Sunday, 27 March 2011

Oman


General Information

Oman is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the Middle East. Vast stretches of desert give way to green wadis that are full of life. The fjords of The Musadam Peninsula in the north remind you of Norway while the sub-tropical Dhofar region has coconut plantations & unspoiled beaches. The white city of Muscat is relatively small and has kept it’s Middle Eastern charm. For tourist information on Oman you can check out the website of the Ministry of Tourism.

We live in Salalah in southern Oman. This region is renowned for it’s subtropical microclimate. When the rest of the Arabian Peninsula is baking in the sweltering heat during the summer months, the Dhofar region gets the tail of the Indian monsoon. This brings clouds and (light) rain between June & September. For detailed information on things to do in Salalah you can check out the Secret Salalah Website.

Language
English is widely spoken in Oman but food allergies are very uncommon so even trying to explain what an allergy is can be a challenge. This is the link to the allergy dictionary English- Arabic.

Tip: Make sure you bring spare Epipens because you cannot buy them in Oman. Ventolin and over the counter antihistamine such as Claritin & Zyrtec are widely available.


Shops
Henna & Frankincense
Muscat has the largest choice when it comes to products that cater specifically to the needs of people with an allergy. We used the following shops that also have a small range of products for people with an allergy.

Store
Location
Al Fair
They have no website but supermarkets can be found at various Locations in Muscat such as Markaz al Bahja Mall & Al Sarooj Complex in Shatti al Qurum. Al Fair also sells many Waitrose products.
Located in Muscat City Center & Qurum City Center Shopping Malls. It has a separate Bio section and sells many European & US products.
Located in Al Masa Mall, Muscat. This seems to be the only organic store in town. They sell a wide range of gluten and dairy-free products although their stock seems to vary.
Various Locations in Oman. This has quickly become the main place to shop in Salalah.
Reema Perfect
This tiny supermarket, also known as “Spinneys”, is located next to the army base in Salalah and mainly sells western products.

Tip: If you’re going to spend spending multiple weeks in Salalah consider shopping in Muscat first because the prices of soymilk, gluten free products etc. are generally lower there.

Medical Care
The level of medical care varies from facility to facility but there are clinics in even the smallest village. Foreigners generally are not allowed to use state-run hospitals but go to private clinics. In case of an emergency you can use the hospital that is closest to you.

We can recommend the following (private) medical facilities: 


Name


Location
Muscat
Various locations throughout Oman. Location Salalah: As Salam Street.
Mirbat Hospital
Mirbat (70 km from Salalah and Near the Marriott Hotel)


Tip: Due to the low number of ambulances the quickest way to get to the hospital is usually by using your own transport.

Hotels & Restaurants
There is a wide choice of places to stay in Oman but most are concentrated in the larger towns. There is little or no budget accommodation but prices do tend to vary considerably depending on the season.

Eating is very much a part of the Omani culture. Expect to find small restaurants wherever you go. However, don’t expect a chef to understand what you mean when you say you have a food allergy.

Muscat
We haven’t tried any places to stay in Muscat but there are around 10 hotels that also have apartments. We always use booking.com to find apartments when we’re traveling. The cheapest option that we have heard of seems to be Dolphin Village.

The place to stay in Muscat must be The Chedi. They have open kitchens so you can watch your food being prepared.


While we were in Muscat we visited Left Bank Restaurant for lunch with a friend who has multiple food allergies. The staff were very accommodating and our friend enjoyed a mouth-watering meal. Call ahead to inform the chef or the outlet manager of your allergies and be sure to mention it again when you order your food. In the evening this place can get very busy so you might want to opt for lunch rather than dinner.

Tip: Should you want to stay or visit the Oman Dive Center, be advised that you are not allowed to bring your own food even if it’s out of medical necessity.

Salalah
Mirbat
Salalah and it’s surroundings have some excellent international places to stay like the Hilton and the Salalah Marriott. These places don’t have self-catering apartments but do know how to cater to people with an allergy. It would be a good idea to inform them before your arrival so they can make arrangements.



Dhofar Mountains
When we first arrived in Salalah we stayed in the Haffa House in the city center who have clean but basic apartments. Another option is the Sumharam tourist Village, which sits right on the beach. The cheapest option in town, located between the mountains and the sea, is probably the Youth Hostel, which has rooms with a kitchenette.


Tip: Camping is a great and cheap way to stay in Oman. There are only a few campsites but you are allowed to pitch your tent anywhere you like. Build a campfire and enjoy nature. E.g. On one of the many pristine beaches around Mirbat or at Fasaia beach.

Do you know of a restaurant, supermarket or place to stay that caters to travelers with an allergy? Make sure to share the details with us in the comments section below. Be as specific as you can and if possible add a web link.

4 comments:

  1. A great summary packed with sound advice, especially for the health-conscious and allergy-prone among us.
    Allergy-prone and picky may try cautiously exploring Arabic and Indian cuisine, which are abundant and cheap in Oman, for refreshing dietary alternatives to scarce and pricey imported products. People who are allergic to bovine dairy products may be able to enjoy camel and goats' milk without consequences, but should try small amounts first to check their reaction. Oman can be a tantalizing and healthy culinary adventure!

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  2. Oops, that should read "Allergy-prone and picky eaters" (such as moi!).

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  3. Welcome to the blogging world! I look forward to more updates from you :)

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  4. Hi,
    I saw on the LonelyPlanet Thorn Tree that you live in Salalah.
    I am planning to walk from Salalah to Dubai soon (www.alastairhumphreys.com) and I wondered if you would mind if I emailed you a couple of questions?
    My email address is alastair@alastairhumphreys.com
    Thank you,
    Alastair

    ReplyDelete