Muscat Governorate is considered the pulsating heart of Oman. It is linked to Port Sultan Qaboos by Muttrah Corniche where the visitor to Muscat can view the wonderful variety of nature: golden beaches, mountainous heights, and golden sand dunes (Bawshar Sands). Perhaps what is striking about Muscat Governorate and its states is the breathtaking intermingling of ancient cultural heritage and modern style. You will see houses, gates, old markets, small shops, and winding roads redolent of authentic history, side by side with modern markets, shops, buildings, and streets stamped with modern architecture. This allows Oman to preserve its historic character, and at the same time enjoying its contemporary spirit. Muscat is renowned as one of the cleanest Arab capitals, and has gained the honour of winning the Cleanest Arab City Contest several consecutive times.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Close to the road leading to the heart of the capital Muscat stands the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Wilayat (district) Bawshar, like a radiant lighthouse attracting its visitors to interact with the spirit of Islam as a religion, science and civilisation. This mosque highlights its role as a scientific and intellectual source of knowledge across the Islamic world.
After having an architectural competition to select the best design for Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, construction took six years. The mosque’s total capacity is 20,000 worshipers, and it covers an estimated area of 416,000 square metres. The main square-shaped prayer room can accommodate 6,500 worshipers and has a central dome which rises 50 metres above the floor. The mosque’s distinctive minaret lends it its individual style. Connecting the top of the mosque’s walls and the internal courtyard is a bar inscribed with verses from the Koran in Thuluth script, with Islamic geometric frameworks filling the corridor archways. The names of Allah are inscribed in Diwani script on the corridors’ front walls.
One of the oldest markets in Oman, dating back about two hundred years. Its antiquity has perhaps increased the extent of its beauty, magic and allure. You cannot see Mutrah Souq from the outside, as it stretched deep within the city. The market starts at a gate facing the Sea of Oman and Mutrah Corniche, and ends with another gate in the city’s old quarters that usually receive the majority of visitors coming from other Omani towns and villages. Mutrah Souq is a prototype of old Eastern markets, characterised by narrow winding alleys roofed with wood. This Souq goes by another name among the Omanis: the Market of Darkness, due to its myriad of alleys and roads lined by shops that block the sun during the day. This name applies specifically to the section that extends from the Prophet's Mosque to Khawr Bimbah. And as if two names were not enough for this souq, the east and west parts of Mutrah Souq, separated by Khawr Bimbah, are also known as “the small market” and “the large market”. The Market of Darkness is the small market, whereas the large market is the wholesale market.
Barr Al Jissah
Located in Muscat, just a short drive away from the city centre, and secluded in a hidden cove, lies Barr Al Jissah, a luxury haven on the shores of the Gulf of Oman. A visionary blend of architecture inspired by Oman’s rich heritage and natural landscape, sets Barr Al Jissah apart as a truly exclusive destination. Carefully crafted homes are situated in perfect harmony with the surrounding cliffs, gazing down onto the marina where sleek yachts ply the same waters where ancient dhows once sailed. With the ancient Al Hajar Mountains as backdrop and surrounded by a myriad of crags and coves on the shores of the Gulf of Oman that flow uninterrupted into the Indian Ocean, Barr Al Jissah stands as a timeless sanctuary for those inside its enclave. At this area, you can also find Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa. The resort features 8 world-class restaurants serving a variety of international cuisine.