Guangzhou: Eighteen years ago, Sohar, a cotton-sailed dhow, retraced the 9th century voyage of its original namesake, from Muscat to Chinese city of Guangzhou to spread love, friendship and peace. On Thursday, Oman and China inaugurated a memorial to commemorate the ship’s historic journey to celebrate the centuries-old ties that bind the two countries.
The memorial is also a part of the celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of establishing the diplomatic relations between the Sultanate and China. The ceremony was held in the presence of Dr Abdulmunim bin Mansour al Hasani, Minister of Information, officials of China and Oman.
Prior to the inauguration ceremony, Dr Al Hasani spoke about the heritage and historic ties shared between ancient Oman and Chinese civilisations. He also touched on the journey of the famed Omani sailor Sinbad the sailor from Sohar to Canton on Sohar dhow in the 9th century. “His Majesty Sultan Qaboos ordered in 1980 to restore the memory of this historic relationship through the reconstruction of the Sohar Ship, which took the same path taken by Sinbad to the city of Guangzhou…Today, we are all recalling the memory of our ancestors and unveiling the Sohar Ship Memorial to stand as a witness of our deep historic relations,” the minister said.
The Vice Mayor of Guangzhou said, “The friendship and love between the Sultanate and the People’s Republic of China has been constant since ancient times. This celebration comes to mark the 40th anniversary of establishing the diplomatic relations between the two friendly countries as well as the fifth anniversary of launching the belt and road initiative”. She added that her country supports this friendship to push the bilateral cooperation relations to a new high. When Sohar ship sailed 1,300 years ago from Suhar to Guangzhou, the ship was a sign of the flourishing trade and civilisation between the two countries at the time, the vice-mayor of Guangzhou said.
Sohar set off on November 23, 1980 from Muscat and covered 6,000 nautical miles before dropping anchor at Guangzhou Port on July 10, 1981, passing through ports in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The ceremony included performance of Omani folk dance and a photo exhibition about nature, history, Omani shipbuilding, culture, customs, traditions, wildlife and achievements of the Blessed Renaissance.
Dr Abdullah bin Saleh al Saadi, Sultanate’s Ambassador to China, said the relations between Oman and China dating back to thousands of years have played a role in strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries. He said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations on May 25, 1978, ties between the two countries at all levels have reached their peak with the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement in May 2018, coinciding with the celebration of 40th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. He said that there are major Chinese companies that have already invested in Duqm with projects over $10 billion. He added that there will be Chinese investments in other sectors soon, especially in clean energy, such as solar energy.
He said that the Sultanate intends to cooperate with the Chinese government’s Silk Road Fund. He called on Omani businessmen to come to China to meet their Chinese counterparts and share their experiences with them. He affirmed that the Omani Embassy in China is fully prepared to offer all help to Omani businessmen to make the most benefit out of the Chinese market.
A reception was also held in Guangzhou on Thursday evening to mark the inauguration of the Memorial of Sohar ship. It was attended by Dr Abdulmunim bin Mansour al Hasani, Minister of Information, the vice-chairman of Guangzhou Province, some officials at the Chinese government and the delegation accompanying the Minister of Information. — ONA