One charmingly old-fashioned aspect of every souk in Oman is the lack of advertising. Visit any market in the country and you’ll see lines of similar little shops all boasting exactly the same, resolutely factual, signs in Arabic, with their English translations below. “Coffee Shop” is probably the most common, closely followed by “Gents Tailoring” (with “Ladies Tailoring” not far behind), while other signs are similarly matter of fact – “Sale & Repairing of Dish & Television” for a TV shop, for instance, or “Sale of Fresh Mutton & Frozen”. The accuracy of English translations is consistently high, and mistakes rare, although when things do go wrong they can do so spectacularly, such as the shop in Ibra souk advertising “Asle of Freah Ghigken” (they mean “Sale of Fresh Chicken”). Occasionally bursts of unintentional linguistic whimsy also catch the eye, notably the local outlet advertising “Sale of Tobacco, Smoke & Derivatives” – a pleasantly fanciful way of saying they sell cigarettes.

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