Near the airport of Muscat is located the national mosque of the country, a stunning monument of sandstone and marble that ranks among the greatest attractions of Oman. This is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (not to be confused with the other Sultan Qaboos Mosque in another part of the country, which does not have the adjective “grand” in its name). This majestic piece of architecture spreads over an area of about 416,000 square metres, with sky-scraping minarets ranging from 90 metres to 45 metres in height. The main dome of the mosque, situated right in the centre of the edifice, boasts 50 metres of elevation off the ground. Not at all Lilliputian by any standards, this is a structure that is very hard to miss, and which tourists must be certain to visit when in the country.
The mosque is not one of the older mosques of Oman, though, and that much is patent in its new, “still-shiny” appearance. The architectural competition held to determine its design was only in 1993, and it was built over a six-year period from 1995 to 2001. [Read more…]