Header image    

The Travels of a
Single Parrot

   
  

   
 MUSCAT WEATHER

Click for Muscat, Oman Forecast 


 
 
MUSCAT
Sultanate of Oman

STATISTICS
Country: Sultanate of Oman
Population: >3,200,000
Language: Arabic (but English spoken widely)
Climate Sub-tropical but varies from region to region
LOW: 10 C
HIGH: 50 C
Currency Omani Riyal (R$, OMR)
Number of Pirates Yes, I saw a few
Number of Parrots Green ones
Location (Northing, Easting): 23 36 44.69, 58 35 37.75 (paste into GoogleEarth)
HISTORY

Muscat is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. It has been known since the second century AD. Some 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) of frankincense was transported each year by ship from southern Arabia to Greece, Rome and the Mediterranean. The centre of this trade was in a place called Khour Rouri, which the Greeks called "Muscat".

The first European presence in Muscat was in the form of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who landed in Oman on his way to India. The Portuguese returned in 1507 to sack and capture Muscat. In 1649, the Imam Sultan bin Saif defeated the Portuguese under André Pereira dos Reis and drove them away east to Goa, India.

With the superior, captured warships of the Portuguese navy, the Imam established an empire that spanned from Zanzibar in the south to Gwadar in what is now Pakistan in the east. Slaves were brought in from Zanzibar and Balochistan to work in Oman and traded elsewhere. This was a period of relative stability and prosperity in Muscat and Oman.

The country was torn apart by strife and unrest upon the death of the Imam in 1679. Muscat was then invaded by the Persians in 1737, albeit briefly, since Admad bin Said defeated them and was subsequently elected Imam.

In 1803, the Wahabbis of Saudi Arabia attacked Oman, but were repulsed by Sayyid Said bin Sultan. The sultan then set up a colony in the fertile areas of Zanzibar and essentially ruled Oman from a foreign island. Later, in 1853, the Sultan transferred the title of "capital" of Oman to Zanzibar. Thus began to decline of the fortunes of Muscat and Oman.

In 1913, Sultan Taimur bin Faisal became Sultan and the territory was renamed "Muscat and Oman" with the Sultan ruling Muscat and the Imam ruling Oman. After Indian independence in 1947, the Sultan, with the help of the British, defeated the Imam, unified most of Oman taking command of the Buraimi oasis.

The Dhofar War began in 1964 which was a communist insurrection staged from the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen against the Sultan of Oman. The insurrection was opposed by Omani, British and Iranian forces and was successfully put down. Six years later, Prince Qaboos bin Said, son of Sultan Said bin Taimur staged a palace coup and claimed the throne. The old Sultan was flown to London by the British Royal Air Force. The coup, staged by Prince Qaboos, with his close friend and confidant Tim Landon at his side, was the beginning of a new consolidated, modern sultanate.

Recently, Muscat was hit (June 2007) by a huge cyclone - Gonu with winds reaching over 100 km/hr which damaged boats, bridges and other infrastructure.

OK, enough of the boring stuff , what did I get up to there?

Muscat Map

THINGS TO DO

There is plenty of things to do in Muscat even though I was only there for a couple of days and I was on "business" but managed to get in a few sights. What I wanted to do was tell you a little bit about the things I got up to when I visited.

SOUKS
Time to Allow: A few hours
Expense: Free to enter and great bargains to be had
How to Get There: Taxi (AED 5 OMR from the Grand Hyatt)
What to Do: Buy antique silver, daggers, rings and other handmade jewelry
What Not to Do: Buy at the first price, haggle to 10-20%, the more you buy the better the discount
Important Info: Buy a 5 ft sword and expect to carry on!

Muscat has a great Souk called Muttrah Souk and is just a short taxi ride from the city centre. The is no charge to enter and there are some great bargains to be had especailly the silver. The souk is open daily and the timings are generally Sat-Thu 9am - 1pm and then 4pm - 9pm with Friday open from 9am - 1pm only.

EAT
Time to Allow: 1-2 hours
Expense: Around 10 - 20 OMR
How to Get There: TAXI, do not drive if you intend to drink.
What to Do: Try local dishes
What Not to Do: Drink
Important Info: Try the very good curry restaurants

We tried the Mumtaz Mahal (Way 2601, Qurm, Tel: 24605907), which is more than just the best Indian restaurant in town, it is part of the landscape of Muscat. Perched on a hill overlooking Qurm Nature Reserve, and with an intimate atmosphere created by live sitar performances, traditional seating at low tables, and lantern-light, it is little surprise that this restaurant, specialising in Northern Indian Mughlai cuisine, is a local legend.

As we were staying in the Hyatt, we ate near the pool and had the most fantastic Black Pepper Crab, probably better than that I had in Sigpaore, but that is another trip I need to post here.

BEACH
Time to Allow: All day when the weather is good
Expense: Muscat has many public beaches that do not seem to get as busy as those in Dubai for example
How to Get There: Taxi but the Hotels have excellent beaches so just walk there
What to Do: Relax
What Not to Do: Get sunburnt
Important Info: There are not many things that can hurt you in Oman but one thing to look out for is the sea snake - I saw a person on the beach catch one (see the picture on the left)

The beaches are beautiful... more to follow.

 
LINKS
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oman Great information but not much mention of Pirates.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Oman Good range of links for things to do.
 
 



Sultanate of Oman National Flag

Oman Green Parrots

As if I woulnd't... (Hyatt Pool)

Lots of sparkly things at the Muttah
Souk

View of the Beach

Beach at Muscat

Beach at Muscat with Fahal Island

Sea Snake caught on the beach

The Hyatt Pool

Hyatt Hotel - view to the beach