Qantab is an area of beautiful coastline where locals and foreigners live together happily, but new tourist developments are bringing in big changes.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
The hospitality of locals in the picturesque fishing village can be stretched at weekends when Muscat descends, the beach becomes crowded and parking areas are blocked. News that the municipality is planning a new asphalt road to the village has not been universally welcomed, with many wishing to preserve the area’s unspoilt natural beauty. Unfortunately the entry to the vast Jissah beach has been restricted since the start of works on a major tourist and residential project late last year. Fisherman and visitors can still use the village beach, but the acquisition of the stunning Jissah beach by international hoteliers means it will be changed forever. “It was one of the most adorable public beaches where fisherman worked and people enjoyed time with their families. It’s so sad,” says resident Anita Shuh.
“Why I live here: Living in Qantab is peaceful, safe, relaxing and beautiful – I love the simple laidback life. The people who live here are really nice and friendly.” Anita Schuh, travel agent.
This is a genuine beauty spot only a few kilometres from downtown Muscat – and that is reflected in the relatively high rents. Qantab is home to a traditional fishing community, who live in harmony with a number of foreign residents. It has its share of spacious villas and a school for local children. Residents, families and fishermen go about their daily chores, play football on the beach, fix their fishing nets or go for a swim. Meanwhile around 100 new villas are being built as part of the Saraya Bandar Jissah development, which should be completed in 2014.
It’s all about the beach – but also you are very close to some of the finest hotels and resorts in the Muscat area. These include the Shangri-La resort with its excellent eateries, the Marina Al Bandar, where you can take sea trips or eat in the restaurant, and let’s not forget the Al Bustan Palace for luxury high teas. Closer to home is the Oman Dive Centre, a great place to go snorkelling and swimming in the bay but also a relaxing hangout for families. As for the village, there is supposed to be an authentic Omani restaurant that must be booked in advance, but otherwise, just coffee shops.
Places of Interest
Nothing bettered the stunning Jissah beach but unfortunately due to ongoing construction of new villas and hotels, the beach is fenced off to visitors. The new development is not due to be completed until at least 2014. In the village boatyard, there is a small but fascinating museum that shows the traditional methods of building dhow boats – including the Jewel of Muscat that sailed from Oman to Singapore in 2010, which was built here. Local boat owners can still take you out to the secluded islands off the coast for the day, where you can enjoy a picnic and look back at the breathtaking coastline.
Qantab has one small supermarket, a few coffee shops and a tailor. Otherwise residents have to drive into Muttrah or Ruwi for the bigger shops. There may be new shopping facilities when the Saraya Bandar Jissar project is completed, but this is yet to be seen.
Words: Joe Gill