Locals, expats in Oman gear up for a long weekend

Oman Wednesday 28/October/2020 18:55 PM
By: Times News Service
Locals, expats in Oman gear up for a long weekend
With this being the first long weekend since the lifting of the lockdown, many people are keen to enjoy staycations in some of Oman’s hotels.

Muscat: People in Oman are looking forward to this week’s three-day weekend, although many say they will remain cautions while going outside, and follow the measures required to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Thursday, October 29, is a holiday on the occasion of the birth of the Prophet (PBUH), and many have decided to make the most of this opportunity by planning trips to areas around Muscat, as well as more far-flung locations.

George Thomas and his family are planning to camp out in the desert. It is a journey they’ve been on with their friends quite a few times, but will be going alone this time.

“Large gatherings are still not permitted, so we will be travelling to the Sharqiyah Sands on our own,” said Thomas.

“It will be good to get out of Muscat for a while. This COVID-19 situation has us all tensed, so in a way, this weekend has come at the right time. We can put our concerns to one side for a while, and focus on enjoying the outdoors.”

Mohammed Al Araimi felt the same way. While he normally goes to his home town of Sohar to meet with his relatives during long weekends such as this one, he knows he cannot do so this time.

“This is normally a time for us to get together and make shuwa in the traditional family style,” he said.

“We often sit around the garden in our family home, eat together, and celebrate being with each other, but these family gatherings have been stopped to prevent coronavirus infection.

“My son loves the sea, but the beaches are unfortunately still closed, so we have decided to rent a boat for one day, before going to Sur for the weekend,” added Al Araimi.

“It has a lot of history related to the sea, so he is sure to enjoy visiting some of the places there.”

With this being the first long weekend since the lifting of the lockdown, many people are keen to enjoy staycations in some of Oman’s hotels, which have been taking reservations since the holiday was announced.

“Our hotel, in keeping with the rules of the Supreme Committee, is only operating at 50 per cent capacity at any given time, but all of the rooms we have for guests are fully booked,” said Rami Farhat, the Acting General Manager for Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar.

“We will accommodate guests in 50 per cent of our rooms for the duration of their stay, keep them vacant for 24 hours during which time they will be sanitised, and then offer them to our other guests.”

“In the meantime, we will book our other guests in the remaining 50 per cent of the rooms we have,” he added. “This is the first long weekend people have had to enjoy in a while, and we hope that the National Day holidays are also announced soon so that we can begin taking bookings for that period as well.”

Over at the Kempinski Hotel in Muscat, Firas Rashid, the property’s director of sales and marketing, said his hotel is taking even more precautions by keeping rooms vacant for 48 hours, instead of a day, so that the rooms are absolutely safe for their next occupants.

“We are almost 70 per cent booked now, with many taking advantage of our staycation offers at this time of the year, mostly geared towards domestic and GCC tourism,” he added.

“A lot of families want to go outside because they are quite weary of staying at home. When they stay in a hotel in the capital, they are still in the city, but away from the stresses of the daily routine.

“We will, of course, follow all protocols issued by the Supreme Committee, and we are dedicated to keeping the hotel safe for our family and staff,” said Rashid. “We ask for everyone to observe the regulations announced to stop the spread of COVID-19 so that all of us are safe at this time.”