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Muscat

The capital of Oman is Muscat. Many times this city has been chosen as the most beautiful city in the Arabian Gulf. Since ancient times this city has been known as the centre of shipbuilding and navigation. It is also the main resort of the country. The city consists of three main areas: Muscat (translated from the Arabic for “the anchor place”), where the administrative establishments of the country are concentrated, the trading quarter, Muttrah (its name can be translated as “a stop for caravans") and the business district, Ruwi.

The gorgeous Al-Alam palace, the principal residence of the Sultan, Qaboos bin Said Al-Said, is the centre of old Muscat. Perhaps Muttrah's trading area is the most picturesque place in Muscat. It is located on the sea-front promenade or Corniche, which runs like half moon along the capital’s harbour, decorated in marble with fountains and cosy gazeboes. The Corniche begins with stocky buildings of the old fish market where since early morning busy fishermen display their silver catch for sale. The many ancient houses on the shoreline used to belong to prosperous traders and were built in the traditional Omani style, decorated with elegant latticed balconies - musharabbias. Immediately behind these buildings are found the twisting streets of the lively oriental bazaar, Muttrah Souq, which disappears into the distance. This is the main place in the city where curve Omani daggers (khanjars), spicy jelly (halwah), fragrant coffee with cardamom, all manner of textiles, jewellery, traditional Omani perfumes and frankincense - the most valuable Omani souvenir - are sold.

But perhaps the most impressive sight in Muscat is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which is located in the Ghubra area. It was built over a period of eight years, funded by the private means of the Sultan, and is the third biggest mosque in the world, after the huge Saudi mosques in Mecca and Medina. The mosque is very beautiful, especially at night, when its grey marble façade merges into the mysterious light, and all the minarets and its huge dome are lit with a radiant yellow colour.



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