Magical Muscat: A Middle-Eastern Gem

Throughout history, the Middle East has always played a major part in world affairs and it is also the geographic origin of three of the world’s predominant religions – Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Indeed, ‘history’ is one of the chief reasons many people visit this subcontinent, as the region has plenty on offer. But many 21st century tourists need more than a history fix when on vacation, and this is why more and more people are choosing Muscat as their holiday destination.

As the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Oman, Muscat is a bustling, mini metropolis that immediately stands out as being an immaculately clean city in a startling setting. Sandwiched in between a distant desert mountain backdrop and the turquoise-coloured waters of the Gulf of Oman, Muscat is simply a joy to wander around, whether it’s absorbing the atmosphere of the souk market in the Muttrah district or strolling along the waterfront promenade, the Corniche.

The city itself has a medieval appearance in some respects with two old Portuguese forts, Jelali and Merani. However, these exist alongside the neighbouring coastal towns which have a more modern and commercial ambience, which is great for those seeking to experience both old and new aspects of the city.

For those wishing to relax a little in between seeing the sights, Muscat has some fantastic beaches. Their beaches are perfect either for sunbathing or even using as a base to explore the crystal clear waters through snorkelling. Furthermore, for those who wish to be a little more adventurous, Oman has some fantastic scuba diving within close proximity of Muscat, with some of the most biologically productive seas in the world located here.

Muscat also has some stunning architecture that is also well worth investigating. Al Alam Palace, for example, has a gold and blue façade and is the ceremonial palace of the Sultan of Oman. Whilst visitors are not allowed inside, it is nevertheless a very impressive structure. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque has to be seen to be believed; taking over six years to build, it consists of the main prayer hall with a central dome that rises to fifty metres high. The floor of the prayer hall is covered by the largest single-piece, hand-woven carpet in the world, covering 4343 square metres.

But Muscat itself is a tantalising place that is both welcoming and accessible in equal measures. Flights to Muscat only take around nine hours from London, if travelling from the UK. It was reported that Muscat International Airport received over four million passengers in 2007; however, this looks set to increase with the expansion and modernisation of the airport planned for the not too distant future.

Muscat is quickly becoming a top 21st century tourist destination, and with there being a range of activities and culture galore, it’s possibly fair to say that Magical Muscat truly is a Middle-Eastern gem.
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Alam – Pak Haji (Live Konser Kepanjen 14 Mei 2006)

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