The Sultanate of Oman is a home of 3,3 mln people. It’s an absolute monarchy ruled by The Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said since the 70. of last century. National religion of the country is Islam what is reflected in its law – built totaly on Sharia. Sultan is the person who holds in hand all the impotrant functions in the country. He is widely respected and worshipped by citizens and his image can be found everywhere – on the buildings, on cars, at road intersections and so on.
As a muslim country Oman requires proper dress from men and women and prohibits bringing any alcohol to the country. Don’t try to smuggle cause you will risk severe punishment and alcohol is available in hotel restaurants. It’s not cheap but not crazy expensive either.
The capital city and at the same time the Sultan’s seat is Muscat. It’s a 1,2 mln-people city located in the north-eastern region of the country. It’s the biggest city of Oman and is surprisingly neat, clean and green. There are some historical defence towers visible here and there in the city’s landscape. Whole Oman is dotted with those forts and single towers. There is around 500 of them across the country.
One of the well maintained parts of Muscat is so called Walled City. The name comes from the walls that used to surround way smaller Muscat. Today political and administrative offices are located in this area. The remains of the walls still guard the entrance to the old city and are the home the Muscat Gate Museum presenting Oman’s history. This whole neighborhood is a network of little, narrow streets, green lawns with the main point of Al Alam Palace. This Sultan’s palace was built in this shape in 1972, shortly after Qaboos bin Said al Said became Oman’s sultane as the result of overthrowing his father. He is well educated and pursues the policy of Oman’s neutrality. Being a symbol of country’s transformation he is commonly loved. Before he came to power Oman was rather backward, with low life comfort and medical care, no roads. Since Qaboos’ ascension to power Oman transformed into modern country with impressive road connection within (main road is a two lane highway with lanterns on its whole lenght), high level of medical care and education. Since they started exploiting and exporting oil their gross domestic product increased significantly. GDP per capita for 2013 gave it 19th place in the world.
Coming back to the palace – its facade is really eye-catching, with those yellow and blue columns and flat roof it is not a typical Arabic art. It brings to mind Japaneese or Turkish architecture mixed with Arabic, actually Omani decorations. We might be wrong with judging its style but it really looks like from the fairy tale. Around the palace there are some tropical trees which beautiful smell complements the impression. The palace area is the popular place for locals and tourists to walk and even after dark there is plenty of people there. Ola of course had to make friends with some of them.The palace is well guarded although it is not actually used as Sultan’s home but as a representative place for important guest reception. No visitors are allowed inside; it’s possible only to look and take pictures from the outside.
The building is located in the harbour and it’s guarded by two forts located on both sides: Miriani Fort and Al Jalaili Fort. They are nicely lit up, as is the palace. We can see both of them from the back of the palace.