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like spices, henna powder, coffee, and other aromatics and edibles. Like in Muscat’s Muttrah Souq, there is a surplus of antiques and old-looking jewellery, furniture, chests, swords and knickknacks – but I’ve become cynical about the providence of such items and I tend to steer clear. If you’ve had the foresight to save your souvenir shopping for Nizwa, here are a few things I recommend picking up at the souq.
It’s pretty obvious that pottery is a Nizwa specialty—vessels of all shapes and sizes decorate the outside of the souq, and just about every vendor inside has pottery to sell. There are all manner of different contemporary designs available, from large water urns to tiny oil burners. I particularly like the traditional pots embellished with three rings of rope-braid around the exterior—a technique used to reinforce urns made for storing heavy dates and date juice.
Speaking of dates, Nizwa Souq has a whole section dedicated to them. Depending on where home is for you, you might not be able to take fresh dates back. But they still make for a nice purchase—and buying them from the dedicated date market at the back of Nizwa Souq is half the fun anyway!
Along with dates, frankincense is synonymous with Oman. Its scent wafts through every restaurant and hotel lobby across the country. Many stallholders at Nizwa Souq sell clay pots filled with Frankincense resin. They make great gifts for family back home, as long as you can get them back through customs! Frankincense oil or perfume is also a great choice.
Woven mats & baskets
Traditionally, Omanis eat their meals off large, round floor mats made from woven rattan. A couple of stalls at the souq’s entrance sell beautifully coloured floor mats that are pliable enough to roll up tightly and carry back as cabin baggage (trust me, we did it). Inside the souq, you’ll find bags, baskets and other smaller products made from the same combination of natural and dyed rattan.
Goat’s wool textiles
For fair trade textiles, head straight to the Omani Heritage Gallery inside nearby Nizwa Souq (more on that in a moment!). If you’d rather try your luck inside the souq, a few of the stalls have thick goat’s wool wall-hangings, blankets and table runners stashed away, but you’ll need to poke around as few are out on display.
We happened upon the souq’s best selection of textiles in a place where few people probably think to look. Go inside the fresh produce section (a separate building) and up the staircase at the rear left of the hall. The upper level splits off into two handicraft boutiques—the left side is dedicated to items from Morocco, and the right side Oman. Both shops carry gorgeous carpets, plus sheep’s and goat’s wool blankets and wall-hangings in earthy tones.