Sultan Qaboos Mosque

Our pre-breakfast trip to the Mosque was impressive. Not least for the number of clothes I had to wear: headscarf, high-necked top with arms draping over my hands, long trousers down to my ankles and then socks covering my feet! Shoes, naturally, were left at the door. The kind (yet severe and not-to-be-messed-with) lady at the gate took one look at my headscarf, tutted, and retied it for me. It lasted all of 2 minutes.

(This is all hereinafter referred to as my “Louise Heal reporting from somewhere very dangerous” look)

It’s hard to think of anywhere less dangerous than the mosque. Architecturally, it was up there with the Taj Mahal, at least on the outside. All clean lines, smooth surfaces, carved wood and fantastic geometric patterns.

Inside, it’s a somewhat different matter. The Omanis do love their bling, and they really went to town here. A Persian carpet (requiring hundreds of woman-years of weaving) stretches wall-to-wall, although you can’t actually tread on it. They have cheaper blue stuff on top for that.

But it’s the chandeliers that really are the business. The main one is so large that the astronauts on the international space station have to shield their eyes when they turn it on. It also makes photography darn near impossible – try finding a surface without a reflection!

Words and Pictures © Louise Heal 2008
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