Could Muscat be the un-Dubai?

“Too much Pakistanis in Oman”
Summarized the cab driver after querying the belonging-nesses of his passengers and finding out mine. Not much comment on the other two: Dan from Mauritius, and Valentin from Austria. A walk in the busy Ruwi market where South Asian is the only visible species of humanity will convince you the cabby was not jesting when he generalized.

“Too much Toyotas in Oman” was the comment by another driver on another day.

How Samsung overcame Apple and the Desi gold-rush
Observe the phones on Omanis and you would be tempted to put forth a generalization of your own: that it is from tiny Muscat that Samsung smartphones emanate before reaching the far corners of the world. Observe the desis in the gold shops in Ruwi and you could be forgiven for bracketing all desis as a tad materialistic (in their defence, gold prices had struck a three year low that week). In short, there is no shortage of the fetish that afflicts the consumer, be it arab or ajam.

Overpriced cabs and overheated heat
In pricey cab fares, Muscat competes with Vienna. Add to that the humid, no-wind heat, and you don’t feel like going anywhere post office time. But anywhere is where you must go, otherwise you are not an intrepid consultant but a trepid one, and trepidity will not do. No sir.

What does Omani cuisine have in common with Norwegian?
You have heard of neither. But that did not prevent our intrepid-ness from seeking local cuisine wherever it was local. We were somewhat disappointed in the first (and hence only) Omani food joint we sampled. That was to be made up in spades by the superb non-Omani food that we had in two Turkish, one Japanese and one Indian food joint. So Oman passed our food test, and we decided we can continue our good work in this good land.

Mini-Dubai or un-Dubai?
Conspicuous consumption, super-abundance of desis, and fine cuisine. My inner quest for the un-Dubai would at first sight seem dashed. But the typical Omani is hard-working and welcomes you with a warm smile, and that changes everything. For the intrepid, in the end, it is all about the locals and how they greet the non-locals, and here Muscat says ta-ta to Dubai.

Dan from Mauritius, Valentin from Vienna

Dan from Mauritius, Valentin from Vienna

Food

Food

More food

More food

Best bread in the world

Best bread in the world

And then some

And then some

Lest we forget

Lest we forget

The token landscape pic

The token landscape pic

5 comments on “Could Muscat be the un-Dubai?

  1. […] took me to Vientiane, Laos, recently (the last week of February 2016). In mid 2013, I had written a first impression piece on Muscat. This time, I thought of writing one with a power critique informing the first time […]

  2. thotpurge says:

    And I saw only the beaches, the canyon, the forts and the dolphins! Hmmmm….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s