Prisoners in Muscat Fort Al Jalali 1933

Fort Al Jalali Prisoners returning


Photo taken by staff of HMS Duncan during a visit to  Muscat in 1933.

Text on the back of the photo tells us that these people are prisoners returning from their forced labor to the fort-prison Al Jalali. The fort guarding Muscat bay at the eastern end.  The name of the photographer is unknown.


 Antique photo Muscat

 Antique photo Muscat, prisoners fort Jalali

Photographer: Unknown


Al Jalali Fort was built by the Portuguese in 1587 and named Forte de São João (i.e. Saint John's Fort) Its Arabic name is said to derive from the Portuguese "João".  Like the Mirani Fort at the opposite end of the bay, Al Jalali's purpose was to protect Portuguese ships against the threat of attack, particularly by the Ottomans and Persians.  The fortress stands prominently on the top of a rocky hill commanding unobstructed views over the bay and old Muscat. The fort was captured by the Omani from the Portuguese in 1649 and was used for defensive purposes thereafter.  It underwent some restorations and expansions over the years until it was turned into a prison.  It is now no longer in use, but has undergone extensive restoration in recent years.  HMS Duncan was an impressive warship (a D-class destroyer leader) built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930´s.

  1. Historical Muscat An illustrated Guide and Gazetteer by J.E. Peterson published by Brill Leiden 2007