Muscat International Airport – formerly known as the Seeb International Airport – serves the city of Muscat, capital of Oman. It is the largest airport in Oman (as of July 2015), and is the home base of airline Oman Air. Though covering an impressive 21 square kilometres in area, Muscat International currently consists of only one passenger terminal; however, plans are underway for the construction of a new terminal that will raise the maximum handling capacity of the airport significantly (as of July 2015).
The airport offers both domestic and international connections to several cities in the Middle East as well as Asia and Europe, and currently handles more than 8 million passengers yearly.
Located about 32 kilometers west of Muscat city centre, travelers alighting at Muscat International Airport can get to the city either by taking a public bus (run by the Oman National Transport Company) or a taxi, which is the more popular option of the two.
Once in Muscat, public transportation becomes much easier. There are many minibuses that provide transport around the city, but taxis are generally the preferred option for tourists as bus routes and timetables may sometimes be hard to understand. Taxis are colored white and orange and can be hailed off the street with relative ease.
What to see and do
If in Muscat be sure to have a look at the famously majestic Western Hajar Mountains, an area so scenic it could pass off as a painting of paradise. On top of magnificent mountains rising 2,000 meters up above the land, the region is also full of gorgeous carved canyons, caves and flowing springs. The home of shuwawis – mountain people – as well as farmers and herders, you can also find century-old mud houses still intact. On top of that, ancient petroglyphs from thousands of years ago remain visible on certain rocks.
Besides the Hajar Mountains, the Jebel Shams – called Oman’s Grand Canyon – is also a sight not to be missed. The tallest peak in Oman, the Jebel Shams mountain stands at a height of more than 3,000 meters and is juxtaposed next to the massive and beautiful Wadi Nakhr Gorge. Rock climb on the mountain face if you’re an adrenaline junkie, or visit the Beehive Tombs of Bat – an archaeological site classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – to observe the remains of one of the largest ancient necropolises known to man.
Besides its amazing natural and ancient formations, Muscat is also sometimes known as the ‘walled city’ due to its multiple royal palaces. One of the most famous, the Al Alam Palace (which means ‘the flag’ in Arabic) was built more than 200 years ago by an Imam and is today the ceremonial palace of Sultan Qaboos of Oman. Located in the middle of Old Muscat, the Al Alam Palace is the most important of 6 royal residences of the sultan and a beautiful example of contemporary Islamic architectural design.
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