Smell of Oman’s past lingers in the narrow lanes of Muscat's Muttrah Souq

Energy Saturday 02/March/2019 21:02 PM
By: Times News Service
Smell of Oman’s past lingers in the narrow lanes of Muscat's Muttrah Souq

Muttrah: Strategically located on the Sea of Oman, the Wilayat of Muttrah in the Governorate of Muscat is one of Oman’s coastal wilayats.
It is bordered on the east by Hillat Muttairah, on the west by the City of Al Qurum in the Wilayat of Bausher, on the north by the Sea of Oman and on the south by the end of Hillat Wadi Udday.
The visitor to the Wilayat of Muttrah must pass the traditional market which is not just a market for shopping, but it goes beyond that to daily practices of life that tell the rootedness of this city. It is considered one of the Omani markets of traditional character and is a destination for visitors from inside and outside the Sultanate to enjoy the fragrance of the ancient past, reflected in its old handicrafts and a number of different goods.
The market of Muttrah or Souq Muttrah is characterised by its narrow, winding and wooded corridors and the many alleys and ways that are lined up by shops, which screen the direct sunlight. This is why it was called the Dark Market, where the darkness is doubled on cloudy days. The Dark Market is used on the part of the market that extends from Al Lawatiya Mosque to Khour Bamba. There is another name for this market on its western and eastern sides, which are separated by the opening of Khour Bamba, which is the small market, while the big market is based on the wholesale market.
The smells of perfumes, Omani incense and frankincense and coffee spread in the alleys of the market. Omani sweets are found in a place that cuts back centuries of history. This what makes the visitor come back to it every time.
The visitors of Muttrah market are aware of handicrafts, such as silverware, daggers and conventional weapons. Shops are distributed among the narrow alleys, the oldest is over 370 years of age.
Akhtar bin Rasul Bakhsh Al Balushi, owner of an antiques stores, said: “Our shop is over 80 years old. We inherited it from our fathers and grandfathers. It is one of the oldest shops in the market. We sell silver ware, daggers, antiques and gifts. “ He added that this has made many European visitors along with Arab visitors come to visit him every time.
Omani incense and frankincense and incense burners are also present in the Souq Muttrah, which is highly popular among Omani, Arab and foreign visitors who purchase frankincense, especially the one called “Al Hawjari” which is used as medicine. There is also a demand to buy Omani incense and burners that are available in large quantities. History books indicate that the Souq Muttrah was previously built of mud and slag as these materials adapt to high temperature and various environmental conditions over time.
In the era of the blessed Renaissance of His Majesty the Sultan, the Muscat Municipality restored the market and beautified it by placing the decorations inspired by the Omani environment and using local raw materials that preserved its traditional character. It also paved roads and alleys that helped facilitate movement between its different sides. The Souq Muttrah is one of the most popular places for lovers of photography, whether for memory or sceneries.