Muscat is the the capital of the Sultanate of Oman and its most important and populous city (at 1.2 million).
Known since the early 1st century CE as an important trading port between the west and the east, Muscat was ruled by various indigenous tribes as well as foreign powers such as the Persians, Portuguese Empire and the Ottoman Empire at various points in its history.
The rocky Western Al Hajar Mountains dominate the landscape of Muscat. The city lies on the Arabian Sea along the Gulf of Oman and is in the proximity of the strategic Straits of Hormuz.
It is home to a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, and receives the largest number of foreign visitors to the country. Unlike other cities in the Gulf, notably in the UAE and Qatar, Muscat does not have an ultramodern skyline. Following the preferences of the Sultan, modern construction is required to adhere to traditional Arabic architectural styles, resulting in a more low-key urban landscape.
|POPULATION :||Metro: 1,288,330|
|TIME ZONE :||Oman standard time (UTC+4)|
|LANGUAGE :||Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian|
|RELIGION :||Ibadhi Muslim 75%, other (includes Sunni Muslim, Shi'a Muslim, Hindu) 25%|
|AREA :||3,500 km2 (1,400 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||23°36′N 58°35′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 63.60% |
• Female: 36.40%
|ETHNIC :||Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African|
|AREA CODE :||24|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+968 24|
Muscat has a number of museums. These include Museum of Omani Heritage, National Museum of Oman, Oman Children's Museum al Zubair, Oman Oil and Gas Exhibition Centre, Omani French Museum, Sultan's Armed Forces Museum and the Omani Aquarium and Marine Science and Fisheries Centre. The Bait Al Falaj Fort played an important role in Muscat's military history.
The city has numerous mosques including the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Ruwi Mosque, Saeed bin Taimoor and Zawawi Mosque. A few Shi'ite mosques also exist here.
Recent projects include an opera house which opened on October 14, 2011. One of the most notable new projects is the Oman National Museum. It is expected to be an architectural jewel along with the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
Visitors are also encouraged to visit Old Muscat and the Old Palace. The main shopping district is situated in Al Qurum Commercial Area, however shopping malls are spread out throughout the city.The one of the biggest Malls in Oman is Oman Avenues Mall located in Ghubra,Muscat.
The main airport is Muscat International Airport around 25 km (16 mi) from the city's business district of Ruwi and 15 to 20 km from the main residential localities of Al-Khuwair, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Shati Al-Qurm and Al-Qurm. Muscat is the headquarters for the local Oman Air, which flies to several destinations within the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, East Africa and Europe. Other airlines such as Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, SriLankan, Royal Jordanian, British Airways, PIA, Jet Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, Swiss International Air Lines, Kuwait Airways, Air India and Thai Airways also fly through Muscat International Airport.
- National Travel Tourism, Ar-Rumaylah Street, Wattayah, tel. +968 24 566046, e-mail: [email protected], Sat to Thu 8am-1pm, 4-7 pm
Evidence of communal activity in the area around Muscat dates back to the 6th millennium BCE in Ras al-Hamra, where burial sites of fishermen have been found.The graves appear to be well formed and indicate the existence of burial rituals. South of Muscat, remnants of Harappan pottery indicate some level of contact with the Indus Valley Civilisation.Muscat's notability as a port was acknowledged as early as the 1st century CE by Greek geographers Ptolemy, who referred to it as Cryptus Portus (the Hidden Port), and by Pliny the Elder, who called it Amithoscuta.
The port fell to a Sassanid invasion in the 3rd century CE, under the rule of Shapur I, while conversion to Islam occurred during the 7th century. Muscat's importance as a trading port continued to grow in the centuries that followed, under the influence of the Azd dynasty, a local tribe. The establishment of the First Imamate in the 9th century CE was the first step in consolidating disparate Omani tribal factions under the banner of an Ibadi state.
The Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque sailed to Muscat in 1507, in an attempt to establish trade relations. As he approached the harbor, his ships were fired on. He then decided to conquer Muscat. Most of the city burned to the ground during and after the fighting.
The Portuguese maintained a hold on Muscat for over a century, despite challenges from Persia and a bombardment of the town by the Ottoman Turks in 1546. On August 16, 1648 the Imam dispatched an army to Muscat, which captured and demolished the high towers of the Portuguese, weakening their grip over the town. Decisively, in 1650, a small but determined body of the Imam's troops attacked the port at night, forcing an eventual Portuguese surrender on January 23, 1650.
Muscat's naval and military supremacy was re-established in the 19th century by Said bin Sultan, who signed a treaty with U.S. President Andrew Jackson's representative Edmund Roberts on September 21, 1833. Having gained control over Zanzibar, in 1840 Said moved his capital to Stone Town, the ancient quarter of Zanzibar City; however, after his death in 1856, control over Zanzibar was lost when it became an independent sultanate under his sixth son, Majid bin Said (1834/5–1870), while the third son, Thuwaini bin Said, became the Sultan of Oman.
During the second half of the 19th century, the fortunes of the Al Bu Sa`id declined and friction with the Imams of the interior resurfaced. Muscat and Muttrah were attacked by tribes from the interior in 1895 and again in 1915. A tentative ceasefire was brokered by the British, which gave the interior more autonomy. However, conflicts among the disparate tribes of the interior, and with the Sultan of Muscat and Oman continued into the 1950s, and eventually escalated into the Dhofar Rebellion (1962).The rebellion forced the Sultan Said bin Taimur to seek the assistance of the British in quelling the uprisings from the interior. The April 26, 1966 failed assassination attempt on Said bin Taimur led to the further isolation of the Sultan, who had moved his residence from Muscat to Salalah, amidst the civilian armed conflict. On July 23, 1970, Qaboos bin Said, son of the Sultan, staged a bloodless coup d'état in the Salalah palace with the assistance of the British, and took over as ruler.
With the assistance of the British, Qaboos bin Said put an end to the Dhofar uprising and consolidated disparate tribal territories. He renamed the country the Sultanate of Oman (called Muscat and Oman hitherto), in an attempt to end to the interior's isolation from Muscat.
Muscat features a hot, arid climate with long and very hot summers and warm "winters".
Annual rainfall in Muscat is about 10 cm (4 in), falling mostly from December to April.
The climate generally is very hot, with temperatures frequently reaching as high as 40 °C (104 °F) in the summer. Humidity in the summer is at 40-60%, which is quite high for such hot temperatures.
Climate data for Muscat
|Record high °C (°F)||34.6|
|Average high °C (°F)||25.5|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||21.3|
|Average low °C (°F)||17.3|
|Record low °C (°F)||1.6|
Muscat is located in northeast Oman, at 24°00′N 57°00′E. The Tropic of Cancer passes south of the area. It is bordered to its west by the plains of the Al Batinah Region and to its east by Ash Sharqiyah Region. The interior plains of the Ad Dakhiliyah Region border Muscat to the south, while the Gulf of Oman forms the northern and western periphery of the city.
The water along to coast of Muscat runs deep, forming two natural harbours, in Muttrah and Muscat. The Western Al Hajar Mountains run through the northern coastline of the city.
Volcanic rocks are apparent in the Muscat area, and are composed of serpentine and diorite, extending along the Gulf of Oman coast for ten or twelve 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from the district of Darsait to Yiti. Plutonic rocks constitute the hills and mountains of Muscat and span approximately 30 miles (48 km) from Darsait to Ras Jissah. These igneous rocks consists of serpentine, greenstone and basalt, typical of rocks in Southeastern regions of the Arabian Peninsula. South of Muscat, the volcanic rock strata is broken up and distorted, rising to a maximum height of 6,000 feet (1,800 m), in Al Dakhiliyah, a region which includes Jebel Akhdar, the country's highest range. The hills in Muscat are mostly devoid of vegetation but are rich in iron.
Muscat's economy, like that of Oman, is dominated by trade.
The more traditional exports of the city included dates, mother of pearl, and fish. Many of the souks of Muttrah sell these items and traditional Omani artefacts.
Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) has been central to Muscat's economy since at least 1962 and is the country's second largest employer, after the government. PDO's major shareholders include Royal Dutch/Shell, Total, and Partex and its production is estimated to be about 720,000 barrels per day (114,000 m3/d).
Muscat also has major trading companies such as Suhail Bahwan Group, which is a trading partner for corporations such as Toshiba, Subaru, Seiko, Hewlett Packard, General Motors, RAK Ceramics; Saud Bahwan Group whose trading partners are Toyota, Daihatsu,KIA and Hertz Rent-a-Car; Zubair Automotive whose trading partners include Mitsubishi, and Chrysler brands such as Dodge; and Moosa AbdulRahman Hassan which operates as one of the oldest automotive agencies in the entire region being established in 1927. The private Health Care sector of Muscat,Oman has numerous hospitals and clinics.
The Muscat Securities Market is the principal stock exchange of Oman. It is located in Central Business District of Muscat and it was established in 1988, and has since distinguished itself as a pioneer among its regional peers in terms of transparency and disclosure regulations and requirements.
Mina'a Sultan Qaboos, Muscat's main trading port, is a trading hub between the Persian Gulf, the Indian subcontinent and the Far East with an annual volume of about 1.6 million tons. However, the emergence of the Jebel Ali Free Zone in neighboring Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has made that port the premier maritime trading port of the region with about 44 million tons traded in cargo annually.
Omantel offers pre-paid Hayyak SIM cards and top-up cards, which can be purchased at mobile phone shops and hypermarkets. Also available are pre-paid Jibreen Cards, good on both mobile and landlines, in denominations of OMR5 and OMR1.5. An OMR5 card gets you 11 minutes of talk time.
Skype is blocked in Oman, and can only be accessed through a VPN. Other VoIP services have been blocked in the past; currently Google Talk, Viber, FaceTime and MSN Messenger are all accessible.
The calling card Global One does not work in Muscat. Although the Global One website lists the rates for calls from Oman there are no numbers listed alongside. The nearest Global One help line is in Dubai.
Free Wi-Fi is available in several public parks, including Qurm National Park, Naseem Garden, Al Amerat Park, and Wadi Kabir. For access, visitors are routed to an Omantel landing page requesting a mobile number, to which a password will be sent; customers are limited to 1.5 hrs/day. Costa Coffee also offers free connection in five locations: Qurm City Centre, Muscat City Centre, MQ, Bareeq al Shatti, and Oasis Mall.
Omantel Ibhar hotspots are scattered throughout Muscat, mainly in coffeeshops, restaurants, and shopping malls. Pre-paid Ibhar cards are available at any Omantel counter or at the hotspot location.