Oman’s 2092 km of coastline, rugged mountains rising to 2980 metres, and sandy deserts set the stage for a myriad of sport and adventure tourism opportunities. The landscape is unique to the GCC and offers something for everyone, whether a weekend adventurer, thrill seeker or professional athlete.
Traditional sports such as dhow racing, horse racing, camel racing, bull fighting and falconry are still part of Oman’s rich heritage, however in recent years Oman has played host to a variety of professional international events. The Extreme Sailing series is one of the most popular and well-known. Attracting more than 7000 spectators, the opening ceremony is hosted in Muscat and has become a firm fixture for enthusiasts. Thus far the Oman team has been the most successful team in the series, winning it three times. The next event will be in March 2015.
Sailing Arabia Tour and the Mussanah Race Week are Omani-born international sailing events. Mussanah Race Week is the sultanate’s first annual dinghy regatta, which was created to further develop Omani sailors’ skills through competition, showcase Oman’s sailing venues and strives to one day become an Olympic class regatta. Sailing Arabia – The Tour is a 15-day race via eight marinas in the Gulf. The event attracts regional and international teams racing identical Farr 30 keelboats. The competition has become popular with amateur and professional sailors. Mussanah Race Week takes place in January, while Sailing Arabia – The Tour begins each year in February.
In November 2014 Oman hosted the final event of the second annual RC44 Championship Tour, an international yacht racing circuit established in 2007. This event brings together boats owned and raced by some of the world's leading businessmen and crewed by top sailors. Although sailing has been gaining popularity, in recent years cycling enthusiasts have transformed the sport into a world-class venue.
Two cycling events take place every year: the Tour of Oman and the Trans-Hajar Mountain Bike Race. Started in 2010, the Tour of Oman was established as a pre-season training platform for competitive cyclists. Since then, it has grown into an annual race which attracts some of the world’s best teams and cyclists. The event takes place in February.
Moving off-road, the Trans-Hajar Mountain Bike race is a multi-stage mountain bike race. Also started in 2010, the Trans-Hajar race offers challenging terrain. The race offers every terrain challenge available, from 20% climbs to single-track descents through scenic wadis and canyons. The 2015 race will see an entirely new route centred at the base of highest peak in the Arabian Peninsula, Jebel Shams, which reaches heights of 3028 metres. Competing over 400 km and 10,000 metres of ascent, the 2015 race will begin in January.
Outside of the professional world of sport, Oman still has a lot to offer in the way of recreational sports. Diving, cycling, sailing and golf have become increasingly popular with locals, expatriates and tourists. Covering an expanse from Musandam at the opening of the Strait of Hormuz to Salalah near the border of Yemen, Oman’s coast offers a variety of colourful and exciting dives. Diving season is year-round with the exception of the khareef, or monsoon, season in Salalah. Depending on one’s location along the coast, divers regularly see an assortment of diverse sea life ranging from rays, sharks, octopus, snapper, turtles, dolphins and whales. There are over 40 recognised dive sites along the cost of Oman, the most popular being the Daymaniyat Islands, Bandar Khairan, Fahl Island and the Musandam area. Diving courses are also abundantly available – from five-day Open Water courses to multi-week Dive Master courses.
Oman opened its first 18-hole grass course in 2009 at the Muscat Hills Golf and Country Club; since then the golf scene has grown to a unique offering of outstanding courses. The most popular courses are based in Muscat starting with Muscat Hills, Ghala Valley Golf Club and Almouj Golf. Almouj Golf has a nine-hole academy par 3 course that is both affordable and exciting.
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