Side note: I'm slowly changing the official name of my blog from "Alison in Abu Dhabi" to "Alison's Adventures Abroad" because I am very quickly realizing that this college experience is going to take me far beyond just Abu Dhabi. I've officially been in 4 countries in the past 4 months (not counting airports)... U.S.A., U.A.E, Jordan, and now Oman. As someone who hadn't gotten to travel very much before coming here, that's crazy to me. It's also fun to compare the similarities and differences between the different Middle Eastern countries as I explore them.
First, before leaving for Oman, we had a U.A.E. National Day celebration on campus, which was a lot of fun. There were performances of music and sword twirling, as well as Emirati food, desserts, a henna artist, a photobooth, and more. The streets are covered in red and green lights and U.A.E. flags, and some cars are decorated as well.
|National Day celebrates the 45th anniversary of the U.A.E's founding|
|Portrait of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa|
|With my roommate and another friend|
|Got my abaya on for National Day :)|
|Go NYUAD falcons! Here's a live falcon looking majestic|
|Photobooth! With props + national clothing. The girl in the center is wearing a decorative burqa (face mask) for the photo- from what I understand, these were traditional but now are less common- more for the older generation/ a fashion statement|
One of my biggest concerns in planning the trip was transportation, since the taxis aren't metered and I was told that they tend to hike up the prices for tourists (and given that we were 3 loud white people wandering around looking lost, it was very very obvious that we were tourists, haha). For example, one cab driver first tried to ask us for 20 riyals (around $50 USD) for a 15-minute drive! There was no way we were going to pay that, so we bargained him down to 6 riyals- still expensive but nowhere near what he had been asking for! I'm glad we were prepared for that to happen. Other than that, though, we got lucky so many times. We met an upperclassman from NYUAD on our flight who graciously got her Omani friends to drop us off at our hotel on their way from the airport. Our hotel was right near the public bus station, so we saved money on transport to parts of the city and back to the airport- the public bus was very affordable compared to the taxis.
|Across from the bus station|
From what I could observe, the traditional clothing in Oman was pretty similar to the the traditional clothing in the U.A.E, except the men wore patterned hats or headdresses wrapped differently from the U.A.E. ones, and there was more colour/style variation in the women's abayas and in the styles of clothing overall. Some people wore western clothing also.
|The Lebanese guy we met, wearing Omani clothes from the souk|
The mosques in Oman are so pretty! A lot of them have blue tops, like this one:
We actually ate a lot of Indian food in Muscat- such good chicken tikka masala, chicken khorma, mutton curry, butter chicken, biryani, paratha, garlic naan... For about $7 USD we could get plenty of Indian food to feed all 3 of us. The Omani food was mostly rice dishes with spices and lamb or chicken. Interesting foods I tried for the first time included: blended rice with date syrup, an avocado milkshake, rose-flavored jam, frankincense-infused water, and natural chewing gum made out of frankincense.
|Dates for dessert!|
We also went to the National Museum and one of the sultan's palaces, which were in the same courtyard. On all the hilltops, there were little forts overlooking the water.
|Gate with the sultan's picture on it|
The National Museum had so many interesting things! They had a display of Omani khanjar daggers, dhow boats, currency, ancient artifacts, clothing, jewelry inscribed with verses from the Quran, and so much more. We were there for almost two hours and didn't have time to see everything.
|National emblem of Oman, crossed swords with a khanjar dagger|
|Entrance to Muttrah Souk|
After that, we snorkeled in a beautiful little cove. I saw two sea turtles and so many tropical fish!
Later, we went up to this fort overlooking the water at sunset. Like I've mentioned, these forts were on top of the cliffs all around Muscat.
|The first day, we went to the fort at night, but missed the view, so we went twice!|
|The streets were so busy!|
|Ruwi Clock Tower|
Oman is such a beautiful country, and I can't wait to go back at some point. I love the juxtaposition of mountains with beaches- there's so much to do!
I finished the weekend with a fun little trip to Bounce (the trampoline place at the mall) and Shake Shack for dinner with the coworkers at my admissions office assistant job- it was our end-of-semester appreciation event.
Anyway, I'm excited for the next few weeks (assuming I survive finals, haha), and I'm looking forward to winter break, because my family is coming to visit and I'll be staying in the U.A.E. with them during the break. In the meantime, there's a lot to do, but hopefully it all works out.
Goodnight from Saadiyat Island,