An Early Morning at the Muttrah Corniche

After crossing the UAE-Oman border, the long (and seemingly never-ending) drive and spending some time admiring the white houses, we finally drove straight into the Muttrah—one of the largest seaports and commercial area of Oman. We arrived around 6pm,  tired and hungry. So we woke up early the next morning—a difficult task—to explore the place and take pictures.

The following picture reminds me of Marine Drive in Mumbai

So just to make things clear: Oman is the country, Muscat is the province and Muttrah is a city in Muscat. We didn’t know that. So off we went to stop the first Omani guy we saw on the road, and asked, “How do we get to Muscat from here?” Perplexed, he replied, “This is Muscat!”

We loved Muttrah. It’s also called the Old Muscat, and it felt like we were in a totally different time. Did you know that this port was once occupied by the Portuguese? By the 17th century, however, the Omanis have had enough of them. They not only kicked the Portuguese out of their ports (and country) but controlled trade and territories along the African, Iranian and Indian coasts up until 1970.

I find these fish rather disturbing; they appear to be eating each other! There are several fish-themed displays such as this along the entire corniche. And the famous Muttrah souq is also located nearby. Pressed for time, we opted not to venture into the souq. But you can read all about it here.

Another dilemma was finding an inexpensive hotel to spend 8 hours in. When we checked online, the cheapest rate we could find was 20 riyals (200 dirhams) per night for a one-star hotel, without breakfast. That was still expensive for us because in Dubai or Sharjah, one can find a three-star hotel with that rate!

Traffic that evening at the Muttrah corniche was bad, so we parked our car and walked around to check the nearby hotels. There are several hotels facing the corniche. We went and saw three, then finally decided on the Corniche Hotel.

It’s also a one-star hotel. We had a double room for 15 riyals (17 riyals, if you want breakfast) inclusive of taxes. The staff and their manager were all very friendly and polite. And the rooms, although very basic, were really clean.

I had a very restless night, tossing and turning in bed due to severe headache, and by 4 am the phone began ringing—I felt like my head was going to explode with the sound—and turned out to be a wrong number. A couple of hours later, Masood left to pray faj’r in a mosque just a few steps away from the hotel.  I couldn’t muster the energy to go lock the door, and I didn’t want Masood to lock me in either. My sisters were asleep in the next room anyway, so I asked him to leave the door unlocked.

Masood returned with breakfast. “How much?” I casually asked, opening the plastic container filled with choley and dipping a piece of paratha in it.

“Five hundred,” he replied.

“Five hundred?!” I choked on my paratha.

“Five hundred baisas,” he said.

“Oh. Why didn’t you say so in the first place,” I resumed eating.

500 baisas = 4.5 dirhams = $1.5

That is a very large incense burner of Riyam Park. Some tourists initially think it’s a space ship.

It looked prettier at night…

And then of course, there were boats…

And more traditional boats…

Another beautiful structure at Muttrah is the the Al-Lawatiya Mosque…

It is officially named Masjid al-Rasool al-A’tham or the Mosque of the Great Prophet. Its striking mosaic-covered dome and blue minaret dominate the skyline of Muttrah. This mosque is the central place of worship for members of the Lawati community.

And then there’s this fort. The Muttrah Fort…

Perched on a rocky hill and overlooking the town, this is one of Oman’s oldest forts. Originally, this beautiful sixteenth century fort was built by the Portuguese during their occupation and was used for keeping prisoners. We tried to find ways to climb up, but it appeared like it has been closed down to public for safety reasons.

Overall, Muttrah Corniche is a must-see for anyone who’s visiting Muscat. Parking is not an issue at all (at least it wasn’t for us, and we were there on a weekend). And if you don’t have your own car, there are lots of taxis available. The only thing that we had a hard time finding was a decent desi meal.

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32 Responses to An Early Morning at the Muttrah Corniche

  1. sakura says:

    salam,

    sis.. thats really wonderful pictures.. really i love it.. my favrite one is the picture with thw birds.. :D btw.. its really nice place to visit too!!!!!! =D

  2. Lat says:

    Yes the fish sculptor was a little disturbing…and why such a big incense burner? I thought it was some kind of a lighthouse :) The first pic is interesting with those white cylinder like structures sticking out like that.Oman looks clean too.Very nice pics indeed esp the blue minaret and dome.They look strikingly beautiful!

    • nadia says:

      Besides the incense burner, there are other similar big things too that are an important part of the local day-to-day lifestyle. I’ll feature them in the next post :)

  3. mamadou says:

    Assalamualaikum

    Beautiful descriptions and photographs of Muttrah. I like the way you present it to us. Thank you for sharing and good luck too

  4. mezba says:

    OK you have convinced me – Oman is a definite must see next time, iA. I love these scenic “untouched” places (and plus – they are all Muslim and have halal food!).

    • nadia says:

      Mezba, having halal food and the convenience of mosques or prayer rooms are added bonus when traveling. Oh, the Omanis are amongst the friendliest people we’ve ever met.

  5. Tien says:

    The room looks very serene with its consistent brown theme….:)
    Very nice pictures Nadia!

    • nadia says:

      Thank you, Tien!

      Yes, that’s the waiting area next to the reception counter. The hotel faces the sea and everything worth seeing is within walking distance.

  6. andydbrown says:

    FANTASTIC pics!!! You are a very talented photographer!! And thanks for the link to my post on Muttrah Fish Souq! :-)

  7. 'liya says:

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about Oman! Thanks for sharing and lovely pics (as usual!) :)
    So… does the air actually smell nice with the incense burner?!

  8. Sharifah Ghouse says:

    Slm sister Nadia..very beautiful pictures..good layout of ur visit of those places u visited..indeed ur very blessed to visit these beautiful Muslim countries n inspire us to go to these places in future..IA.. Good work..:-)

    • nadia says:

      Walaikum Assalam, Sharifa. Thank you so much for your kind words. A lot of people have the misconception that there’s nothing worth seeing in the middle east; on the contrary, there’s beauty everywhere, subhanAllah. And I am trying to share a glimpse of that beauty.

  9. Sajib says:

    Pigeons! A piece. :)

    • nadia says:

      Oh, those restless creatures! It was a pain photographing them, Sajib. When you point the camera at them, they somehow sense that their privacy is being violated, then they fly away!

      This photograph was taken with a zoom lens from across a busy street. And yet, as you can see, one of the bird is actually looking at me, ready to take off.

  10. hello, ms. nadia.

    am glad i subscribed to your site. you chronicled your visit to Muttrah very beautifully.

    am smitten with your pics of the boats. thank you for sharing your experiences with us.
    good day. :D

  11. Thanks for the nice blog Nadia. My wife and I plan to go to Muscat in March and would like to stay on the corniche. We have tried unsuccessfully to contact the Corniche Hotel. Do you have an email and/or phone number for them?

    Thanks, and happy travels.

  12. Nadia says:

    Salam aleikum sister,
    thanks for sharing these pictures with us. I really enjoyed reading your text and looking the great photos, masha Allah. On the other hand, this kind of pictures cause a big travel fever.. :)

    • nadia says:

      Walaikum assalam, Nadia (what a beautiful name you have ;) )

      I’m glad you enjoyed the photographs. Thank you so much. I’m also getting the ‘travel fever’ all over again by looking back at these pictures :D

      Welcome to the blog!

  13. DeniZe says:

    Beautiful and evocative photography. This is a part of the world I may never have the opportunity to visit. Many thanks for the virtual tour.

  14. Delirium says:

    Truly amazing!

    It feels great to have stumbled upon your blog and see the grandeur and diversity of majestic Oman & Muscat through your eyes. I must admit that the photography is mesmerising backed by some lively narration.

    Hope to visit regularly to enjoy some wonderful moments.
    Do keep up the great work! :)

  15. Mahfooz says:

    These pictures are truly magnificent! Although I’ve never been to Oman, from what my ex-next-door neighbour was telling me, it seemed like a brilliant place. And some of these pictures capture the soul of the place. I’m going to place it in my must-visit list of destinations.

  16. Juat love this place, I keep coming back….you’ve got terrific pictures, images are filled with life…..you will find related article here http://hexebella.com/an-afternoon-at-muttrah-corniche/

    Cheers!

  17. hello, Nadia,

    I read this post again. It’s just as good as the first time I did (sipsip!). and, may nag-Tagalog dito, napansin ko, whehe… cheers! :)

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