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Muscat City

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Oman’s capital might have the same scrubbed-clean streets as the major Gulf cities but it replaces their dehumanizing skyscrapers with fascinating historical sites. Prime examples include the 16th century Portuguese-built forts of Al-Jalali and Al-Mirani which make for spectacular views, especially when they’re floodlit at night.

The Grand Mosque, an elegant modern construction in sandstone, draws on classic Arab styles and boasts a vast prayer carpet and a similarly outsized Swarovski crystal chandelier. The pick of the museums is probably Bait al-Baranda (“Verandah House”), which contains exhibits relating to the history, people and natural phenomena of Oman, housed in a renovated hundred-year old building. The seafront, or corniche, is a popular spot in the cool of the evening when the lights of the waterfront buildings are reflected in the placid waters.

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