Another delicious breakfast awaits this morning, a perfect prelude to a truly magical day we have curated for you.
This afternoon, you're welcomed to the United Arab Emirates nation of Oman, and its capital, Muscat, which has been an important port since the 1st century AD. Its history melds the influences of the indigenous Omani tribes as well as the Abassids, Portuguese, Ottomans, and Persians who once ruled Oman. Unlike other UAE capitals, which are all about glamour on a grand scale, Muscat is a gracious, whitewashed city wedged between the mountains and the sea, with few high rises. In fact the Sultan Qaboos (Oman’s head since 1970) has forbidden the construction of anything over seven stories so as not to obscure the views. But that doesn’t mean Muscat lacks for impact, as you’ll see during this afternoon’s exploration.
To mark the 30th year of his reign, the Sultan Qaboos gave the nation a spectacular modern jewel of a gift: the Grand Mosque. You'll visit Oman’s national mosque, which was completed in 2001, and explore its many marvels, including the giant prayer hall which can hold 6,500 worshippers, and is illuminated by the world’s largest chandelier. The stunning carpet on the main floor covers 46,750 square feet, weighs 21 tons, and boasts 28 colors in varying shades. Between the main prayer hall, additional chambers, and outdoor plazas, the Grand Mosque can hold some 20,000 worshippers.
Next you’ll visit the eye-popping Muttrah Souk, a sprawling labyrinth of shops and arcades beneath a timber roof. You’ll have time to ogle the dazzling gold jewelry, J-shaped khanjar
daggers, white dishdasha
robes, handmade slippers, silverware, Bedu jewelry, and precious oils, perfumes and ointments like frankincense and myrrh. More treasures await at the private Beit al Zubair Museum, whose collections include ethnographic artifacts, an exhibit of traditional Omani female attire, furniture, maps, and more.
Before departing you’ll enjoy a nice walk around the Old Town area to get some photos of Fort Mirani, Fort Jalali, and the stately Al Alam Palace, a royal residence of Sultan Qaboos.
After dinner, special guests come on board to engulf you in the culture of Oman. If you're wondering what it’s like to live here, you’ll hear about it firsthand from an Omani woman who will share her perspective on family life, native customs, and the changing role of women in contemporary Oman. Cultural Discovery:
Then, enjoy local Omani musicians and dancers who will come on board to provide some captivating folkloric entertainment.
Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner