By: Maryam Khan

From signature art and crafts, folk performances to a wide variety of delicacies on offer, the Heritage Village at Amerat Park offers a perfect glimpse of the sultanate’s heart in its grandeur.

The small, closed souqs selling traditional products like frankincense, bukhoor, perfumes (atar), abayas, traditional dresses and jewellery give it an old-world charm.

Shifa al Amry, a young girl selling bukhoor at one of the souqs talks about the product, which defines every Omani household, “Bukhoor is a special wood chip soaked in fragrant oils and is used to perfume houses. We sell half a packet for RO1. In traditional Omani households, bukhoor is used to ward off evil. This is the second year I am taking part in Muscat Festival. I am helping my aunt sell bukhoor here. We live in Al Hail and our cousins send us bukhoor from Salalah which is the best quality available in the country.”

A few steps ahead is the crafts section showcasing a range of handmade products – silverware, textiles, jute, palm products and fishing tools. Mohammed al Jahwari, a resident of Sohar said he is been in the business of jute products for years.

“My father has been making jute products since years. We have a shop as well in Sohar. This is our fifth year at the festival, which is a platform for us to show what Oman stands for and portray its rich heritage.”

The village also gives an insight into the fishing heritage of Oman. Another draw for many are the cultural performances by Omani artistes, captivating the audience with music from traditional instruments.

A performer said the dances are unique to each part of Oman. But nowadays, they are either performed at special occasions – like Muscat Festival – or on National Days.

A unique form that is sure to capture most minds is the Hambal, a sailors’ march accompanied by exhilarating music. The march sees two drummers at the head of the group, walking backwards as the sailors proceed ahead to the encouraging words of two to show their bravery.

The tour of the Heritage Village is incomplete without experiencing the cuisine section. Like always, this year’s Muscat Festival also has a range of delicacies.

One stall that drew many visitors was the one selling luqaimat – fried dough balls dipped in sweet date syrup. One can learn to make them too.

Shaeema, a resident of Seeb said, “This is the second year that I have been selling luqaimat and they are quite popular. A lot of people buy it.” The other food items on offer include chickpeas, rakhal (Omani flat bread with cheese, honey and egg), kidney beans, pancakes and halwa.

SOURCE: Muscat Daily