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Category Archives: Muttrah
The posters along Al Bahri Street read, “Take a Breath! Ride for Free on Mutrah Corniche. Ride for free from February 16th to May 16th 2013, 7 days a week from 4 to 8 pm.”
From the O’Bike facebook page: “O’Bike is a self-service bicycle system inititiated by Muscat Municipality, sponsored by Omantel, and operated by JCDecaux Oman Branch“. Here’s one pic from O’Bike’s facebook album titled “First O’Bike Rider“. The O’Bike Route map from the O’Bike website.
How it Works: “Every day from 4 pm to 8 pm, walk to the O’Bike station on Mutrah Corniche, share your ID card with the operator, take a bike and a helmet, and enjoy a free ride for up to 30 minutes! All are welcome to take part in this first-ever self-service bicycle system in Oman for a three-month period (until May 16th, 2013).” A horrible pic of the O’Bike station taken from across the street this afternoon. Here’s a much better pic of the bikes and station from Omantel’s facebook page: 3 Cruise ships at Muscat Port. It was a busy and beautiful day to be down at Muttrah today!
Big Bus Tours Muscat, with its colorful double-decker buses around town, is the latest tourism development to hit Muscat, Oman. Ever the tourist at heart, I decided to check it out for myself last Thursday. All aboard! I drove down to Muttrah Souk at 9am as that is when and where I was told it would start. (You can get your ticket onboard, as I did, or you can order them from your hotel or from their website.) With your ticket, you get complimentary headphones and a map. I LOVE the foldout map/pamphlet that came with the tour. (Illustrated beautifully by Russ North) The seats in the lower deck were empty as you can see simply because the weather in Oman is perfect to be outside at this time of year! There were about a dozen of on the bus in total when we left Stop #1: MUTTRAH SOUK (Traditional souk, shopping, souvenirs, restaurants, cafes) Make sure to spend some time in beautiful Muttrah before hopping on the bus! Muttrah is one of my favorite spots in Oman and I can’t see myself ever getting tired of going there. Muttrah Souk is also the place to catch Big Bus Tours free shuttle bus to the Grand Mosque (only if you bought a ticket of course! ). The shuttle leaves at 8am, 9am and 10am each morning as the Mosque visiting hours are only from 8:30-11am, everyday except Friday. Some tourists were confused – please note that the bus itself doesn’t go there. You have to take one of the smaller shuttle buses (like a minibus). After leaving the Souk, the bus drove along the Muttrah Corniche before turning around at Riyam R/A and heading past the Fish Market and Bait al Baranda Museum. From the very beginning, I was really impressed with the high views offered from the top of the “big bus” and (as corny as this sounds) the air blowing through my hair. :-) This ride was such a refreshing way to see a city I have come to love in a different manner altogether. It was exciting and a whole lot of fun. One of my favorite features of the tour was hearing so many interesting facts about Muscat and Oman and many sites of interest along the bus-route. For example, between stops 1 and 2, I finally learned the identify of this building which I must have driven by hundreds of times and never knew-the Muscat Municipality HQ Building: Some quick examples of the informative and historical commentary provided on this tour:
- Islam, which means “submission”, is the 2nd larget religion in the world after Christianity.
- The 2010 Omani census determined the population of Oman to be around 2.7 million.
- The origin of the country’s name “Oman” is said to come from the original tribe of Uman in Yemen.
- Oman is the oldest independent state in Arabia.
- There is a housing policy that buildings in Oman should not be higher than 8 stories and must be of 2 colors: cream or white.
(If you want to learn more, you’ll have to take the tour! )
I’m glad that the tolerance of the Sultanate was highlighted on this tour by the clear distinction of Stop #2: CHURCHES & TEMPLES ((Public Bus Stop) Protestant & Catholic Church, Krishna Temple). As the different worship areas were introduced in the commentary with mention of other faiths, it was refreshing to hear this sentence: “Worshippers are most welcome”. That’s the Oman I love! The bus journeyed through the areas of Darsyt, Bayt al Falaj, Hillat as Sadd and Wutayyah and past the Childrens Museum you see pictured here on the way to Stop #3: SHATTI ((Car Park)- outside Costa Coffee-Beach, shopping, restaurants, cafes, Royal Opera House) I’m surprised that more tourists didn’t get off at this gorgeous spot as you always know there is another bus coming (each 30 minutes). Once again, I was impressed with the enlightening commentary letting folks know that this spot, Qurum al Shatti comes from “Qurum” meaning “Mangroves” and “Shatti” meaning “Beach”, translating this spot as “Mangrove Beach”. Tourists get a chance to see The Royal Opera House Muscat from all kinds of angles as the bus drives around Shati. Stop #4: QURUM BEACH (outside Japengo - open beach, promenade, mangroves, cafes) Onto to Stop #5: Qurum National Park (Public Bus Stop – outside main entrance. Park. Amusement Park). No pics taken at that stop. This stop had the only piece of information that I took issue with in the commentary and that was the comment while passing Qurum Natural Park that : “this is the main venue of the Muscat Festival each year“. Because the main venue is not there this year and is now in Amerat Park, I thought that this could be potentially confusing to a small number of tourists wanting to experience Muscat Festival. (a minor point)
That’s half the tour. Click here to continue to post #2 which looks at stops 6-10. Be sure to check out their website at www.bigbustours.com Email: email@example.com. Telephone: (968) 2476-0864
Here’s a short video of combined clips from stops 1-5 on the tour:
Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art, located along Muttrah Corniche, opened in January 2011 and is a must-see for all art lovers in Oman. I only became aware of this museum recently and so I wanted to share information about this impressive museum with my readers in order to encourage you to visit it for yourself. (admission-1 OR)
The museum is located near Muttrah Fort. “This museum is a dream project of Her Highness Sayyida Dr Ghalya bint Fahr bin Taimour Al Said.”
“We believe that this part of the museum will prove of interest both to local Omanis, especially the young, and tourists seeking a flavour of Oman’s rich heritage during a transformative period of its history leading to the wise rule of H.M. Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said.”
The Wedding Rooms - “We enter the first of the richly adorned rooms. Here is the bride’s mendous (wooden chest) where her dowry and other elaborate items which we see displayed around the room, would normally be kept. Peering through the second doorway, we glimpse the magical, private world of the bride, sitting on the edge of her wedding bed to be henna-ed for her wedding ceremony from the nearby wooden stand (Mubahara).”
The Kitchen and Display Rooms - “In the first room is a typical Omani kitchen of the time with its metal utensils, newly arrived Primus stoves, powdered milk, tinned and dried goods. Moving through to the second and third rooms, we find displayed elaborately carved doors, an old Omani cannon, African furniture and many imported and traditional items as Omanis truly explored modernisation as H.M. Sultan Qaboos took command and started the renaissance in the country.”
I’m fascinated by these elaborately carved doors and wish they had more information on each piece. I’m sure there’s a great story behind each one of these masterpieces.
Another display room
The Mother and Children’s Room - “Typical of Omani houses in the early/mid 1960′s, this room is full of dolls and toys for the children to play with as mothers sewed and embroidered. Omani women had a well-deserved reputation for their skill in making clothes, particularly in embroidering Omani dresses and caps.”
The Majlis - Connecting the Mother and Children’s Room and the Winter Room, this room is full of some lovely pictures of Omani art. “The Majlis (sitting room) is an example of more refined Omani residences in the 1960′s/70′s. It is the same era in which electricity found its way to Oman, abruptly bringing Omanis into the modern age with its comparative luxury. You can see lots of newly arrived utensils in this room.”
“The 60s was the transition between the old and the modern. However, the transition was not as great as expected as Omani society was unable to keep abreast with modernity due to the unstable financial situation at that time. However, goods did start to appear in Omani houses, and wealthier persons started to take an interest in culture and new technology. In this era the telephone was introduced to Omani society. Cars appeared too, with stretches of roads being paved.”
The Winter Room - “This is where the Omanis treated from the cold weather. As you can see, there are no windows, to prevent drafts and keep in the warmth. Everybody gathers here. Grandfather sleeps in this room on the high bed, all his belongings beside him, from books to prayer rugs. Grandmother shares the room with him and keeps her jewelry, perfumes and accessories here.”
“The winter room is decorated with tableware from China and other Asian countries which became more commonplace at this time.”
A beautiful painting that really transports you back in time and has you imagine what Muttrah must have been like some 50 years back.
Mussabbeh’s Room - “The room describes the Omani (Musabbeh-a term, not a name!) as he abandons his village, heading to Muscat to earn a living. As you can see, the room is a mixture of Omani artifacts and modern items, this blend of tradition and modernity creating an evocative scene. The metal-framed bed, lantern, books, perfumes and other accessories represent the post-World War II modern life. However, there is also gerab al-tamr ( a basket made of palm leaves used to store dates) which would have contained a full month’s supply of dates.”
There is impressive art everywhere at Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art – even on the outdoor walls.
Even the back gate to the museum is a work of art!
Art Gallery - “The art gallery presently offers an exclusive insight into the works of up-and-coming Omani artists.” Actually, it’s not only for Omani artists, but international artists as well. The current exhibition, “Marcopolo Scultures“, is of an internationally recognized Ecuadorian artist, named “Marco Polo”.
This piece is titled “Distant Gaze” and sold for 4,160 Omani rials! The sculptures range in prices from 1,430 to 5,200 OR. Don’t worry if, like me, you don’t have 4,000 rials to spend on a sculpture; you can always buy something much cheaper at the museum gift shop!
Plenty of card, gift items and souvenirs of your visit to Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art. Don’t forget to sign the guest book!
“We hope that, during this quick tour of Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art, you felt the atmosphere of these houses and their contents.” Well, I sure did!
In an upcoming blogpost, I will show you some of the incredible murals that make up a prominent attraction of the museum known as “Wall Painting 2012“ and soon to be replaced with “Wall Painting 2013” after March 31st. Many thanks to the gracious and hospitable staff of the museum who treated us like royalty (museum-coordinators, Papia Bhattacharya and Luella Almeida as well as designer, Roshani Rajapaksha) and provided all the information you see in this post in italics. Thanks, ladies!
The museum is open from 9:30am to 6pm from Saturday to Thursday. Closed on Friday. The museum is closed on public holidays as well as days set by the Management of Museum. Admission is 1 OR for ages 12 and up, 500 baizas for kids aged 6-12. Tel: (968) 2471-1640, Fax: (968)2471-1620, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org , Address: PO Box 445, PC 117, Al Wadi Khabir, Sultanate of Oman. www.ghalyasmuseum.com
This geological site, “Muttrah Geotrek (West) Geological Site” is located just behind Ghalaya’s Museum of Modern Art (post coming soon!) as you walk along the Muttrah Corniche. It reads, “The mountains above are made of ophiolite, a rock which developed out of magma from beneath the ocean floor. It contains minerals like chrome and copper, ores which have been mined in Oman for thousands of years. These ophiolites have traveled hundreds of kilometers from deep below the ocean to the Arabian continent. The are considered to be one of the most unique outcrops of this type in the world. The track leads up to a great view of Muttrah port and beyond to Riyam Park and the gulf of Oman.” Another reminder that Oman is, as they are always saying, “ a geologists’s paradise”.
Geotrek map on plaque – The other entrance to the trek is just behind the entrance to Riyam Park.
A look at the geotrek starting point from Muttrah Corniche which is on Al Bahri Street. The trail starts just behind the “Al-Maraasy Building” you can see in the pic above.