the green Mountain
With the role of teacher and guide
On Route 23 that runs from Tyre south of Muscat the capital towards the Wahiba desert, we meet imposing 4x4s, trusses roam free, mosques next to shops popping out of nowhere… The Green Mountain, one of Oman’s most magnificent mountain ranges, is quickly drawing the horizon. The path ascending towards the hills is moored at the side of the cliff, in the middle of a metallic circus. At the end, Wakan appears at an altitude of 1,500 metres. At this end of the world, the teacher, Bodour Al-Sahli, awaits us. Heavy walking shoes, a black veil and a hat pulled from the top, covered from head to toe, even wearing black gloves. “As a child, I lived on the Musandam Peninsula, facing Iran, and hiked a lot in the mountain passes”She explains in hesitant English. “Today, I am married to a soldier, have two children and have a job that I love, but I need work and a challenge”trusts the one who has forged a reputation by participating in mountain races, the only woman in an exclusively masculine environment.
As it happened during the team’s ascent to the Grand Canyon of Oman, Jebel Shams, 3,009 meters above sea level, with an abrupt descent. “I always dress in the traditional way, so those who were hostile ended up accepting me.” On weekends he often strolls with family or alone around Wakan. We understand that! From the bottom of the village, a path marked by 700 steps climbs towards the summits and reveals an unexpected oasis: there, fields where beans and lentils grow; Here, the ornate door of the pocket mosque, palm clumps, fig trees, everywhere water buzzes in the falaj, and canals watering the stepped crops of the mountains. At the top, an ocher mud fort overlooks the valley. This is only the beginning of the W24 route, which connects Wakan to Hadash village in five hours (8 km AR)…
We suggest… In the Sama Wakan Heritage Home, three village houses have been transformed into charming guest rooms. From 135 euros for a double in a B&B. samresorts.com.
Also to discover: Discover our best offers in Morocco
With Maysa, a submarine photographer
A new marina, fountains, gardens, cafe terraces… On the shores of the Arabian Sea, this new area of Muscat, Al Mouj (“The Wave”), is a popular getaway for Omanis and expats. This is where you embark on the Daymaniyat Islands Underwater Sanctuary, an hour away by boat (diving €138 per person, picnicking, with mola mola). A modern formula and waterproof mascara, the whale diamond accompanies us. At the head of a popular photo studio, the 30-year-old built her reputation by campaigning to protect the underwater environment. Studied at Muscat University of Scienceas you say. Since then, I have been traveling to dive sites to introduce the public to Oman’s biodiversity. »
Dimaniyat archipelago on the horizon! A handful of rocky islands, deserted coves… and below them countless multi-colored fish fluttering in an enormous coral garden. In the turquoise sea (at 28 ° C in winter) large green turtles pass … “A protected species in Oman, the first Gulf country to establish the Ministry of Environment”Misa explains. To discover other treasures, follow Route No. 17 which runs along the coast for 270 km. Along the way, we plunge into the Bimmah Sinkhole, a 20-meter deep natural well filled with salt water. Then we go for a walk in Wadi Shab, dug by a river that flows into the sea, and walk at the end of the day to the white streets of the port of Tyre, where Ali ibn Jama’a, the shipbuilder, still makes teak sailboats. The next day, at dawn, in the Ras Al Jinz Reserve (20€ per person, by reservation), we will try to watch the sea turtles lay their eggs.
We suggest… At the resort of Muscat Hills, 25 km east of Muscat, in “bohemian chic” cabanas with outdoor pools (pool and diving centre). The price starts from 260 euros for a double stay in a bed and breakfast, or at the Turtle Beach resort, 50 km east of Tyre, in cottages near the Ras Al Jinz reserve (from 150 euros for two people in a bed and breakfast).
With Amal, Fashion Designer
An elaborate facade, and windows in the shape of a warhead, is Amal’s flagship haute couture boutique, in the Azaiba district, a stone’s throw from the four-lane highway that crosses the capital at some. In the 1970s, there was only a short paved road and the desert is here… A black veil tied with elegance and impeccable makeup, the Sultanate’s most famous fashion designer greets us under shimmering chandeliers, among embroidered kaftans and abayas, this long jacket and dresses worn by Omani women . at the age of 25, ‘From a wealthy family’She says that Amal did not find her satisfactory when she got married. Then she paints her dress. Her friends were won over (“Would you make one for me too?”). “I discovered the richness of Omani textile heritage, integrated colors, and embroidery, and launched my brand. I would like to change the image that Westerners have of the appearance of a Muslim woman.”Amal is now behind the wheel of her air-conditioned 4×4.
Under the scorching sun, between two rows of palms, the procession of shopping malls, the domes and gardens of the Great Mosque, the Ministry of Oil and Gas. The Arabist of Los Angeles, whose eras alternate in the Qurum district, with its Muscat Historical Museum, the Old Market and the majestic opera wanted by the visionary Sultan and music lover Qaboos bin Said, who died in 2020. Since 2011, the Royal Opera House Muscat (Room), built on eight Floors, set among green gardens, stand out as a dazzling symbol of Amman’s Renaissance. Amal, now a mother of three, is inspired by this and dreams of starting a fashion school in the capital. “Young girls can be trained there for the trades of tailoring or modeling, which are still not here”as you say.
We suggest… for an enchanting dinner at Zale, Kempinski’s “beach restaurant” (from €23 per dish); At Behlyz Boutique, a guest house with a swimming pool in the Azaiba district (€160 for two people in a bed and breakfast); At the outdoor BBQ stands at Azaiba Beach (4 skewers for 2.30 EUR).
I’m going !
Direct flight to Paris CDG-Muscat starting from €912 on Oman Air, omanair.com. The local agency MWT Mice, founded by French Mrs. Martin Gouhair, offers customized tours of Oman, mwtmice-oman.com. information and information. on experienceoman.om.