Muttrah Souq, Muscat

The site of one of the oldest souqs in the Arab world and the former centre of commerce in Oman prior to the discovery of oil, no visit to Muscat is complete without experiencing the dizzying maze of lanes that make up Muttrah Souq.  A heady mix of fabrics, incense, trinkets and antiques, the vibrant colours and pungent aromas overwhelm the senses.

Visiting this labyrinth of treasures a few days before Christmas, we were on a very festive mission. Given Oman’s important role in the ancient incense and spice trade routes, we decided to see if we could find gold, frankincense and myrrh: it didn’t take us long. Countless vendors were eager to show us their fragrant wares and decorative burners and, refreshingly, they wanted to teach the boys about the incense and traditional perfumes on display far more than they wanted a sale. The legendary hospitality of Oman is epitomised in Muttrah Souq, with warm greetings and welcoming smiles at every turn.

From plastic toys to antique khanjars, heavy gold necklaces to fridge magnets, sacks of henna to cups of tea – Muttrah Souq has it all.  Wandering the lanes, from the dazzling windows filled with gold jewellery to the seemingly endless offers of cashmere pashminas, is the perfect way to while away an hour or two. With no real hassle and no obligation to buy, you never know what treasures you might find once you start to explore.


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