Oman is one of the most enchanting countries in the Middle East. And, although it has only opened up to tourism relatively recently, the Sultanate has much to offer visitors, from the spectacular Al-Hajar Mountains and the bustling capital, Muscat to the lush southern region around Salalah, where archaeological parks meet delightful waterfalls and glorious, golden beaches.
The country retains a distinctly Arabian feel, in contrast to the modern metropolises in other parts of the region. Instead of glass and concrete, you'll find traditional whitewashed buildings and the beautiful domes and minarets of mosques - the result of the Sultan's strictly enforced ban on high-rise structures. Labyrinthine souks are also waiting to be explored, colourful market places where exotic spices and local handicrafts are bought and sold.
Some of the region's finest luxury hotels fringe the Oman coastline, where sandy bays spill down to a warm sea home to abundant bird and marine life. Indeed, as well as dolphins and whales, Oman has some of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches in the world.
Inland, rare Arabian Oryx roam the shifting sands of the Empty Quarter. This divine desert landscape is home to the Bedouin and extends into neighbouring Saudi Arabia. Its sands and people inspired the travels and writings of explorer Wilfred Thesiger and continue to inspire those who venture into Oman's interior on guided desert tours. Then, in the mountainous north, luxury hotels overlook dramatic canyons, tailor-made for climbing and hikes between hidden villages.