Culture & Tradition
The market of Nizwa is definitely worth a visit. One of the best ways to experience the life and bustle of an Arabian Souq is to visit the market in the morning hours. The market area is well organized and has a wide array of goods on offer. The Souq, which lies to the east of the Nizwa Fort, is completely surrounded by a wall and clearly separated from the rest of the city. The market is divided into six distinct areas; the West Souq, the East Souq, the fruit and vegetable hall with associated buildings for meat, fish and dates, the Craft and Sweets Souq, the Fabric and Textiles Souq with various tailors belonging to the area, and the Animal Market. The Animal Market is the area where livestock is sold on Fridays.
The Souq in Nizwa – a world between the present and past
In the early 1990s, the Souq and much of the other downtown areas were renovated and redesigned. However, some areas have gone through historic preservation. One sees the difference, for example, when strolling through the West Souq – the independent market area. The entire area was extensively renovated and restored and the store stalls look consistent and tidy – although the main focus of the renovation was to preserve the original style, the West Souq is modern. There are blacksmiths, traditional Omani souvenirs, and jewelry and daggers on offer here. Locals are rarely found here – as this area of the market is focused on tourists. Unfortunately, the craftsmanship varies here, as one can find high quality items right next to poor quality imitations from India. The dealers in this market know that many tourists come to this area for souvenirs, thus the prices are accordingly high – there are relatively few opportunities to bargain or barter here. A little further on you will find the East Souq separated by two old-fashioned wooden gates. Entering these gates takes you to a completely different world. Here you will find the wonderfully charming disarray of a traditional Arabian market, where you can buy spices from all over the world and many other items for everyday use. Mostly you will meet local merchants here whose trade supports their daily survival needs.
Fruits and vegetables from another world
The fruit and vegetable hall of the Souq exceeds all expectations. More than eighty dealers offer their goods for sale here. At the stalls you can taste the wide variety of the foods on sale. Sampling goods on offer at the individual stalls allows you to get a glimpse of the quality of the dates or other fruits on offer. Though the quality of items on display is amazing, you quickly realize that the massive size of the market hall far exceeds the space needed for the number of vendors. Even on market days, the huge hall is often empty and in the afternoon it is literally abandoned. The highlight of the market is Friday when the Livestock Market is held in Nizwa. At the Livestock Market, the buyers and sellers come from far and wide, to buy and sell livestock. If you want to experience the hustle and bustle of a real Arabian animal market, you have to be up early, because the haggling and bargaining starts at eight and is often over by ten o’clock, when the daily temperature starts to rise.