Business Traveller : 2019-09-01

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SUBSCRIBE YOUR INDISPENSA­BLE TRAVELLING COMPANION DESTINATIO­NS Calmly does it O man’s maritime history is woven throughout Muscat. Everywhere you look in the capital, from its roundabout­s to the Royal Opera House, there are photos, paintings and murals depicting the country’s seafaring heritage. It’s hardly surprising when you consider that the Sultanate anchors the Arabian Peninsula to the Indian Ocean, its 1,700km of rugged coastline extending from the border of Yemen to the rocky enclave of Musandam in the north. And this is the home of Sinbad, after all. Twenty years ago, Dubai’s rising sun was all but eclipsing Oman’s ambitions as a tourist destinatio­n. Thanks largely to Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, Muscat retained its identity and avoided the kind of tourism is set to skyrocket, with its value predicted to reach US$8.67 billion alone over the next decade, making it 8.9 per cent of GDP by 2028. All the same, the past 18 months have been less than smooth and the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund lowered the country’s forecast growth rate from 1.1 per cent to 0.3 per cent, largely down to a decline in oil prices. untethered developmen­t that saw its glitzy neighbour swamped by shopping malls and offshore projects. The capital relied on a handful of internatio­nal hotel chains that happily, if sleepily, plied their trade to expatriate engineers, oil and gas executives, teachers and nurses. Infrastruc­ture outside of the city was practicall­y non-existent, its coastal roads pot-holed and treacherou­s if one of the frequent typhoons had blown in. Muscat’s patience has been admirable – it has been ripe for developmen­t for decades, the Sultanate’s GDP in 2000 being US$19.51 billion, compared with US$79.29 billion today. Some 51 per cent of this is down to Oman’s oil and natural gas extraction; however, according to a new report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, Muscat at sunset PICTURED: Unlike some of its neighbours, Oman has taken a softly, softly approach to developmen­t and retained its unique character A SENSE OF PLACE To describe a city as quaint may seem trite, but not so with Muscat. It’s a place with its own distinct, almost village-like, aesthetic – a ten-storey limit is imposed on developmen­ts to keep the cityscape on a human scale. New roads that arc across the city have thankfully not diminished its character – it’s not quite the sleepy fishing port that it used to be, but neither is it Shanghai. 2019 SEPTEMBER £4.30 PLUS FORMANDFUN­CTION AIRLINESUR­VEY2020 REALGEM Celebratin­g a century of Bauhaus design Your essential economy and premium economy guide Singapore’s Jewel Changi is a dazzling destinatio­n Health checks • UK trains • Tried & Tested reviews A GULF APART → 36 37 Oman treads a different path to its near neighbours 2019 SEPTEMBER £4.30 PLUS FORMANDFUN­CTION AIRLINESUR­VEY2020 REALGEM Celebratin­g a century of Bauhaus design Your essential economy and premium economy guide Singapore’s Jewel Changi is a dazzling destinatio­n Health checks • UK trains • Tried & Tested reviews A GULF APART Oman treads a different path to its near neighbours GARETH ROBERTS WORDS businesstr­aveller.com SEPTEMBER SEPTEMBER 2019 businesstr­aveller.com 2019 save up to 20%. Subscribe to the digital edition and You will also receive a range of benefits through including platinum membership of Global Hotel Alliance Discovery. BT Plus, FREE visit businesstr­aveller.com/gha