Nizwa - Goat market | Oman
I am waking up to a rather chilly Friday morning. It is shortly before half past four. During the eleven days we have been cruising across the Sultanate, I have already adjusted my daily routine however, getting up so early is a little too much for me. The weekend is just starting in Oman. Despite the early hours, the stony plain outside the town, where we spent the night and hosted large crowds of Omanis grilling last night, is almost empty. We are quickly packing our things and heading out toward culture and traditions. Toward the goat market, toward the city of Nizwa.
Tap here for Arabic violin ambient music
“It’s covid time, my brother. It is taking place outside in the car park!"
Full of enthusiasm and curiosity, we are entering the gates of the marketplace when we suddenly face a harsh reality. There is no one here as we are facing utterly empty space. We’re running late! It is not happening at all because of covid! Similar thoughts go through my mind, and I feel very disappointed. However, almost immediately, I am snapped out of my misery by a passing young man walking in the company of two goats. In decent English, he exclaims: “It’s covid time, my brother. It is taking place outside in the car park!” Although covid restrictions do not allow locals to trade in the traditional arena, savvy Omanis are fighting to preserve their customs. The notorious cattle auction in the town of Nizwa will hold no matter what, even if it means running it at the parking lot.
Shall I take that goat to you in a taxi?
You can hear commotion and bargaining from far away. The parking lot is filled only with 1986 Toyota pick-ups, which in Oman often replace the role of herding dogs and lead countless herds of camels. In short, every good Omani farmer should own one. If you auction off a goat and don’t have your pick-up truck, a taxi driver will help you handle it simply by stuffing it into the trunk of his sedan. There are lots of cattle, mud, and traditionally dressed Omanis everywhere. Many also hang their Khanjar (a traditional short Omani dagger in the shape of the letter J, worn by men on ceremonial occasions) from their waists for the event.
I ended up not buying the goat
I ended up not buying the goat, and I probably wouldn’t even find a use for it, not to mention the fact I wouldn’t even have a way to get it out of Oman. However, I do not doubt inventing Omani traders would find a way. On the other hand, I am taking home a lot of experience and photos. Although I was initially a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to witness the auction in the traditional arena, I’m ultimately glad that we didn’t. In short, a well-improvised covid solution brought a unique and unrepeatable experience, and I can only recommend this event. However, be aware that this is a common way of life for the locals, not a theater for tourists.