French on Omani road trip
A French group, all driving Citroen 2CV cars, undertook a tour of Oman last week. The group, comprising members driving the French cars popularly known as ‘Deudeuches’ - or two paws in reference to its twin-cylinder engine - is expected to significantly help the sultanate’s reputation as an attractive tourist destination.
Oman is a popular destination for French tourists with 60,000 visiting last year, a robust 21 per cent increase over the previous year.
Sixty drivers and co-drivers drove their 30 Citroen 2CVs more than 3,000km through Oman, observing the sultanate at close quarters.
The group had an opportunity to see the natural beauty, while having adventures and being surprised by the extraordinary welcome of Omanis throughout their tour between March 26 and April 4.
“We got to visit Oman’s beautiful beaches, mountains, wadis and deserts,” said a member of the team that drove models of Citroen 2CV dating back to the 1970s.
“It was a fascinating experience, seeing the wadis, deserts and mountains as well as meeting people, especially in villages,” said another member of the group.
According to Rania Khodr, director at the Oman Tourism Office for France and Swiss Markets, the figure of 60,000 French tourists here last year excludes cruise ship passengers who tend to spend little time and money in the sultanate.
Rania expects the positive image of Oman in the French market will continue which will help increase tourist arrivals.
“Oman has become an attractive tourist destination for people in France,” said H E Renaud Salins, French Ambassador to Oman. “Bilateral relations between the two countries have reached new heights. Oman was the special guest at a book fair conducted in Paris two weeks ago.”
In a move to further increase tourist arrivals from France, Rania suggests Oman Air increases its flight frequency to France and intensify marketing and promotional activities highlighting tourist attractions in Oman, besides organising visits of French journalists to the sultanate and vice versa.
The establishment of French hotel chains is also expected to raise inflow of tourists from France.
The Citroen 2CV tour team chose to visit Oman to live an unforgettable experience in the sultanate following a tour of Brazil, Argentina, China and Morocco.
The group visited Nizwa, Sohar, Rustaq and Al Hamra, driving through the tough terrains of Wadi Bani Awf and several others, testing both the cars and driving skills.
The Citroen 2CVs were able to reach the highest point of the mountain in Al Hamra, one of the most beautiful hill stations in Oman.
Both car enthusiasts and the general public appreciated the beauty of the visiting classic cars which were displayed in Nizwa, Muttrah Fish Market and Oman Automobile Association last week. The Deudeuches were parked in souqs and other public spaces for people to see and admire.
The group also carried out beach clean-up activities as part of its social responsibility while on its visit here.
The group’s visit was documented in several print publications and television in France including La Voix du Nord and France 3 TV in a further boost to Oman’s tourism sector.
Several cultural events were organised in honour of the French tourists including one held in presence of H E Salins.
The drivers also demonstrated their skills on a 4x4 track before the event concluded with an awards ceremony. The event was jointly organised by the Ministry of Tourism and M&N Tour.