“By Seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show”, said Samuel Johnson. The energy, the diversity and the soothing green spaces is all you need to spend your life peacefully. There is something about London that makes it the city we love, adore and dream of. This cultural melting pot London has grown to become one of the most important financial and cultural capitals of Europe, if not the world.
London is a world to explore with different districts that reflect different national characteristics, London’s strength and character lies in its cultural dynamism which has about 50 non-indigenous communities.
If you are a first-timer to London, here is a breakdown of the most famous tourism spots.
Dedicate two or three days to seeing the sights and soaking up the sheer weight of history. Do not forget to fit in a visit to some of the famous art galleries and museums. Then allow for some serious shopping time at world-famous venues such as Harrods, Hamleys and Oxford Street. Finally, soak up some culture with a visit to Covent Garden, Carnaby Street and Camden Lock. For a hair-raising day out, take in the Tower of London and the London Dungeon, and then relax with some laughs at lifelike replicas of some of your favourite celebrities at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. If you are a person of leisure then just strolling around on the streets of London is the best way to past your time and soak in the city’s unbeatable essence.
Double Decker bus
In England, double deckers are either a chocolate bar, or a big red, double layered bus. We are talking about the buses here, which are an iconic feature of London, almost as much as Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. They are a fantastic and fun way to get around the city, whether you just want to go shopping or be taken on a guided tour.
The clock tower, built in 1288, on the Houses of Parliament houses a main bell known as Big Ben. Although the clock tower is a symbol of London and all things English, and a massive tourist draw card, the actual interior of the tower is not open to the public. It has featured in countless films and TV programs, and is the largest four faced, chiming clock in the world.
If the top deck of a bus just isn’t high enough for you, aim for a bird’s eye view of London with a ride on Europe’s biggest Ferris wheel, the 135-metre high London Eye. Once described as London’s Eiffel Tower, its complete rotation takes about 30 minutes, so no stomach-churning rush here!
For exploring this vibrant city and the wonderful serene locations just outside of the city fly with Oman Air every day of the week. Book here: www.omanair.com
Expo Milano 2015 started its journey from 1st May 2015 and will run along till 31st of October. Milan will be the epicenter of the world where more than 140 countries will be participating and will showcase their technological prowess in regards to being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone on the planet.
An Expo is an international platform for exchanging ideas and solutions where each country’s creativity and innovations are presented. Expo 2015 will be serving up opportunity to find out about world’s best dishes and agri-food traditions of each country.
Milan Expo site comprises of an area of 1.1 million square meters which is very easily accessible from all the surrounding areas in Milan. The whole site is constructed with energy efficient and sustainable designs such that they can be reused or removed once the expo concludes.
There are 4 thematic areas in Expo Milano 2015.
- Pavilion Zero: This area will showcase the history of humankind and its relation with food. The future food district will explain how technology will be changing our food storage, distribution, and purchase ways.
- Children’s Park: Children will have the chance to know more about the theme of Milan Expo 2015 while having fun at Children’s Park.
- Biodiversity Park: A large garden in which a number of our planet’s ecosystems are reproduced.
- Triennale Museum: An exhibition which will explore the relationship between food and art.
Expo Milano 2015 will be showcasing Oman Pavilion which shows Oman’s attempts to take care of its water which is still based on an ancient underground canal system of ‘aflaj’. The ancient underground canal system of the ‘aflaj’ is declared World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO. You can discover it at Oman Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015.
Check out Oman Air website for deals and packages for Expo Milano 2015.
For more information click here Expo Milano 2015.
Paris is the most romantic and the most beautiful city in the world. A mere mention of Paris brings about a sense of joy to anyone who ever dreamed of visiting this stunning city. The Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, the Moulin Rouge, the Arc de Triomphe, Disneyland are just few reasons to visit Paris.
Paris is a timeless beauty which instantly absorbs your imagination with its imperial architecture, exquisite cuisine, modern elegant boutiques and astounding artistic monuments. Paris is itself an inspiring city in a way that so many cultures from all over the world go hand in hand.
There are a number of things to do when you are in Paris. Head first to the Eiffel Tower. no guesses here. These days clicking a selfie with the Eiffel Tower is what dreams are made of. While walking around, you can’t miss the artistic brilliance of Paris. It has been a major capital for art all over the world. You will witness the true meaning of art, culture and history in these museums.
The Louvre (Louvre Museum) is one such place where you will find art, culture and history beautifully woven together. Built as a fortress in the 12th century under Philip II, it was later chosen as the place to display royal collection by Louis XIV. The museum was opened to public after the French Revolution in 1793. The Louvre is home to ‘Mona Lisa’ by Leonardo da Vinci which has been acclaimed as the best known, the most visited, the most written about painting in the world.
But the most important place to visit this summer is Disneyland. It is the most visited place after the Eiffel Tower in France. It is not much different from the one in the US, it is just as entertaining and exciting. Originally called Euro Disney Resort, it is located at Marne-la-Vallée, 32 km east of the centre of Paris. It is the most visited park in the whole of France and Europe. It is a huge theme park with several resorts, a huge complex for shopping, dining and a golf course as well.
It is a perfect vacation destination for families, friends or couples. There are more than 50 attractions to pay a visit to. One thing not to be missed is the Disney Parade with your childhood cartoon heroes – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and a lot more!
Oman Air flies you to Paris 4 times week.
- Visa: If you’re a non EU passport holder, apply for a Schengen visa –this will entitle you to visit any one of 26 Schengen countries. For visitors from Oman, visit the Embassy of the country which will be your main destination that is the French Embassy in A’Sarooj, Qurm.
- Credit cards are used widely, ATMs are frequent, but Euros is always useful for taxis, buses and tips.
Here are some beautiful pictures of Paris.
Germany has a distinct personality of its own. The effervescent life on every corner is a big testimony of the same. The country has some of the busiest cities in the world to some of the most calming boulevards to glorious art galleries and countless entertainment zones. Germany is one of the biggest economies in the world with a high standard of living.
Oman Air flies you to Frankfurt and Munich, two important cities in Germany. Below are the must do things in both the cities.
Frankfurt am Main, an old majestic city situated on banks of River Main is by virtue a lively, important commercial and trade fair city in Germany and Europe. Being at the heart of Germany and Europe, Frankfurt has a lot more variety and faces to offer. The first thing you will notice in the city is its high rise skyline which is dominated by a huge cluster of imperial buildings. There are a number of historical sites in the heart of this busy city. Frankfurt is a global city which frequently lists under best places to do business and live in.
Here are some of the most interesting things to do or places to visit in Frankfurt.
- Rhine Valley Trip from Frankfurt including Rhine River Cruise & a visit to the Frankfurt City Forest is a paradise for nature lovers.
- Walk around the vast ruins of Heidelberg Castle Heidelberg Old Town and soak in the old world charm and flair.
- Visit Frankfurt’s Romer town hall and the Frankfurt Cathedral.
- Hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour to experience the old and new.
Munich is called the city of contrasts. One side of the city is ever growing and prosperous in every manner and other is the typical calm Bavarian Gemütlichkeit (coziness). Modernism and the old world charm blends perfectly in the city. The glitz and glamour of the city is perhaps what the Germans pride themselves rightly on.
Here are some of the most interesting things to do or places to visit in Munich.
- Stroll through the English Garden to spend a calm and relaxing evening.
- Visit the BMW museum to know about the history, present and the future of cars.
- Visit the home stadium of Bayern Munich, Allianz Arena. It is one of the most spectacular football stadiums in the world.
- The lavish and stunning castles in Munich are not to be missed at any cost!
Oman Air flies you to Frankfurt and Munich all week. Book here: http://www.omanair.com/
Farfina Salad: Watercress salad with white onion and cherry tomato garnish with lime dressing.
Eggplant Salad: Roasted eggplants with garlic flavor, garnished with chilies and coriander.
Awal Salad: Duo of sun-dried baby shark meat flakes and green mango accented with white onion, dressed with fresh tomato coulis.
Harees Laham Soup: Creamy whole wheat soup, slow cooked with lamb pieces seasoned with hints of cardamom and cinnamon.
Tomato Soup with Dry Limes: Omani take on classic tomato soup, slow cooked with whole sun dried Omani limes to flavor.
Alkarasea Soup: Traditional clear goat leg soup slow cooked with vegetables, lightly spiced with ginger and red chilies.
Omani Shuwa: Traditional roasted lamb marinated with special ‘shuwa’ spices and vinegar, covered with banana leaves and slow roasted overnight in an underground pit.
Arsia Laham: Mashed rice with lamb, flavored with cardamom with special sauce ‘turshe’.
Qabuli with Camel Meat: Rice cooked in ‘qabuli’ spices served with camel meat.
Maraq Ma’ajeen: Sun dried meat stewed and lightly flavored with garlic and coriander.
Maraq Mashakik: Mashakik meat cubes stewed in tangy tomato sauce.
Mahmas Laham: Sautéed lamb with roasted onions and tomatoes flavored with a little ginger.
Marqat Pablo: Light king fish stew with onions, tomatoes, green chilies, saffron and lemon juice.
Salqat Al Samak: Broth of hamour fish with onions and tomatoes with hint of zaatar (thyme).
Samak Mtafai: Pan-fried king fish served with tangy tomato and tamarind sauce.
Marqat Al Dijaj: Chicken stew, lightly flavored with garlic, accented with fresh coriander.
Marqat Al Dijaj Bil Narjeel: Chicken stew with a creamy coconut and tomato sauce lightly spiced accentuating the flavor.
Salqat Al Dijaj: Broth of corn fed chicken flavored with lime and zaatar.
Vegetarian Hot Dishes
Marqat Al Dal: Classic lentil stew with distinct Omani flavor.
Dengu Mqashad: Lentil stew prepared with onions and lightly spiced with cumin seeds.
Garlic Jareesh: Creamy broken wheat slow cooked with milk and onions, flavored with garlic.
Omani Halwa: Gelatinous Omani sweet, made from fine ingredients, flavored with saffron, cardamom and rose water.
Asida Bi Dibs: Soft crumble flavored with cardamom and saffron, served with dibs (date syrup).
Khabissa Bil Findal: Sweet potatoes prepared with sweet dough.
The Omani people are passionate about their food, and this is evident wherever you travel around the Sultanate. Thankfully, there are restaurants that create exceptional Omani food and unforgettable Omani eating experiences. Al Angham restaurant happens to be one of the finest. It does original Omani food, with a modern Omani touch. Wings of Oman’s Paul Winter went to investigate.
In the best eateries all over the world, it is very often the little details – in the service, the food, and the décor and design of the restaurant – that set them apart from the rest.
Al Angham is one of the restaurants in the Sultanate that consistently gets described as a top venue to experience traditional Omani food. And just like at some of the best eating venues around the world, the fine attention to detail here (along with the food) seems to be one of the reasons it does what it does so well.
Some of these details included the ‘Royal Omani Guard’ who welcomed me at the door, and who was impeccably dressed in the traditional Omani attire (complete with silver Khanjar dagger); the exquisite silverware, fresh roses, and embroidered napkins that adorned the dining tables; the original Omani artifacts and décor items that are placed at various points around the rooms; the interior architecture of the restaurant, and many more things.
Treating guests like royalty and making sure everyone feels special is one of the things that Al Angham’s staff (who all wear traditional Omani dress) take a lot of pride in. I got a feel for this as I was taken on a welcoming tour, like most guests are, around Al Angham’s four private dining rooms and halls – named Al Zabarjd, Al Turayia, Al Majlis, and Al Sabah. These are all separate from the main dining hall; all have their own character and design; and feature superb examples of Omani décor.
Original Omani food – With a modern touch
After the above introduction to Al Angham, I now faced the most difficult part of my time spent at the restaurant – negotiating my way through the restaurant’s menu. As a food-loving expatriate living in the Sultanate, I have become relatively familiar with what ingredients makes up traditional Oman-style uisine. So being able to identify each dish on the menu, and talk about some of the combinations of flavours being presented, is something that comes naturally. The difficult part was dealing with being overwhelmed with what was on offer.
My goal at Al Angham had originally been to sort of ‘taste my way through’ the full spectrum of the Sultanate of Oman’s cuisine. But of course, this proved impossible in just one sitting! I settled for selecting a few dishes that were recommended by various food reviewers who had previously been to Al Angham.
Many of the dishes at Al Angham are presented and laid out according to an innovative and modern aesthetic. My halwa turned out to be the perfect example of this.
Fine Omani Dining
Some food reviewers have suggested that Al Angham restaurant represents the very best in fine Omani dining, and it’s hard not to agree. Plenty of professional service, and warm, friendly hospitality – which is typical of the Omani experience – accompanied each of my dishes.
The food, of course, was spectacular, and the highlight for me was knowing I was eating classic, original Omani food, prepared and served in the traditional way (with, as mentioned, some modern Omani touches).
When I was done, the Al Angham experience ended off with the cherished Omani custom of rinsing my hands with rosewater. It was the perfect ending to what will surely be a very long love affair with Omani food and Omani food culture.
True Omani Cuisine
Having been at crossroads for world trade and travel between the Middle East, Africa and the Far East since ancient times, Oman’s cuisine has been influenced by many food cultures. But over hundreds of years, it has also naturally evolved into something original and unique. One of the main examples of this is that Omani dishes are not as hot as those of other cuisines from neighbouring regions.
Traditionally, Omani cuisine is prepared with liberal use of marinades, spices, herbs, onions, garlic and limes. These are combined and fused with the base ingredients of chicken, mutton, cooked vegetables and fish. (The abundance of fish and seafood dishes in Oman is also a reflection of the rich maritime tradition that the country has procured over hundreds of years).
Omani cuisine also includes a wide variety of soups prepared from vegetables, legumes and meats. Various types of vegetable and non-vegetable salads are also standard. Main courses very often include vegetable curries, which are combined with barbequed kebabs, and grilled or curried meat, chicken and fish dishes.
Located at the northernmost tip of the Arabian Peninsula, and jutting out into the Strait of Hormuz, the Musandam Peninsula is a magical combination of mountain and maritime landscapes. Some say it’s the most spectacular travel destination on the Arabian Peninsula. It’s hard not to agree.
Exploring dramatic fjords on wooden dhows, snorkeling with dolphins and a fantastic array of marine life (sometimes Whale Sharks), sea-kayaking, and taking in some of the planet’s most breathtaking mountain and sea scenery – this is what the Musandam Pensinsula is all about. In fact, Musandam is often referred to as the ‘Norway of Arabia’ – due to the rocky, arid Hajar Mountains that rise up directly out of the deep blue waters of the Arabian Gulf. A maze-like series of steep-sided fjords (known locally as chores) and inlets is the result – with most of them being only accessible by boat or traditional Omani dhow.
‘Old World Arabia’:
Picture perfect coastal drive getting to Musandam is a highlight in itself. The thirty kilometers or so from Bukha to Khasab must be one of the world’s most spectacular drives, as the Khasab Coastal Road weaves its way along the edge of the clear Arabian Gulf waters and its many soft sand beaches, and right next to the sea cliffs and mountains of the towering Hajar Mountains.
Along the way, you’ll also see picturesque little mosques with their beautiful minarets near the coastline, tiny fishing villages, herds of goats, palm frond shelters where fishermen sort their catch and maintain their nets, and the hulls of old wooden dhows. This is ‘Old World Arabia’ at its very best. As you approach Khasab itself, you’ll begin getting views of the spectacular fjords and inlets. You’ll also see flat-roofed, mud-coloured houses dotted around the villager’s date palm plantations.
(There is also a collection of prehistoric rock art – etchings of warriors on horseback and other creatures – near Wadi Qidah). At only thirty kilometers you can do the drive at a leisurely slow pace – and stop now and again on the side of the road to take in the scenery and take photos.
History, Culture & Adventure:
The Musandam Peninsula has been the home of extremely isolated communities for centuries, and many coastal villages here can only be reached by boat. Some of these fishing villages are tiny – and surrounded on all three sides by coastal cliffs, and by the sea in front of them. Life here is probably very similar to what it was like many years ago. When visiting Musandam you seem to get a sense of travelling back in time to a world of what would have consisted of dangerous trading adventures and merchant voyages, rumors of mythical villages and people, and fantastic piracy and smuggling stories taking place in the secret coves and bays below the rocky, mountainous headlands. And this all seems to add to the mystery and charm and sense of adventure you get from travelling here.
What to do:
Two classic Musandam experiences A dhow cruise, offered by one of a handful of ecoadventure operators in the area, should be on any traveler’s essential to-do list for Musandam. Full or half-day dhow cruises to explore some of the biggest fjords and inlets in the area are available. Snorkeling equipment can be provided for the day, and overnight options – where you can camp on a secluded beach – are also possible. Whenever you’re on a dhow cruise in Musandam, you’re almost guaranteed to be intercepted by a friendly and inquisitive pod of dolphins. Most dhow trips also make a stopover at the interesting Telegraph Island, which is a small rocky island that, in the 19th century, was used as a base to boost messages along the London-to-Karachi undersea telegraph cable. Another classic Musandam experience is a guided four-wheel-drive tour up the region’s highest mountain – Jebel Harim. The absolute high point is used for military purposes (the altitude is 2 087 meters), but it is possible to drive to within a few hundred meters from the summit, to a height of around 2 000 meters. From here the views of the mountains and the Arabian Gulf waters are spectacular.
Oman Air’s mouth-watering First Class and Business Class inflight dining has been praised to the skies by readers of US-based luxury food magazine Saveur.
The national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman has scooped the Readers’ Choice Award in the magazine’s annual Culinary Travel Awards, beating many of the biggest names in global air travel.
Announcing the award, Saveur magazine said: ‘The traditional Arabic greeting of dates and coffee is just the beginning of a dining service that focuses on the essential details that make a difference at 40,000 feet. It certainly set the right mood for our readers, who selected Oman Air’s first and business class dining as their favourite in 2014.’
Saveur’s readers were particularly impressed with Oman Air’s long haul dining, with the daily Heathrow to Muscat route being singled out for praise. The magazine’s description of First Class dining on this route includes a starter of caviar and champagne, followed by canapés, appetizers such as a winter pumpkin and apple soup, and entrées such as poached fillet of beef, Loch Fyne salmon, pan-fried sea bass and saffron risotto with grilled asparagus.
Saveur also highlights ‘A wonderful Arabic meze with traditional kibbeh, tabbouleh, spinach fatayer, olives, and labneh with fresh mint, followed by…king prawn kebab, steamed chickpea rice with pine nuts, and seasoned okra.’
Saveur magazine has a circulation of 325 000 and draws nearly two million unique visitors to its website every month. It offers readers information about food in all its contexts, emphasising heritage and tradition, home cooking and real food, and evoking flavours from around the world. Coverage of Oman Air’s success in the Readers’ Choice category of the Culinary Travel Awards can be found at
Originally, cotton was cultivated around the Nizwa area in the Sultanate of Oman. It was then used to produce a range of clothing items. These days, cotton production has declined, due to increasing production costs compared to modern industrial textiles. The availability of modern materials has also meant that the cotton making industry has reduced in size. However, a smaller range of cotton clothing and cotton products are still lovingly being made in certain parts of the Sultanate.
Fishing Trap Design
Throughout history, the people of Oman have been experts in obtaining fish and seafood from the sea – and this has been illustrated by the unique selection of fishing tools and techniques that have been designed and developed through the years. Traditional dome-shaped fishing traps, which were originally made from palm fronds, are a wonderful example of this. After a fish enters through the trap’s one-way, funnel-like opening, they cannot return, and are captured later by a fisherman. The traditional palm-frond traps were expertly crafted and there was an innate beauty in their functional design. More modern versions of the traps are created with steel wire.
While handmade, traditional-style clay pots and pottery items are still popular in the Sultanate of Oman today, there are also examples of ceramic and pottery products being produced in a more modern style. These modern styles make use of contemporary manufacturing and finishing techniques which enable the craftsmen to produce some exquisitely beautiful and detailed designs – that have both ornamental, as well as functional qualities.
Mention Southeast Asia and most likely the names that will pop-up into most people’s minds are Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. But vying for equal attention are two other megapolises: Manila, of the Philippines, and Jakarta, of Indonesia. These are true hidden gems of Southeast Asia – and predicted to be the most likely cities to overtake Singapore and Hong Kong within just a decade or two.
Manila has around 21 million residents living in its metro area alone. Jakarta’s metro area is the 2nd largest in the world with 28 million people. A whopping 10 million of these live within its city limits. Not surprisingly, both these capital cities are the bustling epicentres of political, social, economic, entertainment and educational enterprises and endeavours. Amidst their many superficial similarities each city carries a very unique flavour true to its own. One has to feel and experience this to really enjoy the distinctiveness and diversity of Manila and Jakarta.
Manila is a rapidly developing city with a colourful multi-cultural heritage, a vibrant day and night life, an exciting mall and shopping culture, a fetish for food and lots more – which all make it a powerful magnet for visitors seeking good times Jakarta is a shining example of modern multiculturalism in its truest form. It has an excellent tourism infrastructure, a burgeoning economy, a vibrant art scene, a splendid selection of ancient cultural relics, an advanced education system and superior medical services. The character of both Manila and Jakarta has been largely shaped by their strong colonial influences, given the fact that both have been long-time colonies of Spain (Philippines) and Portugal (Indonesia). And to date, the local customs and traditions of these lively cities, their festivities, cuisines, arts and culture carry a very distinct and special individuality about them.
Colonial Creations vs. Modern Skyscrapers
Both Manila and Jakarta abound with an array of modern and massive skyscrapers which share space with quaint colonial buildings. Each of these colonial masterpieces speaks volumes about the signature architectural marvels of their creators. Historical areas like the Spanish fortified town of Intramuros, in Manila, and Jakarta’s Dutch quarter in Fatahillah Square are two examples of this. Manila’s claim to colonial fame is the erstwhile Spanish city of ‘Intramuros’, which was officially declared a historical monument way back in 1951. Intramuros was originally a fortress city, and the fort, now, has been converted into a museum. The soul of Jakarta’s architectural marvels can be found concentrated in the areas surrounding Monas Square, which was originally known as ‘Koningsplein’ (King’s Square).
Visitors to both these cities will be spoilt for choice when it comes to touristic attractions. In Manila, touristic interests abound. Located adjacent to the famous Rizal Park Square and close to the earlier mentioned Intramuros, is the National Museum of the Philippines complex. Within this complex are stocked a wealth of arts, crafts, artefacts and information tracing the evolution of its diverse people, and of the country. The National Arts Gallery, Museum of the Filipino People, National Museum of Natural History and National Planetarium are the assigned guardians of the country’s cultural and traditional heritage. The Baroque Churches (a collection of four Spanish built churches) are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some of the other attractions include the Cultural Centre of the Philippines, The Agrifina Circle, the Manila City Hall, the Malacca Sultanate Palace and the National Library. In Jakarta, located in the Old Batavia of the Kota area and built way back in the year 1710 is the famous Jakarta History Museum, also known as the Fatahillah Jakarta Museum. First used as the administrative headquarters of the Dutch East India Company and later the Dutch Government, the Jakarta History Museum today displays the history of Jakarta from ancient days to the founding of the town of Jayakarta in 1527; and showcases the history of its Dutch colonisation from the 16th century onwards until Indonesia’s Independence in 1945. After this informative tour visitors can explore the other attractions such as the ‘Dunia Fantasi’ – a huge theme park, which is divided into eight global geographies, and has over forty main rides and attractions. For the culturally and artistically inclined, the Dutch-built concert hall ‘Gedung Kesenian Jakarta’ or simply ‘The Jakarta Art Building’ is a great place of interest.
For all bird lovers a visit to the ‘Bird Island’ should be a must see on their itinerary. Located in the Jakarta Bay area and a part of the ‘Thousand Islands’, a short ferry ride from the town of Banten is the Bird Island. Playing host to over 60 different species of migratory birds, this is a real haven for birdwatchers and serious ornithologists.
Oman Air flies three times a week between Muscat – Manila. (As from 2 December 2014)
Oman Air flies four times a week between Muscat – Jakarta. (As from 12 December 2014)