Those keen on getting a feel of real Omani life and tradition, the best place to experience that is the Friday livestock souq in Nizwa. Every Friday the livestock souq comes alive and buzzes with activity. This souq plays an important role in the local economy and is also considered one of the most important and oldest traditional souq in Oman. Located between the walls of the famous Nizwa Castle, the souq witnesses cattle, mainly cows, oxen, sheep, goats and sometimes even camels, being bought and sold. The sellers gather at the place the previous night to occupy vantage places.
Residents from nearby areas and sometimes from distant places go to the souq very early in the morning in order to select the best cattle. The crowd begins to gather as early as 7 in the morning.
What is amazing is the way cattle are sold which has not changed for a long, long time. The place is in a circular shape and has a path around. Spectators and buyers sit in the middle of the place to watch the animals as they are paraded, much like a fashion show. The seller or his agent takes the animal to be sold all around.
After this round of display, the animal is put up for auctioning at an opening price fixed by the seller. The auctioneer goes around the crowd shouting their offer. Finally, the one who quotes the highest price gets the animal. The auctioneer of the animal gets a commission from the seller. This is a very traditional way of buying and selling cattle.
In addition, some sellers sell their animals from their trucks parked nearby. They too do brisk business as the place gets crowded with cars and trucks.
This souq particularly becomes important during Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha as people flock to the market to buy the sacrificial animal at that time. According to Jumma bin Said al Anqudi, an auctioneer in the souq, the prices of animals vary. Cows are worth between RO 100 and RO 400 and the sheep prices between RO 20 to RO 100. The souq, according to Al Anqudi, has been here for as long as 100 years and is still full of life every Friday.
Some people prefer to buy animals while they are still small as the prices of young ones are cheap. The animals then are taken care of and resold in festival times.
The livestock bought and sold mostly belong to locals. Sometimes, cattle as far as from Dhofar and the Batinah governorates are brought in by Bedouins. The livestock souq is not only a place for those who like to buy and sell cattle, it is a place that has preserved the heritage in its own way. The auction process is a unique and has remained so for a long time. Apart from the souq traditional works of costume, handicrafts and copper artefacts makers are part of the show and contribute to attracting tourists who shop for Omani traditional souvenir.