Monday, 10 January 2011

OPNO's Likes....: Souqs (top 5 picks)

In "OPNO likes" we are going to give you our top five picks with runner-ups for things we like to see or do (or eat) in Oman, inshaAllah.


1.) Mutrah Souq, Muscat: as it contains spices, insence, perfumes, tourist souvenirs, cheap clothes and accessories persons--house&home--and more from India and China, a gold souq, a fish souq, fabric stores, tailoring bits&bobs plus tailoring services, Omani traditional things, furniture (not very much but...), and a lovely location along the Corniche. You feel like you are in Ali Baba's cave or in the Disney Aladdin movie at times.

The reason this souq is number one for Oman to me is a. it's location in Muscat and touristy traditional things, easily accessible by tourists but still frequented by real live Omanis going about their shopping, and near-ness to a lovely stroll down the corniche , or trips to Museums [Bait Al Baranda] and a decent cafe or 2. I also love the tailors since I am a fan of Omani traditional dresses.

Located in the Al Batinah region, just a short drive away from Muscat. Open Weekly from: 8-9 am, and 4-10:30 pm. Fridays: 4:00-11:00 pm is best.

2.) Sinaw Souq, As Sharqiyah: for it being the oldest preserved souq in Oman and for it being the best place to buy genuine antique beduoin jewelry and rifles, as well as camels.

I chose it because I love Beduoin life, and short of journeying into the wahiba or spending more time in the region, this is a place Beudoin families come for socialising. And anyone who knows me in IRL, knows I am a Beduoin if they ever was one.

Located in Al Sharqiyah Region, the quickest way to get here from Muscat is to drive up the Nizwa road, and turn towards Adam. From Adam it takes roughly 40 minutes.
Open from 7 a.m- 11:oo a.m. Best day is Thursday.

3.) Al Hafah Souq, Dhofar: Nestled in the coconut groves on Salalah's south side it is a cozy souq in the Al Hafah section of town. Here are textile shops, gold and silver souqs and probably best of all, perfumeries where you can find the best frankincense in Oman, and bukhoor that will send your olfactory senses sailing.

Additionally, there are several local cafe's serving up the best in local snacks and tidbits-mishkak, hummus, etc, and if you are a fan of khaleeji abayas, Salalah's tailors make the nicest at the lowest prices.

Located is Al Hafah, Salalah, open from, honestly, I don't know, please, a Dhofari reader let me know, but usually from 8 am-1 pm, and 4-10 pm I'm guessing.

4.) Nizwa Souq, Ad Dhakliyah: I kind of had to choose Nizwa souq even though I don't frequent it personally, very often, because a. it is only a 2 hour drive from Muscat, b. for Omanis it has the best traditional livestock souq [goats, cows, chickens] on friday mornings and the best silversmiths in the country [I always buy a new ring or bracelet when I come here, maybe a get some work done a khanjar for my son], b. it is located adjacent Nizwa fort, a popular tourist destination in itself, and finally, c. there's always the touristy stuff, and on any day of the week you can experience the usual hustle-bustle of the traditional markets selling fruits and vegetables, spices, meat and fish.

Open from 7:30 am-1:00 pm, and 4:00-9:30 pm. Best day, early friday morning.

5.) Ibra's Wednesday Women-Only Souq, As-Sharqiyah: Ladies, here is your chance to prove your shopping mettle at the Wednesday Souq in Ibra. Why? Because it's an all-women affair. No men allowed. So ditch your significant other and come to Ibra. Handicrafts, utensils and textiles are the main features here.

If you like traditional dress as much as OPNO does, this souq is for you. Wednesday morning 7:30-11:30 pm is the best time.

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