Oman: Meandering in Mutrah Souq | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

May 2, 2014

Oman: Meandering in Mutrah Souq

Powered with only three hours of proper sleep, I found myself trailing behind a new-found Omani friend at the maze-like alleys in Mutrah (also spelled Matrah or Muttrah). Wandering in a fascinating old city with a local doesn't happen everyday, so I gathered all the energy left in my sleep-deprived body. Along with my husband and our friend, I eagerly followed the local's footsteps and delightfully listened to his engrossing stories of his home country. We walked through the narrow pavements at what seemed to be a residential area. I felt tad dizzy on the labyrinth of passages heading to I-don't-know-where until the fragrance of Frankincense awaken my senses. We have reached the Mutrah Souq, a traditional marketplace right at the heart of Old Muscat! 

Mutrah Souq in Oman

Seeing the sights with a local is a whole new experience; completely different from our DIY trips. I was in awe as we approached Mutrah Souq through some secret path only locals know, yet I wondered where the main entrance is. So, I convinced Ed and our friend 'H' to revisit the area the next day, with goals to reach Mutrah Souq as a tourist and to catch a glimpse of the traditional Omani village along the corniche in broad daylight.   

labyrinth pathway heading to Mutrah Souq
a local store along the labyrinth pathway heading to Mutrah Souq
Mutrah Souq's main entrance facing Mutrah corniche
Mutrah Souq's main entrance facing Mutrah corniche

Situated across one of the largest sea ports in the Gulf, Mutrah Souq is a main trading venue during Muscat's pre-oil era. It is known to be the oldest marketplace in the country. Now, it is a major shopping destination where both locals and visitors purchase Omani goods. Mutrah Souq is a covered bazaar with a very detailed traditional architecture. Arabian chandeliers and vibrant stained glass patterns adorned the carved wood ceilings. 

inside Mutrah souq in Oman

chandeliers and carved wood ceiling in Mutrah Souq Omanstained glass patterns in Mutrah Souq Oman

traditional Arab marketplace in Oman

Mutrah Souq houses hundreds of eye-catching stalls selling local goods and modern souvenirs. There is a display of traditional textile in vivid patterns across a store that sells plain "I Love Oman" t-shirt. Alongside Omani handicrafts are tacky key chains and fridge magnets. There are also shops selling jewelries, fragrances and sweets.

Arabian textile in Mutrah Souq Oman
a colorful display of Arabian textile
eye-catching shop in Mutrah Souq
one of the eye-catching shops in Mutrah Souq 

Ed and I are not really fond of buying travel souvenirs as they often end in a dusty corner. Photographs and memories are enough for us, so we were there solely for sight seeing. Our friend 'H', on the other hand, was on a shopping spree for pasalubongs as she will be heading home for her mid-year vacation very soon. Mutrah Souq seemed like a tourist trap, but not for us who were there with a local friend. He helped 'H' haggle her way to a much cheaper price! 

Frankincence in Mutrah Souq
The scent of Frankincense provides calmness at the chaotic Mutrah Souq.
Traditional Omani Cap in Mutrah Souq
Kumma, a traditional cap worn by Omani men, is one of the local goods being sold at Mutrah souk.
Khanjar in Mutrah Souq
Khanjar, a traditional Omani dagger, is a unique memorabilia.
Oman Souvenirs in Mutrah Souq
...and the most typical souvenir of all time, fridge magnets! :)

Funny how we got lost in the dark alleys of Mutrah Souq when our local friend left us during Prayer Time. We somehow found our way, but we wouldn't mind getting lost marveling at the classic and modern treasures of Oman all over again! :)  

Mutrah Souq
across Mutrah Corniche
Muscat, Oman

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