Out of the almost 40 skaters who attended the first year anniversary of Oman’s first ever skatepark, Omanskate, almost a dozen of them are below 18-years old. In their young faces were eager anticipation. They had been coming to OmanSkate for training every now and then and the first year anniversary has brought together skaters that they looked up to. Unlike those older than them, they are now offered a safe space to do what they are most passionate about — skating. From those with experience, they learn not only how to ride a board but on how to do proper skating techniques limiting injuries and ensuring that they have a clean, enjoyable sport with amenities that allow them to display and practice tricks.
All of these were just once a dream of Hytham al Wahaibi who unlike the young skaters, had to grow skating on the streets most often welcomed with disappointment from owners of establishments.
Whichever place in Muscat allows them, they go to practise. The streets, while unsafe, had been their hangout places for a long time until Hytham took it upon himself to make a skatepark a reality.
The skatepark was designed by Hytham himself and the store which sells and rents different skating equipment including shirts and other gears had made it a one-stop shop for any skater.
The dream while realised, has still a long way to go.
How it all began
In 2017, a late-night conversation between two friends sparked an idea. In an effort to not only make their dreams come true but also help this growing community of skaters, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
Using the money that was kept aside initially to buy a car, Hytham decided it could be used for something he truly cared about. With luck, fearlessness and great determination, Hytham and his team opened the city’s first skatepark and shop on March 3, 2018, in Wadi Kabir.
Oman Skate, a facebook group for the local skaters and was set up sometime between 2010 and 2011. With only four or five members, the group, month by month grew becoming a full pledge community when their videos shared online gained popularity.
“There were skaters in Oman but we didn’t know each other. Eventually, more and more people joined, liked the page and started sharing it and week by week, month by month the community grew bigger until one fine day, we planned to meet up and there were almost 40 skaters in Qurum Park,” said Hytham.
From a video game to a Facebook group and now his very own skate park, Hytham’s journey to this point has been anything but easy. The skateboarding scene in Oman used to be at its biggest during the years of 2013, 2014 and 2015, “But it was severely affected after the destruction of our self-built skateparks in Qurum and Seeb along with many of the expat skaters leaving Oman once they or their families moved away,” Hytham said.
But skaters just like any athletes in the world need a place where they can practice their sport and meet new people who are interested in the same sport. They needed a safe environment where they don’t have to worry about breaking the law or hurting a pedestrian.
After several rejections and failed plans, they found a place in Wadi Kabir willing to let them build.
With excitement, Hytham shared, “Every detail in every inch of the place took precision and proper execution to ensure that the place was of high standards and with good safety measures. Before class, I would come to visit the site, tell them how exactly it needed to be done and then go to class. The place was covered in dirt, trees and rubbish and it was only after over a year’s worth of work that in 2018, Muscat was presented with Oman Skate, the country’s first skate park and skate shop.”
Where skaters are welcome
The main goal behind building the skatepark was to reunite the skaters once again and also to get more local skaters into our skateboarding community.
Marking their anniversary, Oman Skate announced on their social media platforms, a “1 Year Anniversary skate jam”, inviting skaters and riders of all sorts to the park to come to join Hytham and his team and celebrate their first milestone.
“Exactly one year after opening the park, I can gladly say that we have already accomplished our main goal. As of today, there are more local skaters than we’ve ever had and better yet they can all skate at one place where they can teach each other and get to know one another,” he said.
He added, “A skatepark is the heart of any skateboarding community in any country. It’s the place where one can meet new skater and skate freely without worrying about breaking the law or hurting a pedestrian.”
Almost 40 skaters showed up to the exciting event which was also sponsored by Apollo, who gave out free t-shirts to the visitors, Pocari Sweat and 1UP Burgers and Shake who gave out sliders to the skating entourage that had turned up to join in with the celebrations.
“Along with skateboarders were inline skaters and a biker,” shared James Bringas.
James co-manages the skate park with Hytham and has himself been a skater since he was 13 years old. He added, “An event like this was fantastic. People from all age groups came to where it was safe and legal to skate. Although the rain ended the scene a little early, it clearly didn’t ruin our spirits or the visitors’ spirits as most of them stuck around right until the end,” he said.
He added, “A skate park like this really changed the dynamics and gave us old-school skaters and the kids today a place to come together, meet people with similar interests and tastes.”
Community support needed
With a smile on his face Hytham said, “A year after opening the park, I can gladly say that we have already accomplished our main goal.”
Hytham is looking forward to awareness among corporate entities whose support can be instrumental to take the sport to another level.
On a previous interview, Hytham has highlighted that some companies are wary about giving support since there is lack of education that it is an actual sport with an audience and that there people who are truly interested in its form and function.
He said that he is looking forward to the day that they will be able to hold big skating competitions building the excitement even more and gaining more followers.
“This is where sponsorship comes in. With more sponsorships, the more we can make the sport popular and the more we can improve the facilities,” he said.
With more events coming up soon, be sure to follow them on their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @Omanskate.