Ever wonder what makes people open shops that sell the same items right next to each other? I remember from college economics class that there's a perfectly logical explanation for it but I just can't be bothered to look it up right now. The other day one of the speakers in my car started to make a weird sound (more on that later). As anyone who lives in Muscat knows, when in doubt go to Ruwi. And there's nowhere better in the world to make you scratch your head and wonder, what made all these people open the same kinds of shops right next to each other, and how come they're all successful?
Ruwi is the one-stop shopping destination for quite a few things. First, you have Oman's own Silicon Valley. On the two roads bordering Ruwi Cinema there's nothing but computer shops. There must be at least 20 in total. Be it assembled PCs, computer parts or accessories, these shops sell it all. And of course if they don't have it they will bring it for you from Do-Buy. Right after the computer shops comes a roundabout. If you take a left, as if heading to Al Nasr Cinema, immediately on your right there's about 6 or 7 car stereo shops. You'd be crazy to take a brand new car to one of these guys since they all look like Pakistani butchers, but amazingly quite a few people trust their cars to them. If you keep going straight past the cinema, the road turns and all of a sudden you're in Satellite Alley: a 200 meter alley with nothing but shops that sell satellite equipment and receivers on both sides of the road.
Ruwi is also home of Honda Road which is still known by that name even though it must be at least 20 years since the Honda showroom moved out of it. This one's a 1km stretch that goes from Wadi Kabir to Hamriya. On the WK side the road is lined with tire shops. You name it, these guys have it. If not in stock, they'll go buy it from the dealer and sell it to you cheaper than the dealer's price. Once you get past the traffic lights, there's about half a kilometer of building materials shops. Hardware, sanitary ware, electricals, light fittings, tiles, construction materials, etc. Shop after shop after shop. Tens of them.
Also in Ruwi: Mazoon Center, the one stop destination for ladies' fabrics and cheap abayas. Ruwi high street itself is almost entirely dedicated to gold and electronics for Oman's more than half million Asian workers. If it's yellow gold you want, Ruwi's the place to look. And of course, at night Ruwi is where to go to buy pirated DVDs- though recent crackdowns have reduced the number of sellers significantly.