Nizwa’s Friday Goat Market

Markets are one of my favorite places to go in order to get a sense of the local culture and people. Walking into the Nizwa market I immediately felt as if I was witnessing life in Oman like a local. I didn’t have any goats to sell and I wasn’t planning on buying one, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t get into the middle of the action.

It’s early in the morning and we arrive at the south side of the souq in Nizwa, one of the oldest and idyllic souks in Oman, and we head directly to the Friday Goat Market, where locals come to trade livestock, particularly goats, cows, and sheeps sold by auction. The market is quite frenetic as the sellers can’t always control their animals, and some try to break away dragging their owners behind them.

It’s a crazy scene with hollering Omanis and out-​of-​control animals and even quiet Omanis either just sitting and observing, or participating full force in the auction. The goats were stood tied to trees bleating loudly, while cows ate grass. In addition, there are the requisite number of tourists trying to find good vantage points to take videos and pictures of this event.

The cattle market is a round space, allowing sellers to lead their animals for sale in a slow circular walk, where buyers sit in the middle and along the edges, shouting out a price as they feel moved to do so. If a deal is reached, the transfer is made immediately – the animal is either led away via a rope, or in the case of a pair small goat kids, scooped up one other each arm.

The goat and cattle market is so atmospheric and authentic that you’ll think you were transported back in time. Turbaned men, woman with face masks, goats pulled around a large circle with men screaming bids. Crowds gathered around cows inspecting teeth, udders, rumps. We left empty handed, but richer from the experience. Nizwa’s Friday Goat Market is one of the most unique markets I’ve been in the world.