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Al Alam Palace and the Old Muscat

On my second day in Oman – the first day was spent in the launch of Mina Al Sultan Qaboos Waterfront – I hired a taxi driver to bring me to tourist spots in Muscat. I deemed it safe to roam Muscat alone because I read from online travel sites that Oman is one of the safest Middle East countries for a solo traveler.

He brought me first to Sultan Qaboos Mosque then to Muttrah Souq. By afternoon, I'm done with all the top tourist spots except for The Royal Opera House which I missed because it was only open for more or less a couple of hours on mornings.

He offered to bring me to the Sultan's Palace and the Old Muscat. I hesitated because it was already lunchtime and just by looking at his pale face, it was obvious that he hasn't taken his lunch yet. But he looked sincere when he suggested that. Although I am pressed for time, I still said yes because I wanted to make the most out of this trip.

You might say that I got a bit excited when we reached the end of the corniche and meandered uphill to Old Muscat. The town looked quiet. There were few people on the road. There were old houses and remnants of buildings. Maybe, because it was high noon.

Again, I hesitated on taking pictures of the Al Alam Palace. I don't want to embarrass myself again like what I did in Sultan Qaboos Mosque. But the driver assured me it was alright. I was the only tourist there and I had the front yard and garden all to myself!

*According to Wikipedia, Al Alam means "The Flag" in Arabic. It is one of the six royal residences of the ruling monarch, Sultan Qaboos and it was built by Imam Sultan bin Ahmed, the 7th direct grandfather of the current Sultan. The existing palace, which has a facade of gold and blue. Visitors are not allowed inside the palace, though they are permitted to stop near the gates and take photographs. Al Alam Palace is surrounded by the Al Mirani and Al Jalali Forts built in the 16th century by the Portuguese.

The Palace is used for official functions and ceremonies and for receiving distinguished visitors. The Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands were received by Sultan Qaboos during their state visits to Oman.

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After taking pictures of the palace, I immediately asked the taxi driver to bring me back to the hotel as I worried that I might not be able to rest and prepare for my flight back to Riyadh. From there, we passed by the Muscat Gate House Museum again, which I wasn't able to visit for lack of time. But according to Tripadvisor, it's a must-visit place in Muscat. Maybe, next time.

We also passed by Al Riyam Park and its tower. The good driver asked if I wanted to take pictures but I said no that time. I was a bit tired already.

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There's so much to see and discover in Old Muscat. If only I had more time, I would have strolled along the 16th century city walls; or walked along the corniche from Al Riyam Park to Muttrah Souq to the Fish Market (that's worth a day's walk!); or went up the hills to check the forts and enjoy a sweeping view of the Muttrah Bay; or get lost again (and shop more!) in Muttrah Souq.

Maybe, next time.


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