Although I knew my time would be limited, I decided to do the 6 hour drive from Abu Dhabi to Muscat in order to visit the capital city of Oman.
The drive from Abu Dhabi to the Omani border in Al Ain was incredibly simple and quick; multi-lane freeways take you all the way to the center of Al Ain, and my only delay along the route was actually crossing into Oman itself.
Exiting the UAE, I had to show my Omani insurance to the immigration inspector as well as pay a AED 35 “exit fee” (US$9.50) in order to be stamped out of the country.
Although leaving the UAE takes you into the Omani border town of Al Buraimi, the official border crossing point isn’t for another 30 kilometers down the road. There you’ll need to pay a fee of 5 Omani Reals – about US$13 – (usually by credit card) for a 10 day tourist visa.
Not long after the border crossing there’s a bank / gas station / McDonald’s along the side of the road, and I used this opportunity to grab some local money from the ATM, fill up (gas in Oman is cheaper than the UAE), and get a date pie from McDonald’s.
From the border post all the way to the coastline, the road is mountainous, reminding me of the drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. It’s well signed but there aren’t many places to stop along the way at all for a snack or to use the restroom.
Upon reaching the coastline near the town of Sohar, I was hoping to be able to drive along the coast itself, but unfortunately the road was set back from the coast, so no view for me!
The remaining few hours’ drive looked mostly like this – a great road with many opportunities to stop – but no ocean view.
Arriving in Oman on a national holiday, my plans for picking up a SIM card at a mobile phone office near the border was foiled – all the shops were closed! Although T-Mobile has free (albeit slow) data in many countries, Oman isn’t on that list, so I was driving pretty blind until I reached Muscat. When I drove by the airport I realized there might be a counter inside selling SIM cards to newly arriving foreigners, so I stopped to get a local SIM. The SIM was free and 1gb of data – much more than I needed for one day in the country – was 5 reals ($13).
By the time I reached my hotel it was already dark and I ate at the shopping mall nearby my hotel.
On the second day I was able to explore the city and the beautiful Muscat coastline.
For a quick pick-me-up I stopped at probably the best located Starbucks I’ve ever seen – all by itself on a stretch of road near the beach.
I walked down to the beach area about 1 km away from the Starbucks and found a few modest bathers…
After the beach I headed to the old souk to do a little souvenir shopping.
Nearby is also the Muscat Fort. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go inside…
A small meal…
And then I was on the road back to Dubai.
The border crossing heading back the UAE was annoying, but that’s for another post…This entry was posted in Middle East, Oman