Scented by aromas of sweet frankincense and warmed by the Middle Eastern sun, the city of Muscat, capital of Oman, emerges majestically out of the desert. Green lawns and trees offset the sand-coloured buildings and minarets of this fascinating desert country.
Known as ‘Arabia’s Jewel’, Muscat is split into the three core districts of the old port area of Muscat itself, the trading and residential side of Muttrah and the commercial district of Ruwi.
A city steeped in 5,000 years of history, Muscat’s timeless forts, walled gateways and beautiful Islamic architecture add charm to a city with an old-world feel but one with all the comforts of modernity.
Increasingly a destination for travellers seeking adventure, Muscat’s warm, blue waters lure divers and snorkelers. Most tour operators offer desert camp-out excursions and wadi-bashing trips into the dunes. For a more tranquil day out, there are also camel rides and chance for Omani barbeques under the Arabian night sky. Inside the city, the many souks and markets are enticing propositions in which to sample various Middle Eastern delights and wares.
Hot and humid during the summer months between June and August, come December to March, Muscat relaxes to a warmer climate with cool evenings to be spent sampling the many romantic restaurant destinations scattered across the city harbour.
Climb the steep steps up the restored watchtower in the Muttrah area of the city for a bird’s-eye view from the top.
Visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque to experience an imposing example of modern Islamic architecture. The carpet in the prayer hall, the biggest in the world, took four years to weave while the largest Swarovski crystal chandeliers can be seen at the prayer halls.
Don’t miss a browse through the Muttrah souk with all the allure of a traditional Arab market and some good antique shops selling Omani and Indian artefacts.