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Muscat

Located on the east coast, Muscat is the larges city in Oman and also its capital. The city itself is probably best described as the complete opposite of its neighbour Dubai. There are no skyscrapers and large shopping malls. Instead, all the buildings are whitewashed and at best medium rise. Muscat has the benefit of a long coastline and large shipping port and is backed by the Hajar mountains.

Whilst Muscat itself may not be packed with tourist attractions, there are places to visit that would give you a real flavour of what Muscat is all about. Probably the most famous and recognisable attraction is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Opened in 2001, the Mosque can accommodate up to 20,000 worshippers. It is also one of the few in Oman that allows non Muslims to visit. The gold dome is 50 metres high and inside is home to the 2nd largest single piece of carpet in the world. This Persian carpet took 4 years to produce and measures over 70x60 metres. The Chandelier in the Praying Hall is 14 metres high, weighing 8.5 tons and comes complete with 600,000 crystals - making it the worlds largest chandelier.

The Souk in Muttrah is also a popular tourist spot, with its labyrinth of stalls selling everything from ceramics, jewellery, pashminas and leather ware.

The Bait Al Zubair Museum houses some fine examples of swords and daggers including the Khanjar (traditional Omani dagger), that are an integral part of Oman's heritage.

For those looking to escape the city, you can enjoy dolphin watching in the Gulf of Oman.

Outside Muscat, but still easily accessible is the old city of Nizwa, capital of Oman's interior and the birthplace of Islam in the Sultanate. No stop in Nizwa would be complete without a visit to Nizwa Fort. Parts of the structure go back to the 12th Century, with the main structure built in the 1650's. It is Oman's most visited national monument.

Also outside Muscat is Jebel Akhdar, part of the Hajar mountains and about a 45 minute drive from Nizwa. Once the site of the Jebel Akhdar war between Omani forces loyal to the Sultan and aided by the British and Saudi Arabian backed rebel forces, it is now a nature reserve.

Muscat
Musandam
Salalah