We have been to many a mosque during our stays and travels, so I knew to cover up my legs, shoulders and hair for our visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman. I was wearing a long black dress, three-quarter sleeves, and had wrapped my scarf around my head to cover my hair. And yet still we were stopped at the entrance. The official pointed to my forearms.
Okay, fair enough.
The mosque’s official gift shop rents out scarves and abaya for this purpose, and he pointed me to the store. They had some nice scarves for hijab-purposes, but at around 3 OMR a pop for hire, they were way above what we would ever pay, simply because we are major cheapskates.
Abayas are kind of like long-sleeve tunics or dresses that will cover everything except for you hands. They look amazing and very impressive, I think, inside a grand mosque. And are probably very fun to wear (I wouldn’t know, because of our above-mentioned cheap status). Also, some of them have pockets and what more could you want?
But girls, they are not props!
You are supposed to be covered when you wear them, so let them cover you. Don’t let your hair be coyly spilling out at the sides. This mosque isn’t your Instagram studio set and the abaya isn’t a costume.
It was our first week in Oman and we were staying for a month. We had plenty of time to see the mosque without paying for rental hijab and abayas. So we returned a different day. I was wearing loose pants, a t-shirt, a denim jacket and my scarf wrapped around my hair and I was a-okay. Time to see this grand mosque errybody been talking about.
Oman is a religious country, especially outside of the capital, and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the only mosque that allows tourists to disrupt the locals worshipping. So the rules are strict: Cover it all.
No arms, legs, chest, or hair.
If you are wearing a shirt that is cut lower than your collar bone, make sure to cover up your chest with your scarf.
Insta babes, this is really your chance to show whether you understand truly simple instructions!
Oman’s most kickass Sultan ever, the man Qaboos himself, commissioned that Grand Mosque and it took almost seven years to complete the construction. It’s a top-shelf mosque. I wouldn’t even try and bury it down a list of ‘things you gotta see in Muscat.’ It’s up there.
The library, the women’s prayer hall, the men’s prayer hall, the washing areas, the polished courtyards, the sparkling dome, the towering minarets, the beautifully landscaped gardens, the brilliant sandstone, the golden door knobs and sprawling carpets. Everything about the Grand Mosque is meant to impress, and it does.
But the crowning glory is that chandelier. It was the largest chandelier in the world when the mosque was inaugurated in 2001. It’s 14 meters in length and weighs more than an elephant (literally) with all its 600,000 Swarovski crystals.
But things move fast, opulence-wise, in the Arabian Gulf and the Qataris have since mounted a chandelier weighing more than 10,000kg more than that, so it’s the second-largest chandelier in the world now.
Still, it’s mesmerising.
WHAT ABOUT PRAYER TIMES?
Lots of mosques around the world close for tourists at prayer times. The Grand Mosque is more straightforward. It is only open from 8am to 11am, daily, excepting Fridays, which is the most important day of prayer in the Muslim week in case you were wondering.
MY KIDS ARE GONNA LOVE IT!
Unless they are 10 years or older, which is apparently the age when kids become significantly less annoying in public according to Sultan Qaboos (he is not wrong?).
To be clear: Kids under 10 are not allowed.
WHERE: Sultan Qaboos St, ولاية بوشر، Oman
WHEN: Saturday to Thursday, 8am – 11am
DRESS CODE: Cover everything! Even when you are doing it for the gram (Can you feel my eye rolls?)
HOW MUCH: No money. 0 OMR. Nothing. Free.
In short, there’s not much to it. Definitely go. It is one of the most beautiful mosques we have ever seen, and worth at least a quick visit before you head out to the Omani wilderness. All you gotta do is remember to not show all that sexy skin, and you’re good to go.