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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Oman has so much to offer both the young and the young at heart

From the great sandpits of the deserts, the stunning wildlife and natural wonders, to the friendliness of the Omani people and the modern comforts of its luxury hotels, The Sultanate of Oman offers so many ingredients for perfect family holidays.

Begin your trip in the elegant capital Muscat, a location which provides an abundant choice of the world's most exclusive five and six-star hotels, all of which hold the needs of younger travelers close at heart.

Just a few names include The Al Bustan Palace, The Grand Hyatt and Shangri La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, where children will love the thrill of floating down the Lazy River. Inspired by the centuries-old falaj system that brought fresh water to remote Omani villages, the Lazy River winds for a delightful half-kilometre between the resort's Al Bandar and Al Waha hotels.

Choose between pool side play and relaxation – or indeed one of the many beautiful beaches, or heading out to explore the fascinating sights and sounds of the Old Town. The location for where much of the city's rich heritage has been preserved, here children and adults alike will be able to step back in time into old world Arabia.

Walk in the area around the Sultan's palace and see remnants of Muscat's original clay wall and three access gates – Bab al Matha'eeb, Bab al Saghir and Bab al Waljat, which for centuries fortified the capital.

In addition to exploring highlights such as the magnificent Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, children will love the interactive Oman Children's Museum. Located near Qurum Nature Park, off of Sultan Qaboos Street in Muscat, the museum has 45 exhibits and is visited by around 50,000 visitors annually.  

With many hands-on displays, the museum addresses the scientific ways of human life with the exhibition section divided into three parts: The Human life, Physics and Observation which investigates the progression of science through the ages.  

Take the family on a 4WD trek and just 190km out of the capital, you will come across the Wahiba Sands, one of the world's most fascinating and beautiful desert formations. Covering an expansive distance of 180km from north to south, 80km from east to west and exceeding 150 metres in height, Oman's ancient desert is pure magic, especially when the shifting golden hue dunes are dappled in early morning sunlight.

Children will thrill at the excitement of seeing gazelle, white tailed mongoose and Bedu tribesman who for centuries, have herded the region's goats, sheep and camels.

Overnight 'glamping' is sure to delight children of all ages at Desert Nights. A true reflection of Oman's authentic Arabic style and just a two hour drive from Muscat, Desert Nights offers an oasis of untamed spectacular open spaces within the beauty of the Wahiba sands. Sprawled across 10-acres of silken sands, luxurious Bedouin-style tents await those who seek the ultimate desert adventure, as well as the ultimate in personalised service.

At Desert Nights, children will love to experience the true spirit of Arabia as they take a ride on a camel, or for older children, a ride on a quad bike across the sand dunes.

The north-east of Oman boasts the enchanting region of Ash Sharqiyyah, with its diversity that beckons visitors from far and wide. The Sharqiyyah coast stretching from Tiwi, Sur and Ras Al Hadd in the east to Barr Al Hikman and Masirah Island in the south abounds with coral reefs, rare turtles and dolphins.

Taking a boat trip and witnessing the wildlife at first hand will be a highlight of family holidays in these regions.

Meanwhile, the pristine beaches of the sparsely inhabited Ras Al Hadd coastal region are a safe haven for the breeding habitat of the green sea turtles. The nesting season is anywhere from July to December when hundreds of turtles come ashore at night to lay their eggs.

The government has set up a reserve to allow the public to view this amazing spectacle, with the area  limited to the beaches at Ras Al Jinz. The Ras Al Jinz Scientific and Visitors Centre is located in the Ras al-Jinz Sea Turtle and Nature Reserve. Established in 1996, it covers a total protected area of 120 square kilometers.

Watching the turtles dig their nests and lay eggs, or watching the young turtles hatch and then make their hazardous dash for the sea will be a lasting memory of a visit to Oman for any child.

For further information, please contact:

Mona Tannous, Manager, Sultanate of Oman Tourism, Australia/NZ,

      Level 6, 117 York Street, Sydney NSW 2000 , Ph: 02 9286 8930 Email: info@tourismoman.com.au  Website: www.omantourism.gov.om
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