Oman: a country of contrasts

Despite its strong historical links to Britain, the Oman – officially the Sultanate of Oman – remains a mystery to most of us. Let our photo gallery give you a taste of this exotic land strategically located at the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula.

A country of contrasts, the oil-rich Sultanate straddles between the sea and the desert, between ancient history and the ultra-modern. The Portuguese took and occupied Muscat – now the capital – between 1508 and 1648 as a base to protect their sea routes to India, and the country has been influenced by its proximity to India and the trade routes. The geographical variety of the Sultanate encompasses wadis, deserts, beaches and mountains, and its pristine coastline is popular with visitors. With beautiful mosques, ancient fortresses and castles, and exotic souqs selling fine jewellery, carvings, spices and ornaments, there are plenty of attractions for travellers.

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Al Alam-Palace, Oman
Built in 1972, the Sultan's Al Alam Palace in Old Muscat is just one of the Omani royal residences 

Al Hoota Cave, Oman
With fascinating stalagmite and stalactite formations and home to a unique underground ecosystem, Al Hoota cave is one of the most spectacular geological sights of Oman 

Al Bustan Palace, Oman
Set in beautiful gardens and with its own private beach, the Al Bustan Palace Hotel in Muscat, the Omani capital, offers the best in modern luxury hotel facilities 

Omani dancing
Most Omani men wear the traditional dishdasha, and dancing plays an important part in the culture 

Bat Tombs and Settlement, Oman
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the protohistoric site of Bat is part of the world's most complete collection of settlements and necropolises dating from the third millennium BC 

Omani khanjar daggers
The khanjar is a curved dagger, sharpened on both edges; it is carried in a decorated silver sheath and belt, particularly at official events, national festivals and weddings 

Chedi Muscat, Oman
Chedi Muscat, 20 minutes north of the capital, is an exclusive beach resort in the traditional Omani architectural style 

Desert Camp Sharqiah Sands, Oman
Sharqiya Sands desert camp is a luxury camp set among the red dunes of the desert of northeastern Oman 

This country of contrasts, straddling between modernity and tradition, offers the perfect window into the Arab world 

Sultan Qoboos Grand Mosque, Oman
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the Sultanate's main mosque and was inaugurated in 2001 

Muttrah Corniche, Oman
Muttrah in the province of Muscat, is the world's largest natural harbour and any visit should include a walk along the promenade, the Muttrah Corniche, where one of the country’s oldest souqs is located 

Nakhal Fort Batinah Region, Oman
Nakhal Fort, Al Batinah region, is one of Oman's best preserved historic fortresses 

The Sultanate boasts a range of natural scenery and thousands of years of history to attract the visitor 

Sabeekah Bint Alwy Mosque, Oman
The geometrical mosaics and intricate lace-like carvings of the Sabeekah Bint Alwy Mosque in Al Qurum are typical of Arab architecture 

Zulfa Mosque Muscat, Oman
The beautifully decorated domes and minaret of Al Zulfa Mosque in Seeb