Ramadan finished with Eid al Fitr just over a week ago and the change in Muscat is incredible! During Ramadan, all shops were closed during the afternoon, people were resting during the day, the roads were unusually quiet and the city generally just seemed like such a sleepy town. Of course, it was a great time to get to know the city as i could drive around without having someone practically attached to my bumper trying to get past! Now that Ramadan is over, I've seen the real Muscat and the change in people as well has been huge.
For a start, I can now see why I was warned about Omani driving! With 4 or 5 the number of cars on the road that I had got used to during Ramadan, it makes a much more “interesting” driving experience! I've already seen a car spun 180 degrees into a barrier on the highway with a family stood at the side of the road just staring at their mishap! I figured if I held up my driving standards from back home, I'd survive, but being polite at junctions and on highways just doesn't cut the mustard! If you see a gap, go for it, because otherwise the guy in front of you will anyway.
People's attitudes have also changed. During Ramadan I can understand that towards the late-afternoon when people are getting slightly ravenous, they're probably not going to be the most polite people in the world and have a temper as short as Danny Divito. In the past week though, there are a lot more smiles, laughing and general joking around between people walking down the streets. I'd obviously been very careful not to eat or drink in public during Ramadan, so it's nice now to be able to swing by a juice shop in the daytime.
Although I liked Muscat before, it now feels like a proper city with all the traffic, social gatherings and… fun fairs in the shopping malls (funny, I didn't come across those earlier!)