Al Alam Palace is a home of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, who has been in power since 1970. (He overthrew his father after being under a de facto house arrest for 5 years prior.) Oman is an absolute monarchy and Sultan Qaboos is still fairly popular in the country despite recent protests against unemployment and corruption. (By chance, just like in Bahrain, I left right before the demonstrations began.) Many quality of life indexes have improved significantly over the approximately 40 year reign of the Sultan – which have done well to protect his personal reputation, especially of late.
The area around the palace is full of wide open spaces and the Al Jalali and Al Mirani forts situated on nearby cliffs. You can’t go inside the Al Alam Palace itself, which is said to be incredibly luxurious inside. The entire area, aside from a few construction workers, gardeners, and the occasional tourist was almost deserted. Muscat, and the rest of Oman in general, feels like a place you have all to yourself; there are often so few people around even the most popular spots in the country.
Oman is one of the most visually impressive places I’ve ever seen. In a week or two I’ll share more sights and sounds from the beaches, mountains, and people who live in the oldest independent Arab state.