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Nuts of Muscat

Last week I was in Muscat. I know that you will associate word “Muscat” with famous vine that comes from Setubal in Portugal and now it is produced all over Mediterranean Sea, or with famous nuts of Muscat, but here we are talking about Omani capital.
In medieval and up to 18th century, Sultanate of Muscat was naval power and they were ruling this part of world. They were something like Venice, having sovereignty over territory of today’s Oman, Yemen, UAE and parts of Saudi Arabia that they shared with Turks. They also controlled southern Baluchistan, historical province today split between Iran and Pakistan. Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique also recognized power of Sultan as their sovereign.
However, Sultanate had one trouble that was bothering them for centuries: Imam of Oman, which was in that time separate state in interior part of what we call Oman today and his tribes never recognized full power of Sultan and peace between them was maintained by numerous agreements which were broken on regular basis. Seeing these controlled areas, it is easy to conclude that main business was trading with slaves.

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In the beginning of 19th century Muscat lost its premium position in Eastern Africa trade and withdraws in front of British expansion, which results with loss of major overseas territories. Coastal part within Persian Gulf was given to local emirs who controlled it in behalf of British “Imperium” according to several truces signed by English envoy and emirs. That is why UAE were called “Trucial Oman”.
In 1856 Sultan died without successor, and internal struggle for power begins. Insurgency in interior was finished by compromise, and whole territory was united under name “Muscat and Oman” that was kept until 1970’s, and power was shared between Sultan of Muscat and Imam of Oman. However, after discovering oil in region British representatives backed Sultan as he was more cooperative, while Imam refused to give exploring license. Situation was again solved with war in which Sultanate of Muscat, supported by British army gain control over interior part, and new compromise brought new state on the map in 1957: Sultanate of Oman, in which Sultanate of Muscat gives its name in exchange for sovereignty over whole Muscat and Oman.

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Today, Oman is modern monarchy oriented toward western world. The same as Dubai, Oman is free trade zone, but Sultan Qaboos, loved and respected by Omanis, who is running the country for over 37 years is not keen to allow investment boom as in Dubai. He is more enthusiastic about modest development that will guarantee prosperity to whole nation, including every single Omani national, out of about 3 millions that live in Oman. As you can see, the population density is very low, as Oman has ľ of Croatian population although it is 5 times bigger.
Oman has two enclaves. Wadi al Madhah is small enclave surrounded by UAE, while Musandam is bigger region on top of Saudi peninsula and having it under control Oman controls traffic through Hormuz straits. You remember Musandam from last year, aren’t you?

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City of Muscat is formed around fortified port, and late it was extended toward west. For urbanism fans, it is something like our Dubrovnik, but much smaller and much less amazing than our “Pearl of Adria”. Contrary to Dubai, Muscat still have medieval and oriental stamp that can give you short impression that you are in traditional Orient. Again contrary to Dubai, Muscat doesn’t have business centre with high rising giants for concrete, steel and glass. Its buildings are rather oriental styled, low, all in white, decorated in rules of Islam and they are not “hostile” to surroundings. This is Sultan’s Palace…

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Despite the biggest mosque of Muscat is in front of his nose…

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…His Majesty has its own.

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Sultan Qaboos is beloved among people. He was given the poor, divided and razed country destroyed by wars between Sultan of Muscat and Imam of Oman. Today it is rich and prosper country with approx. 13000$ GDP per capita. It is 3 times less than Qatar or half of UAE, but it is double than Croatia. Interesting, Slovenia has higher GDP per capita than Oman, although there is no oil in Alps.Unfortunately, I was already in Oman with ticket booked for always-late airline, Emirates, when I realized that I can use road from Dubai and the trip is less than 4 hours. Besides the usual delay in Emirates Airlines (95 minutes delay for 38 minutes flight), the plane was full of old seniors that went to see annual phenomena of turtle nesting on Ras al Hadd island. It is really interesting that almost 13 thousands turtles from Gulf, Arabian Sea, read Sea an whole east African coast are coming here to leave their eggs. It will be especially interesting to Barbara and Elvira that didn’t believe that Goran and I saw turtles and that claimed that it was out after-beer-illusion (see post from January 14th). So, this 13 thousands should not be illusion, as it is obviously that lot of people go there to see that. As the audience was 70+, they were searching gate 23 much longer that Madagascar turtle swims to Oman, and that cause delay, so there were not photo cruise over Muscat, as we came exactly before meeting. Therefore, the photos are borrowed from the net.
Like any other Arabian city, Muscat have interesting souq

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…and they are especially proud with spice souq, where you can find nut of Muscat in 1001 form, and shape…

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…and as they were naval power, they have original fish market…

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Soon the Sun run from sky over Muscat into the ocean…

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…and the city was shining like a diamond from 1001 night.

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Unfortunately, I could enjoy magnificent Muscat night only from balcony of Radisson SAS. Tough day fixed me to the bed and next I can remember is breakfast on pool terrace. We had one more meeting, shorter than we expected, and we were running to the airport to catch early flight back. While our office Peugeot 607 was sliding toward airport I decided to spend one of following weekends in Muscat. Then we should see more. In one hour we were already in our office in Dubai and on the desk there was a plan for next trip…


Post je objavljen 24.03.2006. u 22:16 sati.