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“The most interesting thing about a postage stamp is the persistence with which it sticks to its job.”

- Napoleon Hill

46th National Day- The Solid Identity

From Musandam in the far north to Salalah in the deep south of Oman, the national tunes and Omani music accompany a dance of white, red and green ribbons that fly in the sky, from rooftops, in the streetlights and from the open windows of passing cars. On 18th of November, the colours and music of Oman form a united display of love.

The happiness of these colours has a deep history in Oman yet telling the story on National Day won’t be through words, it will be through rejoicing and celebration among Omanis.    

The tale itself is even bigger. It’s a story of citizens, history, culture and pride.  National Day has great meaning in the heart of Omanis as it retells the stories from Oman and the connections from China in the east to the the United States in the west. Omanis call this Renaissance Day, first celebrated on the 18th November 1970, and one of the most important dates in the Omani calendar. It is a day of joy for Omanis of all ages and honours the achievements of the blessed renaissance led by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Omani Dates- The Summer Signs

Oman has a deep history with the humble date. Whether it be the basket of dates kept in the middle of the house, the date honey (Dibs) in the corner of the kitchen or on the drying mat (Daan) open in the courtyard of the house, the date is synonymous with Omani hospitality.

The link between Omanis and the date-palm is more than dates being a food to have with local coffee (Kahwa), but as a cultural and historical link, even being taken to international food festivals to represent Oman.

The existence of dates has been closely linked to the all regions of Oman due to the different soils and temperatures giving a nourishing place to grow different kinds of palm trees, each with their own distinctive tastes, forms, colours and usage. Apart from giving a rich harvest of dates, other parts of the trees are used for manufacturing furniture, household items and utensils with tests being carried out for industrial use of trunks and bark.
Omani dates have been sought after since ancient times when Captain Austin carried the seeds of a type of Omani date known as ‘Al Fard’ to be cultivated by US farmers in South Carolina.

 

The date season in Oman lasts from May to November and is a time that boosts the community solidarity with events such as Raqat, Faghoor and others.

 

Dibs: syrup extracted from dates

Daan: a large mat made of palm fronds tied together and used for drying dates

Raqat: the act of collecting dates

Faghoor: cooked dates that are served as a dessert

The Arabian Oryx

She stepped in the Barchan dunes with the pride of an Arabian bride. The golden threads of the sun reflected an ethereal aura around her bright white skin, like a pearl in the heart of the desert. Her charming eyes observed the deep desert as if looking for a lost being.

Suddenly, she moved her hooves slowly in anticipation; her horns sensed an enemy, perhaps behind the bushes. Her ears shivered with fear; it was behind the tree. She should have been more careful and not left the herd. She heard it! Stepping on the leaves! This time it wasn’t a snake she could kill with one kick, but a striped hyena with sharp teeth.

They looked at each other, hiding different intentions. The hyena suddenly attacked, but the Oryx was faster. She had to run for her life, but she couldn’t take the right path and risk exposing the whole herd and the other path was full of moving sands; she drew nearer! She had to make a decision! She jumped skillfully, leaving behind a hyena swallowed by the sands.

 

The Arabian Oryx is an endangered species that has been given great attention locally and internationally. A number of sanctuaries were established protecting the Oryx from hunters, such as the one in Jiddat Al-Harasis in the Sultanate of Oman.           

23rd Arabian Gulf Cup

Silence reigned over the green pitch. Did the clock stop working? Was it the end? So we lost, but why is the opposing teams’ supporters so quiet? He turned to his father who was standing like a statue. He pulled on his hand many times, but he seemed to have lost all his senses.

That was bewildering to him since when he, Mohammed, asked his father to buy him tickets for the final match he had refused, even after much pleading. After many days of crying and nagging and with his grandmother’s support, his father finally bought the tickets. But why was he now so involved?

He turned around to see people behind him with their hands clasped together, eyes fixed on the goal, and the only sound he could hear was of hearts beating like drums. He sat back in his seat, anticipating. Nothing to be worried about, he thought. His grandmother had reassured him saying there was no way his team was going to lose. Why was his forehead sweating then? Fear is contagious; time was barely passing. A minute later the screams of the crowds awakened him, coming together in waves of joy: “Faiz! Faiz! Faiz!”  

 

The Oman Football National team won the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup in 2017. Oman played against the Emirates and won on penalties when Faiz Al-Rushaidi, Oman’s goalkeeper, saved two penalty shots.  

Farhah

She was busy looking at the animated stories, talking to herself and laughing with joy. She sent smiles full of life to her father who was enjoying the beauty of her angelic face. A visage of innocence and girlhood. Is she really that beautiful or is he exaggerating her beauty because she is his daughter?

A flashback took him to the day of her birth. Mixed feelings of fear and worry; he didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl, but wanted both the baby and the mother to be healthy. But his daughter wasn’t. The doctors said she was born with Downs Syndrome, causing a delay in her mental and speech development. He was speechless, overwhelmed by the shock. Why his daughter? From all the new-born babies in the hospital, his daughter was the one. He took her in his arms but couldn’t understand it. She looked perfectly healthy and beautiful. He named her Farhah, hoping her name would bring her back the joy that life had already taken from her. Above all, she had been his first baby, one that he had been longing to meet; she brought his injured heart joy and comfort. He whispered in her ears with affection and love, ‘Welcome, Farhah.’

Ten years have passed and Farhah is becoming more beautiful and joyful every day. Her parents had been worried about her future, but not since she joined the Care and Rehabilitation Center for People with Special Needs where she has engaged with her peers. As he took her on his lap she started telling him about her day in school with great excitement.

Oman came first at the Gulf level in the Children’s Rights Index, which was published by the International Children Rights Foundation, ‘KidsRights’. It guarantees all childhood rights including health and education.  

Farhah: The equivalent word for joy in English

The Green Janoob

Although it was a bit foggy, she could see the green meadows stretch as far as the horizon. It wasn’t her first visit to this place but she was constantly amazed at its heavenly beauty every time she came. She wondered how a city could encapsulate all the words for beauty in one view. She meditated on the painting in front of her, the view that captivated her soul at first sight; high green mountains, hot water springs, upright evergreen trees and herds of cattle occasionally passing by.

A shepherd caught her eye, with the heavy woolen fabric protecting his chest from the cold and another piece of clothing around his waist, but his long, curly hair flowing behind him every time his bare feet stepped on the grass was the first thing her eyes fell on. He took his wooden stick and started singing sweet, sad melodies. She didn’t understand the words, but it seemed that the camels did. They calmed down as if enjoying the tunes. The unbelievable chemistry between the two creatures astonished her even more. She followed the herd with her eyes until it disappeared between the mountains.

She sat in the misty green grass feeling as if her soul was at one with nature. She was the meadows and the hills. She inhaled the fragrance of nature for the last time before leaving, knowing this wouldn’t be her last visit to this wonderful place. 

     

Salalah Tourism Festival takes place in Dhofar in the Sultanate of Oman from July to August in the Khareef (monsoon) season. It hosts different events and activities including musical shows and a cultural village.

 

Janoob: The equivalent word for south in English