Muscat (Arabic. مسقط [ˈmasqatˤ]) is the capital and largest metropolis of Oman, the seat of government and the largest city of the same-name governorship. The metropolis, with an area of almost 3,500 km², has 6 wilayets. According to the National Center for Statistics and Information, the total population of the governorate in September 2015 was 1.56 million.
|History and geography|
|Center Height||69 m|
|Population||1,560,000 people (2015)|
|Media files on Wikimedia Commons|
The city's early history has not been studied much; In the Middle Ages, Muscat became a major port serving ships en route to Persia and India. In the XVI century occupied by Portugal, and at the end of XVII century Muscat became the capital of the powerful Omani Empire, which in the zenith belonged to the property from the coast of Swahili to the shores of modern Iran. Since taking power in 1970 in Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the infrastructure in Muscat has been actively improved, resulting in a dynamic economy and a multi-ethnic society.
The city is mainly located in the rocky Hajar Mountains, on the coast of the Gulf of Oman, near the Strait of Hormuz. The landscape of the old city is formed by the low-lying white houses, and on the northeastern edge of the agglomeration, where the port of Sultan-Qabus is located, there are characteristic roots and harbor. The city's economy is based on trade, including oil and gas, as well as the service of ships in the port.
The exact origin of the name "Muscat" is not established. The most plausible version is that the pre-Arab city name was Arabized and turned into Muscat; The evidence of this is the variability in his writing, which until recently has been met.
Some scientists believe that the word comes from the Arabic "mosha," meaning "inflated skin" or "skin." Others argue that the term refers to "anchor parking" or "anchorage".
A number of sources pointed to the view that the word "Muscat", in ancient Persian, means "heavily smelling" or derives from the Arabic noun "padine" or the adjective "hidden." The historian John Craven Wilkinson He considers both versions unreasonable.
Geography and Geology
Mascat is located in northeast Oman. To the west of it lies the plains of El-Batina, and to the east the region of Al-Sharqiyah; The city's northern and western coast is washed by the Gulf of Oman, which forms two natural bays, Muscat and Matrah. The West Bank is adjoining the Hajar Mountains, and the Northern Tropic lies south of Muscat.
The Gulf coast in the area of Muscat is composed of effective rocks, serpentinite and diorite. The hills and mountains are formed from plutonic rocks typical of the south-east of the Arabian Peninsula: serpentinite, green shale and basalt. To the south of Muscat, volcanic rocks rise to a height of up to 1800 m in the region of Al-Dahiliya. The highest mountain chain in Oman, Al-Ahdar, is located there. Muscat hills are rich in iron, but unforested.
From west to east, the city crosses the Sultan Qabus highway.
Modern Muscat satellite image
|Climate of Muscat|
|Absolute maximum, °C||34.6||38.2||41.5||44.9||48.3||48.5||49.1||49.2||47.2||43.6||39.4||37.8|
|Average maximum, °C||25.5||26.1||29.8||34.7||39.5||40.4||38.6||36.2||36.3||35.0||10.5||27.1|
|Average temperature, °C||21.3||21.9||25.2||29.8||34.2||35.2||34.3||32.0||31.4||29.7||25.7||22.6|
|Medium minimum, °C||17.3||17.6||20.7||24.7||29.1||30.6||30.4||28.4||27.5||24.9||20.9||18.9|
|Absolute minimum, °C||1.6||2.3||7.0||10.3||17.2||21.6||23.5||21.3||19.0||14.3||9.4||4.5|
|Precipitation rate, mm||12.8||24.5||15.9||17.1||7.0||0.9||0.2||0.8||0.0||1.0||6.8||13.3|
Flora and fauna
The bulk of Mascat's vegetation is made up of galophyte desert species, which can grow on the sunflower sebha. Arthrocnemum macrostachyum grows in Kurum Reservation and Halopeplis Perfoliata, in the Gulf there are many coral reefs. In quiet waters near the satellite towns of Jussa and Hairan there are colonies Acropora, and the small reefs of Porites. The Bay is rich in crabs, langusts, sardines and pelamides. Freshwater estuaries, in particular in the Kurum Reservoir, have glass perch.
Ancient history and first mentions
Data on the history of Muscat and the nearby settlements up to the 16th century are rare and rare; This is due, in particular, to the constant perestroika of the city, especially the turbulent ones since the 1970s. Given its convenient position in the bay, the abundance of fresh water and the protection of the hills surrounding it, as well as the surrounding settlements of Bandar el-Jissa people lived in prehistoric times, it can be concluded that at about the same time Mascat was founded.
Mascat's isolation from the rest of the world, unlike the nearby Suhar and Kalhat portsis caused by several factors. In the winter, the shamal blows from the north to the bay, while the mountains blocked access to Muscat from the land. The city is on unsuitable soils for agriculture, and the only reason for visiting the city for centuries has been the availability of fresh water there.
A possible first mention of Muscat can be found on the map of Claudia Ptolemy in Arabia: There are the territories of the port towns of Kriptus and Moshi. Perhaps Muscat is called "Kriptos-Limen" in the composition of Ptolemy Periplet of the Eritrean Sea, which means "secret harbor". Scientists disagree on how to identify Muscat. Similarly, Flavius Arrian refers to Omana and Moskh in the Travels. According to the interpretation of Arrian's composition by William Vincent and Jean Batist Bourguignon de Anville, Oman is Oman, and Mosha is Muscat. A number of other researchers consider the Plinius Senior Amitoskuta Maskatom, which is mentioned by Plini. Muscat is mentioned in two works of the IX century as the last port on the way to India from the Persian Gulf, where you can store fresh water. Ibn Battuta briefly mentioned the "small settlement" of Muscat in 1330. Around 1470 and 1474 the city was visited by Afanasy Nikitin, who mentioned him in his travel notes "The Three Seas" entitled "Moshkat".
French gravel 1690
1746 Dutch gravel
City view, 1876
The development of shipbuilding and trade led to the transformation of Muscat into a trans-shipment point on the way to Persia and India in the 13th to 15th centuries. Ahmad ibn Majid praised Maskat, calling him an "unsurpassed port."
The Omani coast aroused the interest of Portugal, which invaded Muscat in 1507. Portuguese ownership largely defined the city's appearance: In particular, a wave-cutting with cannons and a city wall were fortified under it; almost all buildings, including the wooden juma mosque, were burned; The church was later built on the site of the mosque. The Portuguese were also positive about Muscat: Duarte Barbosa praised his fish and other goods, and Admiral Albuquerque, who took over the city, admired its architectural and commercial qualities.
Albuquerque landed on the island of Masira and entered Kalhat without a fight, after which Kurayat, located 80 km from Muscat, was seized in a bloody battle. Attempts by residents of Muscat to reach a treaty with the Portuguese did not bear fruit. Albuquerque first started shelling the city from the water, and then sent the soldier to the assault; On August 25, 1507, Muscat was taken, the majority of the inhabitants were broken down and their houses burned.
Having seized the city, the Portuguese immediately began erecting two massive forts to protect the harbor; Fort Jalali Apparently it was built on the ruins of earlier fortifications. Under Portuguese rule, Muscat was attacked several times by Ottoman ships: In 1546, he was shot at from the water, and in 1552, after an 18-day siege, he was taken by a fleet under the command of Piry-Reis. The then-built Mirani Fort could not protect a small Portuguese garrison. Portugal subsequently recaptured Muscat, although in 1580 or 1581 the Ottoman fleet under the command of Mir Ali-bei seized and looted the city, and then left.
With rising tensions in the western Indian Ocean, the Portuguese authorities gradually built a system of fortifications in Muscat: in addition to the forts of San Giano (Jalali) and Capitano (Mirani), completed in 1586-1588, the military architect and captain Belquior Kalasa built an artillery platform connected to the fort staircase. In recognition of the merit, fort Capitano was named after Belkior. In view of the strengthening of the Omani sultan-yarubids, Muscat had to be strengthened against a possible attack from the land: The city was protected by the earth wall, which was covered with a moat; Several watchtowers were erected and existing defense structures were strengthened. The funds for the maintenance of the fortifications in a proper form came from the city governor, Sheik Kaysah bin Rashid, who received from Portugal a permit for independent rule by Maskat.
In addition to forts in 1597, the Portuguese built an August monastery with a church in Muscat. They were inside the compound, which also housed the Governor's residence, factoria, military garrison, well and garden; This complex was named G(a)raise or Graise, from the Portuguese word "Church" (port. igreja). Around the same time, a new customs building was built, and the port loading platform, now to Fort Capitano (Mirani), was increased. Matrah's defenses have also been strengthened, but the lack of documents makes it difficult to determine what was done. It is possible that the fortified neighborhood of Sur al-Lavatiya was originally part of a Portuguese fort.
Attacks by Omani sultans gradually grew stronger: Nasir ibn Murshid's attempt to take Muscat in 1640 was unsuccessful, but in 1648 he was able to maintain a two-month siege, forcing the Portuguese to leave all forts outside Muscat. His successor, Saif I of the Yarubids dynasty, broke into Muscat at night and then kept the garayza under siege for six months. When it fell, Saif I cut out all the Portuguese and Baloch hiding there, except for 18 who converted to Islam.
Forts Jalali (left) and Mirani (right)
Old town, view of the harbor
Muscat on the map of 1654
At the Yarubidah
The information about Muscat in the yarubids is as scanty as it is in the case of the Portuguese. It is known that at this time the mascuits used the Augustine monastery and two churches: one became the imam's residence and the other the warehouse. The Sultan Yarubids turned Oman into a trade empire, and Muscat became its main port. Portugal never returned to Muscat again. During the Yarubids, the defense of Muscat was strengthened further; they built several watchtowers on hills outside the city and renovated the Jalali Fort.
The last yarubid, Saif II ibn Sultan, did not enjoy domestic support and urged Persian Shah Nadir to send troops to help him. Persians seized Muscat and a large part of the Omani coast, after which Saifa II was broken by trader Ahmed ibn Saeed, who began the Al Said dynasty.
The First Al Saeed
The first Al Saids actively expanded maritime trade, which meant the growth of Muscat's influence.
And the sons of Ahmed, Saif, and Sultan, seized the forts of Jalali and Mirani in 1781, and imprisoned their brother, Said; Ahmed had to start the siege. Mirani was the first to fall, and Ahmed then started bombing Jalali simultaneously from the second fort and from the sea. Saeed fled Jalali, after which Ahmed diplomatically forced Saif and Sultan to surrender.
Said himself fell into the same situation as his father when the son of Wakil Muscat, Muhammad bin Khalfan, trapped Saeed's son, Ahmed, in the Jalali Fort. This time, however, the prisoner's brother, Hamid, helped his father free Ahmed. Muhammad ibn Halfan was later deposed, and Hamid became an heir.
Hamid ibn Said, the third Sultan of the Al-Said dynasty, like his ancestors, developed maritime trade. To better control it, he moved the capital from Rustak in Muscat in 1784. Hamid's board in Muscat was periodically visited by the merchant of the British East India Company, there was a permanent trade mission of Mysur. During Hamid's rule, the city's defenses were strengthened, including the erection of security for the nearby village of Ruvi.
The nineteenth century was the period of Oman's greatest power, which managed to take over the coast from now Pakistan to Zaire; at the same time, the expansion of the empire meant the fall of Mascat's importance. The permanent residence of the fifth imam-saidit, Said ibn Sultan, was transferred to Zanzibar, and after his death the heirs divided the empire into two parts: rich sultanate Zanzibar and poor Muscat and Oman. Tensions between Muscat and the tribes living in the depths of the Arabian Peninsula also grew.
Under Sayid ibn Sultan, however, construction was underway in Muscat: several buildings of the Al-Alam Palace Complex were built: the harem, the main building and Bait al-barza, where Sultan held the majlis (literary salons, auditions). The church in Garayza had already been demolished by this time. Also in the 1830s, the city was built many houses for the nobility, much of which remained until the 1970s; among them: The homes of Faisal bin Turki's sons, Bayt Nadir ibn Faisal, Bait Abbas ibn Faisal, Bait al Wakeel; the house of French Consul Bait-Farance; Bait-ar-Ruwaihi, apparently from the Ruwaihi tribe of Bait-Garayza, who was near the gareizah.
After the Separation of the Omani Empire
Selim ibn Tuwayni in 1866 killed his father, Tuwayni ibn Saeed, and joined Muscat; two years later, a coalition of deserted tribes and religious leaders led by Azzan bin Qais conquered the city. Kais ruled for only three years, after which he was killed under Mathrah.
In 1883 and 1885, Muscat besieged the Hinawi tribal alliance, Turki ibn Saeed was able to repulse the first attack, but his son Faisal bin Turki, who inherited power, was forced to flee to the Jalali Fort and await help from the hostile Hinawi alliance of Gafriri. Before their arrival, Hinawi was robbed of the city, and then agreed to retreat in exchange for gifts.
After Hinawi's attack, Faisal bin Turki increased the palace garrison and added more forts. However, the decline in Omani's income was noted by travelers who were surprised that in 1898 the palace showed signs of destruction after the 1885 attack.
Despite its alliance with Britain, Oman has periodically approached France. In contrast to Britain, which demanded a ban on slave trade, France helped to hide the slave dow, which profited heavily to Oman and, specifically, to Muscat; The French also actively bought weapons on a maskatsky sauck. In 1898, Faisal bin Turki authorized the construction of a French coal-fueling station at Bandar al-Jissa. When British authorities learned about the deal, they shelled the Maskat Palace, forcing Faisal to break the deal; French vessels, however, were able to use the coal supplied to Muscat.
With rising global tensions ahead of the outbreak of World War I, the Indian government sent a military contingent to protect Muscat at Bayn al-Falaj near Mathrah. Two years later, they helped repel the attack of the Omani tribes.
In the 1885-1910s, there was another small surge in construction in Muscat, during which a new British consulate building (1890) was built and the Indian representative office was expanded. At the same time, three of the largest mosques in Muscat, built before the 1970s, were built: Ali Musa Mosque (1910), Al-Zawawi Mosque (1906) and Nasib Khan Mosque (date of construction unknown). All these mosques are Sunni; the largest ibad mosque is al-khawar.
Muscat harbor in 1903
Muscat during World War I
For most of the 20th century Muscat gradually fell into decline, there was no new construction there. In the 1950s, Muscat was still divided into parts of a city wall erected by Portuguese people: rich city dwellers lived inside, poor people lived outside. The quarters located behind the city wall reflected the sort of activities of their residents: al-Dalalil ("trade intermediaries"), al-Nisasil ("weavers"), al-Hinna ("henna traders").
There were three holes in the wall through which you could get inside: al-Bab al-Sagir ("small gates") in the south, who were originally the main city and led to the bazaar; al-Bab al-Kabir ("big gate") in the south-east, built on the site of a pipe channel; and the western gate of al-Bab al-Mitaib at the fort of Mirani.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the forts of Mirani and Jalali have gradually decayed, as have the watchtowers; There was nothing left of the Portuguese churches, the Al-Alam Palace was periodically refreshed, but since 1958 the Sultan had not lived there and the condition of the building began to deteriorate. Outside the city wall, construction was somewhat more intense, with the construction of a school, bank and municipality building in 1940-1965.
The population of Muscat was very heterogeneous. Historically, it was inhabited by the Arab Bani Uhaib tribe, but in the early 20th century the largest ethnic group in the city was Baloch, followed by Africans; In addition to the Arabs, Persians, Banya and other Indians lived in Muscat. According to contemporaries, 14 languages could be heard in the city market. Arabs continued to make up the majority of the population of many villages adjacent to Muscat, but Baluchis often lived in fishing neighborhoods. The small Jewish community of the city disappeared by the beginning of the 20th century.
Old Muscat, 1904. The building on the left with the balcony is the old Al-Alam Palace, with the harem building on the left
Fort Jalali, 1973
Sultan Qabus' Board
Oil was discovered in Oman in 1964, and on 23 July 1970 the son of the ruling Sultan Said bin Timur Qaboos removed his father by staging a coup. This ended the era of isolation and traditionalism in Oman, and the new Sultan began a rapid modernization of the country, widely supported by the people. Among other things, Qabus bin Said hired British architect John Harris to draw up a development plan for Muscat and Mathrah.
A sharply increased number of officials demanded the deployment of active construction, and soon the Ministry of Defense the Muasqar al-Murtaf compound of government buildings behind the new airport, while other ministries moved a little further, to the town of Ruwi, which became a shopping mall, and to the areas of al-Huwayr and al-Qurm.
The city grew rapidly, with roads and residential and non-residential buildings, but because of geographical constraints, it was almost impossible for Muscat to expand eastward. In the early 1970s, the planned Madinat-Qabus neighborhood was built, and one by one, shopping and entertainment neighborhoods were opened around it. The city's expansion to include more and more villages has made Muscat a narrow strip stretching from west to east 60 kilometers. New buildings had to be built farther and farther from the center, causing serious traffic jams: the closure of the Sultan-Qabus highway because of an accident or top management travel means that drivers must cross the narrow streets of residential buildings.
Originally relocated to Muscat in the 1970s, Omanis returned to their native areas weekly, but gradually began to see the city as their permanent residence. However, as of 2003, almost 40 per cent of the city's population is foreign. The distribution by area depends on the socio-economic status: middle-hand and higher officials, business executives, and almost all foreigners live far from the center, in areas ranging from al-Qurm to al-Sib and al-Hawd; low-level employees rent rooms in the old center or in the company-provided accommodation; This is not the case for a maid living with her employers. Ruvi has a large percentage of the Asian population and Asian merchandise shops, but in general there is no ethnic segregation in Muscat.
The negative side of the surge has been the neglect of historical heritage. Many monuments of the old, located within the city walls, for example, the Juma-mosque of Nizva and Nahl with Mihrab of XIII-XIV centuries, were demolished; The re-establishment of the under-used Al-Alam Palace was carelessly carried out in an undefined Indo-British style, resulting in the loss of valuable documents and the demolition of the seafront between Mirani and the British Embassy. Traditional buildings in the Indian neighborhood of al-Banyan, including a mosque and a Hindu temple, have been destroyed; And the maskatsky bitch disappeared. The city's wall was demolished and rebuilt from a delivery stone, with the al-Bab al-Kabir gate, which collapsed in 1962, rebuilt without any regard for Muscat's architecture.
Fort Jalali, a former jailer, was "disneified": There planted trees, built fountains and a railroad, there is a light show. Mirani escaped the same fate because he remains the headquarters of the Royal Guard, but the road to him required the destruction of the gunpoint. Bait Garaiza was rebuilt in a relatively traditional style, but was demolished during the Bait al-Wakeel restoration, as was the British embassy building; Buildings such as Bait Abbas and Bait Nadir are not used and are gradually being diluted. In 2004, the al-Wajat quarter was demolished and the al-Zawawi mosque was demolished to build new structures. The extension of the sofa has led to the demolition of the neighborhoods and dozens of gardens outside the city wall.
City Gate after restoration, 2009
The courtyard of the palace complex
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