Lovely!! The Mutrah was great once you got past all the crap, the mosque was gorgeous, the backstories of various parts of town were great, and I appreciated the closeness the tour guide had with various food vendors and museum personnel. Free museum entry, coffee, dates, dehydrated shark flesh. The whole bit.
Pick up from hotel was on time, we were sharing a small vehicle so there was the driver Rasheed and four on the tour. Rasheed was a very good guide who pointed out all the sights and escorted us around and even went out of his way to take me to the local Harley Davidson dealer after the others had been dropped at their hotels. Very helpful and spoke very good English. Tour was at a relaxed pace time at the Grand Mosque was good as we wanted to visit the Islsmic information centre which was on site. Had more than enough time at the fish market, about fifteen minutes then half an hour at the museum and the souk. Just enough time to have a quick look around the souk but you need to visit again to see it all. Because of Islamic new year the tour office was closed but I managed to find an email address for the tour company who run the trip and got the confirmation of pick up times from them via the email.
Our sightseeing tour was provided by Orient tours. Our guide Abdul aziz met us at a prearranged hotel promptly at 8 a.m and we were pleasantly surprised to find we were the only people booked on the trip. Abdul immediately drove us to the Grand Mosque where he was able to give us a detailed tour despite his rather faltering english. The reason for the early start became obvious after taking two hours to see the mosque - as we left we were met by about 24 coachloads of tourists coming in the opposite direction to see the mosque. We avoided seeing the fish market and then went to look around the Souk. Abdul showed us what was good value and after a coffee and bite to eat we were then taken to Muscat museum at Bait al Zubair which gave us an insight into Omani culture and history, the story of the boat 'Jewel of Muscat' and a worthwhile picture exhibition by various local and international artists as part of the Festival. Abdul was courteous and very helpful and it was a pity that we had arranged transport from the hotel back to our daughter's house at 13:30 as he would have taken us to see the royal palaces and any other sight we requested, but we ran out of time and even local Muscat people seem to get lost in the bewildering street and district system. We would thoroughly recommend this tour- very good value for money but opt for an early start to avoid the heat of the day.
An excellent tour and good value for money. The driver/guide, Rashid, was punctual, polite, informative and good company. The tour was comfortable and extremely interesting taking in the Grand Mosque, Muttrah markets and souq and Muscat including the royal palace and museum of Omani life. There was plenty of time to view it all.
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