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With its low-profile whitewashed buildings, Oman’s ancient capital of Muscat is the antithesis of sleek Dubai. The legendary Mutrah Souk is the place to shop for spices and souvenirs such as traditional daggers. Other attractions include several museums devoted to traditional Omani heritage, and the Royal Opera House, drawing top world performers since its 2011 opening. Stroll along the corniche for views of the 16th-century Fort Jalali, which looks like something out of an old Hollywood movie.

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