Monday, November 17, 2008

Exploring Muscat

The modern city of Muscat and much of Oman has grown a tremendous amount in just 30 years. Since 1970, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Sa'id al Sa'id has worked hard to modernize his country through multiple projects with univseral suffrage and high literacy rates to name a few. Just driving through Muscat, road construction is the first thing that grabbed my attention. We ran into messy traffic and much of it was due to multiple projects going on around the city. The Grand Mosque is an exquisite and awe-inspiring work of art and architecture. The mosque has 5 minarets, a men's hall (also known as the Main Hall) which can accommodate thousands of worshippers and a women's hall, and is the only mosque in the area open to foreigners. Although many Omanis wear traditional dress, cell phones are glued to their ears and aviator sunglasses are worn to hide from the sun. As I walked into the Muttrah Souk, a market over 70 years old, a group of young boys were watching us as we walked by, saying hello and waving to us. One was even videotaping and when I asked to take a picture of them they said sure sure! and kept videotaping while I took a photograph.

Oman is a beautiful place and Muscat is just the surface. The city is nestled in a valley between mountains that stretch all along the coast. Beyond the city, the Empty Quarter stretches across most of the country. Historically, Oman has also been a seafaring nation on route from Asia to Europe. As we drove to the port and the Island Sky, our home for the next week or so, a ship registered in Kuwait carried thousands of sheep on multiple levels for Hajj. We set said right at sunset and the view of Muscat and the Sultan's private yacht was beautiful.

No comments: