An Architectural Gem
Behind the reception of my hotel in Muscat was a tourist post with a stunning image of a golden dome against a crimson sunset. I decided to track the place down and after much Googling I found it was called Asma Bint Alawi Mosque. Being a small place, it’s not actually on any tourist itineraries, so it took quite a bit of convincing to persuade a taxi to drop me off there and then return to collect me after sunset.
Located alongside Muscat’s formula-one-speed highway, the mosque is tucked away in secluded gardens, not far from the Royal Opera House. On arrival, it looked deserted and rather unassuming. Inside, however, the design is breathtakingly gorgeous. I wandered around the courtyard, admiring the over-sized golden doors and green and white zig-zag floors. For symmetry-loving photographers, the entrance arches provide perfect framing opportunities.
At nightfall, when local people start arriving for Maghreb prayers, the place becomes even more atmospheric. Lanterns turn the façade molten gold and bushy date palms become striking silhouettes against amethyst skies. Although it’s tiny compared to the city’s landmark mosque, Sultan Qaboos, Alawi is definitely one of Muscat’s hidden gems, especially for photographers. It was that dazzling, that if I’d had a hire car, I would’ve returned for morning light the next day.
Tips for visiting Alawi Mosque: If you have time or are staying near, aim to visit both morning and evening for the best photos. Remember to take a wide angle lens with you.