Bait al Garbi: From an old house to a tourist magnet

A big house comprised of 14 rooms in the village of Qasra was abandoned for decades — left to the elements to rot and die a natural death.
The owner, prompted by the tide of change sweeping the nation, found it convenient to move to a more fitting house filled with modern facilities.
So for 26 years, the house, popularly called Bait al Garbi, was left to collect dust until one of the family’s children, Zakiaa bint Nasser al Lamki converted the 200-year-old family home into a museum.
The village of Qasra is a historical place. Home to popular scholar Sheikh Rashid bin Saif al Lamki, also known to many as the “Chief of Justice,” it was also the birthplace of Imam Nasser bin Murshid al Yaraibi, the founder of Yarabah state. There are plenty more popular historical figures who hailed from here.
Walking through its narrow, often unpaved, streets takes one to a trip down memory lane. Several houses here were built over 50 years ago adding even more interest to the already popular history of Rustaq. Sitting side by side with the popular attractions in the wilayat like Al Hazm Fort and Ain al Kasafa, Bait al Garbi is also beginning to make noise for everything that is on it as well as the history it boasts.
The house contains lots of precious objects — old books, swords, ancient coins, old kitchenware, pots and potteries. The house also has a section that displays old women’s toiletries and has an interesting mix of aged perfumes, incense, bags, and other objects such as silver and bracelets. The house also possesses different handicrafts, old mattresses, old copper and metal vessels, and manufacturing tools used in the production of milk and dairy products.
Zakiaa shared that with all the treasures inside, it makes so much sense to convert it into a museum where everyone can enjoy its content and learn from the displays.
“My role wasn’t confined to collecting archaeological and historical artifacts. I’d been heavily promoting the historical significance of the house and has been participating in cultural and tourist events from the governorate to the state level to bring more attention to this treasure based here in Rustaq,” she said.
“The idea of making it a museum was prompted by my love for heritage and the little details and components that make up history,” she said.
“Some parts of the house were destroyed in the past. At one point, the roof and the walls fell. Dust accumulated in all its nooks and crannies. But there was something to it that I felt needed to be preserved. I think it was important to value the historical evidence left behind by our ancestors,” she said.
Restoring Bait al Garbi, with all its 14 rooms, wasn’t easy. Zakiaa said that she has to work to the best of her potential and ability. With the combined help of her family, neighbors and the different people from the village, Bait al Garbi slowly came back to good shape.
Today, Zakiaa is proud that not only were they successful in restoring the damaged parts, it has started to attract visitors as well not only from those within the Sultanate but including travelers and tourists from abroad.
“We are averaging a thousand visitors per months and during school days, we approximately reach two thousand per month,” she shared.
“The museum is open to visitors from Saturday to Friday from 9 am to 1 pm and from 4:30 pm to 8 pm’,’ she said.
With the help of social media and support from officials in the government who visited the house, she hopes to bring more interest into her family’s historical heirloom.

Ruqaya al Kindi