Saturday, October 19, 2013

This Week in Doha: Oman

R&R time
 
Qatar-bound Westerners trek to Oman in the way that Missourians "go to the lake."  This is Middle America-Speak for: run up to Hy-Vee for chips, hot dogs, buns, marshmallows.  Gather fishing rods, floaties, towels, waterski equipment, barbecue tools, sleeping bags.  Drive 2-4 hours (in any direction) where holiday-making ensues.

The only way out of Qatar overland is through Saudi Arabia - a complicated endeavor that requires weeks of embassy hoop-jumping, reams of paperwork, proofs of things like income, nationality, marriage.  There are limits as to how long a person may be in country, rules about with whom and how a woman may travel and many, many other considerations that make a road trip out of Qatar difficult to, well, not feasible.

So when it's vacay, git outta Dodge, needa break time (most Qatar expats and others) fly - a quick trip to Dubai, UAE or a short hop to Oman (other weekend possibilities are Bahrain and Kuwait).  Inexpensive, one hour (and less) flight to history, culture, shopping…food, fun, beach.

This trip, Bob and I did Oman, where we stayed at a "cute little place" just outside Muscat:

popular getaway location for Qatar's expats and locals
 
we stayed here
 
this is what we did: ahhhhhhh

The official national language of Oman is Arabic, just like Qatar's.  There is sun, desert, men in dish-dashas and ladies in abayas, just like in Qatar.  Money is the Omani rial and only comes in paper (ie, no coins).  There are souks stuffed with people…
 
Mutrah Souk
 
forts…  
overlooking Mutrah bay
 
interesting historical displays in front of official looking buildings…
 
seen enroute

mosques…
overlooking Corniche

camels…
beach camel ride, anyone?

and a Corniche crowded with men from (India, Nepal).
 
expansive Corniche overlooking the water between Muscat and Mutrah

Unlike Qatar, Oman features miles of beauteous rocky mountains
 
GOHJUS - but very little vegetation (wouldn't want to get lost out there) 

Also unlike Qatar, we met local people…everywhere.
"With limited oil revenues…a policy of 'Omanisation' in every aspect of the workforce is rigorously pursued…" (Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula, Lonely Planet, 3rd Edition, September 2010.) 
Omanis are taxi drivers, hotel maintenance staff, managers, servers, shopkeepers and more.  Many spoke English, but most seemed to prefer a slow mix of easy-to-understand colloquial Arabic.  No rapid fire, head spinning language lessons here:  "Kayf hal?" (How are you?) said the bellhop.  "Matar?" (Airport?) said the taxi driver.  And to our affirmative "aye-ee-wah, matar, shukran" (yes, airport, thank you) - nobody laughed. 

Nice.
 
 
 
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