The other major cities in the Gulf states have their fair share of corniches, which is a fancy French word for road by the water, one typically with a cliff on either side. Perhaps it’s the absence of skyscrapers looming on the horizon or nature’s inclusion of the rocky cliffs along the skyline, but Muscat, Oman’s corniche is visually unique in the region.
Muscat, and Oman in general, makes you feel like it’s a nation undercover. Hiding its wealthy status and oil money, along with throngs of visible tourists, it’s tough to be the wiser. There isn’t the modern blitz of metal like in Dubai, or anything resembling the real-time metamorphosis of the landscape in Qatar. This militarily strategic tip of the country in the Gulf of Oman has seen the likes of the Persians and Ottomans, but now is a hub of jogging, shopping, and the drinking of endless amounts of highly sugared black tea.
These guys were much more lively the few hands before I shyly asked to take a video of their card game. (Click here if you can’t see the video.) I hung around a bit, trying to figure out the exact rules of what they were playing – and while I didn’t accomplish that, I learned to show up the next morning around 5am or so.
Immediately to the left, at the end of the main corniche path, is Muscat’s famous fish market. More than a seafood shopping paradise, it’s a social event and rather male-oriented gathering point. You’ll just have to get up very early to catch it – then relax afterward with some strong tea at one of the many inexpensive cafes outside of Mutrah Souk, which tends to get rolling later in the afternoon. The heart of Muscat’s pulse doesn’t beat from its markets or souks but rather just outside, along the calm waves of Oman’s coast; not to be confused with the concrete paradises of its northern neighbors.
Love that top photo. Looks like early morning? Think I prefer the look of Muscat to the likes of Dubai.
Actually in the evening 😉 Dubai looks like it’s 100 years in the future while Oman has this rugged quality about it. Plus a great place to walk a hike 🙂
Intrigued by your new format. The top photo is stunning and it really pops off the page, as big and crisp as it is! I’ve never really considered the Middle East, but your posts of late have got me reconsidering.
Thank you Barbara. I’m hoping in the next few weeks to bring a more visual element to the site, though Oman was especially kind to my camera 🙂
That photo really is breathtaking, and it’s interesting to see the juxtaposition of the old boat with the shiny new yachts.
Muscat is a fairly popular cruise port, though wish the yachts weren’t there for this particular photo. At least it provided contrast as you say though 🙂
I watched the video on your card game several times. lol. The only thing I picked up from it is that they seem to be throwing in cards of the same suit. Didn’t quite figure it out who wins and everything haha.
I wish I had captured the few hands before, those guys were *very* animated. Might have helped to figure out more of the game!
I also love the top photo. Looks very peaceful. Reminds me of when I read in a survey a few years back that Muscat was considered the most peaceful place on earth. Your latest posts from the Middle East are really inspiring me to travel there!
Most peaceful? I didn’t know that but interesting to hear, Muscat is certainly soothing in a very sly way 🙂 I’m glad to hear you’re interested in visiting this region, it is (in my opinion) too often neglected by many travelers.