Muscat International Airport – formerly known as the Seeb International Airport – serves the city of Muscat, capital of Oman. It is the largest airport in Oman as of July 2014, and is the home base of Oman Air. Although considered the largest airport in the country, it currently consists of only one terminal; however, plans are underway for the construction of a new terminal that will raise the maximum handling capacity of the airport significantly (as of July 2014). The airport offers both domestic and international connections to several cities in the Middle East, as well as Asia and Europe, and currently handles more than 8 million passengers yearly.
Located about 32 kilometres west of Muscat city centre, tourists can get to the city either by taking a public bus (run by the Oman National Transport Company) or a taxi, which is the more popular option of the two.
Once in Muscat, public transport becomes much easier. There are many minibuses that provide transport around the city, but taxis are generally a preferred option for tourists as bus routes and timetables may sometimes be hard to understand. Taxis are coloured white and orange and can be hailed off the street with relative ease.
What to see and do
If you’re in Muscat you have to take a look at the famous Western Hajar Mountains; few sights are as majestic and imposing as these mountains. Rising 2,000 metres above the land, the area is full of gorgeous carved canyons and caves as well as flowing springs. The home of shuwawis – mountain people – as well as farmers and herders and with century-old mud houses still intact, the entire area could pass off as a painting of paradise. On top of that, ancient petroglyphs from thousands of years ago are still visible on certain rocks.
Besides the Hajar Mountains, the Jebel Shams – called Oman’s Grand Canyon – is also a sight not to be missed. The tallest peak in Oman, it stands more than 3,000 metres high and boasts the massive and beautiful Wadi Nakhr Gorge. Rock climb on the mountain faces if you’re an adrenaline junkie, or visit the archaeological site of the Beehive Tombs of Bat – classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the remains of one of the largest ancient necropolises.
Besides its amazing natural and ancient formations, Muscat is also sometimes known as the ‘walled city’ due to its multiple royal palaces. One of the most famous of them, the Al Alam Palace (which means ‘the flag’ in Arabic) was built more than 200 years ago by an Imam and is today the ceremonial palace of Sultan Qaboos of Oman. Located in the middle of Old Muscat, the Al Alam Palace is the most important of 6 royal residences of the sultan and a beautiful example of contemporary Islamic architectural design.
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