Muttrah Souk in Muscat, Oman, is considered one of the oldest bazaars in the Arabian world, originally built from mud and palm leaves, and is one of the most popular attractions of the country. Muscat has been the world's largest natural harbor and was the most important trade spot in the age of sail, being conveniently located on the way to India and China. It is still the source of many Omani families daily needs. The local name for the market is Al Dhalam – Darkness, because of the crowded alleys where the sun does not shine.
Like many Middle Eastern markets, it is a labyrinth of alleyways where no GPS can help you, full shops with incense, sweets, traditional cutlery, jewelery, Omani and Indian artefacts, and other exotic paraphernalia – all under one roof. Getting lost there is easier than you think.
The souq is most lively with tourists after dark. Bargaining is, of course, expected. The market is right next to the historic Shia district of Al-Lawataya, which is walled up and visitors are warned to keep out. Another part of the market is the Gold souq, filled with gold and silver jewelery.
Exploring the narrow alleys of Muttrah Souq can be quite exciting and memorable for the ones who hasn't had a Middle Eastern market experience.