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Just arrived in the capital Muscat. Driven down to the port in the Muttrah neighborhood. Walked around the fish market. Then a close look at the souk, the market considered to be the oldest in Oman. Incomprehensible sensory impressions: the people in their mostly white attire. The velvety sea air. The magical morning light. This scent of exotic spices and the omnipresent incense that Oman exports— along with dates—all over the world. But it’s another export racket that has made the sultanate and its four million inhabitants rich: oil. With the money ruler Qaboos bin Said Al Said has made a great deal happen in Oman. When he overthrew his father, who inhibited all progress, and usurped the throne in 1970, there were just eleven kilometers of paved roads – and they only circled the palace. Today 60,000 kilometers crisscross Oman; the motorways are lit at night. Yet, for all the changes, traditions in this country on the Arabian Sea are still maintained: Everywhere the old adobe houses with tiny windows have been restored. The water supply is working as it did before: Small, narrow canals lined with simple stone slabs wind their way through fields and villages. And while the adjacent Emirates focus on “higher, faster, further,” and the skyscrapers there regularly reach new record heights, you would search in vain to find this type of development in Oman. Having said that, the most magnificent opera house on the Arabian Peninsula is in Muscat. The airport is being expanded into an international hub. These policies of the Sultan have been well received. His popularity is revealed in his nickname; many Omani simply call him “Papa”. Papa’s sand-coloured yacht is 155 meters long. Five decks including a heliport, concert hall and sauna area. The “Al Said” is the fourth longest, fifth most expensive mega-yacht in the world. It lies moored just 200 meters from the fish market, the souk and the corniche, Muttrah’s beachside promenade. We too have shown up there with something big: the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 4MATIC – Diamond White, 5.13 meters long, 2.6 tons, V8 biturbo engine, 585 hp. On this mild morning in Muttrah, the super SUV draws the attention of passers by at least as much as the monarch’s yacht bobbing up and down in the background. Young Omanis give a thumbs-up as our driver Mohammed starts the engine of the most powerful seven-seater in the world. The deep rumble makes no secret of its sports car DNA. The people outside whip out their smartphones, taking photos and shooting videos. With us sits Ishmael in this superlative SUV. The 33-year-old is a salesman at Zawawi Trading Co. LLC, the exclusive distributor for Mercedes-Benz in the Sultanate of Oman. He wants to show the AMG powerhouse to a prospect. We are happily along for the ride. We drive along the motorway for half an hour, past the old airport and the site where the new one is being constructed. Our destination: a neighborhood of villas by the sea. It’s here that the 31-year-old Mohammed Suleiman Abu Musabbah lives with his wife Rand and their three children. The young father is the founder, co-owner and general manager of Muscat Steel Industries Co. LLC. The company has 600 employees and supplies steel for the construction of the new airport and many other major projects that are shooting out of the ground in Oman. When Mohammed raises the garage door, it’s clear that he was bitten by the Mercedes-AMG bug long ago and that Iridium Silver is his favorite color. We look at a Mercedes-AMG GT S and a Mercedes-AMG ML 63. “Pleasure and family car,” the steel baron says with a smile. Ishmael explains the new Mercedes-AMG GLS to him. The two of them circle around the SUV several times. After the fifth lap, the young entrepreneur sits behind the wheel and is introduced to the benefits of ADS Plus and the Dynamic Select system. He checks the size of the trunk and how much legroom the rear seats offer. Mohammed Suleiman Abu Musabbah is visibly pleased with the large sport utility vehicle. Then comes a test drive to the steel plant and to a construction site that processes the steel from Muscat Steel Industries. On asphalt and gravel roads the entrepreneur tries out all the driving modes, hits the gas, brakes sharply, tests the smart technologies of the car, power and sound. What impresses him in particular? “Everything,” he replies. “Horsepower, design, advanced technology, performance, image...” The thermometer now reads 35 degrees Celsius. A light breeze from the sea is blowing across the small garden pool through the glass door into Mohammed’s living room. Coffee with rosewater and cardamom is served along with a small snack. “Really a fantastic car,” the AMG enthusiast concludes happily. “An intelligent, reliable heavyweight.” Taking short sips of his coffee, he looks deeply into his wife’s eyes for two or three seconds. His wife just smiles. She knows all too well that her husband has long since caught the fever. Ishmael the salesman nods with satisfaction too. “The off-road S-Class denotes not only pure luxury but also a great deal of freedom and independence,” he says. A road trip through Oman is like a journey between the Middle Ages and modernity. Meanwhile we enjoy something equally rare in the Mercedes- AMG GLS 63: perfect automotive freedom! 88


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