Oman Air's First Annual International Media Treasure Hunt, held in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism is now in full swing with the five teams of European journalists criss-crossing the landscapes of Oman in their hunt for clues that offer insights into Oman's rich history, culture and geography.
The Treasure Hunt was launched in the elegant and refined setting of the Chedi Muscat hotel, with a full briefing for all participants, which outlined the nature of the event and placed firm emphasis on ensuring that each team enjoyed it to the full. It was also revealed that the six-day Treasure Hunt will cover several locations in Oman and at each location there will be challenges of between 30 minutes and 3 hours. In addition, the event will be covered by six film crews and it was stressed that each solution to a clue should be discovered on camera.
Following training on how to use hand-held GPS devices, the participating journalists then enjoyed a welcome dinner, before resting in preparation the first day's activity.
Oman Air's International Media Treasure Hunt is a unique, intensive and fun introduction for some of Europe's leading journalists to the outstanding beauty and deeply rewarding culture of Oman. Over the course of just a few days, each participant has experienced the remarkable breadth of what the Sultanate has to offer and risen to a challenge unlike any other.
Kicking off day one of the challenge, the five teams – from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland – paid a visit to Muscat's Grand Mosque. Having toured this iconic landmark and received their first clue, the teams then visited the capital's awe-inspiring Royal Opera House, before moving on to Muttrah to see the souk and Bait Zubair, Oman's foremost museum of Omani history. Throughout the course of the day, each time searched for solutions to the clues they had been given and by the evening, it was clear that the Italian team had taken first place, after overtaking the UK's early lead.
The second day of the challenge saw each team move to Nizwa, where the city's famed spice market provided the solution to their first clue, in the form of dried lemons. They then pushed on into the area of the ruggedly beautiful Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain), where the hunt took the teams to the picturesque village of Misfat Al Abiyeen and its ancient Falaj irrigation system. The final port of call was the vast Al Hoota caves, where the solution to the day's final clue could be found. Having been given a head start at the beginning of the day in recognition of coming first on day one, the Italian team retained their lead and hung onto the top spot as the sun set on day two's activity.
After a good night's rest at the Sahab Hotel, the teams began day three by crossing Al Wasil to Mintrib, in the Sharqiya Sands, where, as well as continuing their investigations, participants found time to photograph the breath-taking scenery and race across the region's spectacular dunes. But it wasn't all light hearted and both the Swiss and Italian teams' vehicles soon became stuck in the sand. However, the Swiss team freed themselves first and pressed ahead to become the day's victors, before joining with all the other participants to spend a night under the desert stars in a Bedouin-style luxury encampment.
An early start on day four preceded a morning of camel rides, dune trekking and a long drive to the lighthouse at Sur, the ancient home of Omani Dhow-building. Clues led the teams to the bow of a boat in Wadi Shaab, where the next step of their marathon was to start. By the time each team had arrived at the Shangri-La Bar Al Jissah Resort and Spa, a group of luxurious hotels on the coast a few miles south of Muscat, the battle for first place was neck and neck, with the Swiss and Italian teams sharing the honours. Each journalist retired exhausted, but with memories of Oman that will last a lifetime.
The last 24 hours of the International Media Treasure Hunt saw the five teams head south to Salalah, the capital of Oman's Dhofar Governorate. Here, they not only experienced the region's renowned hospitality and culture, but also its lush greenery, steep mountains and deep wadis. Another unforgettable day unfolded, with each team racing in four-wheel drives to the huge Al Baleed arceological site, where they found the answer to their clue at the Merchant's House.
In the final hours of the First Annual Oman Air International Media Treasure Hunt, all the teams will return to Muscat for a farewell dinner on Sunday night in the Beach Pavilion at Muscat's prestigious Al Bustan Palace hotel. Here the announcement of the final winners of the event will be made and participants will be able to look back on a remarkable week of adventure and discovery.