Oh Man...Oman is really nice!
Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
127Trip End Aug 01, 2007
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Like the UAE, Oman is very much an unknown to most Americans. Until we were planning for the trip neither of us knew much about it, and Katie couldn't find it on a map. It is a sultanate, meaning of course, that it is ruled by a Sultan. In ancient times it was the sole source of the highly prized frankincense (remember the gifts of the Three Wise Men) and a regional trading hub. I won't bore you with the litany occupations, colonizations by various foreign powers, and intermittent homegrown leaders that checker its past. When the current ruler, Sultan Qaboos took power in 1970 the poor, civil war torn, pariah that was Oman began to change dramatically. The Sultan took it upon himself to bring Oman into the modern world while still keeping its traditional roots intact. What has been attained in just a few decades I would consider nothing short of a Renaissance.
In the last two days here, I've been really impressed with how modern, clean, and friendly this country is
So tomorrow we drive back to Dubai then on Thursday we fly to Mombasa, Kenya. Who knows what the Internet access will be like once we are in Africa, so I'll get the next update out as soon as we are able.
Muscat matches the mental image of what I'd expected Casablanca to look like... rugged, rocky mountains right up to a teal blue ocean, pristine whitewashed buildings, extremely clean and modern streets, palm trees and landscaping everywhere, and interesting buildings with uniquely Arab architecture. In fact, this is the first truly modern Arab looking city we have been to on this entire journey around North Africa and the Middle East
In addition to all of the modern infrastructure, there are many more women in the workforce here (but all seem to be in service jobs), which is quite different that our experiences in Morocco and Egypt. However, there is a rather strange policy that is worth mentioning and that bothered me for at least half of yesterday. If I wasn't with Todd, I would not have been let in the country! As a tourist, lone females, and females traveling together are not allowed to cross the land borders without a male. What is that about?? In fact, I was supposed to get a different stamp than Todd, but the passport control agent made a mistake and gave me the "male" one. Needless to say, his supervisor wasn't pleased, and maybe this is the start of the women's lib movement in Oman!