Muscat Festival: One month to showcase traditions of Oman

Tradition at centre stage

The month long Muscat Festival 2012, featuring a celebration of Oman’s traditional arts, culture and heritage, will start from the last week of January and will go on till February 23.
The dates for the next edition of Muscat Festival have been set from January 26 to February 23, 2012 with the main venues remaining the same, which are Qurum Natural Park and Naseem Garden,” an official from Muscat Municipality, organisers of the event.
“Right now, we are in our final stages of preparations and the exact details of the events will be announced as soon as they are confirmed but events will include the internationally acclaimed
Tour of Oman cycling race, yet again featuring some of the biggest names in the sport of cycling, a heritage village with different wilayats (governorates) taking part as well as concerts and family amusement parks,” declared a spokesman for the festival.
The official said the Tour of Oman dates have also been confirmed as February 14-19. “We consider Tour of Oman as the main event too because it promotes cycling as a sport in Oman; puts Oman on the world stage as an attractive tourist destination and also stimulates trade and economic activity within the country.
Riding on the success of previous festival events, which have been attracting huge crowds, next year’s event will comprise more or less similar activities.
“With the exception of cultural activities which we are doing away with this time, other events which made a debut in Oman last year including an extreme endurance event, a fashion week in Muscat and an Omani food festival are likely to be back,” the official said.
Every year, the Muscat Festival showcases Oman’s traditional dances and craft displays. The event also attracts dance and acrobatic acts from other countries as well as fireworks and shopping stalls, mainly from the subcontinent and Far East.
The agenda of programmes and activities which will mark the 2012 Muscat Festival, beginning on January 26 in Naseem Park and Qurm Natural Park, was unveiled on Sunday. As part of the festival, traditional boat racing will be held for the first time.
Proclaimed the ‘Year of the Child’ by the Council of Ministers, this year’s edition of the festival will focus on developing the education and entertainment sector for youth.
Addressing a press conference, Khalid Mohammed Omar, deputy chairman of the Muscat Festival organising committee, said the festival and Tour of Oman together provide an ideal platform to showcase the traditions of Oman. “With over 1.2mn people visiting the festival last year and the global reach of Tour of Oman in more than 180 countries, we expect both these numbers to increase this year.
With Muscat being named the 2012 Capital of Arab Tourism as well as being voted the second best city in the world to visit by Lonely Planet, behind only the Olympic Games host city of London, this also increases the strategic importance of Muscat Festival and Tour of Oman for the promotion of the sultanate in the international arena.”
Highlighting the programme of events, Sheikh Saif al Rasheedi, head of media and public relations for Muscat Festival, said that the festival venues will be open to visitors from 4pm to 11pm daily, including weekends. “Entry fee is 200bz for adults and 100bz for children.”
Naseem Park will also be the perfect setting for families, as it has on its premises an amusement park, fun-fairs, electronic games and entertainment shows for children. “Nearly 500 stalls from almost 30 countries will give the festival a global appeal. A success in 2011, the Oman food festival will also be organised from February 7 to 17 in Qurm park,” Rasheedi said.
Speaking about the third edition of Tour of Oman, which will take place from February 14 to 19, Rasheedi said there will be 128 cyclists competing in the event.
He also said that traditional boat racing will be organised on February 9 and 10 at The Wave, Muscat. Moreover, Omani designers will be showcasing their collection on the catwalk along with other Arab and South Asian designers from February 21 to 23 in Riyam Park.
Designers from Oman, Lebanon, Morocco, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Pakistan and Syria will participate in this year’s Muscat Fashion Week. This will be the finale event of the 2012 edition of Muscat Festival.
The Muscat Fashion Week will be held from February 21 to 23 on an outdoor runway at the Riyam Park, which will be redone for the event.
The participating designers include Hanaa Wahaibi, Nawal Al Hooti and Dibaj from Oman, Abed Mahfouz from Lebanon, Siham Tib from Morocco, Kubra Al Qaseer from Bahrain, Amina Al Jassim from Saudi Arabia, Ayesha Depala and Kanzi from UAE, Mehwish Afzal from Pakistan and Hassan Mardash from Syria.
An exhibition of clothes designed by these designers will be held for buyers from February 22 to 24 at the Ghalya Museum of Modern Art, Mutrah Corniche.
Malik bin Fahmy Al Hinai, Muscat Municipality Committee member responsible for Muscat Fashion Week said, “We are delighted to continue last year’s success, and once again we will do our part in highlighting the extraordinary talent the Arab fashion world has to offer.
The response we received from the first Muscat Fashion Week in 2011 was tremendous, and this fortified the strong demand for an international Arab Fashion Week.”
“Arab fashion will take centre stage at the second Muscat Fashion Week. Following the success of last year’s event — the first ever of its kind — Oman will play host to fashion press and buyers from around the world as the international fashion spotlight turns to fashion talent based in the Gulf and South Asia,” organisers said.
“Focusing on established designers from the Middle East as well as new talent, the week collects the best of fashion from all around the Arab countries,” they added.
Taking place over three evenings, the Muscat Fashion Week will consist of a number of boutique shows – exclusive, limited presentations – to make each night an experience.
“With renowned local Omani designers taking their designs to the catwalk alongside other top Arab and South Asian designers, this second Muscat Fashion Week will also present the international community with an outstanding example of the beauty of Arabic influenced fashion,” organisers said.
Last year’s edition received rave reviews from the international press who covered it. New York Times writer had written that “Despite the short preparation time, the production was as strikingly beautiful as it was effortlessly punctual.”