After a couple of hours spent exploring Wadi Uyun [Issue 407], I decided to set my sights on the real aim of the day’s outing – Sinaw Souk.
Famed throughout the country, Sinaw Souk is best visited on a Thursday morning, when you can catch a glimpse of Bedouins bartering over livestock as children run excitedly between stalls.
Pulling into town around 9am, the traffic was already beginning to slow – a clear sign that trade in the souk was picking up – and as we turned a corner, we were met by the most amazing of scenes.
Trader’s yelled to one another as buyers haggled over prices, camels were being “parked” as their owners stopped off to pick up their daily essentials and the smell of freshly cooking meshkak wafted over from a dozen barbecues.
Before the five of us immersed ourselves in the market, we took a few measures to try and blend in, as it can be notoriously difficult getting people from the Interior to pose for photographs. We swapped our kumas for mussars and did our best to shed traits associated with the capital city, but it was to prove hopeless, as our accents gave us away.
Sinaw Souk features different areas for women and men, which are designated by a sign, but the action often spills out on to the streets, with sellers who missed out on a prime spot under the covered area opting to set up shop and display their wares along the pavement.
Wandering between the stalls I noticed that Sinaw Souk sells almost everything. Whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s clothing, birds, goats, fresh flowers, food or anything else you can imagine, the chances are you can pick it up here.
It also acts as a great cross section of Omani society, with everyone present from young children to elderly men, making it perfect for people watching. Persuading a handful of excitable kids to stay still for a few seconds, I managed to snap their group before they practically climbed over me to see the images I’d taken.
Elsewhere, I noticed an ageing seller looking cool in his dark shades as he sat serenely assessing proceedings before him. I’m guessing he’s seen his fair share of Thursday markets and today was nothing new to him.
Despite the fact that our accents gave away that we were from Muscat, we were still received warmly and one group of honey sellers invited me to sit down and chat with them. We swapped stories of our families and any news we had over coffee and dates, the traditional Omani way.
There were also quite a few western tourists meandering around, soaking up the souk’s bustling, vibrant atmosphere as part of various organised tours.
I spent around an hour taking photos in a professional capacity and then put my camera away to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells as a simple customer. My cousin was on the hunt for some new carpets, but there was no way anything that large was going to fit into our already crammed Jeep.
Although I’ve heard the souk runs until sunset, we had some lunch and eventually left around midday, by which time it was heaving with people.
All in all, my visit to Sinaw Souk was a fun experience. It was nice to have a bigger group for once, even though we were running mostly on adrenaline due to the day’s early start.
For a slice of authentic Omani life at its best, there are few better places to visit.
Take Route 15 towards Nizwa. Turn left at Izki and stay on this road until it ends. Turn right and then left onto Route 33, which leads directly to Sinaw. Turn right at the town’s main roundabout and this road will lead you to the souk.
GPS location of Sinaw Souk: N23˚ 09’ 52” E57˚ 51’ 14”