Governorate of Muscat

Muscat is the heart of the Sultanate, the political and administrative hub of the nation, providing its main source of economy, tourism and commercial activities.

Sayyed Hamad bin Said Al-Busaidi took Muscat as Oman's capital from Rustaq between 1779–1792, and this has never since been contested. Today, under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Muscat has improved beyond recognition, but has never lost its pride in its heritage and culture. The capital area is a prime example of intelligent and aesthetic development, amalgamating modernity with tradition.

Muscat was known as the "Governorate of the Capital" from 1960–1970, before it was declared in 1988 as the Governorate of Muscat, uniting Wilayats of Muscat, Muttrah, Bausher, Seeb, Qurayyat and Al-Amerat.

The Governorate which is the most populated in the Sultanate, confines between Gulf of Oman and Eastern Hajar mountains, bordering Al-Batinah and Al-Dakhiliyah to the West and Al-Sharqiyah to the South.

Muscat Governorate is home to many luxury hotels, upmarket restaurants and a multitude of service companies, in addition to an array of magnificent beaches and breathtaking creeks such as Qurum Beach, Al-Jissah, Yitti, Al-Khairan and Al-Bustan.

A number of forts, museums and traditional Souqs are popular attractions not to be missed.

The Wilayat of Muscat which was established some 900 years ago, runs along the Gulf of Oman across a mountain range, stretching from Bandar Najih to the village of Sifa on the borders of Qurayyat.

The Wilayat was once walled, with three gates that still in existence to date: Al-Muthai’b, Al-Bab Al-Kabeer and Al-Bab Al-Sagheir, and is connected to the sea by its famous harbour, spectacularly entrenched into a naturally formed U-shaped bay, between two mountains to the East and West.

On the top of each mountain stands a formidable fort dating back to the Portuguese era flanking the old harbour known as the Twin Forts: Al-Jalali and Al-Mirani, which currently watch over the much revered Al-Alam Palace.

Muscat has long been a favoured destination for the explorers and the sailors but indomitable to pirates and mercenaries. Prior to the construction of road network, the most widely used mode of transport was by sea.

The Twin Forts, in conjunction with the veritable defences of the Fort of Muttrah and a host of fortified structures and watchtowers along the rocky ridges of the bay, made Muscat virtually impregnable.

The Great Wilayat of Muttrah comprises The Capital Area, City of Muttrah; the twin city of Muscat and Ruwi; the Business Centre of the Govenrorate.

The Wilayat is home to Oman's ancient and busiest trading port and its modern counterpart; Sultan Qaboos Port. Its veteran inhabitants are highly skilled in both trade and money exchange.

Muttrah is distinguished by the country’s most prominent traditional Souq; Muttrah Souq or Souq Al-Dhalam, which extends along the seafront to Soor (wall) Al-Lawatiah; a group of closely adjoined houses built five centuries ago, embellished with spectacular antique arabesque works. The wall's main gates open into stone alleys leading into houses and ancient neighbourhoods. Aside from Soor Al-lawatiah, Muttrah was surrounded by a number of walls, such as Soor Ruwi, which is believed to be Muscat's first access gate on the northern interior side.

The city of Muttrah is noted for its wide beaches, where a plethora of fishing vessels cast anchor. The cornice offers a safe and visually pleasing ambiance for joggers and pedestrians alike, along the local shore, between the fish market and Muttrah Fort, firmly topping a high mountain on the eastern side of the city, overlooking the peripheral zones and the harbour.

Yet another option for inhabitants and visitors to the area are the beautifully maintained parks of Riyam, with its stunning sea view backdrop, and Kalboo.

The Wilayat of Bousher is situated southwest of Muttrah between the Gulf of Oman to the North and the boundaries of Al-Dakhiliyah Region to the South, where farming constitutes the main source of income for local residents. The abundance of aflaj contributes to the variety of agricultural produce, such as citrus fruits and palm trees.

A modern day masterpiece, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque stands proud as one of the eye catching splendours of the Wilayat, alongside other notable landmarks including Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex and Qurum Natural Park.

A number of distinctive shopping malls, cafes and beaches adorn this area, with Qurum Beach beaing the most popular, along which several luxurious hotels were established such as Muscat-InterContinental, Muscat Grand Hayat and Chedi-Muscat.

Archaeological findings indicated that Boushar has a history dating back to 2000 BC, with such ancient monuments as Al-Bait Al-Kabeer (The Manor House) or the Home of Al-Sayyedah Thuraya, Al-Fateh Fort, Pigeon Towers, the old Souq and Al-Najjar mosque, built in the 13th century (H).

The Wilayat of Seeb occupies a narrow strip of coastline along the Gulf of Oman for a distance of 50 Km.

Seeb is famous for its artistic monuments stationed on the large highway roundabouts, with Burj Al-Sahwah being the most popular, symbolising the dawn of modern renaissance.

In addition, the Wilayat boasts a number of significant and vital establishments such as Seeb International Airport, Sultan Qaboos Univeristy and Rusayal Industrial Estate.

More recently, the prestigious Wave Integrated Tourism Complex has made its home along the coastal road; a luxurious seafront development.

Next to the Wave project, lies Seeb Beach Park which is connected to city centre via the coastal road. Many fishermen can be spotted in this area catching and selling fish. About 20 Kms away is Naseem Public Park facing the Dymaniyyat isles.

Several historical sites can be found in the Wilayat including the renowned Al-Khodh Fort and the towers of Jifnin, Rusail, A- Kharas and Al-Saleel, along with Wadi Al-Haya.

Representing the Eastern gate of the Governorate of Muscat, Qurayat is characterised by its lengthy, undulating coastline, extending from the village of Sifah along the periphery of Muscat to the village of Fins at the farthermost South East boundaries of the Al-Sharqiyah Region.

The Wilayat boasts a verity of natural beauty spots, both on the coast and inland. Bimma, Fans and Dhabbab are some of the pristine sandy beaches to visit. The journey into Wadi Dayqah starts from Qurayyat. Every variety of date palm grown in the Sultanate is found in Qurayyat, together with groves of mango, papayas, citrus fruits and guavas.

Qurayyat is famed for its numerous villages, the most noted of which is Al-Mazare'a, distinguished by the continuous flow of water running through the area, making it a must see tourist attraction all year round. Another equally renowned village is that of Hail Al-Ghaf, noted for its Mango groves and an assortment of Palm trees, all thanks to the 52 aflaj scattered throughout the Wilayat.

Archaeological discoveries suggested that the first settlers arrived in Qurayyat before the emergence of Islam in Oman. Many of its inhabitants retain traditional customs, and pursue ancient crafts such as blacksmithing, saddle-work, boat building, camel rearing and repairing firearms.

The Wilayat incorporates a number of landmarks, the most notable are Qurayyat Fort, Wadi Dayqah, Wadi Al-Arabeen and Qurayyat Lake Park.

The Wilayat of Al-Amirat is located at approximately the centre of the Governorate of Muscat.

Al-Amirat is of great significance to the economy of the Sultanate, stemming from its rich lead deposits and the red ochre quarry.

The Wilayat features a number of attractions worth visiting, such as Wadi Sireen, Wadi Al-Meeh, Ghar Hadhadha Cave, and Jabal Saqif.

Date plantations and mango groves are grown in Al-Amirat and watered by the 61 aflaj. Local livelihoods include goat herding, weaving and red ochre quarrying.

Construction of a major highway linking the Wilayats of Al- Amirat and Boushar is underway, which will serve to ease traffic flow within the Governorate of Muscat and reduce traffic congestion overall.