What to See in Muscat (Oman)

By | July 9, 2022

According to ITYPEMBA, Muscat is the capital and largest city of the country. It is located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman in a picturesque bay. From the south it is surrounded by the El-Akhdar mountain range. Muscat has been mentioned in historical documents since the 1st century AD as an important trade center between East and West. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was a small city, but by the end of the 20th century, under Sultan Qaboos, Muscathad turned into a modern city with high-rise buildings, hotels, restaurants and shops, next to which unique historical monuments were located. Muscat is divided into 4 districts: Muscat, Mattrah, Ruwi and El Qurum. Muscat – the old port part of the city, whose rocky bay is bounded on both sides by hills, on which two twin forts rise: Jalali (in the eastern part of the bay) and Mirani (in the western part of the bay). The forts were built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and for 60 years were the main base of the Portuguese in these parts. In 1650, when the Portuguese were expelled from the coast of the Gulf of Oman, the Omanis rebuilt the forts. In this form, they have survived to this day. The forts are closed to the public, as they are still used for military purposes. Only a small part of the Jalali Fort, where the Museum of Omani Life is open, is available to tourists. Near the forts, it is also interesting to look at the palace of Sultan Qaboos El Alam 1972 and fragments of the fortress wall of the 17th century. In Muscat, Intercon Beach stretches for 2 km along the coast. It is perfect for holidays with children. There are restaurants, bars and cafes here.

Be sure to visit one of the oldest districts of the capital – Ruwi. This is a modern commercial district of Muscat with small markets and shops. Ruwi is home to the National Museum of Oman . The museum was founded in 1978. It is famous for its extensive collections of silver and copper items and models of Omani ships. The museum also contains a letter of the Prophet Muhammad, written in the 8th century to the rulers of Oman.. Also in Ruwi are traditional mosques, two Hindu temples and two Christian churches.

The area of Mattrah is located in the northwestern part of Muscat. This is the residential and commercial part of the city. One of the largest Arab markets in the Arabian Peninsula, the Souq El Dalam, is located here. A wide variety of souvenirs can be purchased at the market: handmade silver daggers, other silver products, including jewelry, national clothes, carpets, rose water, incense, myrrh and much more. A wide promenade begins from the market , on which there are many souvenir shops. In addition, Mattraha has many great places to relax: an extensive beach, as well as coastal parks Riyam with rides and Kalibu.

To the west of Mattrach is the area of hotels – El Qurum. The main attraction of the area is the grandiose Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which was built in 2001 and became the largest mosque in the country. The total area of the complex is more than 46 thousand square meters. m. This is a truly colossal building. The mosque can simultaneously accommodate about 20 thousand believers. Its main minaret has a height of 90 m, and four side minarets – 45.5 m. In the interior of the mosque, a huge carpet for prayers, made in the best traditions of carpet weaving of Tabriz, Kashan and Isfahan, stands out. The carpet weighs 21 tons and has an area of ​​more than 4000 square meters. m. This is the largest handmade carpet in the world. It is worth noting that tourists are allowed to enter the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque daily from 8 am to 11 am, except Thursday and Friday. It is the only mosque in Oman that is accessible to non-Muslims. In El-Kurum is the largest park in Muscat – Kurum (area – 570 thousand square meters). There is a lake in the park, on the banks of which you can see a lot of herons and eagles. Not far from the park, the Museum of the Child is interesting, consisting of 45 rooms, which tell about all aspects of people’s lives and about the latest scientific research. Other museums in El Qurum include the Oman Oil and Gas Exhibition Center, where you can learn about the natural resources of Oman, how to develop deposits and how to extract minerals. Among other things, El Qurum is famous for its sandy beaches, along which there are chic hotels, restaurants and cafes.

Further west stretches a series of sandy beaches, among which the Seab Beach Park (near the international airport) and the El Saudi Beach Resort are especially popular.. The El Saudi Beach Resort offers vacationers about 100 rooms, a swimming pool, a volleyball court, a mini-football field, outdoor and indoor tennis courts, a fitness center, a massage parlor, a sauna, ATV rentals, a riding school, a playground and picturesque garden with coconut palms and flowers. The 800-meter sandy beach offers a wide variety of water activities: water banana rides, aqua bikes, kayaks, jet skis, water skiing, catamarans and boat trips. In addition to water excursions, El Saudi Beach Resort offers jeep trips through the mountains or the desert, to Muscat and the ancient cities surrounding it. The resort has its own dive center, because El Saudi Beach Resort is the closest starting point to the Daimaniyat archipelago (about 15 km from the coast), which is protected by the national marine park. The archipelago consists of 9 islands. Thousands of birds live here, especially many birds are observed in winter, when the islands become a transit point for migratory birds. But the main attraction of the archipelago is its underwater world. The islands are surrounded by colorful coral reefs, where you can see a wide variety of fish, several species of dolphins, sea snakes and whale sharks. In total there are 17 dive sites. On the northern side of the islands, coastal cliffs descend to depths of 20-30 m, while on the southern side, at depths of up to 10 m, there are coral reefs. Underwater visibility here can reach 50 m. Diving is possible all year round. The Daimaniyat archipelago is divided into three groups of islands: western, central and eastern. The western group of islands is characterized by the presence of underwater walls overgrown with corals. Diving depths here reach 20 m. There are large pelagic fish, tuna, rays, green turtles, leopard and blacktip reef sharks and octopuses. Dives near the central group of islands pass through coral gardens and various underwater caves and grottoes. Depths here vary from 15 to 25 m. Marine life includes groupers, moray eels, colorful reef fish, and sometimes whale sharks. Within the eastern group of islands on an underwater ridge is one of the most popular dive sites Oman – Aquarium. The top of the underwater ridge is at a depth of 5 m, and its walls go down to a depth of 230 m. Almost all fish species recorded in this part of the Gulf of Oman, turtles, leopard sharks and rays can be found here.

Many beaches and dive sites are located east of Muscat. To the east of the capital, such popular beach areas as At-Kantab, Bandar Jissa, Yuitti, El-Khairan and El-Bustan stretched. Bandar Jissa is home to the Omani Dive Center, which offers dives in coastal waters. Here you can see about 85 species of soft and hard corals and more than 900 species of fish. Underwater visibility reaches 30 m. Diving at El Khairan Beach is suitable for lovers of underwater walls, at Fahal Island for those who want to see a variety of sharks (leopard sharks, whale sharks, blacktip sharks, lemon sharks), at the islands of El Jazeera and Feline – for those who want to see coral gardens and a wide variety of coral fish.

In addition, long-snouted, common and bottle-nosed dolphins live in the waters surrounding Fahal Island, sometimes killer whales are found. Boat excursions are organized here, during which you can watch these marine mammals.

In the very east of the capital region, 80 km from Muscat, is the city of Qurayyat. Here, surrounded by palm groves, there is a 19th-century fort. The villages of Bimma, Fins and Dabab, located near Qurayyat, have sandy beaches. The most popular beach is Mokalla (also known as the White Beach), in addition to a beach holiday, snorkeling is offered here.

In addition, from Muscat you can go south to the Al Akhdar mountains, along which many hiking trails have been laid. In these mountains, 45 km southwest of Muscat, on an area of 200 sq. km stretched Wadi Sarin nature reserve. 179 sq. km of the park falls on mountainous areas. Altitudes here vary from 900 to 1800 m. Rare species of plants and a rare species of bovids are protected in the reserve – the Arabian tahr, similar to mountain goats and rams.

Muscat (Oman)