When you have visited nearby Dubai and Qatar, Oman comes across as a breath of fresh air. Instead of competing over palm tree-shaped islands and outdoing another in the museum or skyscraper department, the nation prefers to watch from the sidelines. Unlike the rest so bent on grandstanding, it would rather be content with its unspoiled natural beauty of vast deserts, dramatic coastlines and an embracing society.
Oman is also known as a seafaring nation of traders and fishermen. In Muscat, where there are hardly any sports cars on the roads, there’s the iconic Muttrah Fish Market which the country is rather proud of. Conveniently located in the heart of Muttrah on Oman’s largest harbour, the market dates back to 1960 and has recently been given a full makeover. Think stunning roof terraces, curved walls and aluminium fins that offer shade and natural ventilation. Redesigned by Snøhetta, the architectural firm that worked on Europe’s first underwater restaurant, the market serves as a hub for Oman’s fishing industry and is far more incredible and stylish than say, the Burj Khalifa.
The new 4,000 square metre market sits not far from the old, and it pays tribute to both the past and future of Oman. Sheltered by a canopy inspired by Arabic calligraphy and wrapped around by a double radial wall, a congregation of local fishermen and tourists can be found within. Besides fish, you will also find fruit, vegetables, cafes and a rooftop restaurant. The space is definitely impressive, as you can tell from the pictures. But since seeing is believing, you’ll have to be there to see it for yourself.
Photo credit: Firas Al Raisi, Luminosity Productions