It can climb up to 40, I was told in what sounded like a cross between a boast and a warning, but the temperature was really the least of my worries. I had planned to travel to Oman like a visiting pasha, an updated version of course, because my host was luxury travel operator Scott Dunn, and I was relying on their expertise to nudge me along to the nearest Bedouin tent for spiced tea and sticky dates or perhaps a beach bar for some G&T and samba at sundown. So, there were hats and shoes and scarves and jackets to mind, and a very real danger of exceeding the luggage allocation. Why we were flying coach on a two-leg journey is a mystery I still grapple with—baptism of fire perhaps?
Our first stop after a four-hour flight from Singapore was Colombo, and after a short layover we were off for another four-hour flight to Muscat, population 800,000, the largest city and present capital of Oman.
We landed around midnight at Muscat International Airport, the US$1.8 billion centerpiece of the government’s bid for international luxury tourism. Launched in March this year, the new terminal has a passenger capacity of 12 million, a staggering increase from the 2017 figure of just 1.2 million passengers. The airport is designed for 40 flights per hour and is perfectly aligned with the forecast 40 per cent increase in the number of visitors to Oman by 2019.