Muscat, Oman

The Said al Taimur Mosque in Al-Khuwair district is named for the Sultan of Oman from 1938 to 1970, when he was deposed by his son the present Sultan.

Both boats belong to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The wooden one is by far the most beautiful I have ever seen.

The country of Oman, and particularly the Greater Muscat area, is filled with artful landmarks like this traditional incense burner situated atop a mountain peak.

The old prison near Mirani and Jalili Forts (16th century) will someday be a museum.

The Old Muscat Al Alam Palace, built in 1972, is no longer home to the Sultan as he has two preferred palaces by the sea.

The Oman royal seal includes the crown, khanjar (curved shaped Omani knife) and swords.

This is a traditional door of Oman very similar to the doors we saw in Zanzibar, which was once part of the Oman Empire.

The Oman Museum offers national heritage displays from ship and fort building to Islamic and Arabic manuscripts.

13 December 2000 According to Islam, during the nine month of Hirja, or Ramadan, the angel Gabriel revealed the verses of the Quran to the prophet Mohammed making Ramadan the holiest month for Muslims.

Fasting from food is associated with Ramadan, and yes, fasting, prayer and remembrance of God are central to the month, but food does play an important role. Breaking the fast at sundown, or ifthar, by eating dates, and perhaps sweets, and drinking something is much celebrated. (Sugar consumption skyrockets during Ramadan throughout the Muslim world.) Often families gather together for the important ritual of breaking the fast and then again later in the evening for a proper meal together.

Ifthar dishes prepared and served in homes include a wheat soup with meat or chicken called shwarba; a porridge made from rice flour, milk, cardamom and rose water called sahana; deep-fried leavened bread often eaten with honey called loqaimaat; and much-loved porridge of wheat and meat called harees.

The festival of Eid ul Fitr, which begins on 26 December this year, ends fasting and even forbids it. Eid ul Fitr is a cherished holiday, but also a poignant one, as the passing of the holy month brings sadness.

  Oman and Bait Al Zubair Museums (Paige)