The most visited Friday market in Nizwa with its animal auction is the largest and best-known weekly market in Oman, which also attracts many tourists in the high season, who capture the traditional hustle and bustle with their cameras.
In itself, the market is anything but intended for tourists, as it is mainly sheep, goats and even cattle that are offered for sale by auction, which are hardly suitable as souvenirs. Even if it looks as if the women do not take part in the auction, but wait in the background, they ultimately decide whether the animal in question changes hands at the auctioned price, because small livestock breeding in Oman is usually a matter for women. Men from the family or specially hired sellers drive the animals in circles until the right price is offered. An accountant writes everything down in a cash book, because a percentage share goes to the state and a share to the auctioneer who has successfully brought the animal to the new owner at the desired price. The market starts early in the morning and if you don't come early, you are guaranteed not to get a parking space - as one of the biggest private second-hand car markets takes place at the car park parallel to the animal auction. In the tourist season, the hotels in Nizwa are booked up early from Thursday to Friday.
This animal auction does not only take place in Nizwa, but in many other places in the country. In Ibri, for example, there is a daily animal auction, and if you are a tourist who prefers to be alone among the locals, you are recommended to go to other places.
It is worthwhile to buy teas, spices, handicrafts, natural cosmetics, incense, clothing or jewellery at one of the weekly markets. This way you can buy authentic souvenirs that support the local traders, lose your role as a spectator and maybe even start a conversation.
The Friday market in Bahla is unjustly overshadowed by Nizwa. The newly renovated old souq of Bahla is wonderfully atmospheric, the traditional potteries are worth a visit. If you buy a small item, you are supporting local handicrafts and not the production of mass-produced tourist goods made in China.
There are also nice weekly markets in other places, e.g. In Ibri there is a daily animal auction at the area near the fortress, on Fridays inBani Bu Hassan, on Thursdays a camel market in Sinaw, on Tuesdays a Bedouin market in Bidiyah, on Wednesdays the women's market in Ibra, (in one part of the market, as the name suggests, men are not welcome and it would be nice if this were tolerated) where traditional handicrafts such as intricate embroidery and hand-crocheted borders are offered alongside household items and beauty products.
► When visiting the markets, please be careful not to photograph local people, especially women, without asking permission.
► In addition, foreign visitors should dress discreetly, i.e. no skin-tight clothes and little bare skin. This applies to both sexes, by the way.