The origins of the traditional souk can be traced back to around 3000 B.C. They were traditionally located in covered streets with gates marking the exit and entrance of the souk. Over the centuries Souks evolved into centres for trade and information and allowed trade routes to flourish and thriving economies to emerge. The 18th and 19th century brought a strong interest by the west in middle eastern culture and daily life. Souks and oriental trade began to feature in the works of orientalists authors and artists. Exploring souks today remains a focal point in the Arab World and are popular with visiting tourists keen to immerse themselves in the local culture and pick up a one of a kind memento to take back home. Muscat boasts a number of souks offering a plethora of gifts and traditional items in addition to food items and livestock. Most souks in Muscat accept bank cards but as it is often encouraged to haggle it is best to carry cash with you.
Hailed as one of the oldest in the world, Muttrah is located in the Muttrah Corniche and is flanked by two entrances. Stalls or box life shops line the winding alleyways of the souk selling handicrafts like silverware, Khanjar Omani daggers, traditional clothing and textiles and leather goods. Omani sweets known as Halwa, spices, incense, Arabian perfume and braziers are also sold.
Seeb Souk, lovingly referred to as Muttrah’s little sister by the locals is located around 14 km from Muscat International Airport. Its proximity to the coast means that Seeb souk is home to an expansive seafood market. Alongside regular groceries Seeb Souks sells mandoos or traditional bridal chests, Abbayas, jewellery and majlis style furniture.
Located in Almouj, the Souq Es Sabt is Oman’s first farmers market. It offers a unique opportunity to small business owner and local entertainers to showcase their products and talents to a wider audiences. With around 50 vendors selling a huge range of products including handicrafts, jewellery and traditional items. Bakers, chefs, artist, artisans, crafters and designers compete for the attention of eager buyers.
Whether you are looking for that one of a kind souvenir or a piece of Omani heritage, the souks of Muscat have so much to offer and are great day out for groups, family and friends. For more information on timings and how to get to the Souks of Muscat, drop us a line we are always happy to help.