Bullfighting in Oman is an ancient ritual that, in the region of Batinah, still draws in thousands of spectators every week. But why is this tradition still so popular?
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
He describes a local legend: one day in northern Oman, a bull flew into a rage, escaped its owner’s hold and attacked another bull. The second was tied up at the time and could not fight back. When news spread that the angry bull had won the fight, the owner of the second refused to accept defeat, and demanded a rematch in front of everyone. This, he says, was the start of a uniquely Omani tradition.
It is an often-discussed tale in Mussanah, but its accuracy has been disputed. Bullfighting is likely to have arrived in Oman from the Portuguese, who brought the tradition to the sultanate during the 16th-century occupation.
Perhaps more surprising is the fact that the ancient spectacle – and controversial custom – lives on in the region of Batinah to this day, and has evolved into a truly Omani tradition.
The pastime is distinct from its Iberian cousin in that bulls are not killed or allowed to injure one another: the one that shows the most aggression wins. In this Omani rendition of the sport, gambling is also strictly prohibited, the bulls face each other and fights are organised for prestige and honour, rather than a monetary prize.
The tradition is governed by many rules. Researcher Maher Al Zadjali writes that the proceedings are supervised by an aqeed. ‘The aqeed has many duties: invite bull owners to participate in the competition; decide on the rounds, categorising the bulls by type, weight and age; maintaining control of the rounds and finishing time; and finally determining the winner of each round.’
When the fight kicks off, bulls push each other vigorously with their horns. Their handlers remain close to the bulls throughout the fight, keeping them from getting too aggressive, losing interest or running into the crowd. They constantly intervene to relock the bulls’ horns and keep the bout going for five minutes, after which a winner is selected.
Prestige and honour are key. Bulls that constantly win increase in value, making them highly prized assets for bull trainers. Some are eventually sold for more than US$20,000.
But there is emotional significance, too: Al Duhani, a local bull handler, described the sport’s cultural significance by saying,’For most of us, bullfighting is something very important, a key part of who we are.’
To the crowd of Omanis gathered around, winning or losing is the least important feature of the spectacle. It’s the preservation of a tradition that reminds them of their ancestors, the chance to see old friends and the rush that surges through the veins as two contestants battle that keep them coming back for more.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.