Oman and Jordan are two incredibly unique and relatively undiscovered destinations in the Middle East. Both offering a host of brilliant hotels, unparalleled experiences and a fascinating history, they are wonderful combined on a tailor-made Oman and Jordan itinerary or on their own. Whilst close in proximity, Oman and Jordan couldn’t be more different in character. Our Middle East expert, Amy, unpicks the key things to expect from both.
Oman and Jordan are two extraordinarily diverse yet fascinating countries. For anyone looking to get off the beaten track and experience quintessential Arabia, they are unrivalled destinations, offering a wealth of fantastic experiences for both young and old. Both countries are successfully shaking off the negative reputation which has previously tarnished the idea of travel to the Middle East and emerging as superb destinations for the discerning traveller. My top tip is to travel here before the world catches on and the hoards arrive!
People and Culture
Oman is a very conservative country so visitors should be especially respectful of local customs. From clothing to body language, there are certain things to bear in mind whilst in public, for example, in places of worship women must cover their heads and remove shoes before entering. You will also notice that almost all Omani men wear a white, floor-length dishdasha, and women wear a black abayasare, which are both traditional dress.
In Jordan, my guide and driver informed me that, ‘Jordanians are like chameleons, always changing our skin’, in other words, they embrace every culture they encounter. In the cities, there are distinguishable pervading influences from across eastern Europe and the West, yet the remote villages and communities remain more traditional. You will see women out and about as well as working in hotels and restaurants.
In both places, you can expect a lot of interaction with the local people who are extremely respectful, interesting and courteous. They are very open and proud of their customs and are usually more than happy to chat to you about anything you are unsure about or any traditions in particular that interest you.
Oman’s hotels are a real highlight and up there with the best in the world. They are varied, exciting and hugely service focused so your stays will be memorable and of an extremely high standard.
The number and variety of hotels in Jordan are increasing year after year as demand rises, yet it is important to note that, at present, most of the hotels are quite large and boutique options aren’t really on the menu. Often, the facilities come second to the experiences on offer outside of the hotel grounds.
What to see
When you are exploring Oman, the focus is undoubtedly on the dramatic landscapes and natural surroundings that will await your every turn. The desert lands are everything you could wish for and more; there are rolling dunes in abundance, camels rule the roost and sunsets burn an orange that seems to set the world on fire. Oman is also home to stunning, craggy mountains and pristine azure coastlines where you can spot countless pods of dolphins and a catalogue of other marine life.
Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert also boasts fantastic scenery, offering panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see. There, you almost feel as if you have landed on Mars with the tales of Lawrence of Arabia coming to life at every turn. Further afield, the Dead Sea promises a truly surreal experience, at 400m under sea level it is the lowest place on Earth and well worth a visit. It is Jordan’s ancient past that steals the show though, and discovering the famous ruins of Jaresh and Amman at the beginning of your holiday will help you get a better understanding of the colourful history of Jordan. Prehistoric Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, is undeniably the star of the show though and visiting this ancient treasure will leave you spellbound for the rest of your trip and long after you have returned.