Blogs from Muscat, Oman, Middle East

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Middle East » Oman » Muscat » Muttrah March 4th 2020

While the Diamond Princess was on all the front pages, held up in Japan and the Corona Virus was rapidly spreading and now had at a foothold in least half the world’s nations, we were docking in Muscat, vaguely aware that something was happening but, at this stage, not concerned. We arrived several hours late, due to the weather, so we were told, but during the night and this morning the sea seemed to be as smooth as a millpond. If we did have a patch of bad weather, the ship must have bloody good stabilisers as we never felt the slightest bump!! As it turns out, we didn’t lose any time here as we departed several hours later than scheduled. The capital of Oman is Muscat. We’ve been here twice before so when Beryl and ... read more
'Taxi. Tour city? I give you good price!!'
Dolphin sculpture - Muttrah Corniche
Looking down the Muttrah Corniche towards the Mosque

Middle East » Oman » Muscat January 5th 2020

Having made a booking last week, I turned up at the diving centre at 8am as instructed, to an air of organised chaos. I chatted to a couple of French people who were also planning to dive but had never dived before. So my five year lapse since my 32nd dive (according to my PADI records - I struggle to recall half of those), put me in the category of semi-pro by comparison. I was instructed by one of the staff to pick out my kit, which I set about doing. Ever increasing numbers of people showed up, including A couple who had been at Wahibi Sands for NYE as well (they also thought it was a bit crap), and we were divided into the diving camp and the snorkelling camp. All in all there were ... read more
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Middle East » Oman » Muscat » Seeb December 28th 2019

Yippee I now have a bike, unpacked and ready to go! I decided to do a quick pre brekkie recce to get the lay of the land. To be honest I am a little concerned about the road system around Muscat. There are too many massive five, six or even seven lane highways and spaghetti junctions that appear to be designed by someone on crack. My two attempts to drive the (allegedly) 8km back from the airport have involved at least 20kms detours thanks to incomprehensible signage, unnavigable intersections and getting stuck on the wrong side of the motorway just 200 meters away from my hotel but with no ability to get over on the right side. Just a little frustrating especially when coming straight from a red eye flight. So who knows how this is ... read more

Middle East » Oman » Muscat » Muttrah December 28th 2019

My cycling (and a bit of other stuff) trip didn’t get off to the best start when my bike failed to depart Heathrow on the allotted plane. To be fair Heathrow was completely mobbed, and probably had been so for the last week or so, it being Christmas Eve when I travelled out. Luckily I was booked to stay in Muscat for a couple of nights, not that far from the airport, so the fact that Gulf Air don’t deliver late baggage was not nearly as inconvenient as it could have been. So day 1 was a case of Plan B. As I crashed out on Christmas day at about 9.30pm, having not touched a drop of alcohol (usually unheard of in my case!), I was up bouncing around by 6am. I popped on my trainers ... read more

Middle East » Oman » Muscat June 23rd 2019

This morning we have booked a half day tour of Muscat town. We are met by our guide who introduces himself as Hamid. First stop is the very imposing Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which was opened in 2001. The mosque has five minarets, a ladies mosque with capacity of 750, and a main hall which can cater for up to 6,500 male worshippers. Hamid proudly tells us that if the internal courtyards and corridors are included, its total capacity is 20,000. He preempts our question as to why the capacity for female worshippers is so much less than that for the men, by telling us that the ladies are not expected to attend the mosque as frequently so that they can be at home looking after their children and performing domestic duties. The main hall is ... read more
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Main hall, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Middle East » Oman » Muscat » Muttrah June 21st 2019

We’re tired, in the wrong time zone, and the weather app says that the temperature “feels like” 43, so we decide to spend most of the day relaxing by the pool and on the beach. As I make my way out of the sea up onto the sand, it’s a bit hard not to notice a crab the size of a small dog. I suspect it wouldn’t have too much trouble chomping off one of my feet with a single snap of one of its gigantic claws, so I decide that maybe that’s enough swimming in the sea for today. I take the opportunity to read up on the history of Muscat. The ever reliable Wikipedia tells us that there’s evidence of a settlement here from as early as 6,000 BC, and it seems that the ... read more
Foyer of The Chedi Muscat hotel
The Chedi Muscat Hotel
The Chedi Muscat Hotel

Middle East » Oman » Muscat June 20th 2019

We get off our flight from Melbourne at Dubai just after dawn and transfer to another plane for the short flight across to Muscat. Visibility isn’t great, but the views from the plane of the rugged Omani mountains poking up through the early morning haze are mesmerising. The friendly young man in the seat next to us introduces himself as Ali. He tells us that he is from Pakistan, and is travelling to Muscat to ply his trade as a silversmith. Issy asks him how old he is. He says that he thinks he is twenty, but he might be twenty one. I wonder how it’s possible for someone not to know how old they are. I then remember reading somewhere that it’s not unusual for Pakistani cricketers to burst onto the scene as teenage prodigies, ... read more

Middle East » Oman » Muscat May 6th 2019

Oman: a delighful diversion On this trip (to the Middle East) we were confronted with expensive options that travelled via Europe. The alternative was a more direct route using multiple legs. The latter were daytime flights (our preference) being Australia > Malaysia > Oman > Jordan. Instead of using Oman as an overnighter, we decided to stay a little longer. As always, if you want to see the picture in a larger size, just click on it. Day 1 - May 3: Arrival As the plane descended to Muscat (capital of Oman), the dust haze of the Arabian peninsular gradually gave way to a rocky, parched desert. The bright blue of the ocean contrasted with the beige and brown of the landscape. From the air, there was no evidence of green anywhere! At the terminal, we ... read more
Q'Uram beach
Muscat vista
Sultan's Palace (one of several) overlooking Muscat

Middle East » Oman » Muscat May 6th 2019

As Spectrum of the Seas is a brand new ship, this is it´s first visit to Muscat. When it arrived, the port authority had laid on a special presentation for the captain to welcome him and his ship. Unfortunately, they would not release the ship for the passengers to leave until this was finished, so we were half an hour later leaving the ship than anticipated. Muscat is not really a passenger port, it is more commercial. So they lay on buses and everyone has to be transported to the port entrance. At 8.00am they started giving out numbers for the port buses. When we got there at 8.30am they were already up to number 13. This gave us plenty of time to catch breakfast before our number was called for the bus out of the ... read more
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Middle East » Oman » Muscat » Muttrah April 3rd 2019

today the arcadia is leaving the gulf of aden and heading into the red sea. for the past few nights we have been traveling at top speeds of 21 knots making sure to outrun pirate ships. these pirates are not like jack sparrow, they are from somalia. we all had to partake in an anti-piracy drill. everyone with outside cabins had to go into their corridor and sit on the floor away from their cabin door. and if you had an inside cabin they were to stay inside with the door locked. it was a chance to see who all of your neighbours are. we have had armed guards on board and are being escorted by the royal navy. at dusk the promenade deck is closed until dawn with the guards keeping watch. they have rigged ... read more
en route to mumbai
mumbai




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