Gratitude-50 emerged as an idea that was as ambitious as it was unique. Conceptualised by Martin Mbuta, and supported and sponsored by the Water-Front at Shatti al Qurum, the aim of the project was to give the large expatriate community in the Sultanate an opportunity to express their gratefulness and love to Oman’s beloved late Sultan, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Artists from different nationalities were invited to paint part of what would be a large portrait of His Majesty, that would then be pieced together like a puzzle on a grid, to create one large masterpiece — measuring an incredible 5.6×7 metres.
The one-of-its-kind monumental painting of His Majesty was unveiled at a special event held at the Waterfront’s beachside patio at Shatti Al Qurum yesterday in the presence of Her Excellency Dr Suad bint Mohammed bin Ali al Lawatia, the Minister of Arts Affairs. In attendance at the unveiling were dignitaries, ambassadors, officials, artists and special invitees.
Speaking at the unveiling, Martin said, “The 27 artists, representing every corner of the world, joined whole-heartedly with love, passion, dedication and commitment, working for 8 weeks as a team and as family, each painting a part of the portrait without knowing what the next artist was doing until it all came together into a beautiful masterpiece. The Gratitude 50 masterpiece is not just a portrait painting of the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said but more of a special platform on which the expatriate community in Oman have the opportunity to personally write heartfelt messages expressing their deepfelt gratitude to a great leader the world will miss for a lifetime.” Their completed work was then put together like a puzzle to create a wonderful work of art that is now open to public display at the Water-Front.
As the portrait was unveiled, Austin D’Silva, General Manager, Water-Front said, “We wanted to bring to life the ideals of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, by creating a platform that would help us spread the message of brotherhood and peaceful coexistence — ideals on the foundations of which His Majesty created the modern state of Oman. We believe that art is a great medium to bring people together and the Waterfront with its picturesque location on Shatti Al Qurum beach offers a tranquil space that allows artists to unleash their creativity. We are proud to have partnered in the Gratitude 50 project and are thrilled to see how the artists —each drawn from different cultures, collaborated to create a masterpiece that is truly representative of the ideals that the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said believed in.”
Participating artists, drawn from different nationalities, speaking different languages and of different ages were united in their expression of love and gratitude to Oman’s much-loved Sultan who is credited with creating the very foundations on which the Omani Renaissance was build. “We will remember Sultan Qaboos as a noble advocate for tolerance and peace. His promotion of religious tolerance ensured that communities co-exist in peace and harmony,” said Dr Shalini Kumar Gupta, an artist from India. Voicing similar sentiments was Ghazaleh Beirami, an artist from Iran who spoke of the importance of encouraging cross-cultural understanding amongst peoples and nations. She said, “It was his unwavering commitment to furthering peace and understanding between nations and between faiths that made Sultan Qaboos a leader who was loved and respected the world over.”
The artists whose works are part of this iconic project are Susan Sarada (Canada), Ye Hong Shen (China), Dr Amal Ezzat Soliman (Egypt), Garance Cogitore (France), Morad Rabia (France), Nikos Zarras (Greece), Nandana Pegu Kouli (India), Soni Budhia (India), Harini Kumar (India), Ronnie Pascual (Phillipines), Jessica Goncalves (US, Brazil), Rebecca Mayston (New Zealand), Carrie Wareham (UK), Fairouz Romdhane (Tunisia), Martin Mbuta (Kenya), Afnan Shukri (Iraq), Caz Hsiao (Taiwan, UK, New Zealand), Mina Rezaee (Iran), Asma Abdul Majid Karj (Syria), Ghazaleh Beirami (Iran), Alaa Abdullah (Sudan), Elham Iravani (Iran), Rashmi Dauria (India), Sawsan Tawor Eldaw (Sudan), Alaa Adil Elsayed (Sudan), Dr Shalini Gupta Kumar (India) and Nada Jovanovic (Serbia).
This must-see art installation is open for public viewing for the next few days. Visitors can also leave their messages of tribute at the venue.
BY MARY OOMMEN