A Night at the Muscat Festival 2014, Oman

Discover the beauty of Muscat, meet the friendly Omani people and join in the celebrations at the 2014 Muscat Festival.  Dancers from India, Singapore, Mexico, Palestine and more.  See the colors, sounds and tastes of this marvelous event.

“Dubbed Oman’s biggest cultural and historical event, the Muscat Festival is the sultanate’s exhibition of local culture, art, consumer goods and services. The festival has a special flavour – a mixture of old and new, history and progression – from folk poetry and dance evenings, to lectures on solar energy, a chocolate festival and fashion shows. Some 1.5 million people from the region visit the month-long event, which can be seen at various venues around the city including the Omani Heritage Village, Seeb Beach and Al Qurum National Park where the most popular happenings take place.” WorldGuide.eu

Mark Abouzeid spent a week with performers and artisans participating in the 2014 Muscat International Folklore festival. Countries from around the globe and Omani tribesman from around the country mix at this important month long event exchanging aspects and knowledge of the unique cultural traditions and heritage. Join him in this ongoing series highlighting some of the key activities and personalities.

Rain in the desert | Flooding in Muscat, Oman

In a winter characterized by dramatic examples of the huge shifts in weather patterns to be expected as global warming increases, even tranquil Oman has not been spared. Following two months of unseasonably low temperatures, Muscat has been flooded by torrential rains lasting more than 12 hours.

This report by Mark Abouzeid highlights the current crisis as well as the impact to worldwide events, such as the Muscat Festival which was canceled until further notice.

copyright Mark Abouzeid 2014. All rights reserved.

Traditional Dhow shipbuilders of Sur | Oman 2014

Long considered as Oman’s prime trading ports, the calm and serene coastal town is the capital of Ash Sharqiyah on the coast of the Gulf of Oman. Sur has always been the epicenter of travel and trade in this region. Its vessels have ruled the waters since many a centuries! Its strategic location has always helped in maintaining and monitoring peace in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean.

Sinbad, the Pirates of the Main and trade from as far as China to the Mediterranean all had one this in common: the Omani hand made Dhows sailing vessels. Mark Abouzeid report on this important world cultural heritage takes you to one of the last remaining hand built boat yards in Sur, Oman.

Here is the video teaser for an upcoming documentary reportage on this important Omani cultural heritage.

Cedars in Air | Beirut to Balbek

On a snowy winter day, Mark Abouzeid crossed the mountains surrounding Beirut to visit Hezbollah stronghold of Balbek…and found a history of Roman conflict rather than present day.

The second installment of Mark Abouzeid’s journey to his ancestral home in search of his roots. This work as well as future footage from upcoming trips will be developed into an upcoming documentary film, “Cedars in Air”.

 

Oman, the Grand Mosque

In 1992 Sultan Qaboos directed that his country of Oman should have a Grand Mosque.

 

The entrance to the Great Mosque in Oman.

The Mosque is built from 300,000 tonnes of Indian sandstone. The main musalla (prayer hall) is square (external dimensions 74.4 x 74.4 metres) with a central dome rising to a height of fifty metres above the floor. The dome and the main minaret (90 metres) and four flanking minarets (45.5 metres) are the mosque’s chief visual features.

The main musalla can hold over 6,500 worshippers, while the women’s musalla can accommodate 750 worshipers. The outer paved ground can hold 8,000 worshipers and there is additional space available in the interior courtyard and the passageways, making a total capacity of up to 20,000 worshipers. (Wikipedia)

Continue reading

The Bedu of Wadi Rum: A culture at risk.

How do you capture the entire character of a culture that has no written record, has lived for centuries in relative isolation and exists in complete harmony with one of the world’s most extreme environments?

 

National Geographic

Bedouin reside in every principal country in the region.

Unlike most indigenous tribes who eventually get displaced by immigrants, the Bedouin represent the common heritage of the Arab people. By understanding their history and culture, we can better understand the middle east, overall. The knowledge, wisdom and history that is at risk forms the historical foundation of all Arab people’s.

The Bedu have maintained a quasi nomadic quasi sedentary existence for centuries living in equilibrium with their surroundings, integrating into their host countries while never losing their own identity.

Continue reading

Safeguarding the World’s Intangible Cultures at Risk.

“When a child is born, the father goes into the desert in search of the largest scorpion he can find.  The eldest woman slowly cooks the animal in a pan over an open fire until it melts like butter.  This salve is massaged into the skin of the baby.  The baby gets sick as a consequence of the scorpion venom but not enough to do it harm.  I was bitten by a scorpion a few years ago and nothing happened.  This is one of the traditional medicines of our people that is being lost.”  Attayak

Continue reading