Sunday, October 01, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 15, 1445 H
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She sells seashells by the sea shore


Fathiya bint Abdullah al Dhahouri from Wilayat of Bukha in Musandam Governorate perfectly fits this tongue twister on seashells.

She loves seashells and makes pieces of art from seashells scattered on the beach.

Her love for handicrafts began during home quarantine during the outbreak of coronavirus. This transformed into making beautiful keychains for cars, necklaces, book marks, coffee coasters, crochet seashells, medals for cars and frames.

Calling herself a ‘beach ambassador’, she grew up in the beautiful coastal village of Bukha near the beach. The diversity of colours and shapes of the shells always intrigued her.

“I was fascinated when I found distinctive seashells which I consider as a precious treasure. The love for the sea triggers imagination and its bounties make me realise how I can use them productively.”

Explaining her work, Fathiya says craft work from shells requires accuracy, patience, and interest to come up with something unique.

Her work starts with collecting shells, choosing colours, shapes, and sizes, cleaning, sterilisation and adding raw materials such as paint, adhesive and other materials.

“There are large, shiny and distinct shells, which I paint to give them a luster and maintain their quality for as long as possible. I also use varnish to add shine to the shells, and cleanser to remove the sticky lime material on the shells and high quality glue. I wear gloves and a mask and sit outside while at work.”

Beaches of Tibat, Ghamda, Faghaa, Al Jari and Al Jadi in the Wilayat of Bukha have their ample share of seashells with their distinctive shapes and sizes.

She also scanned the beaches of South Al Sharqiyah Governorate, Ras Al Hadd, Asilah and Al Ruwais collecting shells to form various works of art.

Varieties of shells namely Baby ears, Scallop, Cowries, Bittersweet, Fissurellidae, Sundials, Strawberry, Frog, Telescope Snail and Pen are used by her.

The beaches of Wilayat of Bukha are characterised by seashells of scallop, baby ears in bright and white colours and cowries are available on the beach of Tibat. There are also few shells on the coast of Bukha, but in small quantities such as Nerita trifasciata, paper nautilus, frog shells, telescope snail and pen shells.

Most of her collection of shells from the beaches of Muscat and Al Sharqiyah are yet to be identified.

Taking her collection forward, Fathiya has exchanged shells with a shell collector from Florida, and intends to do the same with friends who collect shells from all over the globe. Some of her friends from UAE and the Sultanate of Oman have also helped her to collect shells.

For the future, Fathiya plans to explore shell jewellery, open a retail store in Bukha and organise workshops for children and tourists.

Working in the media department at Musandam Municipality, Fathiya’s handicrafts, despite setting a trend, have found acceptance in the local market.

After collecting information and data she plans to come out with a reference book on seashells in the Sultanate of Oman which will help researchers and also participate in Gulf and international exhibitions.

Follow her on Instagram @shell_of_oman.

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