Hot Spot

SOUK SCENTS Long before petroleum was discovered in the Middle East, Arab trade was dominated by incense, fragrant resins and perfume woods—and Oman, as the center of this trade, prospered. It may seem something of a contradiction that Omanis, given their conservative customs, would indulge in the extravagant and heady scents of rose oil, musk, sandalwood, myrrh and frankincense. But a trip to the souk, or traditional market, in Muttrah quickly reveals this penchant for perfume is not just an aesthetic pleasure—it's big business with a long history. Omanis have been extracting frankincense from the Boswellia carterii tree since the 6th...

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