is the capital and largest city in the Sultanate of Oman. It is
the largest city in the mintaqah (governorate) of Muscat (sometimes
referred to as Masqat to differentiate it from the city). The
city of Muscat has a 2005 estimated population of 600,000.
greater metropolitan area of Muscat, known locally as the "Capital
Area", currently covers an area of approximately 1500 km².
Since the ascession of Qaboos bin Said as Sultan of Oman, Muscat
has seen a growth of infrastructural development and urbanization
Pockets of dense residential and commercial districts are interspersed
with undeveloped land. The major centers of development can be
split into three main groups:
Muscat: Al-Seeb, Udhaybah, Bawsher, Al-Ghubbrah and Ghala
Central Muscat: Al-Khuwair, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Shati-Al
Qurm, Qurm and Ras Al Hamra
East Muscat: Wuttayah, Ruwi, Matrah, Kalbuh, Old Muscat, Sidab
In general, Muscat presents a relatively homogeneous appearance
of low (rarely more than five story), generally white buildings,
with residential, government, and commercial architecture frequently
recalling, at least by allusion, historic regional styles. For
a city at the edge of the Arabian peninsula and in Oman's sometimes
fierce climate, Muscat is remarkably green, with tree-lined main
streets linking the various districts, several sizeable public
parks, and grass, shrubs, and flowers decorating many traffic
circles and other public areas.
June 6, 2007, Muscat was hit by Cyclone Gonu causing extensive
damage to properties and rendering electricity, telephone lines
and the international airport inoperative. An estimation of the
damage to life and property caused by the cyclone is yet to be
released.Commercial centres and residences at Qurm, Ghubra and
Ghala localities were among the worst hit.
Muscat is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. It has
been known since the second century AD. Some 3,000 pounds (1,400
kg) of frankincense was transported each year by ship from southern
Arabia to Greece, Rome and the Mediterranean. The centre of this
trade was in a place called Khour Rouri, which the Greeks called
"Muscat". (Note that Khour Rouri is now recognized as
an archaeological site in the Dhofar region of the country, more
than 500 miles south of present-day Muscat, far closer to the
present-day city of Salalah).
first foreign presence in Muscat was in the form of the Portuguese
explorer Vasco da Gama, who landed in Oman on his way to India.
The Portuguese returned in 1507 to sack and capture Muscat. In
1649, the Imam Sultan bin Saif defeated the Portuguese under André
Pereira dos Reis and drove them away east to Goa, India.
the superior, captured warships of the Portuguese navy, the Imam
established an empire that spanned from Zanzibar in the south
to Gwadar in Pakistan in the east. Slaves were brought in from
Zanzibar and Balochistan to work in Oman and traded elsewhere.
This was a period of relative stability and prosperity in Muscat
country was torn apart by strife and unrest upon the death of
the Imam in 1679. Muscat was then invaded by the Persians in 1737,
albeit briefly, since Admad bin Said defeated them and was subsequently
1803, the Wahabbis of Saudi Arabia attacked Oman, but were repulsed
by Sayyid Said bin Sultan. The sultan then set up a colony in
the fertile areas of Zanzibar and essentially ruled Oman from
a foreign island. Later, in 1853, the Sultan transferred the title
of "capital" of Oman to Zanzibar. Thus began to decline
of the fortunes of Muscat and Oman.
1913, Sultan Taimur bin Faisal became Sultan and the territory
was renamed "Muscat and Oman" with the Sultan ruling
Muscat and the Imam ruling Oman. After Indian independence in
1947, the Sultan, with the help of the British, defeated the Imam,
unified most of Oman taking command of the Buraimi oasis.
Dhofar War began in 1964 which was a communist insurrection staged
from the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen against the Sultan
of Oman. The insurrection was opposed by Omani, British and Iranian
forces and was successfully put down. Six years later, Prince
Qaboos bin Said, son of Sultan Said bin Taimur staged a palace
coup and claimed the throne. The old Sultan was flown to London
by the British Royal Air Force. The coup, staged by Prince Qaboos,
with his close friend and confidant Tim Landon at his side, was
the beginning of a new consolidated, modern sultanate.
like much of Oman, is dominated by trade. The more traditional
exports of the city include dates, mother of pearl, frankincense
and fish. Many of the souks of old Muscat and Muttrah sell these
items and traditional Omani artefacts.
Development Oman (PDO) has been central to Muscat's economy since
at least 1962 and is the country's second largest employer, after
the government. PDO's major shareholders include Royal Dutch/Shell,
Total, and Partex and its production is estimated to be about
720,000 barrels per day.
also has major trading companies such as Suhail and Saud Bahwan,
which is a trading partner for corporations such as Toshiba, Subaru,
Seiko, Hewlett Packard, General Motors; Saud Bahwan Group whose
trading partners are Toyota, Daihatsu and Hertz Rent-a-Car; and
Zubair Automotive whose trading partners include Mitsubishi, and
DaimlerChrysler brands such as Dodge.
Sultan Qaboos, Muscat's main trading port, is an important trading
hub between the Persian Gulf, the Indian subcontinent and the
Far East with an annual volume of about 1.6 million tons. However,
the emergence of the Jebel Ali Free Zone in neighboring Dubai,
United Arab Emirates, has made that port the premier maritime
trading port of the region with about 44 million tons traded in
infrastructural facilities are owned and operated by the government
of Oman. Oman Telecommunications (Omantel) is the major telecommunications
organization in Oman and provides local, long-distance and international
dialing facilities and operates as the country's only ISP. Recent
liberalization of the mobile telephone market has seen the establishment
of a second provider: Nawras
constitute about 60 percent of the local population. Muscat has
a sizable expatriate population, mainly in the form of skilled
and unskilled workers from the Indian subcontinent, the Sudan,
Egypt and other GCC countries.
is the official language of the state. Swahili, English, Hindi
and Malayalam are widely spoken.
of the city's residents are followers of Islam, the Sultanate's
only recognized religion. 75 percent of the people are Ibadi Muslims.
Muscat also has foreign minorities of Hindus and Christians. Oman
allows non-Muslims to practice their religion, but they may not
proselytize publicly or distribute religious literature. The city
has two Hindu temples — a Shiva temple and a Krishna temple,
and a Saints Peter & Paul Church in the city's Ruwi locality.
main airport is Seeb International Airport around 25 km from the
city's business district of Ruwi and 15 to 20 km from the main
residential localities of Al-Khuwair, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos,
Shati Al-Qurm and Al-Qurm. Muscat is one of the three headquarters
of Gulf Air and the headquarters for the local Oman Air, both
of which fly to several destinations within the Middle East, the
Indian Subcontinent and East Africa. In addition, Gulf Air flies
to select destinations in Europe, Great Britain, North Africa
and East Asia. Other airlines such as British Airways, Lufthansa,
Emirates, Swiss International Air Lines, Kuwait Airways, Air India
and Thai Airways also fly through Seeb International Airport.
Muscat area is well serviced by paved roads and dual-carriageway
connects most major cities and towns in the country.
transportation in Muscat, and Oman in general, leaves much to
be desired. There is no rail or metro network in the country.
Several forms of public transport are popular in Oman. Most popular
are the "Baiza" buses, so named for the lower denomination
of the Omani Rial, the baisa (an adaptation of the Indian lower
denomination paisa). These are relatively inexpensive and service
all major roadways, as well as a wide and loose network of smaller
byways in the greater Muscat metropolitan area, opportunistically
dropping off and picking up passengers at any location. Less popular
and slightly more expensive are large public buses, coloured red
and green, whose service is limited to major roadways and point-to-point
travel routes between Oman's major cities and towns. Taxis, also
colour-coded orange and white, provide semi-personal transportation
in the form of both individual hire and the same opportunistic
roadway service as Baiza buses.
buses and colour-coded orange-and-white taxis are unmetered, after
several government initiatives to introduce meters were rejected.
The fare is set by way of negotiation, although taxi drivers usually
adhere to certain unwritten rules for fares within the city. In
many countries, one is advised to negotiate a fare with the driver
before getting into a taxi. However, in Oman, asking for the fare
beforehand often demonstrates a passenger's newness and unfamiliarity
with the area. One should always find out the normally accepted
fare for one's journey from one's hotel or host before looking
for a taxi.
in some other wealthy countries in the Gulf, taxi and bus drivers
in Oman are exclusively Omani nationals.
will also generally take passengers to locations out of the city,
including Sohar, Buraimi and Dubai.
Muscat governorate consists of six wilayats: Muscat, Mutrah, Bawshar,
Seeb, Al Amerat and Qurayyat