Muscat – Having lived in isolation fearing COVID-19 infection for more than one-a-half years, people are finally gaining the confidence to venture out and spend time outdoors.
Parks and gardens appear to be the best option both in terms of the safety that they can afford in maintaining social distancing and not being confined in closed places. With the change in weather, more people are seen in the evenings, particularly during weekends, in parks and gardens.
Most public parks in Oman have affordable coffee shops. But visitors to Qurm Natural Park, the largest public place in Muscat, saw the closure of smaller eateries and opening of a restaurant. “There were four small coffee shops in the park, but now this is the last one operating inside the park,” said an attendant at the lone coffee shop.
“Affordable eating options should be provided inside public parks. Not everyone can afford family restaurants. At the coffee shop today, we spent less than RO1 for tea and ice-cream for our child. It would cost a lot more at the restaurant,” said Shareen Sumayya, who was visiting the park with family and friends.
Salam al Jabri, who came to park with his wife and four children, echoed Shareen’s concerns. “The municipality should think about people from all walks of life and provide options to suit all pockets at public places.”
According to Sachin Chavan, most visitors plan their visit to the park, preferring to prepare and carry their own food to enjoy with friends and family. “But for casual visitors, there will be a problem with three coffee shops closing down at Qurm garden. Authorities should provide casual dining as well as affordable café options.”
An expatriate nurse who was visiting with her sister and friends said, “We used to buy and enjoy food from a small coffee shop earlier. But now the affordable coffee shops are gone. There’s a new expensive restaurant inside the garden which we cannot afford.” She and her friends now carry their own food to the garden these days.
(Photo and text by Syed Fasiuddin)