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City Guide : MuscatMuscat is the capital and largest city of the Oman Sultanate. It has Yemen on its southwest side, Umited Arab Emirates on its northwest side, Saudi Arabia on its west side, Indian Ocean on its southeast side and the Persian Gulf on its northeast side. Traces of human life in today’s Oman dates back at least 10 000 years. The roots of the contemporary tribal system goes back to the migration from the southwest part of the Arabian Peninsula starting from 200 AD. People of the Oman Sultanate, the name of which comes from “Umm An Nar” meaning “the mother of fire” and which is believed to have risen from the ocean as a result of a great volcanic eruption, are the oldest and maybe the only Arab mariners of the Arabian Peninsula. In 1970, Italian archeologists have found a fishermen’s village ,that sat on the, 700 km, shore of Oman and populated by approximately 400 people, dating back 7000 years. It is an indicator how interrelated seamenship, fishery, and the ancestors of the contemporary people of Oman were.
Tourist AttractionsThe Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the second largest mosque of the Middle East, is located in Oman. The monumental but also elegant mosque, which Sultan Qaboos bin Said-who has overthrown his father Sultan Said bin Taimur in 1970- had built for his mother embraces the city through the light reflected from its dome of gold mosaic showcase. Sitting on 933,000 square meters, the mosque has five minarets, a main building with a capacity of six thousand six hundred people, a courtyard with a capacity of eight thousand people, a library housing twenty thousand literary works on the Islamic Culture, and a conference hall with a capacity of three hundred people. The crystal chandelier ,hanging 50 meters above the ground, contains 122 lightbulbs illuminating the room.
A model of the boat which is believed to be used by the mythical hero Sinbad-who is believed to have been born in Sohar- on his legendary voyages, can be seen in a square near Al Bustan. The boat, called “Dhow”, is not very different from the boats used in Oman today..
The magnificent, also elegant; Sultan’s Palace, which the Sultan had built inspired by the traditional Ottoman Architecture, is located in Old Muscat, on the coastline. It’s a must-see. If you are looking for information about the history and culture of Oman, Bayt Az Zubair Museum is the place for you. Don’t leave Oman before seeing the National Museum as well.
The district of Mutrah, which is famous for its castles from the times of the Portuguese, its port, and bazaar; is the most colorful and interesting place in Muscat. This district is outstretched on the sand up until Riyam which resembles a village with its traditional two story houses. On the steep hills on the narrow points of the coastline, stands two castles that are remainders of Portuguese hegemony which lasted for 150 years starting from 1507. The wooden boats made with the classic Oman style, which have high backs and wave resistant quality, anchored to the Mutrah port, remind you of the glorious time of the Oman Sultanate with its land reaching to Mombasa and Zanzibar in the 19th century. You can also visit the historical bazaar Mutrah Souk in Mutrah. In the fish market there, various fish of the ocean are sold.
The Al Qurm region which sits on the east side of the city is populated by luxury hotels and shopping malls, it is the tourism center of the city. Kilometers of beaches attract foreigners that are interested in water sports. If you would like to swim in the ocean, this is the place for you. Before you leave Muscat, be sure to go on the Bandar Jissah Hill and enjoy the beautiful view.
Culture & EntertainmentWhat first calls your attention in Muscat is the different clothing of the people compared to the other Arab countries. Men wear a gown called “dishdasha” that has tassels hanging from neck down. The sash wrapped around their waists is used to carry the symbol of the country, the “khanjar” meaning the dagger. The “kummar”, a head cap with an Indian breeze, or “muzzar” resembling a turban that is wrapped around the kummar is worn on the head. Even though women wear the usual hijab, young women wearing long dresses made of embroidered Indian sari-like fabric are seen often along the way
Another symbol of the country is the incense burners made of red clay , each decorated with brightly colored handmade motifs. Chunks of resin with strong essences are burned on coal embers in these incense burners. Being one of the most important sources of income in Oman for centuries, these chunks of resin are extracted from a tree called “frankincense” and they are used for making not only incense but also perfumes.
Especially in recent years, Oman has become the vacation spot for foreigners with passion for various nature sports such as swimming, scuba-diving, fishing, desert skiing, jeep-safari, trekking, golf and sailing in mild winter months when the temperature does not drop below 25 degrees Centigrate. The ideal season starts with the second half of October.
The start of the tourism season means the start of the festival season as well. The Muscat Festival which starts on October 20th, ends on November 18th with the Oman National Day celebrations. Various international exhibitions and fairs are organized near the Oman International Exhibition Centre near the airport.
Food & DrinkEven though the Oman cuisine seems to be made of traditional Arabian dishes, an Indian influence is reflected on the flavors. Spices such as kardamom, saffron, and turmeric are widely used. Meat is the central piece on every table. In addition to beef, lamb and camel meat are also largely consumed.
The biggest advantage of having a seashore is, without a doubt, the luxury of adding various delicious fish to the cuisine. The people have been in fishing for centuries, and they know how to cook great dishes with seafood.
Even though the best food is served by international hotels in Muscat, the alternatives on the streets should not be ignored. Especially after sundown, do not forget to sit down at one of the small coffee shops in Mutrah and have a cup of Oman coffee.
ShoppingThe historical closed bazaar Mutrah Souk in Mutrah is one of the longest and most famous Arabian bazaars in the region. Various silver jewellery, filigree daggers of every size, incense burners, chunks of resin for the incense burners, special coffee pots which look like ewers, date, products made of silk, precious stones or gems, pearls, local clothing, traditional Oman halva and many other things are sold there. Also, you should visit the Ruwi bazaar which is open on only Fridays. In this bazaar where you can buy souvenirs, you are sure to have a lot of fun.
Rising Star Of The Arabian Peninsula: Muskat
While strolling past the waterfront restaurants and cafes along the Corniche, I might easily have thought I was in a Mediterranean coastal town were it not for the ubiquitous youths sporting the traditional white dishdasha. Although it’s winter, the air is tepid, “like lemonade” as we say in Turkey. Not a trace of sand on the streets, sidewalks or gleaming cars.The traffic flows smoothly along and not a horn can be heard honking since all drivers obey the regulations toa fault. For some reason, I’m not surprised when mydriver tells me Oman has been named the cleanest cityin the world after Singapore. Although the Sultan ofOman, Qaboos bin Sair al Said, is a man of vision anda beloved leader, there are some matters on which hewill brook no compromise, and order and cleanlinesstop the list. Omanis who argue loudly or swear in publicare fined. Consequently, holiday makers who come hereseeking sun and sea also enjoy the unexpected pleasureof comfort and serenity in this ancient land. And cultureseekers are met with the true exoticism that has no truckwith artificiality of any kind. After all, what we are talkingabout here is an amazing country ruled by a sultan,a country whose shores form rock formations like theNorwegian fjords - aridity notwithstanding - a country80% covered with desert where Bedouin still roam on thebacks of camels.
A quiet day on the
Al Jalali Castle once guarded the city
You may come across a silver dagger at the waist of a native!
Although it’s winter, the air is tepid, “like lemonade”
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF SINBAD THE SAILOR
Another way in which the Omanis differ from the other peoples of the Arabian peninsula is that they have distinguished themselves as seamen. Throughout their history they have fought numerous sea battles to protect their sultanate, with the result that Oman today is one of the region’s key players in shipbuilding and construction of the traditional ‘dhow’. Legend has it that intrepid sailor of fable, Sinbad, lived on a
small dhow in the old Omani town of Sohar some 200 kilometers north of Muscat.
Upon learning this, I decided I too should make my entrance into Muscat by sea. Al Alam, the palace of the sultanate in the white and sand-colored area known as Old Muscat, has already come into view. Built in 1972, the palace was erected smack dab in the middle of the Al Jalali and Al Mirani castles, which were built in the 16th century during the Portuguese occupation and reflect Portuguese architecture. Since visitors are not allowed inside, I content myself with gazing on the palace from afar like the hundreds of other visitors. The gold and turquoise colored entrance is characteristic in shape, but due to its relatively small size the palace as a whole exudes a homey air far from the usual opulence associated with such structures.
The well-kept English gardens where foreign men of state are entertained in an area behind the palace no doubt boasts a view of the castles, which have fended off many a would-be occupier since they were built by the Portuguese. Today when you set sail on the open sea from the east of the city you can catch a brief glimpse of the white tombstones, licked by the azure waves, of the soldiers and members of the royal family who lost their lives defending the homeland.
THE CITY TODAY
Muscat has become a destination on the radar of the international five-star hotel chains that have opened here in the last ten years. Thanks to these brands, which attract their own followers, the city hosts a large number of tourists especially from France, England and Switzerland. These tourism initiatives are one of the key reasons why the United Nations in 2010 named Oman the country that exhibited the most development in forty years. Numerous companies organize desert day safaris to Wahiba Sands, three hours (240 kilometers) from Muscat by car. Here, red sand covers an area 180 kilometers long and 80 kilometers wide where you can still see native Bedouin of the Nizari tribe. Made of mud and palm leaves, the houses, called barasti, of the natives, who preserve their nomadic way of life, will accompany you along the way. After setting out across the sand by jeep, be sure to take the opportunity to mix with them when you stop for a break at a green oasis. Their modern and openminded outlook will surprise you.
Most of the natives you will encounter in Oman exhibit the wisdom of peoples who for centuries have sailed the open sea to new horizons. Perhaps this is what lies behind the country’s rapid development.
The Shangri-La Hotel pool is connected to the sea
Winged residents of Le Chedi Hotel
Discovering the city by sea is a special pleasure
Entrance to Sultan Qaboos Mosque
A side view of the Palace of the Sultanate
These tourism initiatives are one of the key reasons why the United Nations in 2010 named Oman the country that exhibited the most development in forty years.
Rooms in the five-star hotels open onto courtyards with palm trees
The dome of Sultan Qaboos Mosque is covered in mosaics
Turkish chefs are responsible for the Middle Eastern cuisine in Muscat
You’ll encounter a lot of camels as you drive through the desert
Joggers and cyclists throng the Corniche at weekends
New golf courses are opening on the edge of the city
ART AND SHOPPING
Muscat’s 120-person Royal Symphony Orchestra is famous. What’s more, you can hear Brazilian pianist Ricardo Castro’s Bahia Orchestra at the Royal Opera House the evening of March 20. Shopping is another activity popular with tourists in the city. Here are two important addresses: Muttrah Souk, a traditional covered bazaar selling silver daggers, pearls, kohl, incense and jewelry, and Al Qurum, a shopping area in the city’s modern district where the malls are located.
The gate of this palace, where official guests are hosted, is one of the city’s symbols. It is not the residence of the sultan.
If you want to enjoy the sea air while in the city, take a stroll on this beach and relax under the mangrove trees.
There are several 9-hole and 18-hole golf clubs not far from the city.
What to Eat?
Muscat boasts some fashionable restaurants serving seafood in the Corniche district. Indian food is also popular here, and a serving of yoghurt helps balance the spicy vegetarian Thali food, which is served in small portions
Ticket Sales Offices : Muscat
|Muscat City Office|
|Address||MAJAN WINGS DESTINATIONLS LLC TURKISH AIRLINES MUSCAT,P.O. BOX 488,RUWI P.C 112,SULTANATE OF OMAN|
|Fax||00 968 24765070|
Sunday - Thursday: 08:30 - 17:30
|Phone||00 968 24511456 / 00 968 99345639/00 968 9284814|
Muscat : Airport Information
Seeb Intl. Airport
Address : Muscat Aırport P.O box 1707, P.C 111,CPO, Sultanate Of Oman Phone : + 968 24519223 , + 968 24519456
Muscat : Airport Map Information
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|Monetary Unit||:||Omani Rial|
|Phone Code||:||+ 968 24|