The roots of Muscat’s seafaring heritage run all the way back to the 6th millennium BCE, when fishermen inhabited its rocky coast on the Arabian Sea. Already established as a well-known port in the 1st century CE, the port of Muscat was referred to as Cryptus Portus by Ptolemy. For much of its history, the valuable port has been conquered by invading empires and reconquered by local tribes. The port was invaded by Sassanid Empire in the 3rd century and the city converted to Islam in the 7th century. After Persian rule, warring local tribes within Oman allowed the Abbasids of Baghdad to gain control before they were driven out by the Yahmad tribe. Power continued to shift as the Portuguese arrived in 1506, attacking, pillaging and massacring as they went. The Turks and the Portuguese waged battles over Muscat until 1650, when the Portuguese were driven out definitively by the army of the Imam.
Despite the instabilities of Oman’s history, the Al Bu Sa’id dynasty has been ruling since the 18th century. The current Sultan Qaboos bin Said took control from his conservative and isolationist father in a bloodless coup in 1970. Greatly beloved, the Sultan has brought wealth and prosperity to the region by encouraging the development of the country’s economy and infrastructure and has opened the country to foreign visitors and businesses while maintaining the country’s strong cultural identity. A tribute to his legacy is the Grand Mosque bearing his name, one of Muscat’s most amazing landmarks.