ARTS & CULTURE

NEW IDEAS COMPLEMENTING THE OLD

Oman is a thoroughly forward-looking nation, one proud of its distinctive architecture, customs and traditions crafted over the centuries. Oman’s culture is both ancient and modern, with new ideas to complement the old.

Oman is home to many museums and galleries that showcase the old and the new. Here are but a few highlights.

 

SULTAN QABOOS GRAND MOSQUE

Opened in 2001, The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque expresses an iconic and remarkable architectural statement. As a contemporary place of worship, it serves as a spiritual landmark for modern Oman, projecting the values and aspirations of the Omani people. As an edifice, it maintains a perfect balance between aesthetics, culture and deeply-rooted Islamic tradition and at the same time pays homage to the civilisations that have occupied Oman throughout the ages.

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Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

www.sultanqaboosgrandmosque.com

 

ROYAL OPERA HOUSE MUSCAT

Muscat’s glittering new performing arts centre features exquisite decorative features inspired by Middle Eastern tradition. Enjoy rich and diverse artistic creations from Oman, the region and the world. It hosts opera, music, dance and family events.

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Royal Opera House Muscat

www.rohmuscat.org.om

 

NATIONAL MUSEUM

Opened in July 2016 this flagship cultural institution showcases over 2 million years of history from earliest human settlement to present day.

Housed in an impressive purpose built building covering 25,000 square metres in Muscat city close to the Al Alam Palace, the museum has 14 permanent display halls and is dedicated to preserving and showcasing Oman’s cultural heritage.

Some of the permanent exhibition halls include; The Land and the People Gallery, Maritime History Gallery, Arms and Armour Gallery, Civilisation in the Making Gallery, Aflāj Gallery, Currency Gallery, Splendours of Islam Gallery, Oman and the World Gallery, Renaissance Gallery and the Intangible Heritage Gallery among others.

The state-of the art facility which is set to become a must-do on any Muscat itinerary, also offers digital immersive experiences, a learning centre, a UHD cinema and discovery areas for children.

 

MUSCAT FESTIVAL

This fabulously colourful month-long celebration in February each year features parades, performances, fireworks and lively demonstrations of traditional crafts and skills.

 

SALALAH TOURISM FESTIVAL

Timed to coincide with Salalah’s verdant Khareef (monsoon), this four-week (June-July) summer festival offers dances, concerts and plenty of excellent shopping opportunities.

 

BAIT AL ZUBAIR

The beautiful Muscat home of the Bait al Zubair is a complex of private buildings transformed into an ethnographic museum. It has recently been extended, with the addition of an Oman Renaissance building.

Its broad collection of traditional clothes, objects and jewellery helps paint a picture of daily life in the Sultanate over the centuries. The museum also has a collection of local and contemporary art and organises temporary exhibitions, concerts and events to support young and up-and-coming artists. It is open from Saturday to Thursday, 9.30am to 6pm.

www.baitalzubairmuseum.com

 

BAIT FRANSA

The old French consulate – Bait Fransa – has also been renovated and converted into a delightful museum. Focusing on the building of ties between Oman and France, it also has a cool, luxuriant inner garden. It is open from Sunday to Thursday, 9am to midday.

 

LAND OF FRANKINCENSE MUSEUM, SALALAH

The Land of Frankincense Museum in Salalah in Oman's south is considered one of the country's most important historical museums, located in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site recognised for its cultural and archaeological significance.

UNESCO chose the Al Baleed site, considered by archaeologists as the most important remnants of an Islamic ancient city on the Arabian Sea coast, as well as being home of the trees from which is extracted the world's finest frankincense - a vital Omani export in ancient times.

 

MUSCAT GATE MUSEUM

The museum is located above Muscat Modern Gate, enjoys wonderful views and tells the story of Oman’s long history, focusing on the history of the capital, Muscat. It describes the UNESCO world heritage listed Falaj irrigation system that Oman is famous for, as well as the nation's distinctive architecture.

The Muscat Gate Museum takes the visitor on a journey through the various stages of development and growth of the city over time, from a commercial port to a prosperous modern capital.