I remeber chatting to a friend once in a coffee shop and she advised me that I should visit Oman. I listened to my friend’s advice and booked my flight to Muscat the country’s capital city. I ended up staying in Muscat for four days with friends of friends: what a wonderful experience it was!
The first thing that I noticed about Muscat was the fact that it was just so unique. As we were flying over the city I could not see as many skyscapers as other cities in the local area. Instead hidden behind the bright sunlight I could see beautiful mountains and white buildings. As I further explored the city I was overwhelmed by Oman’s delightful arabesque charm.
Omani’s are very patriotic and proud of their country’s development. The development of Muscat and its neighbouring cities is in part due to the late Sultan, Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The Sultan is known as one of the longest serving rulers of the Middle East and gained power in 1970 due to a bloodless coup. During the time of his move to power, Oman lacked proper infrastructure and was classed as an underdeveloped country. Qaboos’ vision was to enhance his country and to do so he used oil revenues to build hospitals, schools, universities and he brough much needed infrastructure to the city. Due to this Omani’s celebrate the Sultan’s birthday with a national holiday -not bad at all!
During my time in Muscat, one of the first places that I visited was the Muttrah Corniche. The Corniche is a long stretch of coastline that runs across the city. Over the years it has been redesigned and developed to attract tourists and locals. It is the perfect place to take a long or short walk so I bought some refreshing avocado juice and then I went for a stroll.
The architecture along the Corniche is simply beautiful. It was so lovely to walk in behind the bright blue sea and the unique mix of buildings and architecture. I walked along the Corniche past a mosque and some stores and the Muscat Souq. On the side of the hill a watchtower caught my attention, I simply could not resist the opportunity to explore it.
The Muttrah Fort In Muscat
The Muttrah fort was viewable and seemed a short distance away so I set off towards it. It was a fair walk but it was certainly worth the hike. The walk towards the fort gave way to some incredible views over the harbour.
The fort was built in the sixteenth century by Portuguese traders and it served as a great location to monitor all operations along the coastline. The fort is comprised of three circular towers, there is also an old cannon that is placed near the enterance of the fort.
I spent a short amount of time looking out over the glorious coastline. The Sultan’s ship was in the harbour and the white houses lay against the brown mountains and the blue sky. There was not that much to do at the fort, but that did not matter to me. I sat for a few minutes and tried to take in the majestic views from each direction.
My next stop was the Muttrah Souq; I wanted to visit the souq as I had heard that it was a great place to buy souvineers. The souq itself lies opposite the Corniche and it is a vibrant place full of atmosphere and bustling activity. I expected it to remind me of the souqs and markets in Jerusalem, but that was not the case. The souq had its own unique and colourful flare about it. Inside the souq there were a variety of stalls and vendors who were selling their souvineers, headscarves, abayas, bags and décor. You should certainly visit the souq, just be prepared to barter. Shopping in a souq is a rich and funny experience.
The National Museum of Oman
Later on in the trip I visited the The National Museum of Oman on Al-Alam Street. The National Museum is one of the newest museums in Muscat and I believe that it is one than everyone should visit. In 2013, the museum was inaugurated and dedicated to Oman’s cultural heritage. The museum’s aim is to teach visitors about Oman’s cultural heritage and Omani traditions. The property is huge and is approximatly 400 square meters in size.
The Museum is home to more than 5000 artifacts and it has been described as a first of its kind learning center. My favourite artifact on display was the 16th century ship wreck which is said to be part of a famous fleet: the fleet of Vasco Da Gama. When I arrived at the museum there were many families exploring and I paid 5 OMR to enter. I would reccomend that you visit the museum if you have the opportunity.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
One of the most grandest mosques in the region is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque; it is simply magnificent. The mosque is the only one in Oman that is open to people from different religious beliefs. The mosque is well known for its fourteen meter tall chandelier which is one of the largest in the world. You can read more about the mosque here.
Dolphin Trips in the gulf of Oman
Without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest things that I enjoyed in Muscat was going out on a boat trip to see the dolphins. After eating a traditional Omani breakfast in Dukanah coffee shop I grabbed a taxi and headed off to the Al- Bustan marina. I had hoped to join a boat tour, however I was a little too late so I booked a boat and we headed off along the sea past some of the most beautiful coves that I have ever seen. Then we saw the dolphins!
I had never seen dolphins until that moment so I was trully mesmorised and over the moon. I was definatly able to tick something off from my bucket list that day. If you are interested in the opportunity of taking a boat trip to see some dolphins in Muscat, I have listed some tour companies below:
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this short article about Muscat. I am forever grateful to my friend for her suggestion and I am hoping to return to Muscat later this year. If you have any questions about this beautiful city, please feel free to let me know.