An Arabian nights fantasy

NO TOUR of any country is complete without visiting its well-known marketplaces or souqs and shopping for souvenirs to take back home. Just as Cairo in Egypt has the famous Khan el-Khalili Market, Muscat has the famous Muttrah Souq. The oldest souq in the...

By Sunil Dícruz (Contributor)

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Published: Wed 28 Mar 2007, 11:30 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:47 PM

arabSultanate of Oman, it is located behind the Corniche of Muttrah. When you enter it you feel like you are being transported into an Arabian Nights fantasy.

Traditional products such as frankincense, spices, dates and antique silver are still sold throughout the myriad of alleyways inside.

The handful of shops, selling antique Omani silverware and artefacts, look more like well preserved museums with their big collections.

Visitors can buy carved handmade silver khanjars (the traditional Omani dagger, worn by men), rose-water sprinklers, dallas (Omani coffee pots), incense burners (made from clay, porcelain or silver), frankincense, bukhoor (incense), carpets, wooden carvings, ornaments and spices.

There are several shops selling Bedouin silver jewellery ranging from bracelets, earrings and rings to heavy anklets, huge belts and necklaces. The necklaces often include old Maria Theresia dollar (thaler) coins and sometimes decorated silver discs as well.

"I like the traditional flavour of the souq," says Boris Jungblut, a tourist from Germany who had come shopping along with his family. "The items are all original."

The souq also provides the outlet for local produce including fruits and vegetables and several products ranging from curios, craft items, toys, to cosmetics, jewellery, perfumes, shoes, handbags, garments and electronics.

One can also try out the local dress called dishdasha (long-sleeved ankle-length robe for men), mussar or head gear for men or embroidered cap called kummah. Women have an equally good choice of abayas and scarves.

One can also have a taste of Omani kahwa (coffee) and halwa at the stalls in the souq.

Tucked away in another corner is the Muttrah gold souq. One can find oneís way through the narrow, winding alleys and by-lanes of the Muttrah souq or enter it separately from Muttrah Corniche. Here one can mix and match gold, pearls, precious and semi precious stones creating one's own jewellery, or pick up some fascinating little piece of memorabilia.

Further away from the souq, along the Corniche, are Riyam Park with a huge incense burner and Al Khalbou Park which are also well worth a visit.

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