If you are an expat in Oman or a passing tourist wondering where to get the best souvenirs to take with you back home, souqs are the best places for you to shop. First of, they are filled with authentic traditional items. But over the years, they have come to include some of the most diverse selection of items you can possibly think of. From the world famous frankincense to artisan pots and silver jewelleries, its impossible to go back home empty-handed.
Here are the five best souqs where you can definitely get your souvenirs from.
Muttrah Souq, Muscat
One of the oldest markets in the Sultanate, like markets all over the globe, this 200 hundred year old market has its distinct flavour that gives one the experience of what give Oman its unique identity. Walking through the narrow alleyways of the souq, it is an amazing sensory experience! The smell of frankincense, bakhoor and local Arabic perfumes along with beautiful displays of jewellery, silverware, daggers, traditional clothes, cloth materials from not only local vendors but through brought in by traders from around the region are sold for visitors to experience and buy. If you enjoy visiting public markets, you must see Muttrah Souq, the most beautiful market your eyes will ever see!
Handicrafts Souq, Suhar
Once a capital and now one of the largest cities in the Al Batinah North Governorate in Oman, Suhar is an ancient city that once served as an important port town. The handicrafts souq was built in an Arab-Islamic architecture, it was inaugurated in 1999 as an attempt to encourage artisans and to preserve Oman’s traditional handicrafts. Over the 7000 square meters, under one roof one can walk through the souq and see and touch Omani traditional industries and crafts including leather, ceramics, palm leaves, cotton and wool textiles, gold and silver as well as herms, natural medicines, honey and Omani halwa.
Thursday Market, Sinaw
Hosted once a week, Sinaw’s Thursday market is a famously busy market that is popular amongst the bedouin communities of the region. Every Thursday, the market explodes into a vibrant colourful display of sellers, buyers, the many visitors and of course all the goods and products brought in by the traders to see on the day. One section of the souq sells non-edible items like trinkets, kitchenware’s and silver. One can witness the making of traditional Omani silver jewellery with many silversmiths hammering, twisting and moulding silver to make jewellery, cutlery.
The second part of the souq is futher segregated for the sale of fresh fish and meat and another section for fruits, vegetables and other fresh produce. The products sold at the market are brought in daily by the fishermen, butchers and farmers from around the area. The Bedouins travel from faraway places like Duqm, Masirah, Mahoot and Al Ashrah to buy goods such as meat, fish, fresh and dried vegetables, dates and feeds for their livestock.
Bahla Souq, Bahla
A traditional souq that is known for the sale of homemade ropes that are commonly used in Omani households and fadhl, the large metal plates used during meal time in a traditional Omani setting even today. Along with these, also sold are clay pots and crockeries that are famously made in the city of Bahla along with copper artefacts, traditional daggers and Omani sweets.
The souq includes a collection of 142 shops where products vary from goods, to household items, to herbs and spices and some traditional items.
Recently renovated, traditional materials such as palm trunks, wood and daoun were used for supporting the roofs. The exterior and interior walls were plastered in a traditional manner with sarooj mud to keep true to the identity of Bahla’s traditional souq.
Al Hafah Souq, Salalah
About three kilometres away from the city of Salalah in the Dhofar Governorate, the Hafah souq is picturesque surrounded by lofty coconut trees and it is the perfect place to buy the regions famous frankincense and incense. Also in the area there are textile shops, gold and silver shops and perfumeries where one can buy frankincense and bakhoor that will send your olfactory senses sailing. All the accoutrements are available as well as burners and charcoal. The souq looks and feels like an old style Omani souq which isn’t to be missed. Relax with a cup of strong black Arabic coffee and sample the best local snacks before you continue your shopping expedition.