Oman — The Pearl of Arabia

April 30, 2016
Oman The Pearl of Arabia
Oman The Pearl of Arabia

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Paige Peterson
Arriving in the Sultanate of Oman you feel as if you are on a Hollywood set. Orderly. Vast. Visually breathtaking. Often visitors liken it to Disneyland. Controlled. Well-organized, meticulously maintained public grounds. Friendly. Happy. Helpful. Tolerant. No litter. No vagrancy. No graffiti. No terrorism. No violence. No radicalism. No unsafe areas. Did I mention exquisitely clean…..It is all this and more.

 Oman is an Arabian dreamscape. I’ve never seen such well-planned urban development. Architectural details are carefully mandated here. Many of the buildings are 46 years young; they’re well thought out in placement and accessibility. Even the street lamps in the cities and on the highways are lyrically beautiful in their repetitive form. There is something calming and reassuring about this consistent elegance. 

 This tranquility is the hallmark of the capital city of Muscat. Muscat means “place of anchorage.” There you find a visual feast of stylish, controlled and unified structures that underpin the deliberately skyscraper-free skyline. Here a hyper white Arab style of architecture is juxtaposed against the rough rocky landscape of the Al Hajar Mountains and the blue Gulf of Oman. Oman is an architectural treasure in Arabia.

 The average home is two stories high. The average public building is five to six stories tall. The dwellings that date from the pre-air conditioning era have outer stairways that lead to flat roofs where sleepers can catch what little cool breeze there is in the hot and humid four-to-five-month summer season. Many have lovely walled-in gardens. The gates into the gardens are often spectacular, whether they are the traditional wooden hand-carved designs from Zanzibar or newer, modern-looking metal ones. Both new and old are likely to boast understated calligraphic motifs that convey an image of modesty.  

 The domes and minarets on the mosques are also striking. The royal color is lavender, but pale green, royal blue, peacock blue, and vibrant gold are also used. The dome and the minarets must always be the same color. 

 The flowers that bloom along the roadways are breathtaking, carefully chosen for color, and calming to the eye. Hundreds of thousands of petunias – lavender, white, pink, and purple – have been tenderly planted and are weeded and nurtured to form a mass of disciplined color. They often seem to bounce off the blueness of the sky and the café au lait of the desert. Every detail has been considered and executed beautifully. 

 Oman is one of the cleanest countries in the world. When driving along the highway or side streets you can occasionally see a Vespa or small motorcycle with two large sacks. The driver retrieves litter

April 30, 2016