Explore the Wonders of Muscat, Oman

Angela Wood

Senior Contributor

Muscat, the capital city of Oman is an eclectic blend of modern and ancient. Situated on the Gulf of Oman, Muscat is surrounded by desert and mountains with diverse experiences which are unrivalled in the Middle East. Whether you wish to see the world’s second largest Persian carpet, want to enjoy breath-taking operatic performances or snorkel in crystalline waters, you can do it all when you explore the wonders of Muscat, Oman.

Discover magnificent Al Alam Palace

One of six royal residences in Oman, Al Alam, also known as ‘the flag’, was constructed in 1972 and showcases the country’s modern architectural flair. Constructed on the former site of the British Embassy, it shimmers in gold and blue hues, highlighting intricate Islamic decoration and polished white marble floors. The palace is strategically placed between the imposing forts of Al Jalali and Al Mirani close to the Gulf of Oman and is used to welcome global dignitaries visiting the capital. Although tourists cannot venture inside the hallowed gates, the palace offers breath taking photo opportunities, especially in the evenings when it illuminates in a kaleidoscope of colours.

Delve into Oman’s Rich Heritage

Islamic architecture is at its most splendid at Muscat’s Grand Mosque. Even if you’re not of any religious persuasion, this glistening structure is an awe-inspiring feat of engineering. Built with 300,000 tonnes of Indian sandstone, the mosque was a gift from Sultan Qaboos to the people of Oman. The main prayer hall has a capacity to hold over 7,000 worshippers and is home to the world’s second largest Persian carpet which took four years and 600 women to produce. The centrepiece is a magnificent chandelier manufactured by Italian company Faustig, measuring 14 metres in height, it was once the world’s largest weighing 8.5 tonnes. It adorns 600,000 dazzling crystals and requires 1,133 halogen bulbs! Oman’s existing fortresses also provide a good source of cultural learning. They offer a glimpse into the powerful cultures who once sat at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Although most forts can only be viewed from the outside, Mutrah Fort overlooking the souq and port allows visitors to explore the castle’s towers, ramparts and discover old canons which once stood guard, protecting the city from passing ships and invaders.

See an Opera Performance

The exquisite Royal Opera House Muscat is impressive from the outset. With a gleaming white façade, emerald topiary work, floral displays and marble pathways, it’s only natural that you’ll want to linger outside for a while in admiration. Indoors, ROHM is the leading arts and cultural centre in Oman. One of the world’s youngest opera venues, it opened in October 2011 with a spectacular performance of Puccini’s Turandot conducted by no other than Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo. The opera house seats 1100 people and has seen momentous performances by Andrea Bocelli and world-renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma. In addition to top-notch performances, the building also boasts several fine dining restaurants and a handful of upscale retail outlets. What more could you ask for!

Enjoy Outdoor Sporting Activities

Oman is quickly becoming a haven for adventure tourism. Caving, abseiling, hiking, golf, sailing and scuba diving are just a few of the pursuits you can enjoy on a trip. If it’s underwater wonders which pique your interest, Oman’s coastline is relatively untouched. Nutrient rich waters are home to abundant marine life including whale sharks, kelp forests and up to 1500 species of fish. If you prefer an aerial view of rugged canyons, forests and desert landscapes, try your hand at paragliding or rock climbing. There are also scenic mountain biking routes all over the Sultanate, and there’s no better feeling than taking a break and picnicking on a clifftop at sunset. For golfers, Oman boasts a multitude of first-class resorts including the Al Mouj Golf Club, Muscat Hills Golf and Country Club and Ras Al Hamra Golf Course. But if you want someone else to do all the hard work, explore a wadi via 4 x 4 and camp beneath the stars in a luxury Bedouin tent.

Shop and Dine in Muscat

Thirty years ago, Oman didn’t have luxury stores and hotels, in fact many roads were even shy of tarmac. However, when Sultan Qaboos took office in 1970 things began to change. Muscat, Oman’s capital now appeals to the luxury travel market with 5-star resorts, upscale shopping experiences and fine dining. One of the best places to experience authentic shopping is at Mutrah Souq. The vibrant market played a key role in the city’s development. A labyrinth of darkened alleyways, one of the Middle East’s oldest markets benefited from its location on the trade route to India and China. With goods ranging from precious gemstones, silk and cashmere scarves to perfumed oils, it’s the perfect place to pick up a unique souvenir. However, if you seek a more upscale retail experience, Al Araimi Mall and Capital Stores boast shops specialising in jewellery and haute couture. When it comes to dining, Muscat’s The Walk is the award-winning heart of the city. The thriving marina location displays a selection of cafes and al fresco restaurants. Whether you seek classic Italian cuisine, a Lebanese feast or a taste of Japan, this upcoming dining destination in Muscat is the place to be.

Stay in a 5-star Hotel

Perfect for business or pleasure The Grand Hyatt Muscat is a stone’s throw from the Arabian Sea and a great hotel from which to explore Oman’s capital. Decorated with Arabian architecture, luxurious hotel rooms provide a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Views of the ocean, mountains and gardens can be seen from a private balcony and suites offer delicate, traditional Omani touches. For a special treat, book the three-bedroom Crown Suite – a 350 square metre extravagant abode with four poster bed and jetted spa tub. A key part of the hotel’s charm are the fine dining opportunities. With live cooking stations, wood fired ovens and private dining areas, this is one hotel you won’t want to leave. If you seek something a little more romantic, seek out The Chedi Muscat with its intimate lounge and delightful Moorish water gardens.

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