Moving on to Muscat

We are marking time here in this beautiful city while we wait for all the U.K. storms to die down before we head home to wait out the rest of this virus.

I am very aware of all the people in China who are suffering and all our friends back in Shanghai who have been confined in small apartments, especially the families at our school. Cabin fever is bad enough without having small people jumping all over you. We were so very lucky to be out before all the lockdowns started and even luckier to be able to move around.

Online learning continues and we are fortunate that the internet allows us to be able to work flexibly and over long distances. I don’t know how we would manage without that. This is my office this week. The views aren’t so good but I get a desk! Who would know I’d be excited to have a desk. But more on the cause of our travels in another blog.

For now we are in Oman, somewhere that wasn’t on my bucket list but I’m really glad that circumstances have brought us here. We have had the opportunity to explore Muscat this weekend.

Our first stop was the Grand Qaboos Mosque which was built only recently in 2001 and it was a gift to the nation from Sultan Qaboos who died last month at the age of 80.

This space was the women’s prayer hall. To our great surprise we discovered that the carpet was from Scotland! We were not expecting that.

The whole mosque is made from Italian white and grey marble

And the effect in this courtyard was one of peace and tranquillity.

The outer areas are made of lilac marble which I’d never seen before but which was also very calming

The dress code for visitors was quite strict

I can confirm that it was quite hot wearing all that!

Inside the main hall can fit 8000 worshippers and has the worlds largest chandelier. The 600k crystals are Swarovski from Germany and it was stunning. This picture doesn’t really do it justice.

Being an iconoclastic religion images are banned so all Islamic Art is all made of beautiful geometric designs. I have seen plenty but the colour schemes here were quite inspirational.

Even the stained glass was pretty awesome.

But my favorite was the carpet. Woven as a single piece using natural vegetable dyes it took 600 professional weavers 4 years to make.

They even had a library…

Then onto the Souk for some retail therapy. It was great if you needed a little black number!

Finally a visit to the Opera House. Recently completed in 2011 it had the world’s largest pipe organ.

What impressed me were the screens on the back of all the seats which showed translations of the opera into three languages. Sultan Qaboos was educated in England where he learned to play the organ. He would give recitals here.

The drive through the surrounding area of Muscat was interesting. Unlike Dubai there are no skyscrapers. It’s forbidden to build above a certain height. This gives the city much more charm and character. Most structures are white or sandstone. It was like the fabled city of Fratzia (for those who know their children’s picture books)

And best of all… there are very few biting insects! Yay!