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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