A treasure of firearms that made history

The Dakhiliyah Governorate, already blessed with several culturally significant tourist attractions, now has a unique exhibition for visitors in the Bait ar Rudaydah Centre of Excellence for Historic Arms.
At the foot of the mighty Jabal Akhdhar, Director Dr Christopher Roads, an acknowledged world expert in the design and management of militaria displays and museums, explained the depth of the Sultanate’s unique history lends itself well, not only to the impressive display of arms and accessories, but to their future visitor experiences. Already, the centre has been praised by the International Council of Museums and Collections of Military Arms and History (ICOMAM) as one of the “top two or three in the world.”
Dr Roads explained that many of the exhibits were brought to an Omani exhibition of live shooting at the Nakhl Castle, which led to a small museum being established there in 2002. Then in 2005, after an exhaustive process Rajha bint Abdulmeer bin Sultan, then the Minister of Tourism, approved the design and construction of what is now the Centre of Excellence for Historic Arms at the Bait ar Rudaydah.
With significant experience across a diverse collection of militaria exhibits at the HMS Belfast Museum on the River Thames (London), Duxford Aviation Museum (Cambridgeshire, UK), the Imperial War Museum extension (London) and the Nasb al Shaheed (Amman, Jordan), Dr Roads is eminently qualified in the establishment of exhibits, interactive and audio visual experiences.
This experience is evident in the layout of the fortress, with its thirteen rooms, comprised of two gun-floors with guns cast in the UK from historical Omani specifications, with teak gun carriages built from teak sourced in Singapore, cannons and small arms sourced between 2004 and 2012, with gallery exhibitions of gun barrels and their internal rifling, projectiles, propellants, cartridge forms, loading and firing mechanisms, and sighting systems.
The centre had a soft opening on April 3, which has enabled staff training and development. Maryam Abdullah Humaid al Bahri, says, “I look forward to welcoming visitors from around the world because we are the number one exhibition in Oman for guns and weapons, something we have a long history in and have a proud tradition. We are a Unesco recognized institution, and of course adjacent to the 380-year-old Falaj Khatmeen.”
Her colleague Hamed al Auya, formerly of the Royal Army, explained, “I started work here in April, and it’s great to see the history of these guns, which of course are a passion of mine.” Among his duties is the identification and evaluation of locally owned arms, which is a service for local citizens that commenced on October 4. Dr Roads is especially enthusiastic about this side of their role as it offers the centre community engagement, and “is an opportunity for locals to learn more about their weapons.”
P G Wodehouse commented along the lines that, “one’s enthusiasm for guns was dependent upon at which end of it one stood,” yet here, at this unique Centre of Excellence, still very much in its formative, embryonic stages, this has the potential to become a ‘bucket list’ destination. Now open to the public it offers yet another look into Oman’s heritage, with the stamp of authenticity much treasured by all, be they historians, tourists or simply the curious at heart.