Shopping in Oman is a wonderful experience. There is so much to buy and so many stores from which to choose that your wallet might genuinely be in peril if you do not pace yourself. From antique silver boxes to the most excellent frankincense, there is a wealth of souvenirs you can get from the country’s markets as tokens of your stay.
The first thing people typically notice when shopping in the country is how many silver items are found for sale. Silver goods are popular here, and some of the items you find in the shops might even be several decades-or even about a century, if you are lucky-in age. Items like boxes, daggers and their sheaths, burners, jewellery, and even antique dowry boxes (horrendously expensive but spectacular finds for a true collector). The best places to hit for the silver products would be the old and established souqs, but remember that most of these are willing to haggle: do not be so eager to buy that you sacrifice any discount opportunities available.
The khanjar, the dagger often identified with the country as well as countries like Egypt, is a popular buy for tourists, and is very common in the shops since it is a part of the formal traditional wear. Khanjars are easily recognised: they are relatively short daggers with a longer sheath that takes a sharp, almost 90-degree curve and is often attached to a belt worn at the waist. Note that there are many types of khanjars, and that the most beautiful, which are typically vested with hilts wrought out of wood and silver, are the most expensive. You should shop around until you find one that is both pleasing to your eyes as well as your pocket. Another popular buy that is part of the local dress would be the Omani walking sticks (canes) found all over the place: for something a bit more unusual, look for the walking sticks used in the more mountainous regions, since there is a more distinctive look to them. These look a bit like the Polish ciupaga, also used in hilly regions.
Frankincense is a very popular good too, and the best place to get it is Dhofar. This was once called the Land of Frankincense, and with good reason. The frankincense here is among the best in the world, and the myrrh is not far behind. Omanis have a great affinity for fragrances and scents-the almost-ludicrously expensive Amouage found in Harrods is made using Omani ingredients-and many traditional scents and fragrant substances may be bought here at great prices and superb quality.
As far as where to go for shopping in Oman, you just have to ask your local friends for the best places to go to for what you want, since there are so many options. Souqs abound in the major cities, with a great example being Muttrah: this famous souq has a huge selection of reputable shops selling authentic Omani goods. Keep in mind that while you can go about doing your own shopping, it is still best to go with a local to the bazaars. Haggling is far easier this way and you can receive some informed advice as to the quality and value of what you are buying, particularly when claims of “genuine” and “antique” are involved.