CNN | Parts Unknown

Oman, if you haven’t gathered already, is a remarkable place.

Anthony Bourdain
CNN | Parts Unknown

Anthony Bourdain

In early June CNN aired a full episode on Oman in “Parts Unknown”, an internationally popular American travel show hosted by Anthony Bourdain.  Mr Bourdain is best known for “traveling the globe on his stomach”.  He was a cultural phenomenon with the long-running, food-centric hit “No Reservations” on Travel Channel.  

Following the success at Travel Channel, where Bourdain won two Emmy Awards, he headed to CNN and “Parts Unknown” started airing in April 2013.  Since then he has won a further three Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award.

Explore Parts Unknown is an ideal and detailed complement to the CNN Original Series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.  Here you can revisit the full story behind the show that aired on CNN.  It includes a range of videos and extra stories.  Of course there are also a number of unique Omani recipes.

Some of the stories from Explore Parts Unknown include:

The Desert Awaits You

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Blessed with majestic mountain ranges, an impressive coastline, and rivers of praline-hued desert sand, the Sultanate of Oman’s features feel plucked from the “Arabian Nights” cartoon series of my childhood …

Cruising through Oman’s deserts is no cakewalk. There are multiple risks to be wary of. Rebecca Mayston, manager of The Guide Oman, advises, “Never enter the dunes and try to tackle this driving alone. Always make sure you are with a renowned company that will be there to support and assist anytime something goes wrong.”

To see the full story click here

The Perfect Day in Muscat

[Muscat] is the perfect marriage of the arid, peaceful nothingness of the deserts and the bustle of a flashy Emirati city. With beaches, mountains, and sands, malls, mosques, and souqs, there is something for everyone. If you have just one day in Oman (which would be a pity), this is how to spend it.

To see the full story click here

Other Bourdain-isms

  • “It’s morning in the Arabian Desert, the place explorer Bertram Thomas called the ‘Abode of Death.’ But it’s a beautiful place, the kind of place I look for more and more these days: stark, empty, clean sand that stretches out seemingly forever.”
  • “Oman defies expectations; it shouldn’t, according to the cruel logic of the world, exist. But it does, and it’s incredible.”
  • “It is surrounded by some of the trickiest and most contentious powers in the region, and yet here it is, relatively small, tolerant, welcoming to outsiders, peaceful, and stunningly beautiful.”
  • “There’s an unusual mix here—a very graceful, a very proud mix of cultures and languages.”
  • “Oman defies expectations. It shouldn’t, according to the cruel logic of the world, exist — but it does, and it’s incredible.”
  • On the Omani people’s genuine fondness for their ruler, Sultan Qaboos: “This is not a democracy, but everybody, everybody it seems, has respect and genuine affection for the Sultan.”
  • On Oman’s transformation from a sprawling empire that spanned from Pakistan to East Africa, to the smaller nation it is today: “Modern Oman is a fraction of that size now, but its DNA, its culture, cuisine, and to some extent attitude toward the outside world, is a reflection of that history.”
  • On the diverse influences that make Omani cuisine unique: “The food of Oman is a mix of flavors and ingredients and tastes from Arabia and from all over Oman’s former empire.”
  • On shuwa, Oman’s most prized special occasion dish: “They do one version or another of this all over the world, but shuwa is special. They slather a goat with a spicy paste consisting of cumin, coriander, red pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg, then wrap the meat in palm or banana leaves, dig a hole, throw in some meat, cover it up, and leave underground for a day or two over hot coals.”
  • On the nation’s post-war identity: “In 1976 the Omanis laid down their weapons and never picked them up again. The resulting peace has lasted for 40 years, and while Oman ain’t your system and it ain’t my system and it’s far, far from being perfect or a Western style democracy, there is a palpable pride here in the collective identity of being Omani.”
  • On some of the flavorful dishes found at a traditional Omani meal: “Kabuli laham is slow-cooked goat in a rich rice pilaf scented with star anise. Musanif djaj, a local specialty, are pan-seared dumplings stuffed with chicken, pepper, ginger, turmeric and onions, and of course there’s Omani bread with honey.”
  • On the role that Islam plays in Omani life: “As one moves away from the coast and enters the interior, everything changes. This is the country’s more conservative core, its spiritual center. Uniquely, Oman is neither Sunni nor Shia but rather Ibadi, a very old and particularly tolerant nonsectarian form of Islam. This is a distinction we in the West would be wise to notice: Islam is not a monolith, it comes in many forms. Ibadi theology arguably forms the backbone of many of Oman’s codes of conduct. It places value on concepts like politeness, acceptance, unity, and understanding. Perhaps as a consequence of that, the Sultanate embraces grace and tact as a matter of foreign policy.”
  • On Oman’s stark and pristine desert region: “130 miles south of Muscat, the pavement ends and you hit this: Sharqiya Sands, on the edge of Rub al Khali, the largest sand desert in the world. Once you get up in the soft sand, things change. Everything changes. You change... This is the traditional domain of the Bedouin, who for thousands of years have moved across this harsh, dry, seemingly endless landscape making it their home.”
  • On the remarkably diverse landscape of a nation that’s barely as big as Kansas: “A uniquely fascinating country. You probably can’t find it on a map. It has incredible beaches, mountains, pristine desert. It practices a tolerant, non-sectarian form of Islam. One of the most beautiful, most friendly, generous and hospitable places I’ve ever been — I’m talking about Oman.”

Such an overall enthusiastic affirmation of the cultural diversity and tourism strengths of Oman from a leading international travel presenter, on the world’s most recognisable cable channel, adds significant gravitas to the image of the Sultanate of Oman within the international community and specifically the tourism sector. The positive flow-on effects of this story and related articles will develop a growing number of people who will now consider Oman as a viable tourist destination.  All this clearly supports the efforts of His Majesty’s Government.

Please promote this report among your colleagues and contacts.

Mac Thomson

CNN | Parts Unknown

Parts Unknown is an American travel and food show on CNN, where presenter Anthony Bourdain travels the world, uncovering lesser known places and exploring cultures and cuisines. The show has won five Emmy Awards and 11 nominations for writing, sound mixing, editing and cinematography.

Explore Parts Unknown

Explore Parts Unknown is a mobile-first immersive guide featuring original stories and video, premium photography, and engaging interactives. Inspired by the Emmy-winning CNN Original Series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, [it recreates] Bourdain’s journeys and diving deeper into the places, people, and stories he’s encountered.

Explore Parts Unknown is an editorial partnership between CNN and Roads & Kingdoms—an independent media company focused on food, politics, and travel based in New York and Barcelona. Together, [they] have built a digital universe for the Bourdain super-fan to learn what he knows, go where he went, eat what he ate, and see what he saw.

Born from Bourdain’s contagious passion for culture, food, travel, and adventure, Explore Parts Unknown highlights our shared obsessions: authentic food, culture, people, travel.

Anthony Bourdain

Chef, author, and raconteur Anthony Bourdain is best known for traveling the globe on his stomach, on his TV show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Somewhat notoriously, he has established himself as a professional gadfly, bête noir, advocate, social critic, and pork enthusiast, recognised for his caustic sense of humour worldwide. He is as unsparing of those things he hates, as he is evangelical about his passions.

See more here.

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