A New (old) Map of Muscat
Brand designer and Oman enthusiast, James Wren, designed a Map of Muscat from the 1980's capturing the authenticity of the city at the time. This map includes Muscat's most loved tourist attractions, restaurants, and hotels.
"Between 1985 and 1988, my father, Keith Wren, served with the Sultan of Oman Navy, or SON as it was simply known. Of course, we all know that Muscat during the mid 1980s looked very different to what we see today, and yet just 15 years into Sultan Qaboos’ rule, the capital area had already developed at an incredible rate.
I was just 10 years old when I first visited Oman, but the memories of those initial few days are still so vivid. I remember being transfixed by the view out of the aircraft window as we prepared to land - the rugged mountains one minute, the glimmering turquoise sea the next, as we flew above an empty dual carriageway that followed the Al Batinah coast toward Seeb Airport and the capital area beyond.
Although I was only out there for Spring, Summer, and Christmas, the nation left a huge impression on me, hence the idea for the map. I have since been back, once with family for a holiday in 2012, and then to run a workshop at the British School Muscat in 2016. Yes, lots had changed from a construction perspective – new districts, new motorways, new malls, new everything it seemed, but one thing was very much the same, and that was the warmth of the Omani people, which radiates like the sun on the hottest of days. This is what makes Oman a truly special and unique nation.
I’m a Brand Designer for a living, and one thing I always wanted to do was to create a retrospective map of Muscat. I researched best I could and received some invaluable support along the way to help make it happen. I have also designed the adverts to look 80’s-ish but taken a lot of artistic licence with layout and headlines, so please take them with a generous pinch of salt! No doubt things are missing, but I have tried to design something which I hope brings back lots of memories.
I’d particularly like to thank Chris Driver, Anne Malin, Sophie Brown, and Ishnum Munshi, who have all helped with research and collateral. I’m very grateful for their support.
So here’s to 1987 Muscat, with cassette tapes from the SABCO Centre, empty and wild beaches near the airport, and the beautiful Al Zawawi Mosque in Al Khuwair, which seemed huge to a 12-year-old boy in 1987. Back then, the tallest building in Oman was the Sheraton Hotel. It still is. I love that."
If you would like a high-resolution version of this map to print, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.