The sultanate’s 1,700km coastline has been witness to thousands of years of rich maritime heritage, with Omani sailors pioneering the development of maritime skills and technology to reach far off places like China some 1,100 years ago.
During the Magan civilisation 5,000 years ago, Oman was a rich source of copper for developing civilisations in the entire region and also the centre for frankincense trade.
Today, the ancient sea trade in copper and frankincense might have disappeared but the great Omani seafaring traditions have continued to be an important part of daily life of Omani fishermen.
The Muscat Festival venue on Seeb Beach is showcasing this aspect of the sultanate with the Marine Craft Village. A large area on the corner of the beach has been transformed into an idyllic Omani fishing village.
From the dried date palm leaves used to erect the thatched walls to the fishermen engaged in chiseling out a piece of wood to be used in building a dhow with traditional tools, each scene recreates the past magic.
Mansoor al Zaabi, one of the organisers, said that the village was showcasing maritime traditions from the wilayat of Saham. “We have on display the boat and khanjar-making traditions from Saham. Other aspects of a fishing village are also highlighted at the venue,” he said.
As one enters the village, guests are greeted with free kahwa or black tea.
The kahwa is made on a clay stove lit with dried date leaves. A tour of the place can help visitors experience the life of an Omani fisherman.
From weaving nets, to carving out wood to make boats, to drying of lemons in baskets made from palm leaves, each aspect displayed is an integral part of Omani tradition. The maritime village also has on display various traditional tools that go into making a boat.
Several septuagenarians can be seen giving a demo on how they use the traditional bow drill, called migdah in Arabic, and the wood chisel called randa.
The place is a perfect lure for children as the fishermen display a variety of sea shells. Another interesting feature is the demo on lighting a traditional lamp in which date paste to seal the bottle. Visitors can also enjoy the traditional dance performed by fishermen.
SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY