A dear friend came to visit last week. There’s nothing like an old friendship and an open-minded traveling companion to make you appreciate the city you live in a bit more than normal. While we had a fabulous time in Dubai, I’ve chosen to highlight our short weekend get away to Muscat first because the city and incredibly hospitable people really made an impression on both of us. Plus, the blog could use a short break from the UAE, don’t you think?
Muscat, the capital city of Oman, is an easy 1 hour flight from Dubai, or 4-5 hours driving.
We flew out of terminal 2 in Dubai which had a completely different vibe from the large Emirates terminal. We were already giddy with excitement about the trip just seeing all the different types of national dress represented by people buzzing around. Flights were leaving for Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and other places in the region. This diversity was definitely reflected in what people were wearing, the likes of which we had never seen before in some cases. We bought an ice cream and sat in a front row facing the main walkway to people watch.
Once we touched down in Oman, we headed for our hotel. Here’s Oman’s Sultan Qaboos welcoming us in the lobby.
View from our hotel room
When looking out into this bustling city with its busy roads, it’s really difficult to get your mind around the condition of Oman in the early 70s. When Qaboos took control of the country, according to Lonely Planet, there were “no newspapers, radio or television, no civil service and just one hospital, two graded roads and three schools. The average life expectancy was 47 (it has since risen to 74).” Wow! Three schools in the entire country? Life expectancy 47? In 1970? That is incredible given the state of the country now.
Many of the pictures that follow show a bunch of old, decrepit looking buildings and traditional culture, but don’t let that mislead you. I just find that stuff interesting. This is a modern, thriving place, but it does manage to maintain its cultural integrity in spite of the rapid modernization the country has experienced over the last 40 years.
Here are the pics from the corniche and souk in Muscat. We were totally charmed by this area.
Inside the Mutrah souk
Things for sale
Corniche day time views
Area around the souk