www.bradtguides.com If Oman had maintained a visitorsâ€™ book, entries would read like a Whoâ€™s Who of great travellers. The Queen of Sheba, Alexander the Great and Pliny the Elder together with Vasco da Gama and Marco Polo all checked in. In more recent times Freya Stark, Lawrence of Arabia, Wilfred Thesiger and even Ranulph Fiennes came to learn the ways of the desert.
Despite such glittering alumni and perhaps because of the countryâ€™s firm financial footing based on oil, agriculture and fisheries, Omani tourism is only now emerging as a growth sector.
In 1970 Oman possessed only 5km of surfaced roads, three boysâ€™ primary schools, one missionary hospital, no police, and no newspapers, radio or television. Today the sultanate maintains a relaxed ambience and has remained stable and safe in an area of the world where turbulence and unrest is the norm.
However, to date, remarkable progress has been made in both infrastructure and society while preserving the countryâ€™s valued traditions. Focusing on the needs of budget and up-market travellers and expatriate workers, the first edition of Bradtâ€™s Oman is the countryâ€™s definitive guidebook, providing the most in-depth and up-to-date information available.
Background history leads to region-by-region coverage, from the modern coastal capital Muscat, gateway to scuba diving, dhow cruising and turtle watching, to the interior where wadis and dunes await bashing in 4x4s. Varying landscapes offer huge scope for adventure, eco- and cultural tourism. From the fjords and barrenness of Musandam to the deserts of the Wahabi and Empty Quarter, from the Hajar mountain range, to the archaeological wonders of Dhofar in the south, Oman casts a broad allure.
The guide has two distinguished authors: Diana Darke has 25 yearsâ€™ experience studying, living, working and travelling extensively throughout the Arab world, first with the British Foreign Office, then as an Arabic consultant. She has written several books on the region and is also the author of Bradtâ€™s Syria. Sandra Shields lived and studied in Oman. She has keen interests in writing, travel and photography and is currently working on an Omani travel narrative.