Middle East Experts - Dubai/Oman info needed

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Dec 29th, 2003, 11:51 PM
  #1
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Middle East Experts - Dubai/Oman info needed


Hello intrepid travellers:

My husband and I are planning a trip to Dubai in March. I would also like to rent a car and drive to Muscat.

Has anyone done this? I have read that Oman visas are now easily available at the border.

Presently we are planning an overnight in Al-Ain and Nizwa as well. Any other thoughts?

We are both under US passport.
Any insight is appreciated.
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Jan 2nd, 2004, 04:13 AM
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You should enjoy these countries very much.
Dubai is very modern with many 5 star hotels, shopping centers and of course the gold souks.
The airport is known for its duty-free shopping.
You can find any style of food available
at moderate prices. The best restaurants are usually attached to hotels.
The beaches and water are clean and the temperatures not too hot.Some of the best hotels are located in Jumeirah area of Dubai. Be careful however as a huge construction of a man- made island is still in progress and can make some areas noisy.
To us Oman is much more interesting and I would advise you to spend more time there.
A tourist visa ( stamp to Dubai ) is available as you pass through passport control at Dubai Airport without cost and I believe is valid for one month to US passport holders.
Traffic can be terrible at certain times especially on some highways from Sharjah to Dubai.
Taxis are inexpensive and plentiful. Much easier than driving yourself in Dubai City.
Highways outside the city are excelent- many 4 lanes and well marked in Arabic and English.No problem to travel.
I am not certain about obtaining a visa at the Omani border to Muscat. Best to check with an Omani consulate. I know it is a simple matter to get a visa at the Seeb Airport in Muscat.
Numerous flights daily to Muscat from Dubai.

Driving in Oman is much easier in Oman with less traffic. The road to Nizwa is excelent- perhaps 2 hours from Muscat. Several good hotels in Nizwa and it is a good base to explore other towns.

The fort at Nizwa is interesting, the souk nearby is a must see.There is usually a big market on Friday for selling animals.
Many silver shops can be found.But watch the prices. Bargaining- Middle East style is expected.
Several towns near Nizwa have old forts and irrigation systems that are centuries old.
Muscat is one of my favorite cities.
It still retains its old Arabic flavor from architecture to style.

The best Hotel is the Al Bustan Palace just a few kilometres from town with its own private beach and excelent kitchen.

The Muttrah souk is a mix of old and new but worth a visit. Several museums are intersting too.
Oman is the home of Frankincense and makes a nice gift.
Sinbad the sailor in legend is from Oman . They were sailors and fishermen.
Excelent seafood is still served fresh from the sea and is excelent. Try the Omani Lobster.
I do not know much about Al-Ain and should not comment on its merits.






The old forts that protected the harbor at Muscat still stand to welcome you.
The Sultan has done much with limited oil revenue to improve the country. New schools, hospitals and roads are everywhere. But still in a style to ffit the country.
You can interact with many Omanis as they form the majority of workers in shops and hotels. This is opposed to Dubai where most workers are from Pakistan and India.

English is spoken in both countries-so language is no problem. It is nice to know some worde in Arabic as it is much appreciated,especially in Oman.

Atms are everywhere and access is no problem. Just be certain your code is only 4 digits as this is mostly found there and with 5 some maynot work.

Remember that Thursday and Friday or Friday and Saturday are the usual weekend days there and make plans accordingly.Banks and some shops may be closed.
It is very safe for tourists, but one should still be careful.
Thus you see my feeling about Oman, we have always enjoyed it and in some ways hate to see too many tourists find its many treasures, but for the Omani people it is a good source of jobs and money and we wish the best to them as they have been most kind to us.
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Jan 2nd, 2004, 04:46 AM
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FYI: the world's richest ($6,000,000) horse race will be held in Dubai at Nad al Sheba Racecourse on March 27, 2004. There will be horses from as many as 19 different countries.
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Jan 4th, 2004, 07:38 PM
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Queenie -

We visit Dubai at every opportunity (we live in Kuwait) and have visited Oman twice, and I'd love to go back. We've not driven between the two countries however, so can't help there.

At the time of our visits to Oman(several years ago) we had to obtain visas prior to entering the country. These were obtained through the hotel we stayed at (The Al Bustan)and were easy enough to get, but it did involve some pre-planning. This procedure might have changed since then (we're also US passport holders).

As the previous poster mentioned, US passport holders (among others) can obtain a tourist visa upon arrival in Dubai at no cost.

On both visits to Oman, we stayed at the Al Bustan Palace - it's a wonderful place, but there are other very nice, less expensive options available.

If you can, I'd suggest spending a few more days in Oman. There's alot to see and it's a fascinating place.

Salalah (not sure of spelling) is an oasis town that you might want to consider visiting as well. We've not yet been here, but I've heard it's a worth a visit.

Just a thought about Dubai - we've stayed in the city and on the beach. If you plan to do much shopping or visiting the sights, you might want to stay in the city. It's quite a drive from one to the other and although taxis are cheap, it will run you between 70-80 Dhs to get to the city and back. Most hotels do offer shuttles, but they're limited and time consuming.
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Jan 6th, 2004, 03:36 AM
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Thank you all for your input - it was extremely helpful.

In fact, I bought our tickets today.

One last question - Has anyone been to the Musandam Peninsula?
Specifically Khasab?
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Jan 6th, 2004, 11:28 AM
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Assume you refer to the area of Khasab Bay. There is a large 17th century fort in the cove. This would be a long trip from Muscat and unless you have a special reason to go -time can be better spent elsewhere. A good place is Nakhl. It has an interesting fort and famous springs that allow thousands of date palms in plantations to grow. This is not too far from Muscat.
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Jan 8th, 2004, 05:14 AM
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Hi

My wife and I went to Dubai in MArch 2002 on vacation and we stayed there for a few days and we had a good time. I have posted a trip report with pictures on my personal homepage www.gardkarlsen.com. Maybe you will be able to find some useful information there Have a great trip and get in touch if you have any questions.

Regards
Gard
Stavanger, Norway
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Jan 11th, 2004, 06:21 AM
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We are thinking of going to the UAE (Sharjah/Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Al Ain) at the end of April but I'm very concerned about the heat. What kind of day temperatures may we expect? I presume it's a dry heat?
Thanks for any info.
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Jan 12th, 2004, 05:14 AM
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Go as early in the month as you can as temperatures continue to rise as the month runs on. Expect 30-35C or 90s F.
It can be very humid but will cool at night.
Most shops are open very late to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.
Of course air conditionioning is everywhere.

Caution- Sharjah does not permit alcohol- even in hotels. If you look for drinks- stay elsewhere or buy at duty free.
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Jan 15th, 2004, 05:27 AM
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I haven't done the drive but am planning to. I've driven Definitely go to Al Ain. The sands are beautiful. If you haven't read this already, I recommend Mother without a Mask. It is a British Woman's memoirs of her interaction with a family from this Emirate.

In October, 2003, I rented a car in Oman for the day and drove to Nizwa and visited a few forts in the area. We also went to a tiny village up in the mountains, but the name escapes me. The village is attached to the cliffs. If you ask your hotel, they will know it.

I recommmend the Antique Restaurant in Nizwa. I won't tell you why - it was a great surprise for us!!

Of all the countries in the Gulf, I have found the Omanis the most approachable.

If you haven't done so already, I recommend having lunch at the resturant at the top of the Burj Al Arab. Be sure to make a reservation and get a fax copy, so that the hotel will let you in for free. Have fun!
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