I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to revisit this magnificent place. Again, I still feel that more time to explore is in order. What I enjoy most about what I have seen of Muscat, other than its sheer natural beauty, is its commitment to itself. Sure, cruise ships come in now and again and tourists visit, but you will be hard-pressed to find any store or restaurant that has been constructed solely to attract visitors. Yes, there are stalls in Muttrah Souq that sell souvenirs and tee shirts but it is the most traditionally structured souq I’ve ever been to, offering textiles and materials to its residents as well as its visitors.
This place is local all the way, from its traditional dress and religion, to its architecture and its values. Which reminds me, I saw a fair amount of guests publicly displaying their affection and wearing inappropriately clothing that didn’t cover their thighs and shoulders. Since the residents of Muscat are traditionally Muslim, it’s important to respect those values, so read up before your visit. Oddly enough though, in the souq, they sell transparent belly dancing garb…
Notice the juxtaposition between the square white and tan buildings and the jagged edges of the brown hills and fort in the background. Another aspect that draws me to this place. Getting lost in the back alleys provides for some beautiful views.
I love this souq. Dark and a bit dusty, cramped and full of nooks and crannies, the scent of aromatic incense and oils wafting from every stall. Walking through, guests are transported back decades to when it was actually an essential stop for household necessities.
After the sun set, the waterfront town displayed a beautiful array of reflections and outlines. It’s a shame they are so hard to capture on film. As you look at them, use your imagination: feel the warm, sticky air pricking at your skin; smell the sweet lingering aroma of burnt frankincense; listen as evening call to prayer is broadcast throughout the town. Picture yourself in the heart of Arabia, immersed in the culture and kindness of Oman’s capital.
Sailing away from this magical place was truly awe-inspiring. The sunset, the warm breeze, the waving locals, and the smell of incense all combined to envelope me in a sweet, nostalgic memory.