• MuscatAs the capital of Oman is a waterside heaven with a beautiful harbour. Visit the Grand Mosque there which, is a magnificent piece of contemporary Islamic architecture. Muscat has a number of detailed museums, souqs like the famous Mutrah Gold Souq and spectacular forts frequented by visitors. Do not miss the beautiful blue and gold Al Alam Palace. Muscat is an hour’s time by flight and almost five hours by road from Dubai.Many other towns like Nizwa and Sur on the outskirts of Muscat, sitting at the base of Hajar mountains hosts a few luxurious getaway resorts with breath taking views and a more forts to explore.
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Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
This quietly imposing glorious piece of modern Islamic architecture is the third largest mosque on earth. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque was built in 2001 and its interiors are adorned with the largest hand-woven Persian carpet on the planet which alone measures 70m by 60m wide, making it the 2nd largest hand loomed Iranian carpet in the world. Located along a stretch of the Sultan Qaboos Highway, the mosque is a must-visit place in Muscat.One of the foremost attractions here is the former Guinness world record holder of Largest Chandelier in the World – the 14 metre, 8 and 1/2 ton behemoth that dangles from the centre of the men’s prayer hall. The mosaic walls are also nothing short of stunning.
No trip to Muscat is concluded without a visit to the famous old-world Muttrah Souk. This is an antiquated local bazaar with shops arranged in confusing maze-style pathways. The souk sells everything from fresh local produce to regional spices, nuts, jewellery, antiques, fabrics, articfacts, footwear, paintings, ceramics and a host of other items.This is THE place in Oman to get your souvenirs and gifts for loved ones back home. I picked up the token miniature gold camel and a stunning dagger embedded with colourful stones.
Omani Agraba – Muttrah Legend has it that Oman was mistaken to be India by European Travelers and they made Muttrah their main port for trade, back in time. Even today, in spite of the onslaught of modernity, Muttrah seems to be in a time wrap. Muttrah is an antique freak’s and shopper’s paradise. It has the oldest traditional market of west Asia called Muttrah Souq that flaunts an ambience built with Turkish lamps, spices and incenses. You can also see a large part of the city flaunting the old mud houses – similar to the ones shown in Aladdin. But it is not just about the old heritage; Muttrah is also known for its Corniche with lavish yachts and deep blue sea. Sounds like modern Agraba doesn’t it?
Before being a driver I always aspired how great it would be to roll a 4 wheeler on these shiny roads of Oman. My dream came through when I passed the road test on the third attempt with flying colours. Bismillah, what a feeling of emancipation.I come from a city where you get public transport for 18 hours a day, however in Oman the scenario is quite different. Without a driving licence in Oman, life is cut short, as public transport is almost non-existent. However recently the municipality has started Mawsalat Bus Service from Ruwi to Mubaila and back. However most folks still rely greatly on their personal vehicle as their only reliable mode of transport.So for my future fellow-mates and future inhabitants of this great city, I have sat down today to pen down my experience of learning to drive in Muscat. I will try to describe and enunciate as much as possible, but as rules and regulations often change in Oman, so I would request new drivers to consult a professional trainer before taking any decisions.I have often travelled miles on road, but this shortest and the most tense road trip was worth mentioning as it was the only one so far with an Arabic cop sitting beside me. As I look back now I can still feel the sense of adrenaline that rushed through my veins when he said "Start the car..lets hit the roads".Nitty–GrittyStep 1. Eye Test/Signal Test: Go to the nearby Royal Oman Police driver License department. Currently two are there. One in Al Khoudh another in Al Qurm. Get hold of a learners book for which you will need two passport size photographs with blue background and undergo an eye test. Also mug up the road signs then and there and give the signal test. These two tests are easier to pass, just take a day off for these two. Even you can go alone to the ROP license department and take these tests. All you need as paperwork is a valid civil id.Step 2. Drum Test:
Istanboly Turkish Restaurant
Let’s talk food – Istanboly! Okay, this might confuse a lot of Omanis as Istanboly is in Muscat, then why make it a separate destination? Well the reason is my friends. They way they talk about the Istanboly Shawarma is as if it comes from some different planet and no matter which Shawarma they eat from which country, they end up comparing it with Istanboly’s product and consider the shawarma as “nowhere close to the delicious Istanboly Shawarma”. So this would be my must eat at destination in Oman. There are a lot of other places that the sultanate has to explore like the Masirah Island, the fabled lost city or Atlantis of the sands, Queen Sheba’s palace and city ruins and many more; but these 10 top my list of “Experience Oman.” Hopefully, I will get to visit all these places some day and have a lot of Baklava, Omani halwa and Chocolate Dates - Yay to my sweet tooth!
Royal Opera House
The magnificent Royal Opera House in Muscat is a must on your itinerary. An opulent contemporary arts venue bordered by landscaped gardens and retail outlets, has brought the international culture into the heart of Oman. Opera, symphony, ballet and jazz fans alike will be delighted by their program of events. Located in Shatti Al Qurum facing the Sultan Qaboos Highway, the Royal Opera House Muscat is one of the most elegant architectural masterpieces in the Sultanate of Oman. The theater of the Royal Opera House Muscat features a state of the art technology including subtitles for operas displayed on individual touch screens in front of each seat. There is a strict formal dress code for attending the shows, no jeans, shirts or sports-wear shoes are allowed. Timing is also something that is strictly followed in this part of the world. Ticket holders are not allowed to enter the theater if they arrive after the show has started. They are made to wait in a room to watch the show on a screen until intermission, hence, time your schedule.
Wadi Wonders It won’t be wrong to call Oman the land of Wadis. Oman is known for its Ocher yellow and rust shade mountains hiding aquamarine pools and lush green terraces within them – called as Wadis. From the serpentine Snake Canyon aka Wadi Bimah to the gorgeous Wadi Bani Khalid, from the submerged cave and perennial waterfall of Wadi Shab to the peaceful Wadi Tiwi, the Wadis of Oman are a must visit. The best time to visit Wadis though is the Khareef season till late February as in the other season the heat and the comparatively dry pools steal the main essences of these places. The important thing to remember to travelling to Wadis is four wheel drive, normal vehicles won’t do you any good.