“THE Sultanate is a welcoming country, inspiring by its beauty and traditions,” says Paris-based French novelist Fabienne Herbane who dares to call the Sultanate ‘charming’.
She has published two novels with more in the pipeline and her works give equal importance to places and history with fictional characters.
Through writing, Fabienne shares her literary and lively ways to share her passion and human adventures.
This she says is her experience before writing her novel, Les défis de l’improbable or ‘The Challenges of the Improbable,’ (L’Harmattan 2019) through which she shares heritage and culture.
‘The Challenges of the Improbable,’ is her maiden novel which combines fiction with an Oriental tale on the land of incense of Oman with an African tale on the road to Zanzibar and an investigation where the hero takes up a challenge of honour. The book was presented at the Paris Book Fair in 2019 with Oman as the guest of honour.
It all began in 2018 when Fabienne travelled from Salalah to Musandam and later to Zanzibar with her Omani friends who helped to contribute and be part of the story in her book.
Fabienne admits that the landscapes of the Sultanate are so diverse that to visit the country, one needs to take time out to appreciate and enjoy but will be a choice well done. “I suggest a first trip, then a second upon which the lovers will come back a third time and go to Zanzibar, an island tightly linked to the history of the Sultanate,” she adds.
What prompted her to write the novel after visiting the Sultanate was her ‘inspiration.’
In Muscat she visited the famed Omani and French Museum in Old Muscat where she found a vintage 1962 first day cover of ‘the roses of France.’ Fabienne says the museum allows one to understand the history of Oman and in particular the importance she attached to navigation.
During her visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque she noticed the extraordinary work of artisans from all over the world who worked according to their skills towards perfecting the work of carpets, chandeliers or stained glass windows.
Musandam, called the ‘Fjords of the Middle East,’ according to Fabienne, is a remote paradise with its dizzy mountains, the cormorants which watch on the rocks and the dolphins that follow alongside the boats in crystal-clear waters. She mentions Kumzar, a village in Musandam Governorate, where time stands still to carry on the traditions.
She describes her visit to Dhofar Governorate, as ‘wonderful experience with great hospitality from Omani citizens.’ She mentions the mystical land of incense where the sacred tree produces frankincense with a thousand virtues. “One can also immerse himself in history through Al Baleed Archaeological Park and its well-researched museum.”
Finally, it was through the autobiography and memoirs book of an Arab princess from Zanzibar that she was able to discover Princess Salmé of Zanzibar and Oman and the splendours of the court around 1840.
In Zanzibar capital, Stone Town (also known as Mji Mkongwe), she strolled along the narrow streets admiring one of the symbols of Zanzibar, the carved doors, each more beautiful than the next.
She also published ‘Lady Sharjah’, a book published by Editions Persée. The author offers vision of a Western woman meeting the Orient with its beauty, cultural heritage and rites and discovers her unexpected passion for Sharjah. The novel was translated into Arabic by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), Abu Dhabi, and published by Editions Al Qasimi and presented at the Sharjah Book Fair in November 2014.
Plans are afoot to translate her novels into English and Arabic before her proposed visit to the Sultanate later this year once the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.
“The translation into Arabic is already complete and is in the process of finding a publishing house to promote the Sultanate to the Arab world. The novels will soon be made into film projects in the future. It will be my pleasure to give Omanis a present which will enable them to read about my love for their country, its values, art and hospitality,” she concludes.
Fabienne graduated from Paris Dauphine University in management and got a Masters in sociology of organisations. She also later became a professional in the air transport industry.