Built in the early 16th century by the Portuguese in order to help secure their trade routes in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, Khasab Fort at first glance not especially imposing, at least when compared with other much larger such structures elsewhere in the Sultanate, e.g., Nizwa or Rustaq. The thick-walled edifice consists of a roughly square, two-story, mud brick building with a continuous parapet around the top surrounding a large courtyard containing a round tower, rather like a keep in a medieval European castle. The rooms on both floors and the central tower have all been turned into museum space, which illustrates the life and history of the Musandam and its peoples.
Among the more interesting exhibits are the rooms upstairs in the main structure which contains very well-executed dioramas depicting local village and country life. Among other things, they show a bridal couple in complete wedding dress, a traditional medicine practitioner, and a Qor’anic school for children – parenthetically here, it should be remembered that before 1970 the only education anyone in the country got was to be taught to read the Qor’an by the local imam. Another room is devoted to local silver tribal jewelry, some pieces of which are among the best I’ve seen anywhere in the region.
Outside in the courtyard there are examples of various types of small, wooden fishing boats, one of which was still in use as recently as 1999. Some other rather remarkable objects are the tannur oven, which is very similar to a north Indian or Pakistani tandoor, which is sort of a large, modified ceramic pot with a firebox at the bottom. This is how flat breads are made in this part of the world: the flat piece of dough is slapped onto the inside wall of the tannur and allowed to bake.
My wife and I have been through umpteen hundreds of museums in our traveling career, and this is one of the better small ones of its type. Definitely a recommend.
Admission: 500 Omani baizas, or about US $1.25 for adults