Score: 79

The Hajar Mountains and Gulf of Oman flank this semi-fertile section of a predominantly arid country. It contains a variety of "close-to-pristine" natural attractions and several long-inhabited cities that have preserved their historic architecture. As tourism development creeps in eastward from the U.A.E., "a clear and effective planning process needs to be implemented."

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

"Close to pristine, with beautiful natural areas and culture going back centuries. Relatively undiscovered but is at the point where planning is needed before it turns into just another beach destination."

"Some extraordinary unique places. Nature is well protected. These are dream places, but urbanization is nearing and protection particularly from large-scale, out-of-place tourist projects is urgent."

"The risk would be to go the way of Dubai, which would be a mistake."

"Oman keeps it small scaled, compared to the U.A.E."

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