Friday, 17 March 2017
"You see that?" our guide said, indicating a parking lot. "That's the women's driving school. You know why they have to practise there? Because when women see another car, they go, 'Whooo!'" At which he did jazz hands above his head.
But this is the Middle East, where 'jokes' in which women are depicted as the slightly dumber, silly sex are apparently still acceptable. Consider this: the universal right for all women to vote didn't arrive in Oman until 2003. Shocking? Switzerland didn't give women the vote until 1971. We're not talking ancient history, are we?
We visited the capital, Muscat, which has a population of less than 30,000; is where the Sultan has his palace, and is the home of the beautiful Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which is visitor friendly and where you need to dress discreetly and cover your hair. By which I mean, if you're a woman. Men do not have to cover their hair, though they are expected to cover their arms and legs, and dress respectably.
I didn't mind. At any event, it's a moot point: if you're a visitor in another country and go to their place of worship, you abide by the rules or you don't go.
When our guide said we'd be visiting a museum, I admit to a bit of heartsink (#boring). Bait Adam was anything but. Bait, as the owner told us, means 'house of', so this was Adam's House. Adam was the owner's son and inside was a collection of... well, things. There were many framed newspaper cuttings and old photographs, plenty of glass cases with bits of this and that in them, and the whole didn't take long to go round. At the end, you were offered a cup of local coffee, which is something between coffee as you may know it and tea, and could browse the gift shop. Really, not much like any museum I'd ever visited before and I would recommend it for the owner's little introduction alone. To find it, best google as it hasn't a website.