Traveler's Tales

A Mosque Grows in Muscat

by Pavia Rosati
Sultan All photos by Pavia Rosati.

MUSCAT, Oman – The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque rises into the air like a weird and magical oasis on the flat and boring main highway outside Oman's capital, Muscat. The mosque was empty on the sunny Thursday morning when I walked in, and I was glad to have it to myself. It's pretty massive, pretty breathtaking, and awfully pretty. By far, it was the best thing I saw in Oman.

The house of worship is of recent vintage, having been completed in 2001 after six years. That's especially impressive when you consider the scale of the interior: The rug in the main prayer hall was hand-woven by Iranian women and measures 60x70 meters. According to Wikipedia, this makes it the second-largest carpet in the world. Every surface gleams, both outside and in.

A detail from the walls.
The handmade Persian prayer rug weighs 21 tons.
A few volumes from the massive library.
Vibrant colors on display.
The prayer hall can accommodate 6,500 people.
Tending to the chandelier.
The entrance to the mosque.