Oman, known as the Sultanate of Oman officially, is a small country situated on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula; it is a very prosperous yet underrated country if compared to its fancier cousin, the United Arab Emirates.
Home to a little over 5 million people, Oman has the population of an Indian city, but what makes it so special for Omanis and expatriates alike?
As a resident of the country who has lived there for 18 years, I know exactly why I call this country home.
Clock Tower visits, Lulu Hypermarket runs, Muscat Festival, Shatti Qurum drives, Darsait Park, Oman Avenues Mall, VOX Cinemas – all these places are etched in my mind with such intricate detail that if I were to walk around these places, blindfolded, I would find my way around. Muscat has not only been the city where I spent most of my life in but Muscat has been my safe space, my home, my sanctuary. Its one destination I’d never get weary of
To get into a little bit of history, I was 5 months old when I was first brought to the city and it was love at first sight! My mother recollects taking me for strolls in gardens, shopping in supermarkets, and me , wanting to touch everything, being inquisitive about everything around me even at such a tender age. Little has changed over time, I may be biased but Oman is worth visiting. The majestic architecture, vast expanse of the sea, delicious food, amazing shopping malls, extremely friendly and generous Omanis just add to its appeal.
Growing up, I have been fortunate enough to have gone on many road trips and experience first-hand all the natural and man-made wonders this city offers. It would be hard to pinpoint exactly which sights are worth the visit but still, I shall attempt to share a few of my favorite places in and around the city.
Among the must-see attractions, pristine beaches, magnificent architecture, here are the top 4 places, one must visit when in Muscat.
Muttrah is a district located in Muscat and is the heart of the city. In ancient times, it used to be a place for commerce. Muttrah is home to a bustling "souq" which means a " bazaar" in Arabic which continues to be a full-fledged market attracting a large number of people daily, even today. Muttrah is a place for history buffs, shopaholics, nature lovers, and fishing enthusiasts. Another notable attraction of Muttrah is the Corniche, which combines the views of crystal clear waters, mountains, and the ruins of the historic houses and buildings in the district. It is a must-visit if one wants to experience true Omani hospitality in one of the oldest cities of Muscat.
2) Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Did you know that this mosque is a part of the top 12 world’s biggest mosques? This most celebrated monument in Oman was named after the now deceased Sultan of Oman who was also the longest-serving ruler of the Arab world. A true leader, His Excellency Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said, also known as "Baba" by his subjects and who will forever be in their hearts. Also called the Grand Mosque by Muscateers, it is the largest mosque in Oman and is a treat to the eyes for those who visit for its architectural beauty with its intricate designs, handmade carpets, beautiful foliage, and decorated walls which have a contemporary Islamic style.
3) Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach, one of the many exquisite beaches Oman is home to, is as the name suggests, a beach is topped with white smooth pebbles strewn all over the beach. Located a little away from the main city, this beach is in proximity to Wadi Shab, which is another popular tourist attraction. Snorkellers and professional swimmers can often be found here. It is an ideal picnic spot for friends and family.
4) Wahiba Sands
What is an Arab country without stretches of golden sand? Oman is home to Wahiba Sands named after the indigenous people of the Wahiba tribe. Three hours away from Muscat, living in the camps set in Wahiba Sands is a one-of-a-kind experience that I was fortunate enough to experience. Many hotels have affordable packages which make it possible for visitors to experience the desert in luxe or mid-range camps. Some of the activities that one could do in the desert are camel rides, dune bashing, stargazing, indulging in local dances and songs, sampling Arabic cuisine. When we stayed in a camp overnight, we were welcomed with kahwa (a special coffee local to Oman) and guests were treated to some traditional Omani dances. The temperatures drop to almost 15 degrees Celsius in the winters at nights making it perfect to snuggle in your blanket and take a good night's rest under the stars.
Muscat is just one fragment of this beautiful country, with its 61 provinces, where every single province has its own beauty. Every nook and cranny of the city is so dear to me. You can take me out of Oman but you can’t take Oman out of me. I may not belong to Oman but Oman shall always belong to me.
Satansha Mamotra is pursuing a management degree in Hospitality and Facilities Management. She is fond of reading and especially loves to write. She loves being the unofficial scribe at college, being asked to write up with something special on every occasion, be it a college fest, a farewell, a birthday celebration, or just plain fun, quirky stuff.
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