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Muscat is the capital city of modern Oman, yet not so long ago the country was called "Muscat and Oman". Oman itself is a fairly quiet country, and although it has oil wealth it has not developed itself to the extent of the neighbouring UAE. Nonetheless, Oman has undergone rapid development under the tenure of Sultan Qaboos, a reformist leader who has invested heavily in roads, schools, electricity and communications, right out to the remotest mountain villages. He is well respected amongst his people.

It was the first family holiday in years when we headed to Oman in Easter 2008, being approximately halfway between the UK and Vietnam, and therefore a suitable meeting point. A spot of trouble on the flight over saw us stuck in Kuwait for about 7 hours, until we got connecting flights with Emirates through Dubai. Although just the airport, that was technically the first time I'd been to Dubai for 17 years since living there as a child.

Grand Hyatt

The Grand Hyatt, Muscat, is some distance out of town but a beautiful resort hotel with everything you'd expect of five-star Gulf luxury.

Muscat's Grand Mosque, again some distance out of town. Unfortunately the best shot I got was through the window of a moving car.

Grand Mosque

Mutrah Souq

Al-Mutrah Souq at the corniche area of Muscat. Classically Islamic but remarkably clean and civilised inside.

Inside Mutrah Souq, I was again surprised by the general quietness and unhurridness of the place.

Mutrah Souq

Mutrah Souq roof

Detail of the roof of Al-Mutrah Souq.

Outside a back entrance to the souq. Although it was only April, the temperature was hitting 40 degrees.



Inside a Spinney's supermarket, this was my favourite bit! Bacon, pork, ham, pepperoni, salami, proscuitto, bratwurst, schnitzel, Mr Porky pork scratchings - fill your boots, infidel!

Modern shopping mall in the city. A number of western stores but mostly Gulf businesses. Pleasantly peaceful.



The palace of Sultan Qaboos. I was surprised at how close you could get to it, although if I'd started through the bollards I would no doubt have been swiftly apprehended.

Dows, tankers and spectators down at the corniche area port.



These crazy kids were climbing the gold dome and then leaping into the harbour. This part of the city sits in an old volcanic crater, hence the steep barren slopes surrounding it.

An urban castle in central Muscat.


Incense Burner

This incense burner is one of the modern symbols of Oman.

The man himself, Sultan Qaboos, under whose tenure Oman has gone from dusty medieval backwater to modern developed Gulf nation.

Sultan Qaboos


The clock tower built on top of the location of the previous photo, a popular family hangout in the cool of the evening.

Back at the Grand Hyatt, detail of one of the side stairways.


Grand Hyatt at night

The hotel was a great place to chill out and relax in, and I think we made it into the pool every single day.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2008