The Capital Area is named after the originally small bay of the historic port city of Muscat (Maskat), which is encircled by steep cliffs. Today, about 1.5 million people live in the Capital Area.
It stretches from the former fishing nest of Seeb, where today the international airport of the same name is located, for more than 70 kilometres to the bays south of Qantab. It used to take camels about nine hours to cover this distance.
Urban deveolpment in fast motion
The settlement area is bordered by the coastline in the north and by the Hajar Mountains in the south, whose cliffs reach the sea in the east. Here, in a small bay encircled by rugged cliffs, lay the historic port city of Muscat, which gave its name to the entire settlement area - today the modern administrative centre of the country. Together with the town of Muttrah (Matrah) in the neighbouring bay and a few small, more insignificant oases, it was the only inhabited area within today's capital region until 1970.
However, this changed almost abruptly with the change of power in 1970, when the English firm John R. Harris, Architects, Design and Planning Consultants presented a land use plan for the capital region, which was largely implemented in the following years despite several changes to details. Muscat is now considered a unique example of modern urban planning and by the end of the 20th century had transformed itself from a medieval port city into a modern metropolis with 21st century standards. A visit to a performance at the Royal Opera House, the National Museum and also the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is highly recommended.