Friday, May 29, 2015

Interlude in Muscat, Oman

Richard was buying shrimp at Albertson's and he noticed the lobster tails were labeled as a "product of Oman".  He commented to the counter man about their origin - the man replied the lobster tails were from Canada. Richard repeated that he could read the sign from his side of the counter, which stated they were from Oman. "Yes," said the man, "They're from Canada." He's either hard of hearing or short on geography knowledge. When you read the short article below, you wonder how part of the small and precious, presumably valuable catch ended up frozen in our Albertson's. 
Lobster from Oman - Oman Daily Observer

March 15th, 2015. MUSCAT — The lobster fishing season begins today along the coast overlooking the Arabian Sea in the governorates of Al Wusta, Dhofar and South Al Sharqiyah and lasts for two month. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said in a statement that it has completed the preparations for the lobster fishing season regarding the services related to awareness, inspection, researches, statistics and media coverage to make the season successful and also for the best exploitation and conservation of this national treasure. The ministry has organised a number of lectures and seminars to increase fishermen’s awareness about the regulations and legislations governing lobster fishing and also the ministerial decision aimed at regulating the fishing season. Additionally, the ministry’s experts and inspectors will follow up the fishing operations during the season. — ONA
We're spending a few days in "Muscat" as in Muscat, Oman, after two weeks in Iran; we'll be resting up there before going to London for a week. A few years ago we were in Washington DC while a public relations blitz for Oman was taking place. We were intrigued and we added it to our bucket list.  Muscat was named as the second best tourist city by Lonely Planet in 2012. Here's what they said about it:
"Oman is firing on all fronts to attract international visitors, expanding everything from its museums to its resorts. Muscat is the focus for the revamp, with cultural events, luxury accommodation and aquatic activities taking centre stage. This year it’s all about Qurum’s trendy designer outlets, Old Town souks and wacky water sports enlivening its coastline alongside traditional dhows. Muscatis are still genuinely interested to see visitors, so much so that first-timers might have the odd feeling of returning to the house of an old friend. ‘Tomorrow will be a new dawn on Muscat,’ the Sultan pledged upon attaining power in 1970. Today in Muscat, the sun has well and truly risen."

What to do there? You can bake your brains out on the beach. The winter escapees from Northern Europe do just that. Off go the winter coats and out come the thong bathing suits and Coppertone. I will likely be relieved to be liberated from the head scarf.

Omani Souqs (Markets) they say "are always bustling with tourists. Shoppers can even get their hands on old Arabian muskets at these souqs." I guess Arabian muskets are a hot item.

Nearly every Omani city and town has it own fort. Most of them were built or had major expansions during Al-Yurabi dynasty rule of Oman in between 1624 and 1744. We'll visit one of the following: Al-Jalali Fort, Al-Mirani Fort, Nakhal Fort, Rustaq Fort, Sohar Fort, Nizwa Fort, Bahla Fort, Qurayat Fort, Khasab Fort, Al-Hellah Fort, Al-Khandaq Fort, As-Suwaiq Fort, Barka Fort, Bait An-Nuaman, Al-Hazm Fort, Ibri Fort, Bait Ar-Radaidah, Jibrin Fort, Al-Muntarib Fort, As-Sunaisilah Fort, Bilad Sur Fort, Ras al-Hadd Fort, Mirbat Fort, Sadah Fort and Taqa Fort. I only list them because I like the names.

The Frankincense Route might be interesting to follow, but we won't have enough time. At the least, I'd like to visit a frankincense factory to see what a room full of it smells like. The trees are tapped by slashing the bark and letting the resin seep out. Chunks of the resin are burned for the aroma.
Here's some interesting information about a compound found in Frankincense resin and it's potential in the treatment of some cancers. Maybe we should be ripping out our avocado trees and growing Frankincense.

From Wikipedia: In 2013, Leicester University researchers announced findings that AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid), a chemical compound in the resin, has cancer-killing properties and has the potential to destroy ovarian cancer cells. The lead researcher from the University's Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine announced the findings after a year studying the AKBA compound with ovarian cancer cell lines in vitro that showed it is effective at killing late stage cancer cells. Kamla Al-Salmani noted that among surprising findings were that some cells that had become resistant to chemotherapy were killed during the in vitro study. The efficacy of AKBA as a potential medicine for treatment of cancers(colon, breast and prostate) has been tested. The results are based on the preliminary and unverified findings of the laboratory study, which marked the first study to identify an ability to fight ovarian cancer. It is in early stages and, as of 2014, yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

I'd also be interesting in seeing a falaj. The five Omani falajs in have been included on the World Heritage List because they represent a cultural legacy created by the Omanis over 2,000 years ago. They still work and are in use in some Omani villages.

Shukran and Ma'al Salamah.


  1. Oman, right between Waterloo and Toronto. Beaches look fab. Enjoy the hijab.

  2. Can't wait to hear about this trip. Now I see why you want to go there- besides all the other ancient sights. I think it might be worth the hijab.
    What a great idea to get rid of (at least some) of the avocado trees and plant frankincense. It would smell a lot better in the next fire!