Known as the Walled City

By: Douglas Scott

Muscat is the capital and largest city in the Sultanate of Oman. It is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. It has been known since the second century AD. It is often referred to as the walled city.

Years ago, Muscat was walled in but the wall is now replaced by a stone moat, which the Omanis call al hosn or the fortification.

The old town's boundaries are marked by gated walls, enclosing the area the sultan's palace around the port, and the harbour.

Fishing is one of the traditional occupations in the city along with basket weaving, sewing fishing nets, tree felling, herding and folk medicine, in particular, bone setting.

The capital area has a number of shopping malls, mostly situated in Qurum area and in the Al Khuwair area. All the malls are fully air-conditioned, brightly lit and clean, have their own mix of shops and cafes.

Ruwi is the modern business centre where some of the hotels are usually situated.

North of Muscat the beaches are long wide and flat, your perfect swimmers paradise these are the most visited beaches in Oman, and where most of the hotels are situated.

Food is cheap in here and for about a Rial you will get a meal for two persons.

The Omanis are quite conservative people and respect for their privacy and, in particular, their religion and it should always be observed. Modesty is the keyword in how to dress. Women should wear loose, long garments, ensuring that their shoulders and knees are covered. Men should wear long trousers and tops with sleeves. Swimming costumes are fine for the beach or the pool.

Muttrah Souk is the oldest souk in the region. The ancient market boasts plenty of traditional charm. It covers over a large area and is crowded with stalls of spices, dates and antiques that jostle for the lime light with all manner of consumer junk. It is often described as the best market in the Gulf region and it also includes a fish market.

Al Alam Palace is Muscat's finest piece of real estate and is largely ceremonial, as His Majesty Sultan Qaboos said. He resides in a more private building else where. Built in 1972, the Al Alam Palace has a fairytale facade of towering gold and blue pillars wrapped in wrought iron and edged in green. Approach it on foot via the Kebir Gate in the old city walls for the best views.

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