Have you even heard of Oman? Do you know where it is? It is not a country, but a Sultanate. It is small, with a population around 2.5 to 3 million people. Oman has Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates as neighbors. Its major product, like that of its neighbors, is oil. Its major city is Muscat, set in a rather primeval environment.
The rugged terrain provides an interesting backdrop to the Muscat harbor. Here, an ancient dhou is anchored in front of some ultra modern buildings.
On the other side of the harbor stands Jalali Fort, one of two defenses built by the Portuguese to protect the port of Muscat. Constructed in 1587, the Portuguese needed it to keep the Persian navy from seizing Muscat.
As we were driving around the capitol city, our guide was explaining the road we were on did not exist 25 years ago. This, he explained, was a perfect example of how, only
recently, the area is coming into modern times. Though the land is ancient, everything here is new, and upscale...
... like this seaside palace of H.M. Sultan Qaboos bin Said, one of three palaces he has in the city. We did not go inside, but we can imagine it will be sumptuous!
To keep all in perspective, at the time we were there, there were more Mercedes Benz dealerships in Oman than anywhere else in the world, except for the city
The population is predominantly Muslim Arab, and there are beautiful mosques throughout the city. But the central mosque is a site to behold. Even from a distance, its golden dome commands your attention, its architecture your respect.
It is officially known as the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a gift from the Sultan to his people. It was begun in 1995, and completed in 2001. While I don’t like statistics, aside
from the obvious artistry of its design, there are two things about the mosque whose statistics must be included:
First, the floor of the prayer hall is covered with an enormous carpet. How enormous? 263-square-metres (2830 square feet).
Remember- this is one continuous carpet! If you are not impressed enough with its size,, know that it contains, 1,700 million knots, weighs 42,000 lbs, and took four years to produce!
Did you happen to notice the chandeliers around the main prayer room? There are 35 of them, made of Swarovski crystal and gilded metals.
Grand as it is in the picture above, the central chandelier is pictured below. It is huge beyond belief, to the point where you do not want to stand beneath it.
It weighs eight tons- 16,000 pounds. That's a lot of crystal
Actually, all that you see is unbelievably exquisite, the scale of everything, however, is overwhelming. Perhaps it is just that we have never seen anything quite like it. Although the Hussan II Mosque in Morocco is larger, this one, somehow, for us, is more memorable.