‘An elegant town with very fine houses’ is how the Portuguese admiral, Afonso Albuquerque, described Muscat in 1507 – a gloss that still holds true today. With its low-slung skyline of traditional, white-painted architecture, domes and mosque minarets, all enfolded by an amphitheatre of rugged desert hills, the Omani capital has a much more authentically Arab feel than its counterparts elsewhere in the region.

Start your sightseeing at the breezy corniche sweeping around Muttrah seafront, dominated by the Persian-tiled mosque of Al Lawatiya, and from there head across town to excellent Bait Al-Baranda Museum, housed in a wood-fronted mansion.

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