Muscat: Hundreds of sellers and buyers thronged one of the oldest Friday markets at Nizwa Souq in Oman as preparations are going full steam ahead for the Holy Month of Ramadan that will begin from June 29.
At 5am itself, the livestock market in the vicinity of the walls of the famous Nizwa Fort, was bustling with buyers and sellers. Trading here is carried out in the most traditional way.
"The increase in the number of buyers is because they fear price rise as the Holy Month of Ramadan is nearing. Next Friday will be the last one before the Holy Month starts. So, the demand will be high and prices, too, will rise. No wonder people felt they only have this week to purchase livestock and other items," Ali Al Kindi, a buyer, said.
Livestock owners, both women and men from nearby areas, bring their animals – mainly sheep, goats, cattle and at times even camels – to the market where they are registered. Registration includes a cursory check of the health condition, judging by appearance and a quick look into the mouth.
The livestock owners hire a commercial seller, letting him know their intended price. He then runs with the animal in a circle shouting out the figure. Prospective buyers looking at the animal, shout in their offer. The commercial seller receives a commission when a sale is accomplished. He has to include this amount beforehand in the price which he seeks for the animal.
"This is one of the oldest souqs in Oman. The traditional livestock market is unique and famous in the region. I don't know how old it is, but I started coming here to buy and sell livestock with my father when I was a small boy. Now, I am above 60 years," Hashil Jamoudi, who was negotiating with a goat seller, told the Times of Oman.
"We are not clear how old is this livestock market and the souq. But we are sure that the livestock market must be more than 200 or 300 years old. Many come here to avail of the cheap prices," Hashil added.
While the price of a medium size goat may be nearly OMR50, that of a medium size cow or bullock may reach up to OMR200 and above.
In addition to the traders, many tourists were also present in the livestock market.
Three American students who came with their Omani friends were amazed at seeing the traditional way of selling livestock.
"This livestock market is unique in its way of trading," Essa Al Shibani, the Omani friend of American students, said.
Other than the livestock market, the business of vegetable, herbs, fruits and fish market sales was also more brisk.
Fresh vegetables cultivated in nearby areas and special garlic bought from Jebel Akdhar Mountain were being sold at low prices in the market.
With its many alleys and divisions, Nizwa Souq has remained for hundreds of years home to a number of local industries, such as daggers, copper, spinning, handicrafts and even guns and bullets.
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