Although Oman is located on the southeast tip of the Arabian Peninsula, apprehension about conflict in the Middle East should not dissuade you and your travel companions from a trip to the diverse, hospitable and delightful sultanate. Since 1970, the absolute monarchy has been ruled by hereditary Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, known for his liberal policies. While Oman possesses modest oil reserves and 80 percent of the country is desert, the sultan instituted extensive programs of renovation, modernization and education. Despite reports of human rights restrictions and censorship, Oman in 2010 ranked as the most improved developed nation in the world, and it scores as the 59th most peaceful country on the globe.
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In a country known for its scuba diving, beach resorts and mountainous adventures, Manila sits at the economic, social and cultural heart of the Philippines. Colorful jitneys, classic art museums, galleries and a preserved old town mix with upscale fine dining and glitzy mega malls, bringing together divergent aspects of this bustling metropolis. Its UNESCO World Heritage sites contrast with its booming nightclubs, all comprising equal parts of the fabric. As much as it touts its heritage and culture, Manila also excels as a business center attracting MICE groups to its borders.