One of the most endearing symbols of the Sultanate is its ubiquitous date palms. Going back to time immemorial, dates have been nothing short of a life giver and sustainer for the people in Oman.
The Sultanate of Oman is a country that’s steeped in its traditional hospitality and well-known for its warmth. Visitors to any Omani home are naturally welcomed with warm smiles and an offering of dates and ‘kahwa’, the time-honoured Omani coffee, flavoured with roasted cardamom and rose water.
An ancient and interesting tradition of this land is that a shoot of a date palm is planted to celebrate the birth of a son. As the child grows so does the date palm, providing him and his family with most of life’s necessities, as he grows older. In the days long gone by, this system ensured that the family that is attached to a particular tree will therefore never starve, nor be in want of life’s basics necessities of food and shelter.
Dates have been a staple food in the Middle East for thousands of years. Dates were and still are the natives’ traditional food. According to an English expression dates have been called as “the bread of the desert” and dates are served with kahwa, with snacks, and with breakfast, lunch and dinner all through the year. Considered as the most important crop of the country, the date palm plays a pivotal role in the myriad social, religious and cultural facets of the land.
The importance of consuming dates can never be underestimated. For a mere fifteen dates a day satisfactorily supplies an adult body its daily required rations of essential vitamins, minerals and other trace elements. Stored in clay pots dates keep without spoiling for several years at a stretch. This is one of the primary reasons why dates became a staple diet for desert travellers and seamen of yore.
No part of this precious tree is wasted, as tree parts are completely utilised either as food, or to provide shelter, even clothing during the country’s primeval days and also as fodder for cattle and fuel source to keep the family hearth burning. The wood of the date palm provides an important source of building material, while leaves and fronds are used to make baskets and ropes – a remarkable variety of uses which has led to the date palm’s popular description as the “tree of life”.
Interestingly mentions of this magnificent tree are even found in the Holy Scriptures, Qur’an, as well as the Bible. In fact, the date fruit is even today amongst the first of food that is consumed when Muslims break their day-long fast during the holy month of Ramadhan.
Dates are something of a self-contained nutritional super-fruit, and an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Their high sugar content (40–80 %) also protects them against bacterial contamination and makes them extremely durable – dried dates can last for years without getting spoilt. They can also be pressed for their juice, used to make beverages, syrups and vinegar; in earlier times, boiling date syrup was used as an offensive weapon poured onto attackers attempting to scale the massive fort walls and embankments. A case in point of such recorded usage was said to be pretty common in the defence of the Fort of Nizwa, built in the 1650s by the second Ya’rubi Imam, Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya’rubi. Since Nizwa was and is one of the major date cultivating belts of Oman, dates were in copious supply, which encouraged its usage as a weapon of destruction. The boiling date syrup was poured from the shaft of the fort directly beneath to seriously scald the unfortunate attempting intruders !
One of the key reasons why Omani dates have become so famous around the world is because of the natural arid environment in which they thrive. Where man and beast find the going arduous, date palms flourish with its bountiful fruits. During the blistering summer months when temperatures shoot up to up to 48 °C or about 120 °F, date palms produce their richest harvests.
Leading the pack of the date cultivating regions within Oman, Nizwa takes the pride of place. Some of the Sultanate’s best harvests come from this region alone with the varieties Al Khalas and Al Khunaizi being acknowledged as the best of the lot. The ideal date cultivating weather conditions like the long and hot summers and low humidity in the atmosphere and the abundance of water here are said to be the primary reasons for the resounding success of this region towards its contributions as the best quality and high yield date cultivation belt.
Date cultivation in Oman is given precedence and priority over all its other indigenously grown crops. Over 50% of the cultivated land is dedicated exclusively for date cultivation. According to a traditional Omani saying, the date palm “needs its feet in water and its head in fire”, a combination provided locally to perfection by its intensive falaj irrigation system and the country’s burning summer temperatures.
Today there are an estimated eight million date palms in Oman (outnumbering the population by over four times!) and making the Sultanate the 8th largest producer of dates in the world. 82% of cultivation that happens in Oman goes for the growing of dates, and almost half of cultivated areas in Oman are covered by these. Almost a quarter of a million tonnes of dates are produced every year. Over forty different varieties of dates grown indigenously with some of the more popular and prized varieties of dates being the Al Khalas, Al Khunaizi, Al Khasab, Al Naghal, Ash Patash and Qashkantrah.
Knowing well the significance of this amazing tree, in the very recent past, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos had issued royal orders to plant one million date palms in the country, so as to substantially enhance the supply locally and globally.
A summer holiday remains incomplete without a day at the beach. The pristine coastline of Oman stretches out for a distance of approx 3165 kms, including beaches overlooking the Sea of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Straits of Hormuz in the North. The varied nature of this coastal strip includes sandy beaches, the rocky coasts, bays, islands and lagoons with their diverse geographical composition, making them ideal for fishing and marine excursions.So, for your next beach getaway, consider stopping at one of these unbelievably alluring beaches in the Sultanate of Oman. To name a few:
1) Qurum beach:
Lying in the heart of Muscat, this is an extremely tourist friendly beach with numerous marked picnic areas where barbequing is allowed & palm shadesfor those who wish to stay out of the sun. Walking enthusiasts can enjoy the boardwalk along the beach. This beach is also a hop, skip & jump away from large hotel chains and numerous shopping centers & restaurants.
2) Bandar Jissah:
This beach is a rocky lagoon where the azure water meets the golden sand along with rocky hills along the coast. This is probably the best place to go on a thrilling ride into the sea on a fisherman’s boat popularly known as the sea taxi. You also have the option of stopping at inner remote solitary beaches for a while. The boat also takes you through the arch shaped rock which makes the ride more exhilarating. With breath taking marine life, you have a chance to gear up and head for scuba diving and snorkeling.You can also explore rock pools when the tide is out.
3) Marjan beach:
This is located near the Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).The beach has some small coral reefs, perfect for the novice snorkeler, as one doesn’t have to swim too far out before seeing the array of exquisite likes of clown fish, parrot fish, sea cucumbers and occasionally, turtles and rays. The beach is located 4 miles west of the cruise port, in the Ras Al Hamra district, and can be accessed by road. If you want to relax then this is a good place to unwind yourself.
Also known as the white beach, it is one of the most prominent beaches in the rocky outcrop of coast beyond Quriyat. With its white sand and translucent aquamarine sea, this spot is very popular for overnight camping on the shore and is excellent for snorkeling.
5) Fins beach:
A hidden slice of paradise, fins is also known as the pebble beach. Lined with natural pebbles, you wouldn’t want to miss one of the perfect spots for a night camp out.
6) Al sawadi beach:
Known as the sea shell beach, this picturesque beach is adorned by natural sea shells of all shapes, sizes and colours. Perfect for strolling along and enjoying the soft breeze, a glimpse of the nearby islands (called the Sawadi and Daymaniyat Islands) can also be seen. If you want to explore them from proximity, then all you have to do is hire a boat and get sailing. The island beaches are a perfect place for picnic and lend a touch of harmony to the location. They are an important spot for both migratory and indigenous birds. Al Sawadi is renowned for its marine life and corals and is rated one of the best in the world. Al Sawadi was where snorkeling and diving in Oman was initiated. So if you are the adventurous kind, this is just perfect to dive in and experience the magical world underwater.
7) Mughsail beach: One of the most popular beaches in Salalah, Mughsail Beach, has great waves and has an incredible blowhole that erupts and blow water up to 100 feet when there is a strong flux of waves. It also has a great rock shelf which enables walking along the beach and listening to the everlasting crashing of the waves quite mesmerizing. The desert encircles you here and there are some really stunning views of the white sandy beaches and rugged cliffs and mountains. The beach here is near deserted and stretches for 8 kilometers, offering few amenities outside of water sports and one restaurant. A home to many kinds of migratory birds, Mughsail Beach is perfect for bird watching and there are often many camels here early in the morning.
8) Ras al hadd beach: About 60 kilometres from Sur City,this beach beckons to the historian in you as it has been home to human activity since the third millennium BC and serves as a safe haven for ships from storms. Fighter planes took shelter in it in during World War II and the marks of the runways still exist today. It also has been proclaimed a turtle reserve. Turtles come here, especially to Ras Al Jinz beach in Wilayt Ras AlHadd, to lay an estimated number of from 6,000 to 13,000 eggs. The beach is distinguished by its spectacular bays and rock formations which are havens for large numbers of birds.
9) Duqm beach: Also known as Ras markaz, this gorgeous stretch is one of the secret gems of Oman that few have explored.The breathtaking ridge overlooks a splendid swathe of sandy beach and the turquoise expanse of the Arabian Sea. Previously unreachable, a newly paved blacktop cuts a serpentine path down to the beach below, affording breathtaking views of the seafront. The pristine setting, is ideal for an array of water sports including swimming, water-skiing, snorkeling and so on, which can be enjoyed round the year.
10) Musandam beach: Juxtaposed between the sea and mountains, Musandam is one of the exclusive beaches of Oman. Excursions in boats and traditional ships called dhows give the visitor unforgettable pleasure, while diving fans can plunge to their hearts’ content at the beautiful coral reefs. Closer to the tip, the mountains rise 2000m along its spine, sweeping dramatically down to sea with a series of fjords that have earned the peninsular the title of ‘Norway of the Middle East’. The networks of fjords provide a beautiful multitude of beaches to explore.
Such is the beauty of Oman and we are proud to be the national airline of such a glorious country.
We at Oman Air always believe that perfection isn’t a goal or an aspiration but rather a way of life. It’s simply achieved by the way we conduct our business practices day after day and achieve not only a perfect on time departure will travel on board one of the world’s youngest fleet.
It is this daily pursuit of clockwork precision that have enabled us to achieve numerous awards from certified bodies such as Skytrax, The Malaysian Berhad, OCIPED, World Travel Awards etc.
Even though we treasure and appreciate each and every single award we receive some of the ones that stand out and make are day are as follow:
– We won the Gold Award in the Best First Class Female Amenity Bag category, the Gold Award for Best In-flight Amenity and the Silver Award for Best First Class Male Amenity Bag at the TravelPlus Airline Amenity Bag Awards (2010)
– Oman Air was awarded the title “Best Airline Worldwide 2011”. The survey was conducted by the travel magazine REISE & PREISE (a Germany based magazine).
– We were awarded the ‘Best Business Class Airline, Middle East’ during the highly prestigious Business Destinations Travel Awards (2012)
– Skytrax name us as the winner of their “World’s Best Business Class Airline Seat” award (2011 & 2012)
– Our training centre has been awarded a place in the IATA’s Middle East 2012 Top Ten Authorized Training Centre listing for two years in a row
– Named as ‘Middle East’s Leading Airline, Economy Class’ by the World Travel Awards. (2013)
But more than these awards, we always believe that we get an award every day when your flight leaves and arrives on time. So thank you for choosing Oman Air, it’s your feedback that helps us grow as Oman’s national airline.