Summertime, and the living is easy. Or it is if you know how best to tackle the heat. Why not indulge in some indoor activities to keep you chilled in both body and mind? Alvin Thomas gives you the lowdown on where to look.
Sultry days, sweltering temperatures and stifling times lie ahead of us, folks. Yes, it is summer time already, and before we even realised it, the temperature has been breaking past the 40-degree Celsius mark quite a lot of late.
This can only mean one thing: the gruff hum of air conditioners will replace the soft and sweet chirps of the birds (which will inevitably migrate); showers will only have two settings (“hot” and “extremely hot”); mirages will mantle the roads we drive on and the whole of Oman will turn into a large, open-air sauna.
Many will see this as the perfect opportunity to head off on a nice vacation but you see, unlike most European countries where the sun only glares down for a few weeks a year, a summer in Oman lasts a whole six months. So it’s safe to say that nobody will be getting a holiday that lasts that long.
But we, the residents of Oman, should not despair. If we stumble upon a problem, we work around it. And when those sweltering, humid days of summer hit, we simply head into the great indoors.
Of course, many of us will be either in school or at work in the early days of our annual heatwave, often until the sun sets if we are dedicated enough. However, if you are somebody hungry for action, there are numerous ways you can indulge in fun-filled activities with friends or family.
George Gomez, a father-of-three kids, aged one, four and seven, explains: “After all, going out is not just about heading to someplace you like; it is getting to know new people, sharing experiences, talking to each other and taking home some amazing memories.
“And for kids, it is even more necessary, as it helps them interract and grow in a more social manner.”
So, this week, we are looking at some of the many ways you can head into a state of “summer nirvana” without actually having to head out for a picnic to our beautiful wadis, beaches or mountains.
We are talking about keeping things within the confines of four walls and we are looking at some of the coolest ways to beat the heat.
Not everything fun has to be flashy and gaudy, as is proven by the Al Mazaar Edutainment Centre. Situated bang in the heart of Heritage Village at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, the edutainment centre can give children the time of their lives as it boasts the only trampoline hall in the Sultanate.
Of course, if your kids aren’t bothered about jumping or somersaults, he or she can always make a beeline for the “Art Box” where they can unleash their creativity.
Children can also take part in other indoor activities such as basketball and badminton, climbing or navigating through a Gladiator-type assault course.
If you thought that was it, then proceed onwards and you will be treated to a collection of classic cars that nestle towards the corner of the centre. We’ve already reviewed the car museum, which includes special cars such as the classic Volkswagen Beetle, Bugatti Type 23 (from 1926!), the Ford Super Deluxe and even a Rolls Royce.
Where is it?
Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa
Timings: Open daily from 9am to 8pm
Pricing: Contact 2477 6856 (bookings available)
Adults, this one is for you. If you are on the lookout for a quick and economical way to spend some quality time with friends, head to the Pinz Center at Oman Avenues Mall.
The centre has a state-of-the-art ten-pin bowling alley (hence the name Pinz) where you can show off your bowling skills. If you’re like us and can’t bowl, then simply sit back on one of the many couches with your friends and go head-to-head on one of their PlayStations.
Sami al Habsi, a student at Sultan Qaboos University, says: “I think Pinz Center has to be one of the best bowling alleys in Oman.
“I am very competitive when it comes to bowling, and sometimes my friends and I host local tournaments here.”
If neither attracts you, head to one of the many billiard or foosball tables to kill some time. And don’t forget: if all else fails you can still call it quits and head for the mall for a spot of retail therapy.
Where is it?
Third floor, Oman Avenues Mall, Baushar
Timings: Daily from 10am to 1am
Contact: 9742 5882
Pricing: RO2 per game
They say that laser tag is for the weak. But if you were to ask us, we would say that laser tag is far more tactical and engaging than paintball, its dangerous sibling. There are numerous laser tag arenas in Oman but our favourite is the air-conditioned maze at Fun Zone in Qurum.
If shooting at your friends or siblings (well, not literally) is something you’re into, then you should definitely head here.
The arena is sizeable, and you should be able to go head-to-head with a maximum of 14 players. It is also riddled with obstacles designed to make things just that little harder.
The guns are all operated by radio frequency signals that are highly accurate, making the game all the more authentic.
Where is it?
Fun Zone, Qurum
Age limit: 6 and above
Timings: Thursday: 10am to 11pm; Friday: 1pm to 11pm
Contact: 9567 7480 (bookings required for groups of six and above)
Pricing: RO3 for 10 minutes
For many, this is a dream come true: a gaming trailer that travels to various around Oman, making the latest in the gaming industry accessible to everyone. The gaming trailer, as its name suggests, is a trailer dedicated to gaming, and is also the first of its kind in the Middle East!
There are limitations, though: for instance, the trailer can only host a maximum of 36 gamers at any given time but trust us when we say this: you will be going up against some of the most dedicated gamers in Oman.
Business Circle Integrated Solutions, which owns the trailer, also has a great choice of gaming titles, 15 consoles, including PlayStation, Xbox and even Nintendo Wii, and a total of seven screens under its roof.
Oh, and as an added treat, you can have a dance-off with a few of your best mates, courtesy of the two high-definition televisions and hi-fi audio system that are fitted outside the cabin.
Where is it?
The Gaming Trailer is mobile so call to enquire about the location. During the Holy Month of Ramadan, the trailer will be parked at the Oman Automobile Association.
Age limit: none
Timings: Varies according to location
Contact: +968 9719 9449 (bookings available)
Pricing: Varies according to sponsor
Facebook: Gaming Trailer Oman
Walking through the doors of the The National Museum is like taking a time-capsule back to the early days of Oman.
There are 14 permanent display halls spreading over a massive 13,700 square metres, which contain more than 7,000 display objects – some of which you can interact with – thus taking visitors on an epic journey; from the earliest human settlement on the Oman Peninsula some two million years ago to the present day.
“There’s something soothing about walking around the National Museum,” says Angelene Dench, a British expat.
“The exhibits do give me a very visual representation of the past of Oman but above all, it makes me feel like I am being welcomed into the history of an entire nation. The National Museum is definitely worth visiting, and everyone staying here should visit it at least once.”
Exhibits include a stone flint believed to be two million years old – the oldest man-made object found in Oman – as well as the first throne of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said from 1970.
Where is it?
Opposite Al Alam Palace, Muttrah, Muscat
Timings: Saturday-Tuesday; 9am to 3pm
Closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
* Ticket desk closes at 2.30pm
Contact: 2208 1500
Pricing: RO1 for Omani and GCC nationals, RO2 for expats, RO5 for non-residents, free for Omani and GCC nationals aged 60 and over and children and students up to the age of 25
Facebook: National Museum Oman
For those of you who are not into paintball, laser tag or anything to do with guns; Bows & Arrows gives you the opportunity to try your hand at the medieval sport of archery.
It’s quite a hard sport as you not only have to find your aim, but also must apply the right amount of tension in the bow to hit the bullseye. But don’t fret, as you have at your disposal professional archery equipment and well-trained instructors to help you make use of all that equipment.
Each archer gets a designated cubicle, and is also given specific bows and arrows that you will be comfortable with.
Where is it?
Above the food court, Muscat Grand Mall, Baushar
Timings: Sunday-Thursday 10am to 11pm
Friday-Saturday 10am to 12 midnight
Contact: 2206 3909
Pricing: 18 arrows (1 person): RO3.600
52 arrows (2 people): RO7.600
91 arrows (3 people): RO11.400
Swimming is one of the easiest ways to beat the heat, and also burn some calories at the same time. However, not everyone has access to a private swimming pool every day. And that’s why the swimming pool at Haffa House comes in handy: the pool is open daily from 6am onwards, and anyone can make use of the facilities.
Membership is not compulsory and you can opt to pay the nominal daily rates to access the pool. The crowd is extremely friendly and the staff very hospitable. You will also get access to lockers to keep your personal items safe, as well as the shower room.
Where is it?
Opposite Sultan Qaboos Stadium, Baushar
Timings: Daily 6am to 11pm
Contact: 2470 7207
Pricing: Adults: RO6 for three hours
Children below the age of 11: RO4 for three hours
Yellow Submarine is a play area dedicated to children between the ages of one and 12. It can be found at the Panorama and Azaiba Malls, and consists of soft toy play areas where children can wreak as much havoc as they like.
Kids can also develop their skills by making use of building blocks and solving puzzles. Apart from that, children up to the age of four can take part with their guardian in a meet-and-greet session where they can play games, sing, play music and have snacks. There’s coffee for adults (thank you very much).
Where is it?
Panorama Mall, Baushar, Muscat
Azaiba Mall, Azaiba, Muscat
Timings: Weekdays: 10am to 9pm
Weekends: 10am to 11pm
Contact: 2422 2339
Ages 0-2: RO3 for one hour and RO4 for unlimited play time
Ages 3-12: RO4 for one hour and RO6 for unlimited play time
Facebook: Yellow Submarine Oman