Lonely Planet Writer

Oman’s stunning new fish market merges the traditional with the modern

The Muttrah Fish Market has been opened in Oman, standing as a striking example of architecture that seamlessly blends the old with the new. Designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and modern while also being functional, the 4000-square metre market includes a meeting space for locals and tourists to mingle, affording visitors the opportunity to truly soak in the atmosphere.

The 4,000-square metre market includes a public meeting space.
The 4000-square metre market includes a public meeting space. Image by Firas Al Raisi/Luminosity Productions

Located west of Muscat, along the coast of the Gulf of Oman, the nation’s newest landmark was designed by Snøhetta, an architecture firm based in Oslo, Norway. Created to serve as a focal point for the community of Muttrah as well as a hub for Oman’s thriving fishing industry, the new market stands at the country’s largest harbour, not far from the old fish market that dates back to 1960.

Muttrah Fish Market in Oman
The design of the canopy is based on the flow of Arabic calligraphy. Image by Firas Al Raisi/Luminosity Productions

“The architectural concept is inspired by the playful qualities of light and shadow through the shape of a double radial wall defining the spine of the new fish market. Seen from afar, one can observe how the curved wall relates to the radial shape of the corniche and the wider bay area, interacting with the street by exposing the stairs from the roof terraces in the openings. Referencing both the former waterfront and the continuation of the corniche, the fish market defines the boundaries of public space, interconnecting the city, the mountains and the waterfront,” Snøhetta said.

The new market includes over 100 vendors and is situated at the country's largest harbour.
The new market includes over 100 vendors and is situated at the country’s largest harbour. Image by Firas Al Raisi/Luminosity Productions

At street level, the new market forms a shaded canopy with organised spaces beneath it. With a design based on the flow of Arabic calligraphy, the canopy has been constructed from aluminium fins in order to provide shade, natural ventilation and a modern appearance.

The building features curving walls and radial shapes.
The building features curving walls and radial shapes. Image by Firas Al Raisi/Luminosity Productions

Visitors entering the fish market can see over 100 traders, including fishmongers and cutters as well as fruit and vegetable sellers, while the new facility also offers refrigeration, packaging and storage spaces alongside offices, coffee shops and a rooftop restaurant.