Home Dilmun to Dublin Tour Diary Friendship tour 2009 New Year lunch, sea and stars
New Year lunch, sea and stars
Written by Maria Ramos   
Saturday, 19 December 2009 02:01

Marco and Julia

Team members with Marco and Julia who might someday be part of the team

I must start by saying just how great it is to be back in the region and on the road again with my fantastic Friendship Arabia team!  The past few days have been a bit hard for me as I learnt that my granny passed away on the day I set out for Oman. Miles away from Spain, and missing my beloved granny who lived 90 beautiful years, I was very lucky to be surrounded by such a friendly team!

Happy New Year! Today is Islamic New Year, Happy New Year to all the Muslims around the world on behalf of the Friendship Arabia team!

For New Year’s breakfast this morning we were joined by Ali’s French friends Julie and Marco who actually work in Oman. Julie is a famous French photographer, interested in Friendship Arabia’s work and may join the team on one of our expeditions. Look out for her work… 

Bahrain’s triathlon team in Oman. It’s good to see we’re not the only people promoting Bahrain in Oman. By chance Ammar bumped into Sager bin Ahmed and the rest of Bahrain’s Cycling Association in the hotel lobby. The team had just completed a triathlon in Muscat and are vying to build up Bahrain’s triathlon team for the Olympics.  We wish you guys all the best! 

A diplomatic coincidence.  During our last trip in Jordan His Excellency Faoud Salman Al Moawda was serving as Bahrain’s Charge D'Affaires to the country. A year later, we meet again in Muscat where H.E., now Ambassador to Oman, hosted us for a traditional Bahraini lunch at his residence. 

Almaawda

Team members with the Bahrani Ambassador to Oman H.E. Mr. Fouad Almaawda 

The Ambassador is a great fan of Friendship Arabia and also loves being on the road and not just diplomatically, he has a passion for cross-country driving and told us about his travels from Florida to Canada and across the Middle East. H.E. spoke highly of our campaign to raise awareness in Oman of Bahrain’s project to gain UNESCO World Heritage status for its pearl heritage. He also complimented Her Excellency Sheikha May bint Mohammed Al Khalifa for her efforts in this landmark project and for her success in restoring the traditional houses of Muharraq.

Qantab boat trip. After lunch and accompanied by Mohammed Al Riyani, the GCC Marketing Co-ordinator from Oman’s Ministry of Toursim, we headed to Qantab beach. We had a great laugh on our little boat. Our skipper Saleem drove us around the Shangrila Hotel and sailed close to the famous Al Bustan hotel, which I had been longing to see and visit. It looks spectacular from afar! The sun was setting and we managed to get fantastic pictures of this dramatic desert setting of rugged mountains and sea.

Qantab beach

Qantab beach where we took a boat ride 

Muscat’s Turkish delights.  After two consecutive nights of excellent food at Automatic restaurant our Omani friend Mohammed and Faiz took us to Istanbuli in Al Khuwair. There are three Turkish restaurants right next to each other with outdoor seating which are very popular with Omanis. We highly recommend the Istanbuli’s kebabs and fresh juices.

How to spot an Omani? Over dinner, with two Omanis sitting next to me, I finally learnt about Omani dress code that I have always found to be the most elegant and regal in the Gulf. The quintessential Omani turban is called ‘Mussar’ and is only worn on formal occasions or by government representatives. The smaller ubiquitous cap is a ‘Kummah’ and is the Omani’s casual cap.  Also if you look closely at their thobe you will see a tassle called a ‘Farakha’ which is the distinctive feature of an Omani thobe. Across our table I spotted two perfect models, one wearing a Massar and the other a Kummah. I ventured over to get permission to photograph them and we discovered that they actually knew Ali’s family in Bahrain! It’s a small world! Thank you to Bashar Al Jamali and Juma Saed for modelling for us.

Muscat’s answer to Adliya Avenue. We finished this fantastic day by driving down to Ras Al Hamra beach where we all sat down on the sand and admired the pearls of the sky. This is a great  place to see shooting stars.

We then drove back to the hotel via the busy Al Qurom beach road which is a long bridge packed with people fishing, walking, posing, dancing and where our car turned many a head! I can only liken this to Adliya Avenue aka Shawarma avenue, but of course without people fishing, just staring at our fantastic car and branding for Bahrain!