October 30, 2012 – Today, my guests are flying back to Riyadh, KSA at 6:00 o’clock in the evening through Oman Air. But prior to leaving, Shaun wants to buy some Oman’s souvenir items and give some few to their friends back home. After loading their things in our car, we drive back to Mutrah Souq in Old Muscat to find nice pieces of Oman’s keepsakes and a quick shopping spree.
Mutrah Souq is situated in a picturesque location along a Corniche overlooking a pleasant little Sultan Qaboos harbor. The souq is considered by the locals as one of the oldest marketplaces in the Arab world after it became one of the trading places during the age of sail in the ancient days. Back in time when life is simple, the market is the source of supply for Omanis where they can buy their basic needs such as textiles, fruits, vegetables, and dates. Originally, the souq is named Al Dhalam or “Darkness” in Arabic because of the crowded stalls and alleys that hinder sunrays to infiltrate during the day and shoppers use lamps to navigate their way. At that time, the Souq is made out of mud and palms leaves that are suitable for high temperatures and harsh climate conditions and keeping comfort for merchants and traders inside. But today, the local government put enough effort to renovate and transform the souq to a bit of modernity to provide tourists and ordinary shoppers a wonderful shopping experience. The souq extends from Al Lawatiya Mosque to Khour Bimba where an array of stores and stalls crowded the area. While at the frontal alleys are joints places of restaurants with all sorts of refreshments and entertainments. Today, the market continues to lure tourists coming from around the world and all over the Middle East countries, especially during Eid holidays to buy garments and jewelry.
My first visit to the souq was in 2008, where I bought a nice set of silver jewelry at a cost of 20 Omani Rials. I also love perusing around the traditional winding pathway and finding adorable items I can use at home and for myself such as multi-colored scarfs, brightly colored embroidered wall decors, and silver kanjars, and cute refrigerator magnets. Other things sold at the souq include household goods, shoes and ready-made garments, artefacts, Omani pots, plastic toys, paintings, hookah pipes, leatherworks, incense, lamps, perfume oils, frankincense, spices, and a lot more. So whenever I visit the market, I have to use my hard bargaining skills to buy items with greater discounts. Surely, I never miss the chance of getting a really good deal.
We park our car past the blue tale mosque and walk our way to the souq. Since our time is limited we only visit a shop right at the souq’s entrance named Silver World and an enthusiastic shopkeeper greets us at the shop’s entry door.
Elle and Shaun are looking for some decorated frame that has the kanjar, sands, or coins on it. But they find an interesting magic lamp just like of that in Aladdin movie. The couple thinks that it is a wonderful display in their living room. They also admire those kanjars and decide to buy five pieces of keychain with minute silver kanjar and ref magnets with intricate designs all of 5 rials each. As I am also fascinated with ref magnets I can’t take my eyes of those little kanjar in varied colors with rime stones and glitters. But I hold myself because I can come back here anytime I want and that kanjar is not in my priority list at the moment.
So far, my friends love the pleasant visit, the warm weather, and the scenery of the entire mosque. If only they’ve got so much time, they want to explore more of its alleys and interior to find good deals on gold and silver jewelry. And hopefully they can come back here if chance allows them.
We head back to the car and walk along the balmy little harbor and admire the view of the beautiful port.