The Nizwa Souk
Nizwa (pop 84, 600)
January 16, 2015
At the Nizwa Souk this morning, sellers are selling families. Buyers are buying families.
Mothers and their children are white; others are brown or black. The seller leads his family group around a paddock while the buyers sit in a clutch, discuss the offerings, observe the quality of the merchandise and make a decision.
If a family or an individual member is sold, the purchase is led away by the buyer or carried away by a young boy. The merchandise is loaded into the back of a truck and carted away.
Goats are on offer today. Families of goats or individual members. Cows, too. The goats seem at ease, perhaps a bit frisky; kids are still nursing. The cows are bellowing! The lively souk is called the Goat Market and is located in the shadow of the Nizwa Fort.
The Friday market is a tourist attraction yet the locals are not distracted. Business is business and livestock is big business. Important business: add to the herd, increase the holdings or plan a feast.
A food market is housed in an adjacent building. Piles of cabbages, beans, peppers. Apples, strawberries and, always, mounds of dates. Butchers carve meat.
This noisy spot is here for how many decades? For how many centuries?
No women at all appear at the market. Unlike many markets around the world, here in Oman, the sellers and the buyers are men. Young sons accompany their fathers.
I find this all male market unusual but not disturbing. It’s the way it is. The Oman folks have their reasons. Who am I to question them? *
Yet modernity has come to Nizwa. From Muscat, there’s a multi-lane paved highway, an HSBC ATM, luxury hotels and a large shopping mall with an emporium called a “Hyper Market. “ The multi-acre array of comestibles and consumer products lies beyond the wildest dreams of Wal-Mart or Tesco- Lotus or Carrefour.
Shopping carts hold three young children.
And yet, the old Goat Souk survives and prospers. Kids stay close to their nannies. Cows bawl. Livestock travels down from the mountains and back up again. Tradition is preserved.
Four Star Retreat: Golden Tulip Hotel, Nizwa