The goat market in Nizwa is a must visit when travelling to Oman. It is one of the best markets I’ve visited in my travels where one can still experience the authentic local life and traditional customs. The goat market takes place every Friday morning and people from wider area come to sell and buy goats, sheep and cows.
When planning our scouting trip to Oman this goat market was the key point. We planned our itinerary so we had a full day in Nizwa on Friday. Seeing photos from my friend Miro confirmed this was a right decision. We chose a hotel in a walking distance to the market to be able to come and go as we wished.
First night in Nizwa
On our arrival to Nizwa we went for an evening walk to the market and it turned out very nice. There was a lot of activity and local men were very welcoming. We walked around the historical part of Nizwa and decided to make some night shots around the fort area. Here are a few shots from the market and the mosque.
Next morning we met very early, about 6AM, to visit the goat market. Our hotel was close by, about 5 minutes walk from the market area where goat auctions take place.
I decided to go very light and small, my camera setup was two cameras (Nikon Z6 and Z7) with two prime lenses, 35mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8. This was new for me. So far my favourite walkaround setup was Nikon DSLR with 24-120mm f4 lens which gave me all the versatility I needed. This time, two prime lenses were all I got on me and I had to adapt. It turned out surprisingly well. I am gonna post another article on this topic so keep around!
Photo story from the goat market
Here is a selection of photos from the morning at Nizwa goat market.
A good idea is to observe first what is going on, to get a bigger picture how this all works. It seems that on arrival people meet with friends and colleagues, drink coffee, some already make deals, most of others wait for the big event. The market is organised really well. There is a central part with a circular area surrounding it – this is where the sellers walk in circles showcasing their animals. The buyers surround this circle from inside and outside and stop the owner with a hand gesture or by calling. Buyers investigate the goats, weight them in their hands, check the ribs, teeth before making a decision. There are mostly men with a small number of women who are also quite active in bidding and selling. A number of bedouin people visit the market as well – they can easily be recognised by different attire – most notably headwear. There are also many children who sometimes help their parents but mostly observe or play games on mobile phones. After getting a bigger picture about what is going on it is easier to make photos, one can anticipate the right moment.
Locals at the market seem to be used to tourists and they don’t mind being photographed. I tried to be out of their way while photographing – I didn’t want to disturb their daily life or their business. There was a decent number of tourists as well and I got a feeling everyone was relaxed, polite and respectful – experienced travelers. I met a local photographer, Said Abdullah and I recommend Sami Alhinai as well. Both have a very beautiful and creative portfolio of Oman and its people.
Exploring other Nizwa markets
When I looked at my watch it was already past 10. I was totally dehydrated and joined Sue and Dave at breakfast. After a quick coffee and Omani style breakfast I ran out again. This time to visit other parts of the market. Only then I realised how big the is! A covered market where meat, fish, spices are sold, a vegetable and fruits market, another covered section with fish, a date market, a weapons market, pottery, live animals (including pigeons, rabbits, song birds, cats) carpets and all thing one can only imagine! The dates market was cool – it seems to serve mainly tour groups and I sneaked in to try different kind of dates. My favourite is by far the dates with cardamom. Cinnamon is not bad either. A confession – until Oman I always thought I hate dates – well, I have a new addiction now!
The goat market at Nizwa proved to be the highlight of the Oman trip. On my future photo tour I plan to spend a few nights in Nizwa. Not only for the goat market , the villages are well worth visiting and the mountains are also within the reach.