Muscat is the port capital of Oman. It is the city and harbor with communal activity tracing back to the 6 BCE. The government is complete monarchy and has fought long battles to reach where it is. The long beach stretch and ferries are an absolute beauty and the food is just mouth watering.
10 Key Things about Muscat, Oman
1. History of Muscat
Muscat was region of conflict between the Portuguese and the Turks for a long period after which Omanis took control of their country. The power relation changed hands amongst the Persians, Portuguese Empire and Ottoman Empire. The history of Oman does not just include the local Omanis, but British Parliamentary records also showcase the prominent presence of Hindu Gujaratis in the year 1760, and the entrance of Christianity by the Portuguese in the year 1507.
2. Night Life of Muscat
The night life is probably best enjoyed watching the sunset at the beach. However, those who are looking to indulge in drinks and music, the nightlife best happens at the mid range to top class hotels in Muscat. The standard of seating, music and drinks can be enjoyed at places like Al Qurum, Mutrah and Shangri La. Shangri La is home to a Piano lounge and one can enjoy the piano lounge until 2 am with decently priced drinks at OMR 0.39 (USD 6).
3. Safety in Muscat
Muscat is a city where the safety rules are a bit different. Driving locally can be a bit of a challenge. The infrastructure of the city is fine, but the driving culture is not as healthy and safe. Money exchange is better done in authorized outlets rather than any other place. Taxis do not have meters, so one needs to check up with the local people to get fair rates. Taking photos of embassies and restricted places is prohibited. Though there pertains no laws regarding photography of locals, the locals find it rather intrusive if you click their photo without permission. So, just ask before you click!
4. Living Expenses in Muscat
Muscat is not a cheap city to sleep in. One can find luxury and comfort in the hotels lined up along the stretch of the beach, such as, Qurum, Shatti al Qurum, and Al Khunwair. This is the list of higher end hotels beginning at OMR 69.30 (USD 180). If one is need of budget hotels, they can look at localities of Mutrah, ranging OMR 23.10 (USD 60) onwards.
5. Cuisines in Muscat
Though there are not particular spots where one can find these dishes, Muscat is more of a hub of local spots that you’ll walk into rather than fine establishments. The local culture avoids consumption of alcohol. However, that does not mean that alcohol consumption is banned. Meat dishes are famous. Lamb meat is the most commonly used meat. Al Mudbi is meat that has been slowly cooked on open fire. Uzi is roasted lamb and/or goat served with rice. Buryani is a dish that is made of pieces of roasted meat, fish mixed with new bread. Samak Meshwi is fresh ish that has been grilled. You must be on a look out for these dishes rather than restaurants. In terms of expenditure, budget outlets can be found at Al Khiwair and Riwi. Mid range budget hotels can be found at Madinat Qaboos.
6. Statistics of Muscat
Muscat formulated the second largest governorate in the country. Expatriates play a major role in the country’s economy. Expatriates account for 60% of the labour force of Muscat, 80% of which are men. The defense sector is the largest employer for Omanis.
7. Public Transport of Muscat
The city does not have rail network available for transportation. The only and most reliable mode of transportation is the local taxis. However, these taxis do not have meters. So, it is best if you ask the local hotel that you’re staying at, for the approximate fare, etc. The international airport is called, “Muscat International Airport”, situated 32 kms away from the old city. For inter city travelling, the best option are the intercity buses which are plied on a daily basis.
Pollution in Muscat: Though according to WHO standards, Muscat has been marked in the category of “High Pollution”, in terms of cleanliness, the city tries its level best to maintain its standard.
8. Weather of Muscat
The weather is rather harsh. The temperature can go as high as 40 degree Celsius.
Summer: May to September; Average low: 31°C; Average High: 35°C
Winter: December to March; Average Low: 21°C; Average High: 29°C
The rest of the year follows the pattern of an area of hot and arid climatic conditions. However, month of June might be home to damaging winds and increased rainfall. Apart from such deviations from the generic weather, the city rarely sees torrential pour down spells.
9. Culture of Muscat
Islam is the predominant religion in Muscat. Non Muslims are slowed to practice their own religion. However, they are not allowed to publicly distribute religious literature and proselytize. The local culture is mildly conventional. Though there are no laws per se, the locals do not consume alcohol. Though there is no law against short dresses, it is common culture to wear anything that shows their knees off.
10. Places to visit in Muscat
Things to do in Muscat: The city is dotted with historical spots such as the Al Jalali Fort and Al Mirani Fort at the Qasr Al Alam Street. Beautiful sunsets can be caught at the Corniche Street, where it is a must to have either Halib (tea with milk), Sulaimani (Black tea) paired with sandwiches.
Things to do for kids in Muscat: Scuba Diving at the Oman National Dive Centre is also a must go-to! One can go shopping and have good food at Oman Avenue Mall and Muscat City Centre.
Museums and Galleries: Bail Al Zubair is one of the must visit museums in Muscat. The museum offers an in-depth glimpse into the lifestyle and traditions of the authentic Omani. The museum stays shut on Fridays. However, it can be hired for cocktail parties and also, one can spend time in privacy in the authentic Omani town house. The Natural History Museum shows itself in four segments. Oman as a country of varied physical features; Oman through geological years; Diversified wildlife of Oman and whales and other sea creatures of Oman.
Off-beat: About 1.5 hours from the city, Bimmah Sinkhole invites all those who want to take a dip in crystal clear water. The water entices all those who are fond of plunging into the turquoise maze. Though it takes time to reach, it is pretty accessible as it is just off of the highway to Sur near the Al Sharqiyah region. A definite must if you have time to spare.
Places Nearby: For all those is a hunt for a photographic destination, North of Muscat lies the Batinah Plain, an area of cultivated land, that has been maintained like a gem. Series of forts were built in hopes to make the land fertile. The springs at the base of the mountain are protected by the forts. Apart from mountains and water springs, this plain is home to secret passages, dungeons and brilliant architecture. For photographic musketeers, this is your calling!
Author’s Conclusion: The city of Oman is an absolutely mesmerizing city that shows you the most raw flavor of itself. One should definitely go visit this land of history. Just beware of a couple of local rules that might not be written down anywhere. Go with the flow and just don’t miss out on the mesmerizing sunsets.
|Currency||Omani Rial (OMR) (1 OMR = USD 2.60 as on 27-03-2016)|
|Time Zone||UTC +4|
|Driving||Right side traffic, Left hand driving|
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