Officially known as the 'Sultanate of Oman', this country is signified by its mountain villages clutched against canyon walls, clusters of fruit plantations, ribbons of sand blowning across the dunes, a lone camel padding across the limitless interior - these are the kinds of images associated by the beautiful and diverse country of Oman.
In years gone by, Oman was rich with natural resources, and enjoyed an extensive East African empire. Then, in the early 20th century, a deeply conservative ruler, Sultan Said, chose deliberately to isolate the country from the modern world. His son, peace-loving Sultan Qaboos, assumed the throne in 1970 and that date now marks the beginning of the widely celebrated 'Renaissance' in which the country has been returned to an age of prosperity and progression.
What makes the new age Oman somewhat unique against its fellow middle east countries is that Oman's transformation and development has been conducted with great sensitivity towards traditional values - there are relatively few high-rise buildings in the capital, Muscat; the country's heritage forts (numbering over 2,000) are meticulously restored and the ancient crafts such as weaving are actively supported.
For the tourist, there are a wealth of experiences both visual and cultural as well as an exciting traditional souq (bazaar) and some stunning long sandy beaches like Qurum, Bandar Al-Jissah and Yeti.