If you’ve been following the blog, you might have read some of my Muscat trip posts. If not, here’s an introduction in the first post. As I mentioned in that post, the trip wasn’t sponsored by any third party. I wasn’t paid to write the review on the hotel or anything else from that trip. I didn’t stay at the hotel for free in return for these posts. I paid the regular full rates as any regular tourist would. That’s why, the posts are truly genuine and honest. I reviewed the hotel from with all fairness, impartiality and accuracy.
Oman is a country worth a visit if you live in the Middle East. Mainly, because it’s different than the rest of the GCC countries. I’m originally from Saudi Arabia, but I have lived in Bahrain while doing my first degree there. I’ve also visited Kuwait once, and I now live in Dubai, in the UAE. I must admit that Oman’s landscape of beach, green spaces and mountains is truly unique for this region. It has a certain magical spell about it. Being surrounded by true nature feels so blissful and relaxing. When I first arrived to the hotel, all I wanted to do was sit and take in the view from outside the hotel room window. If you missed that view, you can check it here.
I spent most of my time lounging by the beach, as I desperately needed a break from Dubai’s fast-paced and busy lifestyle. Here are some shots from the beach at Crowne Plaza Muscat.
That’s it for my Muscat trip posts. For the rest of the posts, just do a simple search on the blog’s homepage for the word “Muscat” and you should get all the posts in the search results.
Another thing that I would like to add is that all the clothes that I wear in all my posts are from my own wardrobe. They are from my personal collection and were not given to me by any third party.
I hope that you enjoyed my recent travel posts, and that they inspired you in some way to visit that lovely city, or to simply travel somewhere. I am personally looking forward to my next trip – once I’m done with my University course.
That’s another thing that I look forward to! getting my journalism degree!
Here’s a photo of my suitcase at the end of the trip – as I was getting ready to leave majestic Muscat…
I don’t know why I traveled all the way to Hong Kong to escape busy, fast-paced and crowded Dubai! But, you can read all about my trip to Hong Kong in my earlier posts here.
Then, I decide to visit Muscat to relax by the beach and do some man hunting! (as in finding a partner basically). Of course I was only confronted with the fact that the nightlife in Muscat is struggling to survive.
I found out from residents of the enchanting city that all types of live entertainment have been banned recently in all hotels and establishments. Apparently, the new rules were enforced by the new tourism minister. This left only a few options for a night out in town. Half of them were chains that had branches in Dubai.
The stage for the live band at Pavo Real – a cool Mexican restaurant and bar – was still there. As if it was waiting for the live band to come back and play their regular tunes one day soon. Everything was still in place – as it was left by members of the band on the last day they were allowed to perform.
Since I now have less time for blogging – busy with University and other things – I decided to write this post in the form of a photo essay. It saves me time and makes it easier/faster to you readers to go through the post. So let’s look at the photos from my Muscat nightlife exploration attempt 🙂
Here’s a sum up of my Muscat night spots:
Pavo Real officially has the best long island iced tea in town.
The Left Bank had a strange crowd of expats, locals and pretentious people from Dubai. I felt like I was flown back to a pretentious Dubai bar when I was there. I truly hated my experience there.
Trader Vic’s at the Intercontinental hotel is quite spacious with a big outdoor dining area. It had a very upbeat and lively atmosphere. Everyone who was there seemed to be having a good time, dancing to Latin beats. No live band here either – just a DJ or playback music.
O’Malley’s at the Radisson Blu Hotel was by far my favourite place to hang out. It’s a casual pub with an Irish theme, and friendly staff. The food was great, the DJ played commercial tracks from different decades, and I met some nice people there. The funny thing is that no one told me about this place! I found out about it by doing some research online. I’m so glad that I ended up going there on my last night in Muscat. At least I managed to have some sort of fun eventually 🙂
Zouk night club: Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to check out Zouk on this trip. It was located right outside of my hotel, but I just didn’t get the time to visit.
I hope that this post was somewhat useful or interesting. Have you visited any of the places that I’ve mentioned in this post? If so, how was your experience?
You can view my previous post on the Muscat trip here.
The exclusive Qurum Club Lounge is located on the 6th floor of the hotel, overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Oman.
What’s great about this club lounge – apart from the amazing views – is that it’s open all around the clock. A wide range of snacks and drinks are served throughout the day, to match every mood and palate.
You can choose to sit inside and work on your laptop, read a book, or watch the news on TV. In the evenings, I would suggest sitting out in the terrace and cherishing the tranquil and peaceful beach setting.
Of course with me being the Saudi Diva, I chose to do it all! At one point, I was reading my book inside while having some tasty canapes. And on anther occasion, I was outside on the terrace taking a break from my sacred tanning sessions. I even spent some time networking with some business guests 🙂
I must warn you though; the canapes served at the Qurum Club Lounge are pretty addictive! Honestly, I couldn’t stop myself from making numerous trips to the buffet to refill my plate. I even felt a combination of guilt (for overeating) and embarrassment (from the repetitive trips to the buffet). But what can I say, the food at Crowne Plaza Muscat is of great quality and the Club Lounge snacks were no exception.
If you’re a foodie like me, then I can’t recommend any other hotel in Muscat other than the Crowne Plaza. The standard of the F&B in that hotel is truly exceptional.
In the following photo, I’m wearing a short floral print summer dress from cool 90’s urban style label: Pull&Bear.
Being a 90’s girl, I can’t think of a high street brand that matches my personal style like Pull and Bear. A mix of feminine, tom-boyish, and street style outfits. Love that label…
The Qurum Club Lounge is not only a place to do business or network with other hotel guests, it’s also a place for celebration! While I was there, the staff brought a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday for one of the business guests at the lounge. Now if that’s not outstanding and personalized service, I don’t know what is…
Crowne Plaza Muscat offers its guests a complimentary shuttle bus service to a couple of tourist attractions. These include the “Grand Mosque”, the “Grand Mall”, and a traditional street market called “Muttrah Souq“.
Since I grew up in this region, visiting a mosque wasn’t exactly something that I would choose to do while on vacation. I think that type of excursion is more suitable for Western tourists who want to learn more about the region and visiting a mosque can be a good introduction. Especially in the Gulf region. At the same time, coming from Dubai – a city famous for its endless glitzy and shiny malls – going to another mall during my trip wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Luckily, I can visit the grand malls of Dubai anytime that I wish.
“Muttrah Souq” sounded interesting. The concept of a traditional street market selling all sorts of souvenirs and local goods was something that I could do on one of my days in this enchanting and original city.
So, I decided to take one day off of my strict tanning and beach lounging schedule to check out “Muttrah Souq”. I actually gave up one full day of going to the beach to visit this old traditional souq. So I hope that you will like the photos that I took as it was mainly for the blog 🙂
Here’s the shuttle bus that takes the hotel guests to the various touristic spots:
Here are some random photos that were taken at Muttrah Souq:
I thought that it was ironic that there was a store titled “Dubai” shopping center in the street behind “Muttrah Souq”!
Muttrah Souq is a true and authentic street market with its branched out and narrow alleys. While walking around this super cool and traditional market, I decided to make my market experience even more rich by sampling some street food. I snacked on two samosas (one with a vegetable filling and the other with potatoes) and one piece of falafel. Now I have to give you guys a valuable piece of advise: stick to the falafel and avoid the samosas! The samosas are way too greasy and you can barely notice any flavor other than the taste of oil used to fry those samosas. Although the falafel was very dry, it had a nice flavor to it and I regretted not getting three falafels instead of one falafel and two samosas!
For someone who is from the Gulf region and has grown up in it, I can frankly tell you that Muttrah Souq is severely authentic and is a true representation of the culture, traditions and icons of the region. Almost every item that is sold at that souq resonates with me in one way or another. The antique boxes for example, are used to decorate corners in houses in the Gulf region. At our house, we used them to store old newspapers and magazines! Yeah I know what you’re thinking, we’re a weird bunch 🙂
I will be posting the rest of the photos from my Muscat trip on the Facebook Page soon. So that you won’t miss a thing from my trip.
If you didn’t get a chance to check the previous post from my trip, you can find it here.
Time for me to go to bed, as I have been out all day doing something quite adventurous…you’ll hear all about it soon. Simply watch this space.
One of the remarkable things at the Crowne Plaza Muscat is the breakfast buffet at Tropicana restaurant. Honestly, even the 5-star property hotels can’t match this vast and fresh breakfast spread. The extensive breakfast buffet is served from 6 until 10:30 am on weekdays, and ends at 11:30 am on weekends.
A wide selection of all the possible breakfast variations that anyone might think of is included in the Crowne Plaza muscat breakfast buffet.
With different corners for Arabic, Asian, and Western types of breakfast, prepare to be spoiled for choices and confused as to what to have!
There’s even a pancake machine, coffee machine, and a live cooking station where a chef will make your eggs the way you like to have them.
No matter what your ethnic background or country of origin is, rest assured that there will definitely be something at the Crowne Plaza Muscat buffet to satisfy your palate.
All the staff at this hotel are extremely friendly, well experienced and highly professional individuals. So, having breakfast every day on my own didn’t make me feel awkward or anything. Instead, I felt at home and truly enjoyed my little chats and casual conversations with the breakfast restaurant staff members.
Now, let’s have a look at some of the breakfast buffet options at Crowne Plaza Muscat…
Being a huge foodie and a true breakfast lover, I was taking my time in having breakfast every day…and in a failed attempt to avoid over-eating (which I must admit that I did during my Muscat trip), I decided to have a delicious freshly made vegetarian omelet on one day, and an Arabic breakfast of “foul” (fava beans) on another 🙂 Not to mention the fresh salad that I would team up with my “foul” day. I know, I’m such a nerd that I even plan what to have for breakfast….
I truly miss the wonderful and fresh breakfast buffet selection at Crowne Plaza Muscat. I was so craving a hearty breakfast this morning, but I decided to stay at home to write this post with a reliable wi-fi connection. All I had was a banana for breakfast, so you can imagine how much I would love to indulge in a Crowne Plaza Muscat breakfast at this very moment…
Stay tuned to this blog for the next post from my Muscat trip…hint: it involves some souvenir shopping and traditional souk hopping 🙂
You might have read my introductory post about my recent trip to Muscat, and how I got most of my friends and family worried about me. How come? well, I decided to disappear from Dubai for a short break without informing many people that I was leaving 🙂 My dad knew that I was going to Muscat, but since he’s always been a forgetful person, he completely forgot about it. And I ended up being the center of attention – even to my building’s security guards! If you missed that post, you can still find it here.
Because I like to have music as a background to my life – be it radio, music TV channels, or Youtube music videos, I decided to share with you this uber cool playlist that I discovered recently. The best part? it’s mainly old-school R&B – my favorite music genre! You can keep this playlist playing in the background as you go through my second Muscat trip post – if you wish of course:
Now, if you are visiting Muscat for the first time, you must understand one thing: Most tourist areas, green mountains, wadis, hot water spots, nature, whatever it is – is located at least two hours or an hour and a half away from Muscat downtown. You could take a tour day trip, hire a taxi driver, or rent a car and drive there yourself. However, for a Diva like me, I decided to just lounge by the beach all day and leave all the sightseeing for another trip! Yes, I was really exhausted from the super fast-paced Dubai life and I wanted to take a break to just breathe…
On the bright side, I did meet some nice people during my trip who offered to take me sightseeing on my next visit to Oman.
So my suggestion for you would be to make friends as soon as you land in Muscat (provided that you don’t have ones already) and ask them to take you around the city and the beautiful green landscapes (which I didn’t get a chance to see really!).
However, I did manage to check out the Barr Al Jissah area. Which is basically a mountainous landscaped area – beautiful at sunset time. I even stopped at the highway to take some pictures for you guys to see! How brave is that? 🙂
The road through Barr Al Jissah can only take you to the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. And that’s where I went to check out Long Bar, after seeing it listed in the first edition of Conde Nast Traveller Middle East. I had always dreamed of visiting Oman, so I kept that copy of the magazine’s first edition…and it sure came in handy! It does take time to realize your dreams, but it’s never impossible. So whatever those dreams are – whether you dream of visiting an exotic beach destination or becoming a well-known artist – you will get there if you have a strong will and a bit of patience 🙂
The beach width at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa is quite big. But I must admit, I had higher expectations for this resort. Coming from glamorous and shiny Dubai, I honestly wasn’t impressed with this hotel to say the least. This property didn’t match the standard of this renowned five-star hotel group, nor did the ambiance or food at Long Bar. I felt that the hotel was kind of shabby – I know it’s Oman and not Dubai. So it’s meant to be kind of old and rich in heritage. But I still didn’t feel like I was at the Shangri-La! I had heard a lot about this specific resort prior to visiting. But sadly, I was disappointed with my experience there.
As for Long Bar, it did have an outdoor seating overlooking the bay. However, there were no coolers in the outdoor area (unlike outdoor spaces in Dubai). Plus, there was no music playing in the outside area – apart from the Oud player serenading us with “Om Kulthoum” classics in the next door venue. Now if I wanted to listen to Oud and some classical Arabic tunes, would I be heading to the Shangri-La Resort & Spa for my night out? Hmm…maybe not. It’s true that it was a quiet and serene spot for a chilled night out. But I would say it was too quiet for my liking. Quiet at Long Bar translated into “haunted”. And that’s not what you expect at a five-star beach resort bar.
I only had breakfast that day, so when I saw that they had Spanish tapas on their menu at Long Bar, I got excited! I ordered the classic Spanish omelet starter – only to be even more disappointed with this sports bar. The omelet tasted like something that you would get at a breakfast place that doesn’t serve decent breakfast. In Dubai, ordering International dishes means that the restaurant will try to make them in a way that is highly similar to the original recipe. It will taste very close to the real thing too! Not at Long Bar unfortunately. They might as well remove the Spanish tapas from the menu if they can’t make them properly. This is what I had at Long Bar:
In the above photo, I’m wearing “Resort Fling” nail polish shade by the famous Essie brand.
I think that’s about all I had to say about this part of my Muscat trip. But stay tuned to hear about more places to see in Muscat…
I chose Muscat as my summer holiday destination because I wanted to get away to a nearby peaceful and quiet place. And I’m glad to say that I couldn’t have made a better decision. Luckily, as a GCC national, I don’t require a visit visa for Oman. This fact is considered a great privilege, since an advance application for a visit visa is required for most countries with my Saudi passport.
Browsing through the mainly positive reviews of the Crowne Plaza Muscat on Trip Advisor will make anyone looking for a mid-range hotel choose to stay there. And as a note to all my readers and followers, I assure you that I paid the regular room charges for my stay at the Crowne Plaza Muscat. So this is by no means a sponsored post. It is a genuine review of my experience at the hotel and in Muscat in general.
The unique element about this hotel is its location. It’s situated on top of a hill in the “Al Qurum” area. The area is around 25 minutes away by car from Muscat International airport. It’s a well-reputed residential upscale area, that is home to many of the country’s ministers, PDO (Oman’s leading oil and gas company), and the residential compounds of PDO’s employees and other company facilities.
Crowne Plaza Muscat is a four-star property:
After my Hong Kong hotel room view, I decided to choose a sea-view room this time around 🙂 Here’s my breathtaking view from my room at Crowne Plaza Muscat:
Another view from my room window:
A view of the swimming pool from the same window 🙂
While at my peaceful sea-view room, I could hear the sound of the waves and the birds chirping throughout the day. Just being in the room felt so relaxing and serene. It resembled living in the outdoors or in a forest for my whole stay there. I even decided to keep my mobile phone switched off throughout my vacation – which caused a lot of family and friends to get worried about me. This meant that I came back to my apartment building’s reception in Dubai to a security guard requesting me to call my worried father, and looking at me as if I’m a crazy woman! not to mention a sweet note slipped under my door from my besties in Dubai, wondering where I have disappeared! Of course all of that commotion can only prove one thing: that none of my close friends in Dubai take the time to read my blog posts! Sigh…oh well, I hope that I will gain loyal readers from across the world who are genuinely interested in reading my blog posts! I will post a picture of that note later on my Facebook Page. So stay tuned for that 🙂
Here’s a look at my home for a total of 8 days….
On my first day, I needed to get a few things from a grocery store, so I headed to Al Qurum City Center. It’s basically a local mall for the lovely Qurum area. It’s part of the popular City Center shopping mall chain that has a number of malls around the GCC. The taxis is Oman do not have meters like the ones in Dubai. So you can find the fixed rates on a sign board at the hotel, airport and at malls. The taxi fare from Crowne Plaza Muscat to Qurum City Center is 4 OMR. There’s a Carrefour hypermarket in the shopping mall. But it’s not nearly as busy as the one in Dubai! I was there on a Thursday afternoon (around 3:30 pm) and the halls of the supermarket were haunted! It was a shocking scene for someone who frequents Dubai’s MOE Carrefour to say the least! Apparently, the residents have other more popular options for their grocery shopping aside from the UAE-renowned Carrefour.
I was glad to see a Borders bookstore at Qurum City Center! I managed to get a copy of a travel magazine and two notebooks for my University September semester (which started yesterday b.t.w.). Here’s a photo of Borders at Qurum City Center.
It takes around 5 minutes to get to the mall from Crowne Plaza Muscat. It’s a small-sized mall with only one floor including a number of high-street retail shops, a Starbucks, a food court, a Chili’s restaurant, a cinema and the Carrefour. I would say it’s a nice quiet place to go to when you need to kill some time, want to get some groceries, or do some people watching at the Starbucks 🙂
I’ll be posting the remaining photos on my Facebook Page at the end of these series of travel posts. So stay tuned to find out more about the beautiful and captivating city of Muscat…
Note: Airport taxis are located outside the arrival hall in Muscat airport. The cost from the airport to Crowne Plaza Muscat is 10 OMR per way. It’s a fixed rate that you must pay at the airport taxi station, which is located outside the arrival hall at Muscat airport. Muscat airport can be quite busy and overwhelming, so don’t let that put you off a highly peaceful and beautiful city 🙂
On my last day in the city, I decided to treat myself to the famous Asian foot reflexology. And I wasn’t disappointed when I chose Gao’s Foot Massage Co. The place was listed as one of the best places to get a foot reflexology in a travel article that I read while searching online. What makes the foot reflexology in this part of the world unique is that the massage is done all the way up to your knee. The pressure and rubbing techniques were perfect. They also serve complimentary tea with rose petals!
At Gao’s Foot Massage Co., you can choose how long you want your reflexology treatment to last. I think I went for the 50 minutes foot massage which costs 198 Hong Kong dollars. I only say this because I have that in my notes, so I’m guessing that that’s what I went for. Well it has already been five months since I got back from that trip, so you can’t blame me for not remembering every single detail!
For more information about Gao’s Foot Massage Co, check out their web site:
After my wonderfully relaxing and soothing foot massage, I went to meet my friend who lives in Hong Kong and who I met while I was taking a course at London College of Fashion! My friend Tanya lives in Sai Kung, which is a town located by the sea, an hour away from central Hong Kong. That’s mainly why I couldn’t see my friend as often as I would like, but I guess we made up for it on the last day 🙂 We had steamed fish balls in a noodle soup for lunch. The traditional dish was recommended by Tanya’s mom after I had explained to her my stomach issues from experimenting the local cuisine! The food was light, healthy and tasty.
Final Words on my Trip
At first glance, Hong Kong reminded me of London in so many ways. With its highly populated and busy streets, the layout of the city’s streets and shops, the high walkability of those streets, and the liveliness and hustle and bustle the city emits. I even told that to my local friend, who agreed and said that Hong Kong is a lot like London, only it’s an Asian city. So, that’s how I saw Hong Kong from the 8 days that I spent there.
Would I go back to visit? definitely. But I would prefer to stay at my friend’s place in Sai Kung for two reasons:
Because I felt lonely staying in a hotel alone in Hong Kong.
To experience the relaxed life by the sea. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
What bothered me most about this trip was that I wanted to escape from busy and fast-paced Dubai to a more quiet and relaxed place. Only to find myself in an even more populated and overly crowded city! with no space for a single person at any coffee shop on the weekends! At least in Dubai, that is never the case. So I was greatly disappointed that I went on vacation to a busy and populated city. Especially that it was the holiday season too.
Another thing that I would change if I plan to visit Hong Kong again would be to go there during the Chinese New Year instead of the busy holiday season as I did. And I might stay for at least two weeks to have enough time to relax by the sea and explore the rest of the city.
I hope that you enjoyed reading my review of my 8-day Hong Kong trip. If you have any questions about anything, feel free to comment on the relevant post.
I didn’t intend to delay writing the posts on my last two days in Hong Kong for this long. It just happened that I was trying to keep up with other events that were taking place in Dubai, and trying my best not to miss out on any important happenings. So I was busy covering those events and later writing reviews on them. Another thing that caused this delay was a technical issue with my laptop and other things that led to a severely stressed version of myself not capable if getting any work done, let alone write a blog post about a trip that I made last Christmas!
Now that you know the reason, let me give you a review of my seventh day in Hong Kong’s main attractions. Being a believer in most Buddhist principles and theories and being a big fan of the Dalai Lama, I couldn’t visit Hong Kong without making a trip to the Giant Buddha. However, my online research warned me of the extremely long queues at the Giant Buddha and mentioned that the best time to visit was early morning on weekdays. To my luck, when I went to ask about the best way to get to the island where the giant Buddha is, the lady at the hotel’s guest relations counter told me about a tour trip that includes a visit to the Giant Buddha. And the best part is that there is no waiting in line with the tour group. I immediately accepted her offer, especially since it would save me the hassle of finding out how to get to Lantau Island (where the Giant Buddha is) and the stress that comes with having to find your way around and exploring things on your own.
Our trip started by taking the “Ngong Ping” cable car to the peak where the powerful Big Buddha bronze statue stands firmly and strongly.
Other statues are in the vicinity, where you can take touristy pictures and reminisce on your Buddha experience 🙂
And the famous Tian Tan Buddha:
As part of our guided tour, we made a trip to a local fishing village located at a far end of the island. All I remember is that we were all very exhausted by the time we got there. And our guide explained that the village is one of the oldest fishing spots on the island and that he personally used to live there for some time. Honestly speaking, our local tour guide spoke very good English and had an extensive amount of knowledge about all of our tourist attractions. I was highly surprised by his level of English and good accent, I couldn’t help but wonder if he used to live in the US for some time in his life or something! I thought that he was too good for his role as a tour bus guide, with a bunch of tired and not so enthusiastic tourists! Yes, that includes me as well 🙂
At the fishing village, we also visited a legendary temple and I hopelessly failed at lighting an incense stick when everyone else was able to do it. Seriously, how tough could that be?! But I couldn’t stay and keep trying from fear of loosing my tour group and being stranded on a fishing village in a far end of a Hong Kong Island! Yikes! Here are some images that I took while following our magical American-accent tour guide at the Tai O fishing village:
After the tour, we were guided to take the water ferry back to Central. I must say that the ferry ride made for a very authentic and truly original Asian traditional experience. At some point, I felt that I was starring in a documentary movie set in the 1950’s about a bunch of immigrants taking a ferry ride to relocate from one country to another, in search of freedom or better life conditions! And I wasn’t the only star of that movie; the lovely Indian couple who I met at the hotel and joined me at the Buddha day tour were also part of the whole ferry ride experience. Actually, I came to know that me and the friendly couple had a lot in common. Upon asking them for the reason behind their choice for Hong Kong as a destination for their holiday, I found out that they too decided to visit this country mainly because of its flexible visa requirements for our passports! The husband explained to me how both him and his wife were caught up in work and have decided in the last minute to travel abroad. So, after doing an online search for countries that didn’t require an advanced visit visa, Hong Hong seemed to fit that criteria perfectly!
My story was very much similar. I decided last minute that I didn’t want to spend my New Year’s Eve in Dubai for that year. And that I needed a break and a change after having stayed in Dubai for so long without traveling anywhere….mainly because I was trying to make it career wise. And since I haven’t previously applied for a visit visa in the UAE and didn’t feel like going through a visa application process, I thought Hong Kong would be a great option for my last minute planned journey. Of course not forgetting to mention that my local friend had also asked me to visit since she was in Dubai for some time before I made that trip.
I will tell you more about the area where my local friend lives in my next and last post about my Hong Kong trip. But as a final note, I would like to share with you a post that my close friend and blogger Pinay Flying High wrote about the restrictions faced by certain countries’ passport holders. I believe that anyone from the list of the unfortunate “ones” can strongly relate to The passport post.
Do let me know if you have visited Hong Kong or any of the tourist attractions I mentioned in this post. And how would you rate your experience?
I found the layout of the stands at the travel show very creative and innovative. Most stands that took up a relatively big space had two story built stands with counters and seating areas where clients can sit and have something to eat or drink while discussing their business or personal inquiries. This made for a more relaxed and casual trade experience, and an unconventional way of networking with the exhibitors.
Honestly speaking, it was my first time to attend the Arabian Travel Market. I think. At least it was my first time since I moved to Dubai a little over three years ago. But walking in the busy exhibition hall – and getting annoyed at people pushing and brushing at me – took me down memory lane to the mid-90’s when I used to visit Dubai with my family. My mom being a highly active business woman in those days used to drag me and my sisters along to every single exhibition that was of interest to her and her beauty salon business. Of course, I didn’t always enjoy attending those shows since I had no personal or business interest back then. I was only a high school student at the time! Now though, I’m a lifestyle blogger who is covering main and interesting events in the city. So attending an exhibition wasn’t such a bad idea.
Back to our topic, the stands at the show represent different countries across all the continents. So you won’t be disappointed no matter what country you have on your hot list of places to see before you die 🙂 There were even some talks held at the Google stands on various technology related topics.
On my list (which is the same list that I’ve had since I was living with my parents and dreaming about traveling alone or with friends) were these three countries:
They are not far away places from the Middle East region. But, I haven’t been to any of them yet. My main concern when approaching the exhibitors at the stands was the visa requirements. I’m a Saudi passport holder and therefore I require a visit visa for most countries. I was told that I would need a European visa for both Greece and Cyprus. But luckily, I know that an advance visa is not required for me to enter Turkey 🙂
Since I have great friends in Turkey, I didn’t bother going to their stand at the show. I did however have a nice chat with the lady at the Cyprus stand who later gifted me a lovely key chain and beaded souvenir (we call it mesbah in Arabic). Please correct me if I’m wrong.
As a last thought, I can confidently say that anywhere you go in this world depends in a great part on the company that you have with you and the times and moments shared with other loving people and friends. So as I walked down the exhibition hall alone today surrounded by a crowd of strangers, I couldn’t help but remember my Hong Kong trip and the loneliness some of its days brought to me. That’s why, the next time I plan on traveling, I will make sure to share that trip or at least most of it with a friend. I think the majority of you would agree that traveling alone for leisure can be an interesting experience, while a lonely one at the same time.
Where do I plan to travel to next? I think the answer is simple: to where the opportunity takes me. But essentially somewhere with a relaxed pace of life, a white sandy beach, where good friends reside (or live close by), and preferably where a prearranged visit visa is not required 🙂
The Arabian Travel Market is open until the 9th of May this year. Happy travel shopping and happy holidays!