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Muscat: Car City 4 Life

Muscat: Car City 4 Life

The city of muscat is shaped like a ruler. It’s not very deep, but it just keeps going in either direction. It is just so long. And as a city has really only started to come into its own recently (like, within the past 30 years or so) it escapes me as to why the city wasn’t subject to a more centrally planned design. There are three distinct sections of the city – Ruwi, Mutrah, and Muscat (Old Muscat), but between them, and even whithin them, there are long stretches of empty, uninhabited desert.

This design of course facilitates a city which is built around transport via automobile. Those who don’t have cars can take one of the many cabs or a rather uncomfortable tightly packed minibus taxi known as a ‘Baiza’ bus. However Muscat doesn’t have a light-rail system or even city buses. This means that many of Muscat’s residents who can’t afford cars, namely its South Asian ex-pats, are restricted to using these types of transport. Moreover, as a city which is attempting to foster tourism, the presence of only taxicabs, especially ones which are notorious for ripping foreigners off, is harmful.

Unfortunately, as Muscat is built around such an awkward shape, it would pretty much be financially unfeasible to construct such a large light rail system. Buses would be the only option, but that would require a more intimate knowledge of the city than a tourist-friendly rail system.

Basically Muscat is in a situation where it pretty much has no other option than private vehicles in order to get around, in this temperature not even bikes are feasible.

Know this begs another question – as a rentier state wherein petrol is cheaper than water, was this design intentional? I’m sure the car companies are pleased with it.

This post was pretty boring so I promise that next time it’ll be fun.

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