Tag Archives: Middle East

Where a train takes you to the Caves!

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Estimated to be over 2 million years old, the Al Hoota Cave is one of Oman’s most popular natural tourist attractions. Located off route 21 between Nizwa and Bahla at the foot of Oman’s epic mountain Jabal Shams, just 2 hours drive from Muscat, it is the first and only cave in the Arabian Peninsula which is open to visitors. With a total length of around 4.5 kilometres, around 500 metres of the cave is accessible to the general public.

The one hour guided tour starts from the Visitor’s Centre with a short ride in an electric train that carries passengers up to the cave entrance. Once inside the cave, it’s a feast for the eyes as you walk on the pathway and witness an enormous subterranean cavern filled with stalactites, stalagmites and colourful solid rock columns. Don’t miss the popular lion’s head, the cat, the old man and countless other intriguing shapes and an 800m long underground lake that is home to the rare blind fish – Garra Barreimiae and many other animal species like bats, arthropods, mollusks, spiders, snails and water beetles.

More on OMAN: The jewel of Arabia gets a stylish new gateway

While the Al Hoota Cave is made of stone, it was created by water. Like many other caves in Oman, the Al Hoota Cave system was formed by the dissolution of limestone by acidic water. When rainwater dissolves carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or soil, it produces a dilute carbonic acid that dissolves the limestone as it runs over it, thus forming the cave. Every 100 years, the water dissolves through 10mm of rock – so it takes a long time to create something as spectacular as the Al Hoota Cave! Fascinating features such as stalagmites, stalactites and of course the magnificent lion of the cave are formed by mineral deposits as water drips into or moves through the cave system. Some of the columns and curtains you will see in the cave have been shaped over millions of years.

Post the tour; also visit the geological exhibition for an interesting insight into the geology of Oman and an in-depth study on how these caves were formed. Owing to its delicate ecosystem, a maximum of only 750 people are allowed to visit the caves on a day, hence it is ideal to do prior booking. The cave is open to visitors every Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 6pm.

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You could combine your trip with a visit to Nizwa to experience the magnificent Fort and Friday market or see the traditional architecture of Al Hamra and the beautiful atmosphere of Misfit al Abryeen. You could stroll through Wadi Tanuf or do the rim walk at Jebel Shams before lunch at Al Hoota followed by an afternoon visit to the cave.

Love caves? Read: Myth and mystery of the cave 90 feet deep

Have you ever been to Al Hoota cave? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.

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World’s first ANGRY BIRDS WORLD entertainment park opens in Qatar

You would have enjoyed the Angry Birds game, but now it is time to enjoy the Angry Birds entertainment park. And, it’s unique. The world’s first ANGRY BIRDS WORLD entertainment park has opened its doors to residents and visitors to Qatar, transforming the classic bird-flinging game into a cluster of high-octane attractions designed to entertain every member of the family. Located in Qatar’s largest fashion, dining and entertainment destination, Doha Festival City, the 17,000 sq.m park comprises an indoor space of 6,500 sq.m. 

Inspired by the popular digital game, the park offers its visitors a heart-pounding experience with many attractions such as the Blast Bomb – a drop and twist tower that features free-fall motion from a height of 11 metres, or Red Alert where visitors are hurled into an exhilarating 360-degree spin.  One of the park’s uniquely impressive attractions is the Big Tree, which offers both children and adults a fun edutainment experience encompassing science, music and art.  

For adventure junkies, the tree also houses “Own the Sky”, a 106-metre zip line that allows participants to cut through the air at rip-roaring speeds. Visitors can also test their physical strength with “Fierce Flight” – an incredible ropes course challenge.  

ANGRY BIRDS WORLD is a new addition to Qatar’s expanding urban and family entertainment offering, which tourism officials have marked as a priority in a five-year strategy designed to diversify visitor source markets. Qatar’s entertainment portfolio includes a range of exciting festivals, celebrating everything from food and shopping to music and comedy. The country’s longest nation-wide festival – Qatar Summer Festival – kicked off this June in tandem with the Russia FIFA World Cup 2018, with fan zones in venues and hotels across the country designed to give a taste of what is to come in 2022 when Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup. 

Simo Hämäläinen, Senior Vice President, Brand Licensing at Rovio Entertainment, commented: “Our new world-class attraction based in Qatar is another clear demonstration of the global appeal of the Angry Birds brand. Rovio’s current licensing roadmap is strongest to date, bringing great new ways for our fans to enjoy Angry Birds. The brand’s future looks bright and is being spearheaded with the theatrical release of The Angry Birds Movie 2 in September 2019.”

ANGRY BIRDS WORLD constitutes one of the four major entertainment parks that are introduced by Trimoo and set to open at Doha Festival City, located along Al Shamal Road. Upon completion, the unique entertainment destination will be home to –  SNOW DUNES™ – the country’s first indoor snow park set in an ancient Arabian village; VIRTUOCiTY™ – the region’s first dedicated digital gaming and entertainment hub; and JUNIVERSE™ – the world’s first city in space that aims to inspire and entertain children.

Angry Birds World in Numbers 

  • World’s 1st Angry Birds World entertainment park 
  • Over 20 high-quality thrilling rides
  • Over 17,000 sq.m of mad fun (6,500sq.m – indoor  | 10,500sq.m – outdoor)
  • Trampoline Park – 1,300 sq.m
  • Roller Glider – 106m long
  • Super Slingshot Tower 42m high | capsule can reach 60m high
  • 1st indoor/outdoor karting track in the world  (1st multi-level karting track in the region, 261m track length | 11 Go Karts)
  • Over 70 arcade games
  • How about snagging450 sq.m retail area 
  • Refuel on the goMore than 7 Food & Beverage options

Have you ever been to a theme based entertainment park? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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The Jewel of Arabia gets a stylish new gateway

The first phase of Oman’s brand new Muscat International Airport is currently operational and has increased passenger capacity to 20 million- up from the previous 12 million passengers recorded in 2017. The state-of- the-art airport has been designed to be the shining symbol of the Sultanate of Oman. The new airport is designed as ICAO category 4F airports which will be able to accommodate the world`s largest aircraft, Airbus A380 and the runway will enable independent parallel operations. The passenger terminals built with the latest technology are aligned with IATA Service Level A standards. The total gross area for the new Muscat International terminal building is 580,000 m2 with an overall airport land area of 21 km2. 

Salim Al-Mamari, Ministry of Tourism, Oman said “The government of Oman is focusing on Travel and Tourism as a part of its economic diversification strategy. The newly opened Muscat International Airport, brand new Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, revised visa rules along with other infrastructure developments seen in the recent times determine some of the efforts to increase tourism in Oman. India is one of the key markets for Oman and we are certain that this proactive initiative by the Ministry will drive a lot of visitors from India. Since 2014, Oman has witnessed over 23% growth in Indian arrivals. In 2016, Oman received 297,628 Indian arrivals as compared to 256,210 arrivals in 2014 that is over 16% growth within 2 years. In 2017, Oman received 321,161 Indian arrivals which is remarkably higher, showcasing growth of over 7.90 % in just one year.”

Oman’s new international airport has already welcomed over one million passengers, as it celebrated its first month of operations. The airport will undergo further upgrades in three consecutive phases which aims to boost the number to 24, 36 and 48 million passengers per annum. Presently, the Muscat International Airport is ranked among the top 10 airports in Middle East and has recently won the 2018 World Travel Awards as Middle East’s Leading New Tourism Development Project 2018.

For convenient travel, the new terminal’s departure hall allows guests to avail of three entrance gates that seamlessly flow to the 96 flight check-in facilities that are well located. First & Business class passengers flying with Oman Air will be assisted separately at 12 check-in counters and 3 supervisor counters, all of which personifies Oman’s magnificent hospitality. With an array of shopping and dining outlets, guests transiting through the new terminal will experience unrivaled service. The extravagant duty free is every shopper’s paradise with world-renowned brands and close to 100 outlets ranging from perfumes to jewellery, fashion and travel accessories along with a dedicated store for traditional handicrafts. Arrive re-energized at your destination with a comfortable stay at the 4-star hotel within the airport complex which houses 90 rooms, delectable food lounges and swimming pools.

Quick facts:

  • Muscat Passenger Terminal Building total area – 580,000 m2
  • Other Airport Buildings total area – more than 30,000 m2
  • ATC tower height – 97 meters
  • 96 check-in counters
  • 29 passenger boarding bridges
  • 30 aircraft remote stands
  • 5,500 bags per hour baggage processing capacity
  • Two parallel runways, capable to serve world`s largest aircraft A380
  • Airside hotel (90 rooms capacity for 12 MPPA)

So be there and experience the Jewel of Arabia in a new magnificent way. Till then, enjoy this beautiful video.