Just like many other sellers, Yousf al Sharji is one of those who goes to Sinaw souq regularly to sell dates he harvested from his farm in Al Wafi village. He has been doing this with his father since he was seven years old.
Sinaw souq is much smaller compared to the popularly known souq in Nizwa but it has been a central destination for many sellers and buyers within the area and has been in operation since 1973.
People in the wilayat of Almudhbi particularly those who reside in Sinaw, which is about two hours from Muscat, meet here to buy and sell different items like household goods, clothes, and other traditional items even fruits and other agricultural products.
Very early every morning, visitors can witness different scenes —buyers pushing their trolleys carrying different items, some of them are checking different live stocks, some women in their traditional masks running some errands and some shop owners producing wools.
It’s well known in this part of the country because of its central location between Al Wusta, Al Dakhaliyah and Al Sharqiyah regions. It is most busy on Thursdays when consumers and business owners meet here to trade with many tourists enjoying their visit, taking lovely photos, and buying fantastic souvenirs they usually take home to their countries.
Yousf owned a pickup truck which transports the dates from his house to the souq. The dates are placed inside boxes, separated depending on their varieties. These boxes goes to the ground where Yousf’s space for display is located.
He shared, “I started this job around 25 years ago with my father. We harvest the palms from different varieties of dates such as khalas, khunaizi, fardh etc after the harvest season we sell it in different packages for our customers to choose from. We have big, medium and small plastic boxes which we display in the souq.”
Yousf is just one of the small business owners who wants the newer generation to know about traditional way and managing souq shops.
“I’m so glad to teach my sons this work. I am happy that we are able to preserve this practice for the new generation and ensure its demise never happens. This is actually a heritage that we should cherish and be proud of for days to come,” Al Sharji said.
Thursday is best
Thursday market is the best time to visit as the whole souq as it is ripe with different activities that amaze the senses.
You can catch Bedouins coming here with their livestock trailed by children laughing gaily playing and gushing over attractive toys.
Even the goat auction where different negotiations take place is a lovely sight to behold taking you on a tour of a practise that transcended time. Set against the backdrop of green entrances, it is the busiest with almost all the good stuff available for purchase.
Here, you will find sandal, lute, incense, earrings, saffron and perfumes displayed in some dusty corners of the souq. All of these have their own separate stories and give a deeper dimension to some of Omani traditional practices. It also offers a glimpse of how the local Omanis manufacture their items some of which are secret practices passed on but only to family members.
Majority of tourists will definitely be attracted by Omani daggers created by artisans who have been perfected its creation for years. This is an amazing Omani legacy — a wonderful emblem and a symbol of masculinity, honour, and authentic tradition. The scene is incomplete without dishdashas and turbans used for different occasions.
At 42 years old, the souq has also undergone transformation with the government creating more modern amenities. Today, there are new buildings and equipment that provides better opportunity for investors and make the experience more accessible and enjoyable to visitors.
There is no better way to discover a country than by walking one of its traditional souqs. And the souq of Sinaw is the best place to start.
By navigating your way around the narrow streets, you also take in the smell of aromatic spices and frankincense, wander around the stalls where you can find the best local products, enjoy the hospitality of Omani culture and share a cup of Omani coffee with fresh dates. All of these experiences allow you to travel back in time without leaving the present.
Mohammed al Shabibi