Shopping for Frankincense at “The Darkness” Mutrah Souq and Walking the Corniche, Muscat, Oman

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The Middle East has many great trading markets or Souq’s to experience. It’s an entirely different way of shopping as many markets develop their own personalities reflective of the countries that they are situated in. They may be areas that are commercial and urban, or quieter and more laid back representing local communities. Our day out at the Darkness Souq in Oman, was a neat window into a time of years past.


This post is one chapter on our second Round the World trip via Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Poland. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Shopping for Frankincense at “The Darkness” Mutrah Souq and Walking the Corniche at Muscat, Oman

This post is about our stay visit to the Darkness Muttrah Souq in Muscat, Oman. You’re invited to see these posts our experiences staying at the nearby Shangri-La Bandar Al Jissah Resort and Spa and Snorkelling with Turtles at Bandar Jissah near Yiti Beach, Oman.


The Shangri La Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa offered a complimentary shuttle to the Mutrah Souq near old Muscat. The timings were at 15:30 and 16:30 hours for 2 hour visit on a daily basis. The bad news is that the shuttle is actually a full size tour bus coach, making the experience less intimate. The good news is that the Shangri La is the only resort hotel in the area and that the coach was the only one at the souq. This meant for less people limited to those on our bus.

Our travels there took us along the coast towards the Corniche. Once we were dropped off, we were treated to pleasant views of the Corniche with an entirely local population. Today was the only cloudy and cooler day of our visit. 

En Route to the Corniche
Scenic Water Way Roads
Local Mosques

Walking The Corniche:

The Corniche in Muscat Oman was nicely maintained and provided a nice walk along the waterfront. There weren’t many out walking when we were visiting.

The Corniche at Muscat, Oman
Waterfront Views along The Corniche
Corniche Views along the Mountains

The Sultan’s boat happened to be moored in the harbour. The largest “yacht” that I have seen, I believe it had room for a helicopter on the back of the deck. 

The Sultan of Oman’s Private Yacht

Visiting the Muttrah Souq Market:

Al Dhalam (Darkness in Arabic) Souq is the local name for the Muttrah Souq. The Muttrah Souq one of the oldest marketplaces in Oman dating back two hundred years. It is located adjacent to the harbor and Corniche of Muscat and has seen immense trade in the age of sail, being strategically located on the way to India and China. It was named after darkness because of the crowded stalls and lanes where the sunrays do not infiltrate during the day and the shoppers need lamps to know their destinations.

We wandered into the souq. Although there were the usual souvenir shops, there was were almost no tourists shopping in this area. The Mutrah Souq was unique because the ceilings at the intersections were inlaid with stained glass amid a wooden circular pattern. 

Ornate Stained Glass Ceilings
The Alleyways of the Darkness Mutrah Souq
The Darkness Souq

The shopping was a very authentic shopping experience with hardly any tourists in the area. It was a pleasant experience walking around without being haggled and being subjected to the usual high pressure sales tactics.

Looking for Frankincense
The Intersections of the Muttrah Souq
Textiles on Display

Frankencise was on sale almost everywhere. Most shops were selling it by the large bagful. I picked up a small container a little larger than a spice jar as a souvenir for 1.25 OMR ($4 USD)

Stacks of Frankencise
Spices for Sale
Our Shopkeeper

Local Life on the Streets of Oman:

In a sight of local life, outside the market, some locals were also selling dates and playing dominoes of all things. 

Local Street Life in Oman
Local Vendors
Local Omani Market Visitors

My Thoughts on our Visit to Muscat, Oman:

Overall a nice authentic experience to be treated to a local market. Our visit had no crowds and we were left pretty much unbothered as we wandering through the Mutrah Souq, thanks in part to the wonderful hospitality of the Omani’s. Our time in Muscat was much more regional and authentic thanks to an absence of regular tourists.


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