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Sultan Qaboos Mosque, Muscat

Should I or shouldn't I? I admit I contemplated on visiting Sultan Qaboos Mosque, or any mosque on any travels to Arab countries. That's because I do not share the faith being practiced there. I even researched prior to arriving in Oman if it was alright and found this article.

You should know it was my first time to enter a mosque, and as always, what I wanted to post here is what happened to me there and more.

The taxi driver who will bring me to the mosque from the hotel looked at me, talked to a fellow driver, and courteously asked me to wear an abaya (a full-length robe-like dress) and a tarha (head covering). So I went back to my room, got the dress code essentials he wanted, and hurried back to the taxi outside the hotel.

When we arrived at the mosque, he promised that he will wait for me until I finish.
"Uh, until I finish? About how many minutes do you mean by that?"
"Just take your time, for sure, it will take a while for you to finish taking pictures."
"Uh, okay, it won't take me long."

I surveyed the area to check which part I should visit first. When you're a woman traveling alone in another country, I think it's best to just go where most of the tourists go and follow their trail, especially if they are led by a tourist guide.

As customary to Muslim prayer rituals, I removed my sandals and placed it on the shoe rack outside the female prayer room. If you base the number of tourists to the number of pairs of shoes and sandals neatly stacked on the shoe shelves and scattered on the floor, you can easily say that this mosque is one of the most visited tourist spots in Oman. A bunch of Korean kids led by an Arab tourist guide was the most noticeable among the groups. They can't stop themselves from uttering their wows in high pitched voices – to the dismay of their guide! But the tourists around them didn't mind. We let them enjoy what might be their first travel experience abroad - who knows? After taking pics, I put on my sandals again and headed on to other prayer areas.

The weather was perfect but it got a bit hot.  When I noticed that some female tourists do not wear tarha and abaya, I removed them and placed them in my bag. I then wandered in other halls and took pictures. I was a few meters from the entrance of the main prayer room when an Omani gentleman stopped me and told me I am not allowed to enter. He said that in a high voice that it caught the attention of some tourists. Not the one to let anything stop me from doing something I haven't done before, I reasoned out and asked him why they allowed the female tourists from entering without an abaya. He patiently explained that although these ladies do not wear abaya, they were wearing long-sleeved clothes. So there goes my ignorance. I immediately put on my abaya and tarha and was finally allowed to enter.

The interior of the main prayer room was beyond my expectation. It was grandeur personified. I had lots of fun taking pictures using my selfie stick. I noticed I was the only one who brought one and I kind of got their attention when I did a 360° shot of that mosque. I got so fascinated with all the arabesque designs there that I wandered further and totally forgot where I left my sandals!

A photo posted by beth26 (@pixelsforfour) on

I went back to the places I've been to – yes, barefooted, sweaty and all – and the more shoe shelves I checked, the more confused I just became.

And then this happened. A young Omani lady approached me and asked what my problem was. Was it really obvious that I have a problem?! Upon knowing what happened – which was a bit unusual according to her, because only a few lost their shoes there – she offered to help me look for it. And as expected, we found it near the women's prayer room.

Then she invited me to check their library.
"Really, mosques have libraries?", I asked forgetting that most churches have mini-libraries or shelves that contain literature of their religion. And what a library! There were volumes of books in English and Arabic languages and a study room that boasts of more than a dozen computers. With that silence and ambiance, it will surely make me want to close my book after hours of studying, transfer to that chair near that beautiful window,  kick my feet back a bit, and stare outside in sweet abandon.

While giving me a tour, she told me a bit of her life. She told me that she has a sister currently living in Riyadh and she intends to visit her sometime soon. We talked about other things I cannot tell here as a respect to an acquaintance that welcomed me in her home country.

There were many things I learned and appreciated when I visited the Sultan Qaboos Mosque. I learned to always respect the culture of any country you're in – as what happened to me when I was almost barred from entering their main mosque. I appreciated the patience of that taxi driver I found sleeping when I came back. I learned that in most instances, someone will always come by to help, as in the case of that Omani lady.


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