On our last day in Muscat we left for the main attraction – the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It’s the most impressive building in ‘new’ Muscat. Commissioned by the Sultan himself, and completed in 2001, the mens prayer room hosts the world’s second largest praying carpet and a fourteen meters tall Italian chandelier. Amongst other marvels! We got to the mosque just as it opened at 08:00 to avoid the crowds. I had to cover up heavily for the visit – long pants and long sleeves and a full-on scarf around my head. This is not just inside the mosque (like for example in Turkey) but in the whole area of the mosque – 416,000 m².
As we approached from the parking we were first greeted by the sight of the tall minarets. The highest one stands 91,5 metres tall and the ‘smaller’ four are half that size. The whole setting is extremely impressive – beautiful pillars and arches, numerous windows with beautiful carvings, everything clean and polished – to be admired by locals and visitors equally. It was quite striking to see a sight like this being built in the 21st century. Then again we had already seen a realistic impression of Oman’s wealth and efficiency so it didn’t surprise us a lot. This is a Taj Mahal or Colosseum for the future generations to come.
We first visited the women’s section of the mosque, which was quite simple and small. Then off to the men’s part that is 4000 m². It was very grand, opulent and rich. Beautiful woodwork on the ceiling, mosaics on the walls, the carpet spread along the whole room, shiny crystal chandeliers hanging everywhere with the main one taking all the attention.
We had free time to wander around and take photos. An hour and a half was easily spent exploring the passages around the main building trying to see and document everything before tourist buses arrived. As it got hotter ( especially under my scarf ) we went back to our hotel to enjoy the last hours of sunshine. We played like kids in the pool before the sun disappeared ( it is dark here at 17:30 this time of the year ) and went for a last dinner in our favourite Candle Cafe on the Al Qurum beach, then sadly headed to the airport. We watched the street light decorations in the Omani colours as we drove under a watchful eye of the Sultan’s gigantic photos appearing on the buildings along the way. We said goodbye to our patient friend Fahed with an ‘inshallah‘ ( hopefully/if it’s God’s will ) that we would return again one day soon.