Monday, August 24, 2015
Giving directions here in Muscat is a bit of an acquired skill, as is of course actually understanding them. I've gone on before about how I can't believe how courier companies here are so totally crap at delivering packages, but somehow every pizza joint in the city can deliver me a pizza that is (usually) still warm. I could actually go on for ages moaning at how crap Aramex, GAC, DHL, UPS, FedEx and the rest of them are, but that's boring. But really - invest in a damn GPS already, sheesh!

Anyway, back to the topic of this post, driving directions - the latest in my irregular series: MM Guide to Oman. Muscat has grown tremendously in recent years, with the population of the metro area topping out somewhere near a million people. Roads have been replaced or expanded, and many of the fun old Roundabouts have been replaced by flyovers and traffic lights.

Yet we don't seem to really care about that, and creatures of habit that we are, we continue to refer to places with no care (or need) to update them. All the images below I've found via Google... so if you own one - tell me and I'll credit you (or take it down if thats what you prefer).

1. Incense burner roundabout - this was in Wadi Kabir and has now been replaced with a flyover and traffic lights. The incense burner was massive and was one of the last really extravagant roundabouts in the country (there's not many left).

2. Geometry roundabout. Also known as the hands roundabout - the roundabout is still there, it's just South of the Link road that runs past the Radisson Blu hotel, but for some reason the hands were taken out. Perhaps it was causing too many accidents. Or freaking people out! I think it was there because there is a technical college nearby. It was probably a competition or something, they usually are.

3. The Globe roundabout, this was in Sohar and became the centre of the congregation for people who were, erm, out for an extended walk during the "spring" a few years ago. It was selected as the winning design submitted by some architects ages ago... I don't even know when, but an international design competition was held and this was the winning design. Fun fact about it... there was a hidden door at ground level that led to a stairwell that took you up to the base of the globe - some great views could be seen from up there.

4. Ghubra roundabout - this one was replaced by traffic lights a few years ago, I'm not sure when the flyover was put in. No picture for this one because I don't think the roundabout was ever anything interesting (or was it? - old timers care to chime in?) - but it's a regularly used landmark which isn't actually a roundabout.

5. Love lane - this is the road that links up the Qurum headland with the area next to the Opera house. It gets it's name because its a romantic road where people go to hold hands.....

6. Ministries flyover if you don't know where the ministries are your sunk! But technically this is one that is what it says on the tin - it's a flyover near to the Ministries. OK there are actually two flyovers near to the ministries area, but generally this means the link between Shatti and Khuwair. I don't have a picture for this one, but it was always fun seeing the MILF sign (which I do have a picture for!) until the fun-governers came in and took all the signs down.

7. Honda Road - Ok so I don't even know why this place is called Honda Road - I don't think there's even a Honda dealership on it! It's in Hamriya and links up to the wadi just before Wadi Kabir. No picture for this one either!

8. OK Centre - Oman's first "mall" now home to numerous perfume shops of dubious sources. I wasn't able to find a picture for this one yet either!

9. CCC - Al Qurum Commerical Complex (used to be called Capital Commercial Centre) but generally this refers to the area around where the shopping complex is. It used to flood every time it rained more than a little, with the above picture being taken after the Gonu rainstorm back in 2007. There has been significant investment in rainwater direction int he wadi behind it now and this view will never been seen again. It renamed itself the Qurum Commercial Complex a few years ago, after QCC had already opened. Given Muscat's love of acronyms, it was always doomed to be referred to CCC given that QCC had already been taken!

Well, there you have it... my top 9 misleading driving landmarks that make total sense to any Muscat local... Do you have any suggestions to add? Or pictures!

le fin.


Clodagh a.k.a. Isra said...

Hmmm was Honda road also called Death Valley Road, that use to be reference point about 14 years ago.

fififerrari said...

There was the Sail Roundabout (now traffic lights) in Ghubrah (just down from the main Ghubrah roundabout on the highway - also known as the Pepsi Roundabout). Also the Irish Embassy Roundabout which was the roundabout on the highway by Markaz Al Bahja, and the Hockey Sticks roundabout on the Highway at Seeb. Some old-timers still refer to Muttrah Cold Stores in MQ (now Al Fair & relocated) and The Gulf Hotel (now the Crown Plaza).

Anonymous said...

sawha tower R/A near airport still has a monument,I was told it was the tomb of the unknown Omani worker

Anonymous said...

Honda Road got the name because Honda Showroom was there till the 80's.

Anonymous said...

CCC was also called Prisunic many moons ago because the whole ground floor was a big French supermarket, it was put in after the gates of PDO were opened (you used to have to get a road pass to go off-camp) and the commissary at the end of PDO road was the big supermarket.
In those days the only decent bread was from the InterCon bakery which was downstairs and did great trade.
Driving down to Bandar Khayran in the old days when it was a beach and not a deserted building site was a good 2 hour drive and the right turning before Yiti was marked with an oil drum. Noobs thought we were mad saying that you turned right at the oil drum but they knew what we meant when they got down there! Similar to telling people to turn right at the trees when you go to Barr Al Hikmann.
Muttrah Hotel also used to be port of everyone's vernacular too- especially Lobster Night when you could eat as much lobster as you liked for 10 Rials, including booze! Proper lobsters too, not these Omani Lobsters (crayfish). Sheraton was also the place to go for seafood night on a Thursday night ( and the nightclub after!), as was the car park at the InterCon.
SAF beach was also a landmark that old-timers use still when they talk about the beach past PDO that Khimjinglies took over and now have as their private fiefdom in a highly selfish manner. At least PDO had the last laugh with them!
Good times and very different now.

Oil_dollar said...

You still have the fish roundabout and the Port roundabout coming into the old town.

Mars said...

Interesting post and educational specially for us expats, only few of them are known to me. At this time, most of them are gone since they were replaced by a traffic lights. In few more years these list will be more because of the new road networks

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh !!! This article just brought back fond memories of the old Muscat city, the city that was innocent and beautiful!! I love that there are people just like me who remember all the landmarks and actually have stories related to them. I remember the private beach at PDO heights used to be our play ground with women and loads of beersss!!' The cops used to greet us and drive away while we were upto the hanky Panky activities lol!!!! Just to join the reminiscing conversation out here !!

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