We spent our last few days in the modest but perfectly comfortable Marina hotel which was funnily enough, right in the middle of the Muscat Marina. Despite its modest rooms it was blessed with a rooftop bar and three, yes three nightclubs. We ventured into the ‘Omani’ nightclub once with men sitting in chairs in a small dark room salivating over pretty girls doing bad Dad dancing on a tiny dance floor. Crucially they were not wearing black from head to toe but sexy colourful belly dancing outfits. Our arrival with our souk shopping bags didn’t go down that well with anyone really and we beat a hasty exit. In one direction from the Marina hotel you can see the Sultan’s rather spectacular yacht moored in the bay. In the other direction is the Old Fish market, quite an upbeat bustling destination for those in search of seafood.
|Fancy my fish?|
Piles of small yellow finned fish and rows of giant Tuna are proudly displayed by the friendly laid back Omanis. They were all quite happy to have pictures taken of them and their catch (This was not true of when I tried to photograph them drinking Guiness in the Irish bar) and seemed vaguely bemused by us and our interest in their pescatorian pursuits. A reaction we seemed to evoke quite a lot during our visit actually..
Our next stop was the Ministry of Tourism where we aimed to pitch our business idea to aid the small businesses of Oman to gear themselves up for the tourists the country is planning to attract. We did manage to get an official appointment by dint of a few persistent advance calls and emails. We arrived at the large white building which was the Ministry of Tourism. The outside was quite impressive but the interior was disappointingly akin to some council offices in Wolverhampton or similar.
However, there were some superlative titles on the doors. The ‘Directorate General of planning, follow up and information’ for instance. What a business card you could have!
We did wonder if we might bump into the Director for Camel Affairs (you need to ring him if you want to know where to find the camel races that week. There’s no ‘what’s on’ guide here) but he was a no show, must have had the hump..
After waiting outside a meeting room for an appropriate senior tourism mandarin to emerge, we pounced. We were granted an audience with Amina Abdullah Al-Balushi who is the Director of Statistics and Geographical Information at the Ministry of Tourism. She seemed to like our sustainable tourism pitch and requested that we submit a proposal which she would then put before his excellency. We returned to the Marina hotel with high hopes for a return visit to this very special, sunny, surprising country.
|The Dynamic duo|