Oman

Muscat and the Mutrah Souk

Mutrah Souk

Muscat (pop 1.1 million)

Sultanate of Oman (pop 3.6 million)

January 12, 2105

Clear and Warm

So, what are those piles of round, tan-brown fruit I discover here in the market?   Larger than a walnut, but smooth.  Smaller than a tangerine.  The manager of the Ground Spices shop informs me, “Dried lemons.”

The manager senses my surprise and asks his helper to peel one for me.  Dried lemon tastes like a lemon yet not so sour, with a zesty flavor, chewy consistency and a delightful, palate-cleansing aftertaste.

The Sinaw Souk

The Souk

Sinaw

Oman

January 29, 2015

On my drive to the north coast of Oman, I stop in the city of Sinaw.   The guidebook lists the population at about 10,000, but on this Thursday Market Day, the city explodes into a multi-colored array of buyers and sellers from around the region.

Unlike the Nizwa Goat Market where the participants are all men and boys dressed in the traditional white dishdasha,  the souk here in Sinaw is crowded with both men and boys and women and girls. 

The Empty Quarter

The Empty Quarter

Oman

January 22, 2015

The Rub' al Khali (Arabic: الربع الخالي‎) or Empty Quarter is the second largest sand desert in the world, encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. 

The desert covers some 650,000 square kilometers (250,000 sq miles – about the size of Texas or France).  It includes parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.  It is part of the larger Arabian Desert. 

Shall I attempt to describe the Empty Quarter?  I’ll leave that to my guide Mohammed and to my photographs.  (Mohammed also did a photo shoot of Mr. Jan.)

To the Empty Quarter - Ayn Sahalnoot

The Empty Quarter

Oman

Hello from the Arabian Desert,

En route to the Empty Quarter and the Desert Camp, my guide Mohammed makes three unscheduled stops.

Ayn Sahalnoot is a delightful spot – a spring and a perfect place for a picnic and a swim in the pools and streams in a lush valley beneath the desert floor.   Cedar and fig trees!

The Camel Race Track is closed.   But I do have a chance to get acquainted with several of the “thoroughbreds.”

Salalah: Part B - Frankincense

Oscar White Muscarella

Research Fellow - Retired

Ancient Near Eastern Department

Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York, New York

USA

Dear Dr. Muscarella,

Cc: Family and Friends

Oscar, I am sure that you are familiar with the Biblical passage from the Book of Matthew referring to the Gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. But perhaps it is puzzling for the modern mind to understand that two plant products, two dried resins, were once equivalent in value to gold. 

Frankly, I was not familiar with the properties of frankincense.  But apparently, from ancient times (8000 years ago?) until today, the medicinal as well as religious uses of frankincense (and myrrh) are well-known and well-respected. 

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