Muscat, Oman

Missing image
Fort Jalali, Muscat
Muscat, Oman
Missing image
Flag of Muscat (1970)

City flag
Classification City
Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said
Area 3,500 km [1] (
 - Total (2005)
 - Density
 - Oman calculated rank

646,024 [2] (
Timezone: (UTC) +4
Official website:

Muscat (Arabic مسقط Masqat), population 880,200 ( (2005) can mean:

  • Muscat city and metropolitan area, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman
  • Muscat mintaqah (governorate), sometimes referred to as Masqat to differentiate it from the city, is one of the smaller divisions in north-east Oman, incorporating towns such as Seeb, Al-Qurum, Bawshar, Muttrah, Qarayyat and Madinat Qaboos.

Despite its rather moderate population for the country's largest and capital city, Muscat is a well-planned and spread-out city that covers an approximate area of 1500 km. Because of this much of the city is empty and open to future development. There are pockets of dense residential and commercial districts however but these are in concentrated locations. These can be split into three main groups:

  • West Muscat: Al-Seeb, Azhaiba, Bausher, Al-Ghubra and Ghala
  • Central Muscat: Al-Khuwair, Madinat Qaboos, Shati-Al Qurm, Qurm and PDO
  • East Muscat: Wattayah, Ruwi, Muttrah, Kalbuh, Old Muscat, Sidab and Al-Bustan

The IPA for Muscat is /'/. The pronounciation is sometimes approximated as /'/, /'/ or , but never as /'/



Muscat is one of the older cities in the Middle East. It has been known since the second century A.D.. Some 3,000 pounds of frankincense was transported each year by ship from southern Arabia to Greece, Rome and the Mediterranean. The center of this trade was in a place called Khour Rouri, which the Greeks called "Muscat".

The first foreign presence in Muscat was in the form of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who landed in Oman on his way to India. The Portuguese returned in 1507 to sack and capture Muscat. In 1649, the Imam Sultan bin Saif defeated the Portuguese and drove them away east to Goa, India.

With the superior, captured warships of the Portuguese navy, the Imam established an empire that spanned from Zanzibar in the south to Guadar in Pakistan in the east. Slaves were brought in from Zanzibar and Balochistan to work in Oman and traded elsewhere. This was a period of relative stability and prosparity in Muscat and Oman.

The country was torn apart by strife and unrest upon the death of the Imam in 1679. Muscat was then invaded by the Persians in 1737, albeit briefly, since Admad bin Said defeated them and was subsequently elected Imam.

In 1803, the Wahabbis of Saudi Arabia attacked Oman, but were repulsed by Sayyid Said bin Sultan. The sultan then set up a colony in the fertile areas of Zanzibar and essentially ruled Oman from a foreign island. Later, in 1853, the Sultan transferred the title of "capital" of Oman to Zanzibar. Thus began to decline of the fortunes of Muscat and Oman.

In 1913, Sultan Taimur bin Faisal became Sultan and the territory was renamed "Muscat and Oman" with the Sultan ruling Muscat and the Imam ruling Oman. After Indian independence in 1947, the Sultan, with the help of the British, defeated the Imam, unified most of Oman taking command of the Buraimi oasis.

The Dofar War began in 1964 which sought the expulsion of the British from Oman. Six years later, Prince Qaboos bin Said, son of Sultan Taimur staged a palace coup and claimed the throne. The old Sultan was flown to London by the British Royal Air Force. The coup, staged by Prince Qaboos, with his close friend and confidant Tim Landon at his side, was the beginning of a new consolidated, modern sultanate.

Missing image
Muttrah Harbor, Muscat
Sultan Qaboos bin Said instituted land and social reforms, and though autocratic, ruled Oman with a liberal vision that saw the an overall improvement in educational standards of its citizenary, cultural and economic development and overall consolidation of the Sultanate.


Muscat, like much of Oman, is dominated by trade. The more traditional exports of the city include dates, mother of pearl, frankincense and fish. Many of the souks of old Muscat and Muttrah sell these items and traditional Omani artefacts.

The PDO has been central to Muscat's economy since atleast 1962 and is the country's second largest employer, after the government. PDO's major shareholders include Shell_Oil and Partex and its production is estimated to be about 840,000 barrels per day.

Muscat also has major trading companies such as Suhail and Saud Bahwan, which is a trading partner for corporations such as Toshiba, Subarau, Seiko, Hewlett Packard, General Motors, Saud Bahwan Group whose trading partrs are Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu and Hertz Rent-a-Car, and Zubair Automotive whose trading partners include Mitsubishi, Dodge and Chrysler.

Mina Qaboos or Mutrah, Muscat's main trading port is an important trading hub between the Persian Gulf, the Indian subcontinent and the far east with an annual volume of about 1.6 million tons. However, the emergence of the Jebel Ali Freezone in neighboring Dubai, United Arab Emirates has made that port the premire maritime trading port of the region with about 44 million tons traded in cargo annually.

All infrastructural facilities are owned and operated by the government of Oman. General Telecommunications Organization (GTO) is the only telecommunications organization in Oman and provides, local, long distance and international dialing facilities and operates as the country's only ISP.

Society and Religion

Grand Mosque in Muscat
Grand Mosque in Muscat

Omanis constitute about 60% of the local population. Muscat has a sizable expatriate population, mainly in the form of skilled and unskilled workers from the Indian subcontinent, the Sudan, Egypt and other GCC countries.

Arabic is the official language of the state. Swahili, English, Hindi and Malayalam are widely spoken.

Islam is the only official religion of the state. 75% of the people are Ibadi Muslims. Small minorities of Hindus and Christians also exist.


The main airport is Seeb International Airport located around 25Km from the city's business district of Ruwi and approximately 15-20km from the main residential localities of Al-Khuwair, Madinat Qaboos, Shati Al-Qurm and Al-Qurm. Muscat is one of the three headquarters of Gulf Air and the headquarters for the local-based airlines Oman Air, both of which fly to several destinations within the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and East Africa. In addition Gulf Air flies to select destinations in Europe, Great Britain, North Africa and East Asia. Most popular airlines such as British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, Swiss International, Kuwait Airways, Air India and Thai Airways also fly through Seeb International Airport.

There are also two seaports in Muscat, one located in Mina Al-Fahal that caters solely to the oil refinery district of PDO (Petroleum Development Oman) and the other in Mina Qaboos (Mutrah), a regular seaport.

The Muscat area is well served by roads and a highway runs from the North of Oman through Seeb, and through Ruwi.

Public transportation in Muscat and Oman in general leaves much to be desired unfortunately. There is no rail or metro network in the whole of Oman. The two most popular forms of public transport include the Baiza buses, which inherit their name from the lower denomination of the Omani Rial, the baisa (an adaptation of the Indian lower denomination paisa). They are very cheap while slightly more expensive public buses also exist but do not usually go into the smaller streets and stick to the main highway.

Baiza buses on the contrary travel both the main highways but also the smaller bylanes and inner workings of Muscat city. The other form of transport is by way of taxis, which are unmetered. The fare is set by way of negotiation, although taxi drivers usually adhere to certain unwritten rules for fares within the city.

Taxis will also generally take passengers to locations out of the city, including Sohar, Buraimi and Dubai.

External Links

de:Maskat nl:Masqat ja:マスカット pt:Mascate sk:Maskat fi:Masqat sv:Muskat


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