Inspiration Behind the Old Muscat Souq
My husband and I made arrangements for our family to take a vacation to Oman. Oman might not be a place people think of as great for a family vacation. But Oman is only a short flight from where we live and I pictured myself reading a book on a beach while my kids played in the ocean. We also had friends who lived in the region who were going to come stay in our hotel with us. Plus, visiting a new culture is our family's favorite thing. So we were quite excited for this trip.
A couple weeks before our scheduled trip we remembered that we would be visiting a Muslim country during Ramadan. In case you don't know what Ramadan is, it's a Muslim holy month set aside for fasting and seeking Allah. Muslims fast from sun up to sunset. We were used to this because we had lived in a Muslim neighborhood before. However, there is a vast difference between living in a Muslim neighborhood and being in a Muslim country as a tourist during Ramadan.
In Oman and other Muslim countries it is illegal to eat or drink publicly from sun up to sun down. If you are found breaking this law you can be thrown in prison. Yikes! That meant our trip of visiting the beach and eating out with friends was not a possibility anymore. This also means that all restaurants unless they are given a special permit are closed down during daylight.
Thanks to local friends we found the only Starbucks with a drive thru open.
We quickly learned that discreetly drinking in the car under a blanket was acceptable. And if we stayed up late enough we could go out for dinner. This was hard with little kids, but with a good plan we were able to sight see and enjoy our trip.
One place I really wanted to visit on this trip was Muttrah Souq, one of the oldest bazaars (souqs) in the Middle East. This famous souq is located in a picturesque area on the water in Muscat. It's the kind of market you can easily get lost in and perfect for tourists. Unfortunately, because of Ramadan many of the stalls were closed because Muslims rest much more during daylight hours when fasting. Still, this market did not disappoint.
View looking across the water toward Muttrah.
This beautiful area was full of inspiration, from stain glass windows in the domed ceilings, to the hand placed floors or the walls which are more art than wall.
Entrance of the souq which would usually be bustling with shoppers, but was quiet because of Ramadan.
An example of how beauty was everywhere. This is a roof of a gazebo on the side of the road in Muttrah.
Muttrah showed so much of the heritage of this country. And the Souq gave us insights into the culture we were visiting. The stalls that were open were full of fabrics and the traditional hat the Oman men wear, as well as trinkets for tourists.
I took this picture on the wall by the entrance of the souq.
The picture above was the inspiration for my Old Muscat Souq quilt pattern. I love this shape of star which is also in my first pattern, Single Star of Dubai, and is common to see in the Middle East. But I also really loved how each star was framed by the corner cutouts. The corner pieces help frame each star and provide lines and movement through out the quilt pattern.
When I was doing mock ups of this quilt pattern I had the star all one color which was a little bland looking. But changing the tips of the stars to a different color gave so much more character and depth to the pattern, as well as highlights the different fabrics in the quilt.
I wrote the pattern with yardage or fat quarters because I wanted to give variety, but sometimes the simpleness of just three colors in a quilt is also beautiful. Old Muscat Souq is available in 4 sizes and doesn't require any special rulers or gadgets. My testers loved making the quilt and some made more than one version.
I hope a little peak into our trip inspired you and introduced you to a culture that you may have never seen. We hope to go back again, this time without the threat of being arrested for eating and drinking in public. LOL!