Beauty has an address ~ Oman
Feb 01, 2013
Traditional tents at SQP greet tourists
The first impression makes a lasting imprint in the minds of visitors, and to make such impressions possibly the best, the Ministry of Tourism has set up a set of traditional Omani tents at the Sultan Qaboos Port. This is to offer a firsthand experience of the time-tested Omani culture and traditions to the foreigners who visit the country by sea.
The opening of the cultural tents at the port coincides with the onset of tourism season when cruise vessels call at the Sultan Qaboos Port, which has been declared as the complete tourist port and the work to transform it is afoot.
The Ministry of Tourism organized a special event to mark the opening of the first permanent tents at the port that caters to foreign visitors.
Khalid al Zadjali, Director of Events, Ministry of Tourism, said that the tents form part of the Sultanate’s ongoing campaign of tourism promotion and the tents evoked good response from the visitors. “These tents are part of the Sultanate’s efforts to project the country’s traditions and culture to the world. We have several facets of Omani culture on display and have already received encouraging response from the visitors”.
Those alighting at the PSQ will be received with a traditional Omani music and dance and are welcomed to a couple of tents built with the thick clothes used to construct traditional Omani ‘khaima’ and to a gamut of crafts and art forms. After being served with the Omani halwa, dates and kahwa, they can do some kind of window shopping at the arts and crafts created on the spot.
“It is with the aim of letting these foreign visitors have their firsthand experience of Omani hospitality and culture. And these ‘khaima’ (tents) are proving to be offering the best description of the same as far as the feedback from these guests are concerned”, Shukoora al Gammari, member of the Omani Tourism Promotion, said.
Christopher, a Swedish tourist who alighted at the port from one of the visiting vessels, said that the display of culture and tradition was indeed the first window that he can think of to the immensely rich heritage of the Sultanate of Oman.
“I was truly amazed to see the timeless traditions and culture at these tents today as soon as we got out of the ship and it is really nice to get the first taste of the country the moment you are out from the ship”.
“What I’m attracted to the most in the Omani culture is hospitality”, avers Marlyne Schokof, German who too had the first taste of Omani hospitality yesterday.
“We were greeted with a bowl of dates, kahwa which is, I think, made of coffee with cardamom which is a standard Arabic drink, and fruit”.
Yet another attraction for the tourists is handicrafts. Omani handicrafts play a significant role in society because their production is mostly home-based, involving the use of hands or simple tools.
In Oman, handicrafts are assuming great significance both as cultural souvenirs and generator of self-employment. At these tents, it is quite interesting and amazing to see how these local artisans turn a piece of wood into a delicate piece of art or a plain cloth into a resplendent painting. The demand for Omani handicrafts is huge, especially when it comes to buying items of interior décor. Omanis like to prefer handicrafts produced in the country rather than opting for non-native goods so as the tourists do.
Oman also attracts millions of tourists, many of whom buy local souvenirs in the form of handicrafts.
It is assumed that thousands of tourists who visit Oman look for souvenirs that project the culture and heritage of the country.
Many tourists are delighted to see handcrafted models of traditional Omani sail boats, pottery, paintings, vase, baskets woven from palm fronds, rugs and silver jewellery. With residential and commercial interior decoration assuming great importance and popularity in Oman, there is great demand in the domestic and international market for genuine Omani handicrafts. Moreover, government organizations and ministries need to patronize local handicrafts in a big way.
“These visitors can also enjoy a number of traditional Omani dance and music at their choice”, says Haitham al Gassani, Director, Tourism Promotion, adding “they can later shop at the permanent tents specially constructed for the purpose where they can buy a wide plethora of crafts and arts at their disposal”.
As a number of vessels are expected to call at the Port Sultan Qaboos with the advent of the favorable climate called ‘the tourist season’, the permanent tents are all set to be astounding success in the coming months.