Our final day with the full group began with a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.

Picture

Narrative

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Oman

As usual the grounds and structures are too large to capture in a single picture. Like the other Grand Mosques we visited, this one is relatively new -- completed in 2001. The sultan donated it to the country in honor of the 30th anniversary of his reign.

It is the only mosque in Oman that is open to non-Muslims.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The side entrance with more landscaping. Based on what I've seen online it gets really crowded later in the day, but we almost had it to ourselves.

Ablution Fountain

This is the women's ablution fountain. Believers must perform a ceremonial washing before worship. It is a complicated procedure.

Many of the public restrooms that we visited on the road were associated with mosques and had ablution fountains included. They were not as elaborate as this one!

Minaret

Gate into courtyard with central minaret.

Many mosques use recordings for the calls to prayer, but Sultan Qaboos stipulated that at this mosque an actual person had to make the call. He doesn't have to climb to the top of the minaret, however. He is allowed to use the PA system.

Chandelier

The second-largest chandelier in the world. The largest was in Abu Dhabi.

Most of our travelers agreed that this one was prettier -- or at least more tasteful.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The  mihrab was very ornate with honeycomb decoration.

This style is more typical of Iran and Spain than of the Gulf region.

The intricate tilework is lovely and the chandelier reflection really highlights the Qu'ran inscription.

Carpet

The carpet didn't have any visible linear design to help the faithful line up for prayer. We asked our guide about this and he said that they would be able to figure it out.

Ceilings

I felt that the wooden ceilings were much more appealing than those in some of the other over-the-top grand mosques that we visited.

Mosque guide

The guide in this mosque did take some time to proselytize.

Over the time of our travels we were given free copies of the Qu'ran and a variety of pamphlets trying to "sell" Islam to the western tourists, if you will forgive my crass assessment. I did not read any of the pamphlets but Jim did and he found them pretty much on a par with "creationist" assertions.

Attempts to proselytize Muslims are illegal in Oman as well as the other Gulf States that we visited although in general religious freedom is respected. Reports of the other states is similar to the one at the link, which is specific to Oman. Qatar is perhaps the most restrictive state.

The number of expatriates in all the states leads to a diversity of religion. Christians and Jews, as Abrahamic faiths, enjoy some legal protections, which may or may not be respected in practice. Hindus and Buddhists are prominent among the southern Asian expats and are generally allowed freedom. Other faiths are required to register and receive approval; the approval process may be long.

Omani Heritage Gallery

Our next stop was the Omani Heritage Gallery. There we got a lecture about various traditional Omani crafts. This gentleman was demonstrating his copper work.

They had a lot of nice things for sale (of course) and I would actually have bought a weaving, but time was short and they weren't very efficient at the checkout. I find that many of the items are also for sale on their website, but it's hard to decide what would really be suitable online.

Mumtaz Mahal view

We had lunch at the Mumtaz Mahal restaurant. It had great views from every direction. Oh yeah, the food was good too.

The downside of traveling on a ship is that you generally eat on the ship. That's good if you're in the middle of nowhere, but not so good when you would like to sample the local cuisine.

Given the large expat population, Indian food pretty much qualifies as "local cuisine" here.

Jigsaw puzzle

After lunch there was a choice: return to the ship & pack or visit two more museums. Jim & I opted to return to the ship since this was our last night and we would be leaving early the next morning. We heard they were wonderful museums.

After finishing packing I settled in to finish this jigsaw puzzle. At least three of us had worked pretty steadily on it throughout the trip. We were SURE that there were pieces missing. There was certainly one piece that didn't belong.

Well, I didn't finish it, but someone did. About 10:30 I decided that I needed sleep more than a finished puzzle. The next morning at breakfast one of my co-puzzlers congratulated me and I had to demur. We guess that one of the staff finished it.

All the pieces were there including the extra.

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