There are many enduring symbols that represent the heart and soul of the Sultanate, and while everyone has a favourite, Shaquel al Balushi presents his top choices.
Otherwise known as the “Green Mountain”, Jebel Akhdar is part of Oman’s renowned Al Hajar mountain range. The ancient villages along the way make for a wonderful road trip that requires a well-equipped 4WD to tackle the steep drive. Be aware that it’s hard to take your eyes off the breathtaking view of Wadi Ghul – Oman’s “Grand Canyon” – which is filled with stunning rock faces and blossoming flora.
Believed to be one of the oldest souqs in the world, Muttrah Souq has a rich history. Idyllically positioned on the Corniche, it is an enchanting experience to visit the hustle and bustle of the bartering market. With a variety of fabrics, ornaments and antiques, the souq is a great place to roam around.
The infrastructure to identify a nation, Muscat Gate is often an underrated gem. Traditionally used to stop access in and out of ancient Muscat, this symbol has served its grand purpose yet has still maintained its venerable splendour. With stunning mosaic collections lining the walls surrounding the bridge, any sunset makes it a joy to pass beneath.
Riyam Park Frankincense burner
Holding Oman’s distinct fragrance, a giant statue of “mabkhara” was erected to celebrate Oman’s 20th National Day. This traditional symbol of the Sultanate comes with great expectations of warding off evil spirits to keep Omanis safe. It was part of a momentous occasion to celebrate Oman and its leader, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said.
Al Mirani Fort
A tale of all being fair in love and war is part of the history of Al Mirani Fort. Oman was liberated through a Hindu supplier tricking a Portuguese commander into “replacing” his fort supplies, in return for the Hindu’s daughter’s hand in marriage. Through leaving the fort defenceless, Omanis retook the fort and kicked out the Portuguese. This is truly a totem of a triumphant event in Oman’s history.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is an enduring symbol in the capital, standing out on the city’s skyline. Housing the world’s second-largest carpet and chandelier, the Grand Mosque was completed in 2001 and is set on huge area of 416,000 square metres, and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Able to hold up to 20,000 worshippers, the Grand Mosque is open to non-Muslims from 8am to 11am daily, except on Fridays.
A melange of sweet and earthy flavours can be found in Oman’s traditional coffee. With classic spices added to the sharpness of the beans, including cloves and cardamom, this is the perfect warm beverage to greet guests or celebrate special occasions. It is a distinct and aromatic part of Omani culture and is one that should be celebrated and cherished.
Al Alam Palace
Located in Muscat, it is quite simply one of the most important royal residences of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said. The elaborate palace is redolent of Arabic style and décor, and can be viewed from the front gates of the palace. Built in 1972 shortly after His Majesty’s reign began, it stands as a symbol of progress, leadership and hope.
Wadi Shab/Bimmah Sinkhole
A certain mystique lingers over the crystal-clear waters, idyllic palm trees and stunning rock faces at Wadi Shab. This is the ultimate getaway destination for a leisurely hike, some relaxing swims or simply a release from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Located in the Al Sharqiyah region, this is a tranquil oasis of natural wonder and beauty – and one of the country’s most famous natural wonders.