Oman is a country off most travelers’ radar. It’s a tad isolated on the end of the Arabian Peninsula and suffers from its geography. It is often wrongly lumped into a group of unstable, unsafe, war-torn Middle Eastern countries. This is unfair and incorrect.
Oman is a peaceful country and a safe and secure destination for travelers. It’s a friendly place with an extraordinary landscape that should be witnessed by more foreigners. It’s also got a fascinating culture and people who are curious and willing to share their way of life with outsiders.
What do you know about Oman?
I’ll be honest. Before I traveled to Oman, I knew little about the country. I had traveled through Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, and Egypt back in 2007 and I found those countries fascinating. Although it was safe enough when I was there, you can’t hide the fact that that part of the Middle East is a turbulent and at times, insecure place. Oman is different.
How different? I wondered. Is Oman an oil and gas rich state like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, with high rises and luxury shopping? Or is it more like Yemen, a place I have long been captivated by (but never been to)? Will it be filled with foreign-born workers? And will those migrants be treated humanely? Will it still have a rich cultural heritage and strong traditions? Or have they been lost in Oman’s push to modernize? How about the desert landscape? Does the country have issues with water shortages?
These were the topics I was most interested in learning about as I arrived in Oman for the first time.
How I got the opportunity to travel to Oman
I got my chance to visit Oman as part of a photography Project by Oman in Focus. This Muscat-based photography studio invited a number of international photographers, including Juno Kim, to the country. The objective was simple: travel around Oman, shoot photos, put Oman on the map with social media exposure, and prepare for a photography exhibition. It was an honor to be part of this group of photographers and I was grateful for the chance to see Oman.
In ten days we got a great introduction to this country, ranked 45th on the global peace index. We crossed inhospitable mountains in Land Cruisers, visited remote villages, toured old forts, swam in springs, watched sea turtles make their way home, and encountered endless smiles and handshakes of Omani people.