Excursion: Oman, January 2019
Tourism Development Studies
On January 3rd 2019 our TDS master group with 27 students set off to a 10 days excursion to Oman. The field trip contained company visits, cultural and adventurous activities and a lot of traditional Omani food. We were accompanied by Prof. Dr. Rundshagen and Ms. Schnierer. After our arrival we got to know our guide Paul, who gave us a warm welcome. First, we went to the palace of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the head of state of Oman, to get a first impression of the Omani architecture. Afterwards the bus took us to Majan Continental Hotel where we got time for relaxation where many of us used the time for catching up on sleep.
On January 5th we visited the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat in the morning, as the mosque is only open to public from Saturday to Thursday during 08:00 and 11:00am. This is the most beautiful mosque in Oman according to our guide Paul and an impressive example of modern Islamic architecture. In order to respect the culture visitors are required to wear appropriate clothing covering arms, legs and wearing headscarfs for women. Afterwards we visited the Souq Muttrah, the oldest and most popular tourist spot, an Arabic market in the capital city Muscat. At the Souq we met some other students from the Cologne Business School as well as Manuela Gutberlet (German professor teaching in Oman), who gave us a short introduction about the Souq, and we competed in groups with a little quiz. After the meeting we went back to the hotel, where we had some time to relax. In the afternoon we got the chance to go back to the market, to buy some souvenirs, or to walk down the corniche or to visit the Fort Muttrah, offering a breathtaking view over Muscat and the sea.
The January 6th was our first day filled with exciting company appointments. The first meeting of the day was at the Ministry of Tourism. At the Ministry we were welcomed by employees of the Ministry and guided into a presentation hall. There we met again with the group of students from Cologne Business School. The Ministry gave us a great overview about tourism in Oman and especially in Muscat. After that we were offered the opportunity to try typical Omani coffee and food called “Halwa”. After that appointment we were driven back to our hotel in Muscat, the Majan Continental Hotel, where a meeting room was reserved for our group. Here we met Ms. Sousann El-Faksch, Representative and Head of Oman Office of the German Chamber of Commerce in Muscat. Again we were introduced to the country and its tourism sector, but we also talked about the field of duties of the chamber as well. Our last appointment of the day led us to the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, which is located approximately thirty minutes away from Muscat´s city centre. At the resort we met Ms. Stephanie Rachid, Assistant Learning & Development Manager. She introduced us into the philosophy of Shangri La and provided a tour of all hotels including several facilities.
The next day contained three interesting appointments in a row. German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) is known as a partner-university of the HOST, where students can choose their preferred program out of 13 Bachelor and Master courses. After the welcome speck of Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, we were put together in groups with Omani students to create an exchange of the different cultures. Presentations were held, different topics were discussed within the groups and a lot of information about the different cultures and countries was shared. The next appointment took place at Oman-Air, which was founded in 1993 and has since then witnessed a massive growth and flights to many destinations. Oman-Air provided us a warm welcome containing a round tour through the training centre so that we had the opportunity to learn more about the aviation industry and the qualifications of the crew members. All of us enjoyed very much the final speech given by Dr. Khalid Abdul wahab Ahmed Al Balushi as we could learn about the culture, his personal thoughts and reflect those with our understanding. We were overwhelmed by the openness and wonderful hospitality of Oman Air.
The last appointment that day was the office of our tour guide Paul. Zahara Tours provides different services, such as excursions, tours, adventure tours, cruises as well as car rental and has become the pioneer in Travel and Tourism business in Oman. The Vice President, Mr. Harsh Abrol, as well as Mr. Arun Raj, Manager Business Development, were so kind to share his professional expertise with us.
From 8th January onwards we continued with several separate cars to get to our destinations. We made a quick stop at a small fisher village and then continued our journey to Wadi Shab. We had to hike to get to the Wadi, the way there was really stunning, as it was leading through a canyon. Some of us went swimming in the clear, blue water and discovered after a long and not always easy way a small cave where we could enjoy ourselves by jumping of a rock with a small waterfall. When we came back from the Wadi, we had to drive a little more to arrive in Sur, which is a small town at the coast. We had some time to relax and to freshen up before we started to our next appointment. We went to the Ras al Jinz Scientific Visitor Center, which is a turtle reserve in-between the mountains, close to the beach. This area is known for the nesting of the endangered green turtle and is one of the most important nesting places at the Indian ocean. Thus, we learned interested facts about turtles and the sustainable approach at Ras al Jinz. And finally, the time arrived where we were led through the darkness to the nearby beach in order to encounter some baby turtles and a nesting turtle. What a wonderful experience!
The next day started very early, because today our journey went into the desert of the country. We made the first photo stop at the Dhow museum and factory. Our second stop was at Wadi Bani Khalid at midday, which is one of the most popular natural swimming spots for locals as well as for tourists. While some of us explored the area on foot, some sat in the shade, holding their feet in the cool water and relaxing. In the afternoon we reached the desert, known as Wahiba Sands. Our camp, the Ramlat Al Wahiba desert is located in the Dschanub ash-Scharqiyya region in eastern Oman. After each group had moved into their small and cozy hut, we went to the dunes by jeep: dune bashing followed by sunset, that we watched on top of the dunes. After we all had a typically rich dinner, locals played traditional music and danced to it, with some of us joining in.
The following morning, the alarm clock went off early. After a rich breakfast at the camp, the whole group left the desert heading towards the small city of Sinaw, where we visited the local Souq. Then, we moved to Nizwa, a city which is often called “Pearl of Islam” due to its beauty and its cultural attractions. Here we visited the Fort Nizwa, which belongs to the UNESCO world heritage sights and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oman. In the evening, we ate all together at an Omani restaurant located in the city centre. Delicious food was served, and we had the opportunity to taste once again the local specialties, like camel meat and Qahwa, the Omani coffee.
On 11th January we visited Nizwa Souk early morning, which is a traditional market with an animal auction. Farmers and animal owners auction their goats, cows, lambs and even camels, particularly in the early morning it is very busy around the auction place. Additionally, the market offers traditional spices and food, frankincense lights and stones, souvenirs and a lot more. After the market visit, we went by jeep to the checkpoint at Wadi Al Madeen and get changed for a three hours hiking tour at Jebel Akdar. Two friendly hiking guides leaded us through the beautiful and amazing nature of the Al Hajar mountain range. Moreover, it was a stunning view from the top of the mountain. In the afternoon we drove back to Muscat.
On our last day in Oman, 14 students, the two professors of our group and our tour guide Paul gathered together and joined an additional voluntary trip to the surroundings of Muttrah. The remaining students spent their day, sleeping in, relaxing at the pool and shopping some souvenirs. In the evening, the whole group had dinner together with a special surprise for one of our international students to celebrate his birthday.
After exciting days in the Sultanat of Oman we had to start our return journey. At 12:00 am clock at night our bus picked us up and drove us to the airport Muscat, where our return flight to Dubai started at 04:50 in the morning.
We look back to an amazing excursion filled with many attractions and academic appointments. We had the chance to get to know a country where the tourism sector is still in process. Due to this, the country gave a really authentic impression, the people always were hospitable and helped us to get to know their culture. Through the business meetings we could gain many new contacts, which could be very helpful for our further career as well as the acquired cultural knowledge. Thanks for inviting us!
Sandra, Christiane and Celina
TDS Master students, 1st semester
Exkursionen sind ein fester Bestandteil unseres Master-Studiengangs Tourism Development Strategies. Die Philosophie dahinter ist eine stetige und nachhaltige Verzahnung von Theorie und Praxis. Aber nicht nur eine Verbesserung der Fachkompetenz und Angebote zur Förderung des Netzwerkes unserer Studierenden werden mit einer Studienreise angestrebt, ebenso ist es eine Erweiterung des eigenen Horizontes, da oftmals Begegnungen mit ganz anderen Kulturkreisen erlebt werden.
Die stetige Interaktion mit etwa 20 Studierenden über einen Zeitraum von 10 Tagen fördert die Teamfähigkeit aller Teilnehmer. Weiterhin werden kommunikative, soziale Kompetenzen und nicht zuletzt die eigene Persönlichkeit gestärkt.