Discover another side of Oman

Here’s a new way to experience Oman without going the usual route of wadis, silver souqs and beachside picnics, and it’s got the added benefit of incorporating music and theatre. The Royal Opera House Muscat is showcasing its first homegrown production, Celebrating Oman: The Great Journey, on January 5,6 and 7. The outdoor show is said to be a combination of eight musical tableaux representing different aspects of life in Oman; it’s history, nature and seafaring traditions. It features poetry, music by Omani musicians from the The Society for Amateur Oud Players and an original libretto by Omani writer, Saleh Al Fahdi, plus a hundred international performers on stage. And the best part? Entry is free. From 7pm, see for details.

While you’re in Oman, why not get to know Sohar? The ancient coastal city is famous for more than the addictive crisps named after it. After you’ve done the prerequisite tours of Sohar Fort and the fish market, check into the Mercure Sohar. The new hotel that was launched this month by Action Hotels in collaboration with Accor Hotels, and has
152 rooms, 141 Chic Standard and Superior rooms, five suites, a fitness centre, pool, and an international restaurant, Mosaic. Rooms from Dh333 per night. Call 0096 82 235 4800 or email

Wellness retreat in Maldives

While the Maldives is enticing all year round, it is particularly appealing as a destination to kick-start your New Year’s health resolutions. Personal trainer Harry Jameson is conducting a wellness retreat at the One&Only Resort, Reethi Rah, North Male atoll from January 15-21. Participants will go through tailored fitness, nutrition and relaxation sessions based on a full-body biometric and physiological assessment, 72-hour sleep monitoring, nutritional and intolerance testing, etc. The programme includes personal training with Harry, yoga and Pilates, antioxidant shakes, six nights’ accommodation in private villas, 60-minute Swedish massage, and meals. Package starts from around Dh50,900 per person. Email or call 0096 664 8800.

Exciting escapes

Birdwatching in Newfoundland

Forget people-watching, and stay occupied on your next holiday with birdwatching. Wings Birding Tours has a trip planned for budding ornithologists from January 8-14 to sight the winter birds of Newfoundland. The Canadian island’s position between Greenland, Iceland and North America makes it a stopover for many migrating birds like alcids, gulls, and boreal forest birds. The seven-day tour starts from the city of St John’s and includes a drive to Cape Spear, the easternmost point of North America. Spend the long winter nights exploring the old city’s multicoloured houses, winding streets and old-world charm. Package from Dh6,749 per person. Visit

DSF offer

Only one more day left before the Dubai Shopping Festival’s (December 26) super sales start but the deals have already been rolled out at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City Hotel with its DSF promotion. Book a room in the Creekside hotel for a family of four and kids under 12 can dine free with unlimited helpings of pizza and ice cream. Why should kids have all the fun? Parents get a Dh300 F&B credit per day and a 20 per cent discount at the spa and golf at the Al Badia Golf Club. Late 3pm checkout included. Rooms from Dh1,288. Call 04 701 1111 for details.

‘Sleep, Park and Fly’ offer

Stay a step ahead of Dubai’s parking problems and start your holiday stress-free with a luxurious staycation, with the Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre’s Sleep, Park and Fly offer. Enjoy a one-night stay in a deluxe room, park your car in the hotel’s underground parking and then enjoy a free-drop off and pick up to and from the Dubai International Airport – just a two-minute drive from the hotel. Rooms from Dh399 until December 26 and parking charges from Dh150 for one week. Call 04 217 0000.

Travel hack of the week

It took Shah Rukh Khan’s viral video for Dubai Tourism to remind us of how exciting Dubai is, and how many fabulous attractions it has to offer. All your friends and relatives now probably want to come visit Dubai, too. In that case, there’s a new expert in town who can guide them: dnata Travel’s City Expert kiosk at The Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence. The first of its kind, the kiosk is a one-stop destination for tourists to book all the best excursions, safaris and attractions, based on individual interests. There’s also a team of international experts available, fluent in a host of languages. The kiosk will be open from 10am to 10pm daily.

Style on the go

BASKET CASE This cute wicker and leather box clutch from Intropia is inspiring us to plan for picnics and weekend getaways for the New Year. It’s boxy enough to store your wallet, sunglasses, keys and a small bottle of water. Dh569, Intropia

OH, SNAP! Canon’s new Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled EOS M5 mirrorless camera is lighter and more compact than a DSLR but has the same hi-tech Digic 7 processor, and even subject tracking feature – so you can capture even a speedy hummingbird on your birdwatching holiday. Price on request

TAMED TRESSES If you’d rather be sightseeing on vacations than blow-drying frizzy hair into submission, Color Wow’s Speed Dry Spray is handy – its blend of keratin proteins and silk amino acids forms a high gloss moisturising coat, reducing blow-drying time. Dh140, Harvey Nichols