Governorate of Muscat
Governorate of Muscat is situated on the Gulf of
Oman at the south part of Al Batinah coast. It is confined between Gulf of
Oman and the mountains of AI Hajr Al Sharyi. The Governorate is the most
populous area of the Sultanate. The average density exceeds 24 times the
average population density in the Sultanate.
The Governorate consists of six wilayats: Muscat,
Muttrah,Bowshar, A’Seeb, Al Amerat and Quriyat. Muscat is the capital of the
Sultanate and the headquarters and the administrative apparatus of the
state. It is an old city that played an important role as a commercial
station since the early ages of Islam. It is also one of the most important
trade centers because of its strategic and special location. It is famous
for Al Jalali and Al Mirani forts.
In Muscat and its wilayats we can observe this
remarkable harmony between the ancient heritage and the modern contemporary
features. You can see the old houses and markets, small shops and narrow
roads, next to the modern markets, shops and wide streets. This preserves
Oman’s historical and cultural identity on one hand and gives it at the same
time the spirit of the age and modernization on the other hand.
The Wilayat of Muscat runs along the Gulf of Oman
across a long mountain range which stretches from Bandar Najih adjacent to the
Wilayat of Muttrah on the north western side between the villages of Muttrah and
Riam. Here the villages and mountains of Muscat extend as far as the village of
Al Sifa at the borders of the Wilayat of Quriyat in the south east.
Muscat has nine villages attached to it, these being Sidab, Haramel, Al Bustan, Al
Jussa, Qantab, Yankat, Yiti, Al Khayran Al Sifa and Sifat Al Sheikh.
The city of Muscat is counted one of the older cities in history having been
built at the outset of the Arab migrations which preceded and followed the
destruction of the Maarib Dam. We can safely say that its history predates the
arrival of Islam by several centuries.
Muscat is distinguished by the
presence of citadels, forts, towers, walls, gates and historical houses.
The municipality of Al Sifa is home to Al Sifa Fort which overlooks the sea from
its coastal position and backs onto a valley.
The walls of the city of Muscat were its first line of defense in the
fortification and protection of the city from attackers. The city is today
encircled by a ditch of natural stone in place of a wall. The Omanis call this
wall Al Hosn or the fortification. Other walls are still in existence around the
city on two sides, the west and the south. The one that was erected in 1625 AD
has round towers built into it. On the northern and eastern side of the city are
the natural defense boundaries of the Gulf of Muscat and the eastern mountains.
The walls of Muscat have three principal access points or gates: Bab Al
Matha'eeb, the Greater Gate and the Lesser Gate.
The first of these is in the western corner below the Al Mirani Fort. The second
is at the extremity of the western rib of the wall and this one is the point of
egress to most of the roads leading to the suburbs of Muscat and to the city of
Muttrah. The third or Lesser Gate is mid-way along the southern rib of the wall
and despite its name is also one of the principal entrances to the city.
Muscat has five historical houses or residences. These are Jeriza, Al Sayed
Nader, Al Sayed Abbas bin Faisal, Al Zawawi and the Omani-French Museum; while
the Wilayat of Muscat also has 48 mosques.
The villages of Al Jussa, Al Khayran and Al Sifa are coastal tourist resorts
with clear blue seas and an appealing landscape of waves and rocks.
The coast of Al Jussa has coconut palms and mala'eb trees as well as a number of
The second stretch of coast, Al Khayran, is set between cliffs which nature has
eroded into spiny outcrops that rise peg-like from the sea floor. Further along
this coast are mangroves known as the ashjar al-qurum.
The third stretch of coastline is at the village of Al Sifa east of the city of
Muscat and adjacent to Quriyat. It is a serene and handsome shoreline which
draws many locals and residents to this convenient pleasure spot at weekends.
Other tourist attractions :
and Mirani Forts
Omani French Museum
Al Seeb lies to
the west of the Wilayat of Bowshar, occupying an narrow strip of coastline along
the rim of the Gulf of Oman for a distance of 50 kms. Its population is
around 223,267 persons distributed among 24 villages and townships.
incorporates a number of sites of historical interest, the most significant of
these being the citadel of Al Khodh, Jifnin, Raseel, Al
Kharas and Al Saleel Towers as well as the towers of Wadi Al Haya. It has two
walls, one of which, Sur Jimma, proved useful in the defence of the township of
Wadi Al Lawami 200 years ago. The second, Sur Al Rawia, known as Beit Al Rawia
or Al Rawia House, consists of six chambers and a liwan. It was built some 150
Beit Al Awad or Al Awad House is at Al Khodh. Founded in 1886 AD, it has a floor
area of 1,200 sq. metres. Wilayat Al Seeb has around 140 mosques.
One of the most significant sights in this Wilayat are the districts of Al
Manuma, Al Khodh (interior), the coast of Al Hail, the Daymaniyat Islands, Al
Khodh Park, Al Sahwa Tower Al Nasim Park, Al Mawalih, Al Maasila, Al Rusyail, Al
Jirou, Al Jifnain, Al Mirorat and Al Bunoud.
This is a city of trade and enterprise, with its port
and commercial quarter. Muttrah has a
population of 154,316 living in eight residential districts: Muttrah City, Greater Muttrah, Al
Wattia, Ruwi City, Wadi Addi, Annat, Qurum (east of the Nature Park) and the
Port of Al Fahl.
It is said that the name Muttrah (a place to throw something down) comes
from the presence of an anchorage for ships (i.e "throw down the anchor").
Another interpretation of the name is as of a place to "unload or put down
goods or merchandise."
The Wilayat of Muttrah is counted amongst the most important of the six
Wilayats in Muscat Governorate, on account of its ancient historical and
cultural standing; for it was Oman's ancient trading port and its suq was
the principal source of the many and diverse goods relayed from the port to
the other suqs of Oman. It is said that it was once also a fertile spot much
cultivated with date palms and other trees, watered by aflaj and sweetwater
wells from which the citizens, orchards and visiting ships were supplied.
Muttrah boasts a number of archaeological and tourist landmarks in the shape
of forts, walls, towers, aflaj and watercourses, as well as parks and
Muttrah Fort, known popularly as Koot Muttrah is one of the most prominent
of the 13 forts scattered throughout the Wilayat. It has six towers, built
under the Portuguese during their occupation of Muscat after 1578. It was
the seat of government during the rule of Sultan Said bin Sultan Al Bousaidi
and occupies an elevated site on the mountain overlooking the Muttrah coast.
Amongst the other forts are: Al Rouja, Mattirah Al Fanateef, Jebel Kalbou,
Luzum, Hukum, Al Reeh, Sanjouri, Al Gharifa, Bahwar, Beit Falaj and
The most notable of the walls in this Wilayat the one which runs from the
southern to the nortern mountain. Known as Sur Ruwi, it has a gate the
centre which can with justification claim to Muscat's first access gate on
the northern interiside. It was constructed to regulate access to tcapital
when the Sultan bin Ahmed Al Bousaidi tothis as his seat of government.
Muttrah has another three walls: Sur Al Lawati,
Sur Muttrah Al Qadim (Old Muttrah), and Sur Jabarou.
There are two towers, one of them on the highmountain at Zarafia which takes
its name - BoZarafia - from this place. The other smaller tower situated at
the highest point in the Wadi Khalfan.
Two aflaj run through this distriFalaj Al Wattia. The other comes out of the
ground at Wadi Al Kebir and passes beneath the Beit Al Falaj. Hence its name
Falaj Al Falaj.
Muttrah has a total of 16 Widian, the most.important of them Al Harath, Al
Aseel, Al Naqa, Al Walja, Al Hamaria, Dar Seit, Maysah Al Awd and Wadi Al
It has three public gardens, in the Al Midan Al Tijari, Wadi Al Kebir and
Riam quarters respectively; and two museums, the Armed Forces Museum and the
National Museum, as well as the Islamic Library. In all there are 79 mosques in the cities and villages of the Wilayat.
Situated between the sea and
the mountains south west of Muttrah, its population is 149,506 persons
spread over its 43 towns and villages. The most noteworthy of these are: Al
Khoweir, Sultan Qaboos City, Al Ghubra, Al Adheeba, Ghala, Al Aa'lam
(Information City), Al Sarooj, Bowshar Al Qadima (Old Bowshar) Bowshar Bani
Umran, Al Ansab Sanab, Al Hamam, Al Awabi and Al Misfah.
Its archaeological remains and the ancient narratives suggest a history
going back to the second millennium BC.
It is also said –and it is likely to be true – that the name Bowshar is
derived from the unrest witnessed by this district in the past, causing it
to be called Abu Sharr (the Iniquitous One); until, when matters settled it
was shortened to Bowshar.
The Beit Al Kebir (Great House) is amongst its most significant monumental
remains. This monument of many names is also known as Beit Al Sayeda Thoraya.
Whatever its title it stands as a splendid historical testament, with its
unique engravings and feats of design. It is composed of several lobbies and
colonnaded galleries and is three storeys high.
Also here are the stronghold and citadel of Al Fatah and the towers: Al
Hammam, Sanb, Harat Al Awraa and the tower and Rawla and Sabla of Falaj Al
Sham; the Al Sayed Barghash Wall, the two Bouqa of Al Ansab and Al Hammam,
the old stone the old suq of Bowshar and Al Khab
Foremost among the old mosques are the Al Najar Mosque in the Bowshar Bani
Umran Municipality which was erected in the thirteenth century AH, and the
nearby Al Aweina Mosque, as well as the Sanb Mosque and 56 other lesser
mosques scattered throughout the Wilayat.
Quriyat occupies a narrow strip
of coastline along the Arabian Gulf, the Wilayat of Muscat to the north and to
the south east the Eastern Region Wilayats of Sur. South west is Dimma and Al
Ta'iyeen, also in the Eastern Region. Eastwards is the Arabian Gulf.
The Wilayat has 29 villages and towns, including
the town of Quriyat itself. These are Al Hajer, Al Wasta, Al Ma'ala, Al Jinan,
AI Sahel Al Ainein, Killiat, Affa', Al Kerib, Al Ramla, Al Makhasrat, Al
Shahbari, Dhaher Muhaisa, Hail Al Ghaf, Al Masfaa and the Municipalities of
Daghmar, Mazar'ia Al Abraiyeen, Al Misfa'ah, Al Hiytan and Al Abayaa.
The village of Dhabbab (meaning fog or mist) and
Suq lie to the east of the Wilayat. The western villages are Sawaqim, Al Falij,
Qatnit, Al Samir, Makhada, Al Haboubia, Seeh Al Basra or Seeh Al Gharizia, Al
Ramitha, Hayfadh (Al Atb), Al Aafia, Al Salil, Al Fayadh, Al Tareef, Siy'a Al
Alouwia, Ballal, Wadi Al Harim, Araqi, Siy'a AlHadaria, Al Qabel, Mawal and Taba.
The total population of all of these villages and their surrounds is 38,305.
The name Quriyat is probably derived from Quriyat,
the plural of the word qariya or village. It was settled by a number of tribes
before the advent of Islam and another set of tribes arrived after Islam,
between the sixth and eighth centuries AH. The inhabitants of Quriyat are
distinguished by their retention of many ancient Omani customs and traditions
and their pursuit of the crafts and trades of their forefathers inherited from
The Wilayat is characterized by its undulating
landscape of coastal plain and mountain and by an extended coastline with
abundant fishing. It is renowned for its cultivations for it has both fertile
soil and plentiful water supply. Some of its villages are high in the mountains
and virtually inaccessible except by plane.
The Wilayat has three strongholds, the most
noteworthy of which is Quriyat Fort, built some 200 years ago in the era of Al
Sayed Hamad bin Said Al Bousaidi who was Wali at the time.
Al Sahel Fort is on the coast, in contrast to Quriyat, which is inland. It was
built under the Imam Naser bin Murshid Al Yarubi and was a base for the army
commander in the reign of Seif bin Sultan Al Yarubi.
The third fort is Dagh, built during the
Portuguese occupation and rebuilt under Sultan Taymour bin Faisal, who erected
three other citadels in this Wilayat. The most notable of these is the Al Bourj
Citadel adjacent to Quriyat Fort. The others were Sirah on the Quriyat coast and
Kharmuwa in the village of Al Jinnin.
Quriyat has a multitude of strongholds and
fortifi-cations - a total of 20 citadels, seven forts and 12 round towers. It
has even more mosques, some 149, in all, along with 52 aflaj.
Quriyat is famous for a number of natural beauty
spots frequented by both local and foreign visitors. Wadi Dhaiyqa is a favourite
weekend destination, with its refreshing setting of rushing water and towering
palms beside clean beaches. Bimma, Fanas and Dhabbab are the best known of the
beaches. Finally Ras Al Shajar, with its tame animals, is another of the better
known tourist spots in Quriyat.
This province has a varied climate which supports
a diversity of cultivation, and Quriyat has dates palms of every variety known
in the Sultanate. The village of Hail Al Ghaf is famous in its own right for its
groves of mango which are said to be 200 years old. Some of these have a
productivity of 14,000 fruit annually. Several varieties are grown, the
commonest being Al Halqum, Bombay, Al Khokh and Al Kibd.
There are vast citrus groves, predominantly of
the Omani variety of lemon celebrated for its quality and abundance, but also of
quince, oranges and mandarins.
Other fruit trees visible throughout the province
include guavas, papayas, mulberrie and lotus fruit - of both water and land
varieties. These trees are abundant in the wadi and mountain areas. Common
vegetable crops are tomatoes, onions, potatoes, cabbage and peppers. Field crops
include clover, beans and plant fodder for the local herds of cows and sheep and
goats and camels, gazelle and mountain goats; for here the inhabitants are
greatly dependent on these herds to help them in raise their standard of living
and increase their incomes by improving and expanding their herds. Crucial to
this intent is the proper veterinary care of the animals which they achieve with
the help of the Agricultural Developmental Centre and the veterinary clinics in
the Wilayat of Quriyat.
Wilayat Al Amerat
This Wilayat is
situated south of Muttrah and south west of Quriyat. It runs south west along
the direction of the watercourse of the Wadi Al Sireen at the end of Seeh. To
the east is Muscat at the two towns of Marazeh and Yiti. To the west is Bowshar
from which it is separated by a chain of mountains.
Its population is 40,868 living in six principal
villages: Al Amerat, the township of Al Hajer, the township of Jahlout, the
township of Wadi Al Meeh, Wadi Al Sireen and the city of Nahda.
The Wilayat of Al Amerat with its 81 mosques was
known in the past as Al Fatah and elsewhere as Al Mutahadamat, until the
transformations of the Renaissance period brought with them a new and more
This Wilayat has both archaeological and tourist
landmarks, the most noteworthy of which are the lead mines, the red ochre
quarry, Beit Saharij, Wadi Sireen Nature Preserve, Wadi Al Meeh (Al Lajam) the
Ghar Hadhadha Cave, the steep zigzag incline of Jebel Saqif and the Safah Al Bab
well at the fool of the mountain.
The district has 61 aflaj and 57 wadis or
watercourses, with plentiful date palms, mango and lotus fruit. In recognition
of its importance as an area of rich cultivation there is an agricultural
guidance centre here which pursues active programmes in vegetable and fruit
cropping and the distribution of seed to farmers.
Fishing is one of the foremost traditional livelihoods
in the Wilayat of Muscat, whose citizens are passionate in their love for
fishing along the whole of its seacoast, so much so that the government has
taken important steps to preserve this livelihood, and provided the fishermen of
Sidab with a model fishing village which has the intended purpose of
strengthening and increasing the townspeople's interaction with the sea and with
Allied to the practice of fishing as a livelihood is the craft of sewing nets.
Four other crafts are also pursued here: basket weaving, tree-felling, herding
and folk medicine, in particular bone setting.
Muscat is also distinguished by three other traditional industries and these
are: the crafting of gold and silver jewellery, the making of local Omani
confectionery and carpentry.
Amongst the traditional artisan crafts and
skills are the weaving of palm fronds, Al Ghal, cloth weaving, the incense
trade, marine crafts, garment making, gold and silver jewellery craft and
The Wilayat also has a number of inherited traditional customs and
practices, the most common of which is a local form of bullfighting, in a
form that excludes injury of the animals, commonly practiced on holiday and
leisure occasions. The spectator participants assemble, usually at a venue
on the outskirts of the town, and form a human chain. The contest now
begins, taking the form of a series races. The competitors run between two
bulls, the race being umpired by a person competent in this task and
referred to as the "Colonel." Meanwhile the human chain of spectators around
the pitch follows the proceedings with intensity akin to that of soccer
fans. The winning bull is feted throughout the Wilayat and can expect a
better price in the market for his success.
This Wilayat has its traditional occupations and customs too, among them
camel racing, circumcision, Al Tabseel (date collection and processing), Al
Judad, reciting the Qur'an, Al Taymina (recital of poems when child is one
year old) and Al Halqa (pre-Eid souq) as well as celebration of the festive
occasions and wedding feasts which abound in Oman. Popular games are
snatchball, played with the fruit of the date palm, rope pulling, date palm
shinning, singlestick fencing, jumping, Al Fakees, Al Darwaza, Al Lataj and,
Al Karabia (traditional games). Al Ghouizia, Al Shell, Al Joum and Ain Al
Amongst the livelihoods still practised in
this district are carpentry, gold and silver jewellery craft and fishing.
The industries include halwa, plaited palm frond ropes, textiles,
blacksmithing, silverwork, perfumes and the production of ambergris.
the principal livelihood of the inhabitants of the villages of Bowshar,
utilizing the waters of the aflaj which descend from the foot of the mountains
to irrigate the scattered farms on the plain. This district has some 43 aflaj,
most of them tarrying warm water.
It has dozens of
varieties of dates, these being he most significant crop of the district, along
with citrus fruits, in particular lemons, seasonal crops and fodder.
Fishing and herding are
also major livelihoods sere, and traditional crafts practised include silver and
gold jewellery and basket weaving.
In this Wilayat a number of
traditional industries are practised, foremost among them cloth weaving, gold
and silverwork, boat building and maintanance, palm matting, tanning, coffee,
palm frond weaving, blacksmithing, saddlework and ornamentation, the making of
woollen garments, dressmaking and commercial patterns.
Meanwhile the traditional livelihoods of fishing,
commerce, collecting firewood, repairing firearms and ammunition, tailoring and
dressmaking, raising camels and livestock, repairing water pumps, cupping and
the barber's art are still pursued here.
Local livelihoods are farming,
goat herding, woodcutting, mining and quarrying for red ochre and flour.
Spinning is practiced here traditionally, along with palm frond basketwork, gold
and silverwork, confectionery, Plasterwork and construction.