|Explore North Africa/Middle East Oman|
Welcome to Musandam, Oman. This is an isloated enclave, disjointed from the rest of the country, and forms the tip of the neighboring United Arab Emirates. As such, unless you fly in from Muscat, the only other way to get to Musandam is through the United Arab Emirates. Another road exists on the Eastern side of Oman, through Dibba in the UAE, but there is a military check point there, special road permits are required, and the road is navigable only by 4x4. From Dubai, you drive along the coast through Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and then cross into Musandam, Oman. This isolated Omani enclave has been rather remote due to its location. It's only now that it is being discovered, and tourists are going there in numbers. We visited at a totally wrong season, with temperatures in excess of 45°, but we still saw quite a few tourists around. Khasab is the main center in Musandam. A small airport has come up there, with flights coming in from Muscat and Dubai. A new 4-star hotel has opened there, the Golden Tulip Resort. The oldest hotel is the Khasab Hotel, where we stayed.
Forget shopping malls, skyscrapers and all the usual tourist fare. The population here would barely be a thousand! (or so it seems). You come to Musandam for the rugged mountain scenery. And fjords. The large number of fjords have given Musandam the name 'Norway of the East'. Its also the place to observe marine life and birds.
Most of the population is engaged in fishing. Livestock bound for the United Arab Emirates comes in through Khasab from Iran. Iran in barely an hour from Khasab by speedboat. On the return, the Irani boats carry electronics, and smuggle American cigarettes to Iran. But apart from being a 'load off the car and onto the boat' transit station, there is almost zero commercial activity in Khasab itself.
The people are charming, they really are. Right from the guys at the entry point (immigration), right down to our hotel staff, the tour company staff, the boatman, the speedboat guy who delivered our lunch to us on the 'high seas', everyone was all smiles, very friendly and very helpful. Perhaps the growth of tourism will spoil them? Hope not!
Here are a few pictures highlighting the Norway bit (fjords) and marine life. Musandam is a great place for dolphin watching. You can see details in the captions to the pictures.
So enjoy! I'm a recent digital convert. Most of these pictures are shot with my Fujifilm Finepix F420 digital camera.
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article published 7/14/2004