persian Gulf) is Musandam, which nurtures Oman’s dramatic coastline. Soon after you clear the border formalities between the UAE and Oman, you enter a very interesting stretch of road as you drive towards Khasab, the main town in Musandam.

If you want to live out your deserted island fantasy, just stop by at any sandy patch while you are driving from the Oman border to the town of Khasab. Stroll along the beach to drink in the spectacular sunset, while the languid sea breeze whispers past and the only sound you can hear is the azure waves gently lapping against the shore.

Musandam has much to offer to the adventurous visitor with stark and parched mountains on one side and the deep blue sea on the other. Somewhere along the drive, you even get to witness a stretch of road where the sea drops in to say hello to the road as you go down into a dip. The remoteness of this region and its sparse population make for a perfect get-away-from-it-all holiday.

Interspersed with serrated cliffs that abruptly rise to 2100 metres, quaint fishing villages and jagged peaks that form part of Oman’s expansive Hajar Mountain range, Musandam is also surrounded by a narrow inlet of water with a cluster of islands that were shaped by ancient, violent earthquakes and visited by Arabia’s earliest mariners and explorers.

At the heart of Musandam’s waters is the Strait of Hormuz, a passage sprinkled with fishing boats and dhows (traditional Arab vessels made of wood) and teeming with coral reefs, marine life and a host of beautiful fjords. The Strait’s warm waters and ubiquitous cliffs additionally offer visitors some of the worlds finest deep-sea diving and snorkeling experiences.

The best way to see Musandam’s spectacular limestone fjords is from the sea itself. You should spend the day taking a leisurely cruise on a dhow which conjures a surreal sense of peace and tranquility. Since dolphins frequent these waters, the chances of spotting them are quite high. The dhow halts for an hour at Telegraph Island. This island was reportedly used by the British in the late 1800s while laying a telegraph cable from India to Basra in Iraq. The waters around this island are crystal clear and a haven for snorkelers. Those who cannot snorkel or swim can opt to explore the ruins on the island.

Although Musandam’s marine life is largely the main attraction, you can also drive through the wadis, hike and camp in this region. There’s nothing like a mountain safari amidst these naturally carved limestone mountains. For history enthusiasts, the Musandam Peninsula’s many ancient settlements, prehistoric tombs and rock carvings provide food for thought.
With its breathtaking scenery, shimmering waters, abundance of activities and congenial locals, Musandam is an idyllic paradise for jaded urbanites.

Written by fellow expat S.R. Chevel

For accommodation, there are plenty of camping possibilities along the beaches and islands.  There are two hotels in Khasab;  The Golden Tulip (no frills but clean and friendly hotel with bar and restaurant), as well as the small Khasab Hotel.

3 Responses to “Beyond the Burj”

  1. Saadia R. Chevel says:

    I want to thank the Expat team. You’ve made my day!

  2. Sarah says:

    Hey Saadia.

    It’s a very good article you’ve written! Well done…Keep it up 🙂

  3. Sukaina says:

    wow! great article!! very informative, am tempted already!

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