FRIDAY CATTLE MARKET AT NIZWA SOUK, IN OMAN
We arrive at the Friday cattle market at the Nizwa souk to cacophony and colour and see robed Omani men standing in the centre of a small covered arena waiting for the procession of cows for them to bid on and buy. Others, sitting and watching, could well have stepped straight out of a bible story.
Getting to the market involves dodging children carrying baby goats in their arms, and stepping around white-robed males coaxing or dragging their unwilling, bleating, purchases by a rope around their necks to tie on the back of their utes.
Time for the cattle market to begin . . . the would-be, white robed, bidders stand quite silently, observing and giving nothing away as the cows are paraded in the ring. Silently, observing, clicking away, we often have to scoot out of the way of a kicking cow rearing and tugging to be free of the rope. It adds to the excitement.
It doesn’t bear thinking that the cows started life chewing in green pastures back home in Australia, and have been shipped here for slaughter. The animals are bought not only to eat . . . but to ‘make business’, buying at a good price, and selling it for a profit later when demand is higher like for religious observances.
The fish and vegetable souks are sort of an anti-climax after all this excitement, but provide wonderfully colourful insight into the traditions and what people eat in this area. Quite unique is seeing rifles being sold in the souk, and intricately hand-carved “Khanjars’ (daggers) for sale.
I should add. NIzwa is the capital of the interior and birthplace of Islam in the Sultanate of Oman. It looks like a very compact and clean community of 100,000 people and shows-off good roads, schools and hospital. Sultan Qaboos looks after his people.
We leave the souk and walk up to the 17th century Nizwa Fort. As a British Naval lieutenant commissioned by the East India Company in 1835 wrote, “The form of the fort is circular, its diameter being nearly one hundred yards, and up to a height of ninety feet it has been filled up by a solid mass of earth and stones: seven or eight wells have been bored through this, from several of which they obtain a plentiful supply of water, and those which are dry serve as magazines for their shot and ammunition.”
From our perspective in 2015, the Omani Heritage people have done an excellent job in laying out most interesting exhibits in air-conditioned rooms of the old fort. And, pleasingly, one doesn’t have to squat in the clean washrooms!Click here to see Facebook photos