The Sultanate of Oman and its capital Muscat look back on thousands of years of history. The capital, surrounded by the Gulf of Oman and by the rugged cliffs of the hinterland on the land side, has always been a trading post between Africa, Europe, India and Iran.
Oman - Old Muscat
At first glance, Muscat (Muscat) presents itself to visitors arriving by cruise ships as a medium-sized city, characterized by traditional architecture and embedded in cliffs. Nothing suggests 1,3 million inhabitants (census 2020) in the administrative district. The true size of the capital region only becomes apparent behind the mountain range near the coast. According to the latest surveys, the population of Muscat is limited to just 24.000 people in the narrower sense. The entire capital region extends over about 50 kilometers in the flatter areas of the coastal plain. Between the districts are - similar to in Dubai – often large open spaces or rocky landscapes.
Oman - Muscat / Mutrah
The sultanate's economic boom, driven by oil and gas production, has transformed the capital region, which was formed from the cities of Muscat, Mutrah, Ruwi and Sib, into a modern, expanding metropolis within the last thirty years. It doesn't compare to the booming, glittering capitals of the Emirates Abu Dhabi or Dubai. The absolutist government of the sultanate relies on careful and controlled growth while preserving traditional, conservative values for the further development of the state.
Oman - Muscat / Ruwi - commercial buildings
Muscat's main districts
Located on a bay, separated from the rest of the city by cliffs, Old Muscat is known as the "heart" of the region. The buildings most worth seeing are the sultan's palace, representative government buildings and two fortresses from the Portuguese occupation. - The district of Mutrah is the historical commercial center of Oman. The city has a large port and the Sultanate's only oil refinery and oil loading station. With the Mutrah Souk, the district is said to offer one of the most attractive bazaars in the Gulf States. - Important international banks and companies reside in the financial and business center of Ruwi. – Sib is the district with the largest population. Sib is the site of Muscat International Airport, an industrial center and the destination of some international submarine telecommunications cables.
The Sultan's Palace in Old Muscat
Muscat, the economic center of Oman
In addition to the shipping of crude oil and natural gas, aluminum is processed to a considerable extent in the region. Other industrial sectors are petrochemicals and the production of fertilizers. Power plants and seawater desalination plants secure the energy and water supply. The sectors of agriculture, trade and services offer additional economic potential. A lot has also been invested in modern transport infrastructure, with which the extensive urban region can be developed.
Muscat/Ruwi - location of international banks and companies
Muscat, the cultural and social center of Oman
The city has hospitals, secondary schools, the Sultan Qaboos University, which has existed since 1986, and the German University of Technology in Oman, which was founded in 2007. The private university is associated with RWTH Aachen University. Cultural and religious highlights include the Royal Opera House Muscat and the stunningly beautiful Sultan Qaboos Mosque. It is one of the largest mosque buildings in the world.
Muscat - Royal Opera House Muscat
Muscat - Sultan Qaboos Mosque
Muscat - destination of cruise ships
Cruise ships lay in the course of Dubai cruises as well as from Asia to Europe leading trans voyages with passage of the Suez Canal in the harbor of the Mutrah. The port, named after the reigning sultan, is close to the city center across from the coastal road known as the "Corniche".
Muscat/Mutrah - cruise ship berth
We present the main attractions of the city in our report: Muscat attractions.
Interesting facts about the Sultanate of Oman
A six-hour flight separates Frankfurt am Main and the Sultanate in the south-east of the Arabian Peninsula on the Arabian Sea.
The Sultanate's coastline stretches for 3.165 kilometers. The Oman mountains follow the narrow coastal strip, often lined with white beaches and steep cliffs, and then sand and gravel deserts. The country shares these with Saudi Arabia and neighboring Yemen. At 3.017 meters, Jebel Shams is the highest point in the Oman Mountains. The interior of the country enchants individual tourists with a varied landscape in which wild mountains and deep canyons occur. In between are oases and extensive plantations. The Musandam peninsula is particularly attractive. their main town Khasab is also a destination for cruise ships. Musandam is famous for its spectacular rocky landscapes. Musandam is also called "Norway of Arabia" because of the sea arms that cut far into the coastal mountains.
Only 4,47 million people (2020 census) live in the sparsely populated country, which covers an area of 309.500 square kilometers (Germany 357.376 square kilometers). In relation to its area, the Sultanate is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world with 14 inhabitants per square kilometer.
Traces of the first settlements go back to the Stone Age. Sources show that the Sumerians were already aware of the country's existence about 5.000 years ago. Oman's tourism board boldly claims "Sindbad the Sailor, the Incense Route and the Three Kings" for their country.
It is unclear whether this claim is justified. What is documented, however, is the country's checkered history. The area was under foreign rule for a long time. Among other things, Oman was ruled by the maritime power of the time, Portugal, which controlled the Strait of Hormuz for a long time. Fortifications built by the Portuguese in the Muscat area still bear witness to the former occupiers today.
Oman - Muscat / Mutrah Fort
After the Portuguese were driven out, the sultanate rose to become the leading naval power in the Indian Ocean in the mid-17th century. Oman's troops conquered Zanzibar and large areas of the East African coast. Oman's port city of Muscat thrived as a trading center between Arabia and India.
After the loss of Zanzibar in the mid-19th century, the country quickly lost importance and became de facto dependent on Great Britain. Oman only gained independence in the middle of the 20th century.
When the "enlightened" Sultan Qaboos took over the reigns in 1970, Oman was a backward state. Slavery existed and the economy and education were underdeveloped. After the start of oil and gas production, far-reaching reforms were carried out in the sultanate in connection with the windfall. The country, which was still governed in an absolutist manner, turned into a modern state.
Muscat/Mutrah - Corniche in the center
Muscat/Ruwi - international banks and companies
Oil and natural gas generate 50 percent of government revenues. In view of the finite nature of oil reserves in particular, the country relies on income independent of oil. Copper ores are mined in the extreme north of Oman. Other branches of the economy are the food and cement industries as well as handicrafts. The state promotes gentle tourism through targeted measures. Mass tourism à la United Arab Emirates, on the other hand, is not desirable. Tourist destinations are the areas around the port cities of Muscat and Salalah, the mountainous regions around the oasis city of Nizwa and the Musandam Peninsula.
Update January 2022