Tuesday, December 25, 2012


In October I traveled south to view another country in the Middle East: Oman.

The adventure started in the capital, Muscat and that was the base for my 6 day excursion. There are a lot of similarities between Oman and Kuwait, or specifically Muscat and Kuwait. They are both located on the Arabian Gulf and they both have wealth from vast amounts of oil. The climate is very similar and they are desert cities.

There are several differences however. Muscat is actually quite pretty, being surrounded by mountains. The size of Oman also impacts my overall impression as there are other things around instead of the what you see is what you get feel of Kuwait. Culturally Oman still has the warm Arab hospitality but I get the sense they work harder than their northern counter parts. This impression comes from seeing Omanis working in customer service. Kuwait imports ex-pats for those types of jobs.

Surprisingly, the population of Kuwait is larger than Oman despite the country being 17 times smaller. There are roughly the same amount of Kuwait nationals as Oman nationals however, the difference in population comes from the over 2 million (roughly 68%) workers from other countries in Kuwait compared to only about 600,000 in Oman.

Another difference between the two countries was the care. Kuwait does not have adequate garbage disposal and as a result it is common to find garbage all over the place. This was not the case in Oman, the streets were clean! Or, a lot cleaner than Kuwait. I don't think there were nearly as many stray cats running around either. I am sure the garbage problem in Kuwait has a lot to do with the larger population in the smaller area. Still, it is discouraging to see all the garbage in a country with the wealth that Kuwait is supposed to possess.

My first day in Muscat was spent relaxing and getting to know the area around my hotel. I had taken an early morning flight and had to wait for 2 hours or more to get through customs and buy my visa. After settling into the hotel I walked around the immediate area a bit and then went to visit the Muttrah Souq. A souq is a marketplace and this souq did not differ much from the souqs I have visited in Kuwait. It is located on the northern port of the city.