Shopping in Muscat: what to buy and where

From atmospheric souks to glitzy modern malls, traditional Omani handicrafts and internationally branded goods, Muscat provides a rich and varied shopping experience. Check out our guide to discover the best places for shopping in Muscat and what to buy.
Traditional Omani souq in Muscat. Photo: Shutterstock
Traditional Omani souq in Muscat. Photo: Shutterstock

Oman’s understated capital, Muscat, provides a pleasant mix of traditional and modern. This blend is reflected in the city’s shopping opportunities which continue to revolve around souks offering traditional Omani crafts, but also includes modern malls, stocked with international brands and designer labels.


Where to shop in Muscat

When it comes to shopping in Muscat, you're spoilt for choice. There is a wide variety of souks, malls, boutiques and stores. All provide distinctly different shopping experiences. Search for bargains in the colourful souks, or browse in one of the specialist handicraft stores. Break from shopping for designer goods with lunch at a glitzy restaurant at one of the city's vast malls. 


Markets and souks 

Markets and souks are central to the Omani way of life and provide many families with their staple purchases. Shopping in Muscat souks can be a fantastic experience. It's an assault on the senses, as well as a lesson in the art of haggling. Mutrah is the old commercial heart of the city. The district remains a hub of old-fashioned mercantile activity, concentrated in the sprawling souk.

Packed with tiny shops selling traditional produce from honey to frankincense, Mutrah Souk is the biggest and most absorbing in Oman. Though concrete units replaced the original palm structures in the 1970s, it remains one of Arabia's most authentic souks. It’s easy to get lost if you head off the souk's main street, although this is part of the fun. West of the main section, explore the dazzling Gold Souk, accessible from further down the Corniche. 

Souk Ruwi Street in Ruwi, not far from Mutrah and Old Muscat, is also worth a visit. It is home to dozens of brightly lit shops selling gold, textiles and electronics. 


Muscat shopping malls

Several large modern malls have sprung up around Muscat, mostly around Qurm. The vast Al Araimi Complex, offers well-known lifestyle and luxury brand stores and a number of restaurants. Other popular malls include Qurum City Centre Mall offering international fashion and lifestyle brands, Muscat Grand Mall housing more than 150 shops, and the expansive, striking Oman Avenues Mall.

Traditional Omani souq in Muscat. Photo: ShutterstockTraditional Omani souk in Muscat. Photo: Shutterstock 


Handicraft specialists

There are plenty of specialist shops in Muscat where you can buy good quality handicrafts at fair prices.

Omani Craftsmen’s House, opposite Sabco Shopping Centre, Qurm, Muscat
This shop offers finely crafted traditional artefacts including pottery, incense burners and woolen rugs.

Omani Heritage Gallery, Jawaharat A’Shati Complex, Shati al Qurm, Muscat
Traditional Omani handicrafts including Bahla pottery, frankincense burners, rugs and contemporary jewellery.

Tahani, Jawaharat A’Shati Complex, Shati al Qurm, Muscat
Next door to the Omani Heritage Gallery. It offers an intriguing range of antique Bedu jewellery, khanjars, coffee pots and traditional wooden chests (mandoos). Also on offer are Western antiques ranging from old box cameras to wind-up telephones.

Sabco Shopping Centre, Qurm, Muscat
This low-key mall has one of the country’s best collections of carpet and handicrafts shops. There's also a branch of the nationwide Al Haramain Perfumes chain and an outlet for the opulent Amouage perfumery. You can visit the Amouage Factory as part of Insight Guides' Wild Oman: Mountains & Deserts trip. 


What to buy in Muscat

Frankincense and Bukhoor

Frankincense (in Arabic, luban) remains a key ingredient in traditional Omani life. Frankincense burners are passed around after a meal to perfume clothes and hair. The resin is also used in Arabian and Asian medicines to promote good digestion and healthy skin. Frankincense is used in traditional perfumes and bukhoor – a typical Omani creation. Made from fine wood chips doused in various oils and spices, it is available in many different ‘flavours’, which are burnt in a frankincense burner.


Carpets and handicrafts

Expensive Persian carpets are available from the large shopping centres, although bargains are also available. In the same shops, you can also browse chests and tables featuring brass details from Pakistan and India.

Selling fresh date fruits at the local market in Muscat. Photo: ShutterstockSelling fresh fruits at a Muscat market. Photo: Shutterstock


Gold

Oman is one of the best places for buying gold at a good price. Mutrah Souk has a huge selection of gold outlets and all the shopping centres contain specialist stores. Gold ornaments range from suave modern European designs to extravagant Arabian-style pieces. Price depends on the weight of an item. However, the quality of the design and workmanship isn't usually factored into the price.


Khanjars

These are the curved daggers worn by Omani men. They have intricate designs, and the handles are made from a variety of materials. The scabbard is made of silver. Styles vary depending on the region of manufacture. The best place to buy khanjars in Muscat is at the Mutrah Souk.


Silver

Oman is famous for its silver, and you can find both new and old items in the shopping malls and Mutrah Souk. However, vendors might take advantage if you are inexperienced at buying antique silverware. The region's traditional silver jewellery is characterised by chunky rectangular bracelets or anklets and heavy necklaces. These pieces are decorated with antique coins, miniature silver boxes and other ornaments. Such traditional jewellery is no longer manufactured or commonly worn today, although prized antique pieces of Omani silver jewellery continue to change hands for considerable sums.


Ready to experience shopping in the souks of Muscat?

Insight Guides' local experts can organise fantastic trips for you in Oman. Simply get in touch to share your ideas for the trip and let us know when you would like to travel. We will then create a tailor-made itinerary especially, which you can amend until you're completely happy with every detail before booking. Browse our existing Oman itineraries for inspiration and bear in mind that all of our planned itineraries can be tailored to suit your specific requirements.


Updated 13 March, 2019