As part of the welcome program orchestrated by amid east we have been going to many cool sites here, around the city. My school does not start until next week, so I have been taking advantage of all of this free time.
The grand mosque is one of Oman’s greatest architectural achievements. It was opened in the 2001 as a tribute to the country of Oman. From the outside it is almost overwhelming its grandeur. The design includes the archetypal dome roof found so common in most mosques around the world. Though the dome also provides from an aesthetic point of few, it also helps to project noise across the room. The men’s prayer room at capacity can hold more than 1000 people
From the entrance lush bushes of jasmine line the paths. What surprise me the most is everything is made out of marble. Although this building was no easy feat generally marble is cheaper than wood, just to give you an idea of the supply here. The Persian wool carpet took many years to compete, and had to be put in about 6 separate pieces. Everything there is so elaborate and beautiful.
We also were able to explore Matrah. Matrah is the older part of the city, which was once a big port for sailors. To this day, they still maintain their wide-open fish markets, and souk but it has changed quite a bit since the influx of tourism. In the harbor there is usually some sort of cruise boat or yacht but it will be adjacent to the more traditional fishing boats.
When we visited the souk everything was a little dark and hazy, but in the back of your eye was the reflection of all sorts of glitter and sequins and metal incense jars. Shopkeepers kept coming out, trying to sell us perfume and other paraphernalia. Being a discerning shopper, I did wonder if our prices where being inflated. Actually they definitely were, but it was fun.
Recently Matrah has become home to a large Indian community. Many of the restaurants there serve a fusion of Indian and Middle Eastern food. It is a really fun part of town.
The other day, I also got to visit the qurum beach. Of course it was very beautiful, with the scent of salt water and fresh air, but something seemed a little barren. It wasn’t because of its isolated location, it’s actually right next to the high way. It’s just that people here do not really go swimming at the beaches. Though it could partly be because of modesty, most people thing ocean water makes your skin itchy. Interestingly at the hotel nearby it was the polar opposite scenario. The beach was packed with all sorts of people, though the majority un-coincidently had very pale skin, and spoke in vaguely European accents.
All in all it was a very interesting day of sight seeing.