Clara Zawawi, an Omani Australian, Gold Ambassador of Tourism for Oman, and owner of Ocean Blue, shares some of her insider secrets on the Omani capital.

  1. Don’t miss our cooking school, Bait Al Bilad (the Village House) at Qantab, run by Ocean Blue and starring our village ladies, who still can’t quite believe that people come from all over the world to learn how to make ‘their’ food.  Meet the challenge of ‘rohkhal’, the wafer-thin bread that is made using your bare hands on a red hot griddle … while being instructed in Arabic. It’s great fun for adults and kids alike and a delicious meal to boot. n
  2. Best buys for pashminas are from the Souk in Sabco Center, Qurum. These guys have been in business for more than 30 years and everyone in the know buys from them. They will tell you the difference between qualities and prices, and you are guaranteed to leave paying a fair price and being happy.  Don’t be afraid to bargain a bit if you’re buying more than two or three, but don’t go too hard, they are really fair in their pricing.
  3. Do go to Muttrah Souk to buy 24-carat gold or frankincense. It’s one of the oldest trading posts in the world and although the main drag is a bit average, head off into the little alleys and explore; better still, pass the main entrance on your left and head down half a block. Enter where it says ‘Gold Jewellery’ and you will have arrived in seventh heaven. Go at night; the people watching is as much fun as the shopping.
  4. If you’re on the Corniche, consider lunch or dinner at Kor Kum restaurant, a tiny and very pretty place serving some of the best Indian food (Oman’s ‘other’ national cuisine).
  5. Pop into one of the bigger supermarkets – Lulu or Sultan Center – to buy packaged dates and spices that you are allowed to take back to Australia – just make sure there are no whole seeds or pieces of cinnamon bark. Prices are amazing, and if you want to make an Omani style biryani you will need the ubiquitous ‘Chicken Masala’ or ‘Meat Masala’ spices that gives it just the right flavour.

Muscat's Mutrah ,J.C Crosson 2002

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