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Travel with SAUDIA to Muscat.
The comfortably sized capital city of Muscat is wonderfully bereft of skyscrapers. Not for a lack of modernity, though. One of its major sights is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which was completed in 2001 for a grand 20,000 worshipers. Its clean marble exterior fades into the prayer-carpeted interior, the woven bulk of which weighs 21 tons. It is the second largest hand-woven carpet in the world. Its five minarets symbolize the five pillars of Islam. The same Sultan’s Palace, rebuilt in 1972, can only be seen from the gates but that’s more than close enough to enjoy its blue and gold inverted cone pillars. Old Muscat is separated from the rest of more modern Muscat by mountains. It is surrounded by a wall on two sides (the steep slopes and the gulf protect the other two) built in the 1600s. There, Al Mirani Fort, which visitors cannot go inside but can wander around, is picturesque set against the backdrop of the water and the cliffs are featured heavily in 19th century lithographs of the city. Al Jalali Fort to the east - high on a bluff - overlooking the harbor can only be accessed by steep stairs. Today it houses an Omani history museum. The Bait Al-Zubair museum displays Oman’s rich cultural heritage with jewelry, attire, and household items put together by the Al Zubair family.
Travel from Riyadh to Muscat
Muscat is duly famous for its corniche, which makes you feel like you’re in a much smaller town than you actually are. The city’s souk is just a bit further on, without straying far from the sea although you do enter a wood-timbered building. Expect to get a bit lost amongst the variety of goods for sale. For a more up-market shopping experience, the Omani Heritage Gallery markets goods ranging from perfume to clothes to pottery. Muscat lives in close relation to the sea on one side and the desert on the other. Venture out into the water to catch a glimpse of the area’s frequent dolphins or just to go snorkeling. You could also try a guided tour into the edge of the Empty Quarter, the world’s largest sand desert, and sleep under the clear night skies bedazzled with stars.