Muscat, capital city of Oman
Muscat is unlike any other capital in the region. There are only a few high-rise blocks, and the streets are spotlessly clean. The whimsically uniform city is elegant, graceful and fine. Muscat literally means “anchorage,” and a major part of the city was built around the sea. At the historic ports of Muttrah and Old Muscat, goods and people arrive from ships daily. Both the fisherman along the beaches of Athaiba and Shatti al-Qurm and the onshore refinery rely on the sea for income, and the waters are a source of recreation for many visitors. Locals love their city, and visitors from all over the world do too.
Some of the most beautiful sights in Muscat are Islamic mosques. One of the most glorious is the Grand Mosque, a gift from Sultan Qaboos to commemorate the third decade of his reign. The imposing exterior gives way to a breathtakingly rich main prayer hall. Inside is the world's largest carpet, a Persian rug measuring 70 meters long and 60 meters wide. More than 600 women spent four years stitching the masterpiece. Long sleeves and trousers should be worn when visiting the mosque, and women must cover their hair before entering.
Muscat is home to an array of outstanding museums. One of the most popular is the Sultan's Armed Forces Museum, housed in an 1845 mansion. The exhibits in the lower rooms outline the country's military history while the upper galleries detail Oman's international relations. Visiting dignitaries can often be spotted perusing the exhibits, and a mandatory military escort is required to see the collection.
Muscat has a long and interesting history, and the Bait al-Baranda museum is dedicated to telling the story of the capital. The imaginative and interactive displays will delight both children and adults, and one of the most striking exhibits is the dinosaur skeleton pieced together from bones excavated from the city's Al-Khoud area. The ethnographical displays provide a good context for understanding the regional and cultural importance of Muscat.
Between the old walled city and the corniche lies the Muscat Gate Museum, marking the space once occupied by the old city wall. The small museum is worth browsing, but the real draw is the neighboring hill. From the top, visitors can catch an extraordinary view of Muscat and Muttrah.
The Oman Museum is also worth visiting mainly for its view. The small displays include examples of Omani architecture and artifacts, but the panoramic view over the gleamingly white suburbs and sea cannot be beat.
Other museums worth exploring include the Omani-French Museum, which highlights colonial life in the city, the PDO Oil and Gas Museum, the Natural History Museum and the National Museum, where jewelry, dowry chests and royal costumes are on display.
The Muttrah Souq is one of the most exciting and exhilarating places in Muscat. There, a traditional Arab market bustles under modern timber roofing, antique shops sell Omani and Indian artifacts, the inventory of gold shops glistens and bargaining is expected.
Three sights in Muscat are closed to travelers, with the exception of visiting dignitaries, but they are still worth a visit to see them from the outside. The forts of Al Jalali and Al Mirani on Qasr Al Alam Street were once prisons but have since been converted into museums. Although venturing inside is forbidden, exterior photography is allowed. The Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace is also closed to visitors, but the view of the palace from the outside is still stunning.
Muscat Geographical Location
Muscat is located on the northern coast of Oman along the Arabian Sea.
The population of Muscat is approximately 1,091,000 in the metropolitan area.
Arabic is the official language of Oman. English, Baluchi, Urdu and Indian dialects are also common throughout the country.
Muscat Predominant Religion
- 75% Ibahi Muslim
- 25% Other
Sunni and Shia Muslims are included within the “other” category making the overall Muslim percentile higher.
The Omani Rial is the official currency of Oman.
Muscat receives little precipitation throughout the year with many months experiencing no rainfall at all. The summers can become very hot
while the winters cool to comfortably warm temperatures.
Muscat Main Attractions
- Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
- Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace
- Al Jalai and Al Mirani Forts
Other Attraction in Muscat
- Old Muttrah Souk
- Corniche Area
- Qurum National Park
- Bait Al-Zubair Museum