Intrepid traveller Ali Hussain Mushaima is well-known for his unique Friendship Arabia tours - journeying by road from Bahrain to various corners of the world. The message has remained the same right from the time he launched his first trip, a 3-month drive to Europe, many years ago: spread the word about Bahrain, its people and all it has to offer. Ali's newest tour, a two month journey from June 23, 2010, is titled: "Tylos to Thassos, Voyage of Discovery".


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Day 16: Back in Bahrain
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 18:05

His Highness Abdul Aziz Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi after receiving the 101 Things to See and Do in Oman book
Shaikh Abdul Aziz Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi looks through the book
101 Things to See and Do in Oman after receiving a copy from Ali 

After taken Eleni to Abu Dhabi airport and saying goodbye, we drove to Ajman to meet His Highness Shaikh Abdul Aziz Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, head of the Ajman Tourism Development Department, to present to him a copy of our book, 101 Things to See and Do in Oman. We also presented him with copies of other books that we have published.

Shaikh Abdul Aziz was keen on finding out about the new book in the series that we are planning, 101 Things to See and Do in UAE, and he offered us his complete support. He had heard about our publications and expeditions from the Oman Tourism Ministry and wanted to meet us.

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Day 15: Oman, a fond goodbye
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Monday, 16 April 2012 14:29

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque 

Today is our last day in Oman and we decided to visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It is one of the most beautiful mosques in the world and it has also the biggest woven carpet.

This is a place no matter how many times you visit, you will always marvel at its beauty. While we were there we met a Dutch TV crew and we had a brief chat with them. They told us how much they are enjoying Oman. We presented them with copies of our book 101 Things to See and Do in Oman and wished them good luck with their filming.

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Day 14: A day to give thanks
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Sunday, 15 April 2012 15:51

Mohammed Saleh Al haikh receive a copy of 101 Things to see and Do in Oman from Ali and Haider
Mohammed Saleh Al Shaikh receives a copy of
101 Things to See and Do in Oman from Ali and Haider 

We started our day by visiting the Bahrain embassy in Muscat and met with H.E. Mohammed Saleh Al Shaikh and presented to him a copy of 101 Things to See and Do in Oman. He asked us for more copies since the Indian Ambassador had called him and asked for a copy of the book.

He also congratulated us on the trip and gave us an idea for a new trip, maybe from Morocco to Manama and Muscat starting from the Ocean to the Gulf and he recounted his old days in school. The proposed trip would start in Africa to Europe and finish in Asia, and he also offered his support for the expedition. We thanked him for his great idea and assured him that we will consider it for one of our future expeditions.

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Day 13: A fitting end to latest tour
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Saturday, 14 April 2012 15:14


Ali presenting a copy of 101 Things to See and Do in Oman to Khalid Bin Mohamed Bin Omar Bin Bahram 

Entering the Al Bustan hotel one cannot fail to be amazed by the enormous central hall complete with fountain and gigantic crystal chandelier. It is a fitting place to end the Manama, Capital of Arab Culture 2012 to Muscat Arab Tourism Capital 2012 Expedition and to launch our book 101 Things to See and Do in Oman. We brought with us Jameel Ebrahim employee of Bahrain’s Ministry of Tourism who we met today at the Ministry of Tourism in Oman. 

We were delighted to be greeted at Al Bustan by Yayha Al Kiyumi who first proposed the tour. He introduced us to guest of honour Khalid Bin Mohamed Bin Omar Bin Bahram, Assistant Head of Muscat Municipality who expressed great pride in Muscat and its status this year of Arab Toursim Capital.

Also present were many of our friends from the Oman Ministry of Tourism, our sponsors Omran including Abdul Wahid Al Farsi Omran’s External Affairs Manager, Bernard Viola, General Manager of Al Bustan Hotel and Bahrain Embassy representatives Deputy Head of Mission Khalid Al Mansoor and Ali Hassan, Culture Attache together with other embassy staff. 

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Day 12: An oh-so-lucky Friday the 13th
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Friday, 13 April 2012 15:06


Ali showing Yahya Al Kiyumi the Oman images on the cars 

If I was superstitious I guess I wouldn’t have got out of bed this morning as it’s Friday the 13th. However, the sun streaming into my ‘tent’ at the Arabian Oryx Camp in Al Sharqiya Sands had me up and about in no time.

And what a wonderful night’s sleep I had - with only a night owl hooting occasionally and a solitary beetle scurrying across the room, the silence ensured my unbroken night’s rest. I don’t think I’ve slept that deeply or soundly in a long time. Each ‘tent’ has an en suite bathroom, air conditioning, tea and coffee making equipment and very comfortable beds. This is definitely the (easy) way to camp!

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Day 11: Highway star, Omani style
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Thursday, 12 April 2012 15:49


Hamdan and friends enjoying the sunset at Arabian Oryx camp 

Have you seen the movie Thelma and Louise, the part where the two women are driving at speed down an American highway in their convertible with the top down, the wind blowing their hair artistically, music wafting gently on the air waves and the scenery flashing by in a delicate blur? 

Somehow I found myself today in my own movie set experience except this time I was in a jeep with roll bars, accompanied by 3 young Omani men, Arabic rock music boomed out and I fought to maintain some semblance of elegance by frequently adjusting my headscarf which preferred to blow crazily in the wind.  I failed in this regard and for sure had the wild, windswept look down to a T! 

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Day 10: The call of the mountain
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Wednesday, 11 April 2012 15:24

 

The team outside the Omran Headquarters in Muscat  

Summer arrived in Muscat today with temperatures reaching 38 degrees.  While the others sleep, I am seriously thinking of sneaking off into the mountains where it’ll be a good 15 degrees cooler.   Trouble is with the vivid Oman-themed branding we have on the cars I would be too easy to track to my mountain getaway.  

Another reason for my desire to head up Jebel Akhdar (meaning Green Mountain) is that we visited our sponsors Omran this morning.  Lyutha Al Habsy told us about Omran’s latest projects including one to build a hotel on top of Jebel Akhdar.   

The pictures of the hotel’s stunning location at the edge of the canyon reminded me what a beautiful, unspoiled place it is and that I would love to see it again and soon.  So I guess I will just have to plan another trip – perhaps from the highest point in Qatar where I currently live to one of the highest points in Oman!  

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Day 9: Fjords take the breath away
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 21:42


The dhow on its way to Musandam

We have only one life on this earth and while we are here it behooves us to cherish each friendship forged and memory created.  These are the things that will sustain us in the months and years to come when we recall all that has gone before and dream of that which is to follow.  Time cannot be turned back yet we can see its passage in the faces of those we meet and the landscapes spread before us; in the rock that is etched with lines and the faces that are similarly imprinted.

As we set off this morning on a dhow trip, Musandam stretched before us in a vast geological display of eons gone by when the mountains emerged from the sea in a burst of seismic activity.  The resulting fjords are one of Oman’s natural wonders, the beauty of which cannot fail to take visitors’ breath away, as it did ours.  

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Day 8: Pearls, glorious pearls
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Monday, 09 April 2012 18:14

 

Top, first sight of a RAK cultured pearl and above, a special gift

No visitor to the Gulf region can fail to notice the importance that the pearl has in the psyche of the Arab people.  Not only has it provided a centuries old economic benefit but also it embodies unquantifiable feelings of pride, well being and love that to the (non-Arab) outsider may be harder to fathom.  

To see Nasser Hassan al Qas al Ali, President of the Ahmed Bin Majid museum last Saturday carefully unfold from his wallet a tiny shred of red cloth, bound by an even smaller piece of string, to reveal 4 tiny natural pearls which he gently cradled in his hand, one could immediately sense something else at play, above and beyond their material value.  These were cultural treasures, lovingly held close to his heart, that were to be given as a gift to a dear friend.

Today we spent several hours explore the nature of this relationship to begin to understand the role it plays in the Gulf peoples’ hearts.

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Day 7: A hotel simply unlike any other
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Sunday, 08 April 2012 17:11

 
Banyan Tree Resort 

There comes a point when you have travelled to enough places in far flung locations when the hotels begin to blur into one and the feeling of “been there, done that, seen that” takes over.  Thankfully this cannot be said of the destination we found ourselves at this evening.  

Nestled in undulating sand dunes only a few kilometers south of Al Hamra, we were guests of Zahed Dalati of Arabian Incentive, which has created an authentic Bedouin camp where we relaxed and enjoyed traditional Bedouin hospitality at its best.   Surrounded by tents made of camel hair and sitting on locally woven cushions, we sampled Arabic delicacies cooked on an open fire and underground. 

This eco-conscious camp – there is no electricity except for a small generator used for music, waste water is recycled and seats and tables are imaginatively constructed out of things that others might discard – is capable of accommodating over 75 guests for an evening to remember.  Guests can chose to arrive by camel, horse, foot or 4x4 and camp over night in either a regular or a Bedouin style tent.  

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Picture-perfect panoramas
Written by Eleni Karapanagiotou   
Sunday, 08 April 2012 17:10


When I met the Friendship Arabia team in 2010 I was very impressed with the work they do and had the opportunity to visit Bahrain and Oman last year.I was also amazed by the quality of the photographs, the panoramic photos and the 360º virtual tours. 

I am very fortunate to meet the photographers of the team who gave me some tips on taking good pictures. Shafik and Haider are always encouraging not only me but also the people they meet during the trips. One thing I enjoyed is taking panoramic images and here I would like to share with you some of them. Click on the image above to view all.

We are in the end of our Gulf Tour and soon we will arrive in Oman. I cannot wait to see the country once again and explore more of Oman and its culture. 

 


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