We arrived in Muscat very late on Saturday night. Another time change and a little difficult to get up on Sunday. Hence we were late connecting with our driver so missed seeing the Grand Mosque which we hope to see tomorrow. Our driver Hamad gave us a tour of Old Muscat, the Sultan’s Palace(outside), a brief wander through the Souk, lunch and then a few hours in the National Museum.
The current Sultan is a very enlightened ruler. Oman is a very conservative but tolerant country. Women , other cultures, other religions are all accepted and embraced.
Some fun facts:
Oman population is around 4.5 million, Muscat is around 1 million. There is a very large populations of non Omani’s...and 28 million date palms!
The official language is English, then Arabic and then...who knew...Swahili!
Education (men and women, no restrictions)and Healthcare are free for everyone.
There is no crime and begging is illegal.
The Oman’s sent an ambassador to the USA in 1875.
Everywhere is clean, no garbage, beautiful flowers.
Most of the men wear the traditional long white cotton over shirt and traditional head gear that is not like the Saudi style. The women are very conservative in the long black abaya and black head covering. There are very few completely covered. Women are everywhere, out at lunch, driving etc so much more’free’ then in Jordan despite their adherence to modest dress.
A quick word on the Sultan, his influence is everywhere. He has a strong design aesthetic so his buildings are beautiful. The National Museum was small but first rate in design and display. He has pushed Oman forward culturally, socially and economically while keeping its charm and rich historical character.
Most of the visitors are Arabs from other countries, Germans, Eastern Europeans and Europeans...very few Americans and according to our waiter last night(Indian) we are the first Canadians he has met!
If it wasn’t such a long flight to get here I would say let’s all go to Oman!