By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: Jan. 24 – Hundreds of shops in the Muttrah Souq, Oman’s traditional market, were closed after torrential rainwaters gushed through the market. Many complained their merchandise was washed away. Year after year, tourists — both locals and expatriates — visiting the market are chased away by rains, throwing the lives of traders out of gear. The rain, which began in the morning and lasted for some less than an hour, affected those using the market regularly. Shopkeepers, who had begun to open their shops and keep merchandise outside, suddenly put everything back and ran out as water started gushing in.
“Rain began as I was opening my shop in the morning,” said Ashraf, an expatriate working in a frankincense shop there. “I had to quickly keep things back and run for life.” This is an indication that the drainage system around this area needs to be well-equipped to handle flooding after the rains. Such a system should allow smooth flow of rainwater and not affect those depending on business at the market. The Muscat Municipality and the Ministry of Transport and Communications have identified some highly flood-prone areas in the city and have been constructing drainage systems for the past few years.
Hamriya drainage, for instance, was completed a year ago. Last year, two men were washed away by rainwater. A year before, a man was washing away by gushing waters. While rains welcomed tourists taking a stroll along the Sea Road, it also turned their shopping plans topsy-turvy.
“We had some shopping plans when we set out to Muttrah. Definitely, rains have spoiled our plans, but we are glad to see the rains,” Alrich Stephen, an Irish tourist who was visiting the Sultanate for the first time.