Amazing Oman – part 1

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

Pretty ceilings

Things for sale

traditional Bedouin jewelry and khanjars (daggers)

The people

Corniche day time views

According to Lonely Plant, Oman is the one of the world’s most extensively fortified nations. Everywhere you look there are forts and watchtowers dotting the hilltops.

Juxtaposition of traditional culture and new, ostentatious wealth that is so common in this part of the world. That is the sultan’s yacht (the Al Said, the third largest yacht int he world) behind some traditional Omani dhows.

Area around the souk

I love the baby blue color that is often used to highlight doors and windows here.


 muscat door detail


About Lynda

Longhorns and Camels is a blog about exploring Dubai from the perspective of an expat from Texas. It features stories about living in Dubai including descriptions of local culture and popular activities in the region. It also includes photography of the UAE and other countries abroad. It has been recommended by several well-known guides for expatriates: InterNations, ExpatWoman and Expat Focus.
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19 Responses to Amazing Oman – part 1

  1. andydbrown says:

    Sounds like you had a fabulous weekend in Muscat! Great shots!

  2. t.on.air says:

    Thanks for this article. I enjoyed reading it since people don’t talk much about this country. Keep up the good work.

  3. munchow says:

    Great travel story. I particularly like the pictures from the souk (and maybe you can explain me the difference between a souk and a medina?). You write that you took pictures of “a bunch of old, decrepit looking buildings and traditional culture”. I think it’s great when a place is not afraid of its history and keep the old culture alive, even if it sometimes comes out looking somewhat depleted.

    • Thank you!
      Well, I’m certainly no expert, but I know from spending time in southern Spain that medina refers to the old part of town in places like Morocco (which probably includes a market). Souks (at least in the Gulf Arab countries) are the markets. Even the fish market here is sometimes called the fish souq, which I still think sounds a little strange. I’ve never heard of anything around here being referred to as a medina.
      I totally agree with what you said about liking a place that is not afraid of its history. That’s an articulate way of describing Oman.

  4. Paula Abbott says:

    Having just moved to Dubai from Houston, I am really loving your blog! I am hoping to make a visit to Oman once we are settled! Keep up the interesting blogs! Thanks!

    • What a nice comment – thank you so much! Really really appreciate it. And welcome to Dubai! I hope the transition is going smoothly for you. I haven’t been here all that long (a year and 1/2) but if you need any tips or info – feel free to email me at It’s always comforting to know there is another ‘Houstonian’ in the area. (even if you’re not originally from there. 🙂 )

  5. Kellie says:

    you should have let me know you were going I could have given you my souk map and where the best bargains are!

  6. ~mimo~ says:

    beautiful blog and photography!

  7. Shannon says:

    Hopefully we’ll go soon! Love this!

  8. I’ve heard lovely things about Oman lately, and now it’s definitely on my travel radar. Lovely photos!! 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      Thank you! It’s a really unique, beautiful place – I think of of my favorite places I’ve been! You should definitely go if you can. 🙂

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