A Dhow Day on the Gulf of Oman

There is something about being on the open road that connotes freedom for me. It’s the same liberating feeling that I get when I go bike riding along the shore- that indescribable sensation of sailing through the air effortlessly, that feeling of having the weight of the world lifted off my back, that feeling of being untarnished by time or place. So when opportunities within my travels, beckon me to head out on the road or out to the sea, I heed the call to explore unfamiliar terrain.

An ideal way to experience the UAE’s “border countries”, Oman and Saudi Arabia, is to venture out on the open road. Approximately 3 1/2 hours (192 miles) outside of Abu Dhabi City, lie the Northern tip of Oman, the Musandam Peninsula, a region of Oman known for its picturesque and unspoiled beauty, attracting many sea-faring tourists and bohemians such as myself.

Although I am not an accomplished swimmer (honestly, I would officially be categorized as a non-swimmer and yes, I did scour out the life jacket situation to assess that there was a reserve of jackets on board), I booked a ½ day excursion with Al Mariah Travel (www.almariahtravel.com) for a languid day on the sea.



(Please note that if you choose not to drive directly to the Rahal Musandam Port in Oman, Al Mariah Travel will gladly do pick ups and drop offs to and from Dubai or Abu Dhabi for an additional surcharge). For just 100 dirhams ($27), I hopped aboard a modern dhow boat, inspired by ancient Arab sailing vessels, and was whisked away in time through majestic mountains and fjords.



The only essentials needed were sunscreen, spritzer, bathing suit, and journal, of course, to record my musings.

The first stop on this sea adventure brought us to Telegraph Island, where those looking for extreme fun could be careened through the waters on an inflatable banana boat.


If you chose to opt out of the selected water sport activities, you could lounge on the upper deck with a classic cocktail (Cuba Libre) in hand and consume the view–the rugged Hajar mountains hugging the pristine coastline.


The second stop on this journey landed us at Seebi Island, an area where those who desired to snorkel and/or swim could bathe themselves in the azure seas of the Gulf of Oman. As this would be the area where the boat would linger for the larger portion of the day, this “pit stop” provided ample opportunities for individuals to decompress and cool off, before a hearty lunch buffet would be served. Traditional Arabic appetizers -hummus, tabouleh, kufta (ground meat patties), and grilled mixed meats were available. Lamb Biryani, which I believe is the Middle East’s reputed answer to Arroz con Pollo, cumin-scented chicken stewed with carrots and potatoes, mix vegetables salona (vegetable stew with chickpeas), grilled hammour (local fish) with hints of cardamom, were there for the taking. If you didn’t manage to gorge yourself on the main dishes, then you could feast on the spread of Arabic sweets- maakroun (fried dough usually served with date syrup), haresa semolina cake (cake made from wheat flour, sugar, butter, and yogurt), stuffed dates, and fresh fruit.

The last stop on this 5-hour excursion was unequivocally geared towards those with young children- line fishing in the sea, which was more for novelty than for angling. Nonetheless, all participants gave it a true scout’s try, prompted by the promise of a “big catch”.

I’m not sure what it is about coming back from a ½ or full day sojourn out on the sea that makes an individual feel as if he/she has just returned from an epic adventure as a maritime seaman, perhaps as a result of throwing caution to the wind in the unfamiliar setting whilst respecting the majesty of the sea. I felt a strong sense of accomplishment. The only thing that seemed wanting on the journey back home was the honeyed sounds of local Arabian music.



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