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One of the things you must buy from Oman is the traditional pottery in the town of Bahla if you are there. The design is very simple and beautiful, and the price is cheap. They have lots of stuff like vases, frankincense burners, candle holders etc etc. More information & photographs are at my VT Bahla page.
Written Feb 19, 2005
When you are visiting the fish markets in Oman, you should buy the dried small sardines back home. What you can do is fry them and they taste very delicious when fried. One packet costs about 1 Omani rial and they can be stored for very long.
Written Feb 18, 2005
Frankincense is a hard resin (comes in many grades) obtained from the bark of the Boswellia tree which only grows in southern part of Oman, Yemen and north-eastern part of Somalia. Throughout history, frankincense has been very precious and it was more valuable than gold in the past. Frankincense is famous for its nice aroma when burned with coal, and the Omanis use traditional frankincense burners (see photo) to burn it.
What to buy: Therefore, buying frankincense & its burner is a must when you are in Oman. You can obtain them for about 6-7 Omani rials.
Written Feb 18, 2005
I'm not a big shopper, but when placed in the right situation, I can be a good browser, and I truly enjoyed wandering through the different markets in Muscat. It was definitely a visual feast but turn a corner, and the other senses get aroused - the olfactory is hit with strange aromas, the ear drum is pulsed by a foreign melody. A phenomenal experience.
What to buy: You can find pretty much a little of everything in a good souq - clothes, electronics, spices, toys, souvenirs, artifacts - you name it!
What to pay: Bargain and bargain hard
Updated Jan 16, 2005
While driving in the city of Suhar in November 2003, we discovered this beautiful fort like structure. It turned out to be a center for handicrafts. On Eid day, it was closed and many tourists were seen clearly disappointed. Here an Indian family discussed amongst themselves the alternate ways to enjoy the vacations.
People told us that it is a bustling center for trading and shopping in local craft.
We saw a restaurant open and many Omanis were seated enjoying sipping Arabic liquids and smoking Sheesha (Hokka in Urdu, Hindi and Turkish). However, it was not a family oriented seen.
A look at the shops suggested that it would be a great bargain center for shopping for local handicrafts.
Updated Apr 1, 2004
There are many shops on the Muscat souk that sell sterling silver. Most pieces are stamped .975 OMAN, which makes for a nice souvenir. Shop around.
What to buy: Very popular are napkin rings, chains and charms, decorative boxes and my favourite a very elaborate cylinder with stand that was meant to hold verses of the Koran but can be used by to hold important papers such as marriage or birth certificates.
What to pay: I bought 10 charms with stones of various sizes and three 22 inch chains for 10OR ($26 US). I didn't spend that much time negotiating, it could be cheaper.
Written Mar 18, 2004
The curved dagger, the khanjar is a distinguishing feature of the Omani personality as well as an important symbol of male elegance. It is traditionally worn at the waist.
The Shape of the Khanjar is always the same ans is charectrised by the curve of the blade and by the near right-angle bend of the sheath. Sheaths may vary from simple covers to oronate silver or sold-decorated pieces of great beauty and delicacy. In the past the silver khanjars were made by melting down the Marie Theresa silver coins.
Written Feb 29, 2004
Oman has been associated with its trade in frankincense. So nearly everywhere in Oman you can buy incense, but the Dhofar Province is the place where the frankincense trees grow. So we bought our burner and different types of incense in Salalah.
Frankincense is divided into four types according to quality: Hujari, Najdi, Shasry and Sha'abi.
The criteria for quality depends on the colour and purity. The white-blue frankincense (Hujari) is the best and more expensive. The reddish variety is of lesser quality.
What to buy: A typical Omani incense burner painted in bright colours and of course the frankincense itself.
What to pay: The local burners are rather cheap.
The price of the frankincense depends on the quality you will choose.
Updated Dec 14, 2003
There are severla shopping centers in Muscat. At Quram, there are some malls selling some good stuff and antiques also. try mostly Al-Araimi Mall and Sabco Mall. There is a big Mall at Mawaleh area, not far from the airport, it is called City center. it Contains also a big SuperMarket (Karfure).
Written May 26, 2003
What to buy: Gold is an exceptionally good buy in the Sultanate and, indeed, everywhere in the Gulf countries. Every city and town has at least one shop where you can buy the glittering yellow metal. Gold is still considered an essential part of a woman's wardrobe, so even the poorest own at least a few pieces. Designs range from the elegant to the utterly tacky, but you can always be sure that it is the real McCoy.
What to pay: They charge by weight: you pay the current London spot price for gold plus between 7 and 10% for workmanship. Bear in mind, you will find nothing lower than 18k and much of what is for sale is 22k, so the much darker yellow color may put you off if you're used to 9k or 14k. These lower qualities are illegal here.
Written Dec 26, 2002
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