Muttrah

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Muttrah
Muttrah
Coordinates: 23°37′N 58°34′E / 23.617°N 58.567°E / 23.617; 58.567
Country  Oman
Governorate Muscat Governorate
Population
 • Total 150,000 (all the wilayat)
Time zone +4 (UTC+4)

Muttrah, (Arabic: مطرح‎) population 150,000 (2003), is a city located in the Muscat province of Oman. Before the discovery of oil, Muttrah was the center of commerce in Oman. It is still a center of commerce as one of largest sea ports of the region is located there. Other landmarks include Souq Muttrah, a traditional bazaar and Sour Al-Lawatiah, a small community of houses surrounded by an old wall.

Demographics[edit]

Muttrah had an estimated population of about 8,000 people when diplomat Edmund Roberts visited in the early 1830s.[1]

Economy[edit]

In the mid 19th century, Muttrah had a vessel repair industry.[1]

Souq Muttrah[edit]

The Muttrah Souq
Entrance to the Muttrah Souq

Al Dhalam (Darkness in Arabic) Souq is the local name for the Muttrah Souq. The Muttrah Souq is perhaps one of the oldest marketplaces in the Arab world because Muscat is the world's largest natural harbor and has seen immense trade in the age of sail, being strategically located on the way to India and China.[2] It has been named after darkness because of the crowded stalls and lanes where the sunrays do not infiltrate during the day and the shoppers need lamps to know their destinations. The name of the market has been drawn specifically from the part that extends from Al Lawatiya Mosque to Khour Bimba where the place is really full of stores and stalls and the narrow area of lanes does not allow the sunlight to enter. The market was a source of supply for Omanis where they can buy their needs in the 1960s when life requirements were simpler than today. Most of the goods were imported, in addition to local products like textiles, fruit, vegetables and dates.

In the past the market was built from mud and palm leaves, which suit the high temperatures and the hard climate conditions and hence were the best available materials to build the market at that time. Today, the Muscat Municipality has renovated and decorated the market to maintain the popular style but has also introduced modern amenities and redecorated the market heavily to attract tourists and make the shopping experience comfortable for tourists as well as other ordinary shoppers.

The market becomes more crowded and active during Eid seasons when Oman is come from all over the country to buy garments and jewelry.[3]

The main thoroughfare of the souk carries mainly household goods, shoes and ready-made garments. Further inside, you can enjoy the mixed smells of frankincense, perfume oils, fresh jasmine and spices. Enthusiastic shoppers and travellers can also discover a selection of tiny shops (on the side streets and alleyways leading up to the souq) full of Omani silver, stalls of gleaming white dishdashas and embroided kumahs, brightly colored cloth and multicoloured head scarves. Shoppers can even get their hands on old Arabian muskets at these souqs.

Other things sold at the souq include Omani pots, paintings, hookah pipes, framed khanjars (daggers), leatherwork and incense.[4]

Infrastructure[edit]

Port Sultan Qaboos[edit]

Commonly called the Muscat Port, Port Sultan Qaboos is one of the main commercial ports in Oman. It is Oman's premier maritime gateway, enjoying a prime location in the politically stable sultanate. Situated in a natural harbour 250 km south of the Strait of Hormuz on the Indian Ocean coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Port Sultan Qaboos' location makes it an ideal hub, not only for the Persian Gulf but also the Indian sub-continent and markets in East and South Africa.

The location of Port Sultan Qaboos offers considerable savings in steaming time when compared to other ports. The port's tariff compares very favorably with others across the region. The already impressive infrastructure, skilled manpower, fast and efficient handling operations and documentation clearance system in PSC will be further enhanced this year.

During the reign of Sayyid Sultan bin Ahmed in the 18th century, Oman's trading activity again increased and the capital area's two harbours — Muscat and Mutrah — diversified, Mutrah was quickly established as a commercial port while Muscat was used for naval operations. The ruler's son Sayyid Said continued to expand maritime commerce although it again went into decline after his death in 1856. Maritime activity was limited to the import of essential items, mainly from India by old-style wooden dhows. Ships had to anchor offshore and sometimes wait for days before cargo could be unloaded manually into small boats.

Muscat Port

This was all to change with the accession of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said who inaugurated a new era of maritime commerce and prosperity in Oman when he established Mina Qaboos (now Port Sultan Qaboos) in 1974.

Port Sultan Qaboos has been operated and managed by Port Services Corporation S.A.O.G. since November 1976. Until 1981, the traffic was essentially conventional cargo. With the advent of containerisation, PSQ developed two of its berths to handle container vessels and these facilities were fully operational by 1983–1984.

PSC embarked on computerization of its operations and back office in 1984. The first system to handle container movements became operational from 1985. Thereafter the computer applications were enhanced to cover all back office operations including invoicing and accounts.

In the early 1990s, the port infrastructure was further enhanced. Two more berths were converted to handle multipurpose vessels including container vessels and were equipped with additional three quay-side gantry cranes. The marshaling yard and empty yard was provided with rubber tyred gantries. On date, the port is an ideal transshipment hub for the upper Persian Gulf and Red Sea ports trade flows.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

Muttrah is also a map in a popular Battlefield 2 mod, Project Reality. It was also featured in the Amazing Race in its 17th season (Episode 8).

Panorama[edit]

A panorama of Muttrah corniche in Muscat, Oman

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 23°37′N 58°34′E / 23.617°N 58.567°E / 23.617; 58.567