The tourist treasures of the Sultanate of Oman… What can’t be missed at the World Cup!
If you are to go by what studies suggest, football matches are not the only reason why millions of fans travel from all over the world to watch the World Cup… Millions of fans arriving for the FIFA World Cup, which takes place every 4 years look to explore tourist attractions and learn about the cultures of the host country and the region.
Winning the world’s most popular sporting championship can only be surpassed by the privileged experiences that the “football fans” have in and outside the stadiums, in activities directly related to football in the fan zones, or indirectly by getting to know the landmarks and cultures of the region and geographically close countries, their tours not being limited to the cities where the World Cup is held.
In less than a month, the FIFA World Cup finals will begin in Qatar, for the first time in the GCC region. Preliminary estimates are that more than 1.2 million international visitors will travel to watch the tournament. In addition, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has announced that some three million tickets have been sold for the matches so far. A large proportion of these has been bought by locals and people from the region, with international ticket purchases not limited to the 32 countries whose national teams have qualified for the finals.
FIFA fever extends beyond the host country, as most of its neighbours in the GCC region have made extensive preparations to support the State of Qatar in hosting the World Cup. The Sultanate of Oman’s capital Muscat is among the accredited cities to host fans, and has developed an integrated programme to welcome World Cup fans and allow them to experience the Sultanate’s unique cultural and tourism offerings. The programme will see daily flights between the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar from 20 November to 18 December 2022. Fans holding a ‘Hayya’ card will receive a free multiple-entry visa and have the opportunity to bring their families along on their FIFA trip. There are special provisions for transport and procedures at the airport, accommodation packages and tourism programmes that have been launched with more than 20,000 hotel rooms in 11 governorates and more than 200 tourism products through more than 35 suppliers in the tourism sector.
What can’t you miss during your FIFA trip2022 World Cup trip?
The Sultanate of Oman is characterised by unique cultural and tourist attractions, including natural areas such as coasts, seas, mountains, deserts, waterfalls, hot springs, caves and valleys, as well as its historical architecture. The hosting of the FIFA World Cup coincides with the winter season, during which numerous cultural, heritage and tourism events are held in the various governorates of the Sultanate.
Not very far away from all the action and excitement in the stadiums, the Sultanate is organising a Football Fan Festival at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre in the capital Muscat, one of the few cities accredited to receive fans of the tournament.
The football theatre is located in the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is considered an architectural masterpiece of urban design in Muscat and has a fan zone that’s become a major attraction at World Cups in recent years. FIFA fans here have the opportunity to watch the matches of the tournament in a special atmosphere on a big screen, as well as enjoy activities and culinary experiences and interactive activities, competitions and live performances for local and international tastes.
The garden of the Oman Convention Centre, where the festival will be held, covers an area of over 9,000 square metres, and the car park can accommodate 4,000 cars. Created by several partners, including entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises, the festival zone innovatively combines authentic Omani culture with cutting-edge technology to offer visitors unforgettable experiences. The festival also includes a virtual reality area where visitors can test their football skills, join the e-player competition for the Football Fan Fest championship and receive limited editions of official festival memorabilia.
The Football Fan Festival is a celebration for the whole family with football competitions for children on small pitches on the festival grounds. Oman national team goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi and players from various European clubs will appear as official brand ambassadors of the World Cup Fans Festival. Several sports and art stars will also participate in the various activities.
Unmissable unique experiences and events
The Sultanate of Oman is one of those unique destinations that stand out for the diversity of its tourist attractions that can be enjoyed throughout the year in different seasons. During the winter season, which coincides with the FIFA World Cup, the country hosts numerous historical, cultural and tourist events.
Sports enthusiasts can take advantage of their presence in the region to participate in or watch short and long-distance races organised in the desert and enjoy the adventurous activities in Oman’s rugged nature, which is a popular attraction for visitors. The Sultanate of Oman is full of wonderful natural landscapes, including mountains, beaches, open seas and deserts, perfect for an adrenaline rush in a safe environment to climb mountains, explore caves and valleys and dive in the sea.
There are many climbing areas in the Sultanate, such as Wadi Ghoul in Al Dakhiliyah, Governorate and Jebel Misht, which has one of the largest rocky facades of, 850 metres high. The governorate of Musandam also has many attractions to offer, including many mountains that stretch around the capital Muscat, most famous of all is Jabal Shams, which is one of the highest mountains peaking at 3,000 metres attracting both amateur and professional mountaineers.
For diving enthusiasts, the Sultanate of Oman is considered one of the best and most famous diving destinations in the region, boasting a rich diversity of marine life. There are many sea cliffs, small islands, bays and caves and a rich and unique marine and coral life. While the best-known diving areas around the capital Muscat include Bandar Al Khairan, Al Fahal Island, Daymaniyat Islands, Al Maqbara Bay (Old Muscat) and Al Jissah Beach.
During the winter season, the Frankincense festival is organised by Dhofar Governorate, showcasing the historical role it plays in Omani culture and includes an exhibition for the sale and display of frankincense products, live demonstrations of frankincense distillation and traditional crafts, in addition to entertainment and cultural events.
Another unmissable event surrounding the FIFA World Cup is the Oman Air Carnival, organised in the scenic areas around Muscat, South Al Batinah and A’Dakhiliyah governorates, with paragliding parades taking place at various tourist attractions. The very popular Muscat Food Festival, which attracted over 60,000 visitors and feature more than 156 unique restaurants in the last edition, will be returning at the same time.
In the North Sharqiyah Governorate, the Desert Adventure Festival will take place, attracting adventure-seekers to a variety of activities, from outdoor camping to off-roading and witnessing the Oman Desert Marathon. In addition, various events take place in different governorates during the winter season.
With all the unique experiences that Oman offers to World Cup guests, a visit to the tournament is an opportunity to discover and enjoy the rare treasures that the Sultanate has to offer to enrich their experiences and bring back pleasant memories that will last a lifetime.