One of the ports we were most looking forward to and it did not disappoint! Muscat must be one the cleanest and most beautiful cities on the Arabian peninsula – in fact, cleaner than many cities that we’ve visited worldwide . We arrived as the sun was rising over some small, craggy islands, and like Salalah, the city hugs the water with mountains as a backdrop. Once again, we secured a taxi to take us on a three-hour tour of the town and we saw all the highlights.
Visiting Oman has given us the opportunity to learn more about the country and its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, than we would have had we not visited. He appears to be a much loved Emir and has done great things for the country with his progressive and forward thinking ways. After attending Sandhurst and serving with the B.A.O.R. in Germany, he continued studying in England and then embarked on a world tour. He rose to power after overthrowing his father in a palace coup in 1970, but has continued to keep Oman neutral, maintaining friendly relations with both Iran and western allies.
When driving around Muscat it is evident that he put his country first and the results are in the beautiful architecture, good roads, magnificent Royal Opera House and mosque, manicured parks and flower lined highways.
Evidently he is in failing health and has no children so the line of succession is in question – probably falling to one of his nephews. The palace is also amazing – set in a cove in Old Oman, it is a complex of different palaces within the grounds – ranging from an older fortress style structures to marble dome topped and white modern buildings that one can only imagine mirror the opulence we saw at the mosque and Opera House. The 155 meter royal yacht, Al Said, was docked very close to our ship in Muttrah port.