Muscat: A young boy accompanied his parents to stay in Zanzibar for forty days in 1994. And the country was back in his mind as he ventured out to biking around the world in 2009, but it was not until 2018 he reached the land he had visited as a child, a place full of links to his family as well as his nation.
“We still have relatives who live there. And my objective was to trace back to the areas Omanis lived and historical past which is still visible in the architecture, in clothes and cap,” Maher al Barwani said.
Embarking on the journey he had to pass through many countries — from the Sultanate of Oman to United Arab Emirates to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Once in Africa he started from Sudan, and passed through Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and then United Republic of Tanzania. He spent 10 months living and exploring Tanzania while in the process he became Tourism Ambassador of Tanzania.
“I have seen more than 80 per cent of Tanzania. I am very grateful to the Ministry of Tourism because it gave me the opportunity to explore Tanzania. It was fascinating because our history is still there. And we still have relatives living there.
There are more than one palace built by the sultans during their era, so not just in Stone Town,” Maher noted.
Marhubi Palace (5 km away from Bait Al Ajaib) is looked upon as the home of Omani Sultan in late 1800s on the Zanzibar islands. Pemba also has palace. Bait Al Ajaib — the House of Wonders — was called so because it was not only the tallest building at the time, but also because it was the first to have electricity and an elevator. Today however, there are fewer people wearing Omani dishdashas because it is not available as much as attire from other countries.
“I hope we can revive the Omani dishdashas for the Omanis who are in Tanzania,” Maher pointed out.
As Maher continued to explore Tanzania, he also had the opportunity to attend a cultural festival at the capital. He recollected, “I had the opportunity to meet Samia Suluho Hassan who was the vice-president then. I explained to her my journey on my bike all the way from Oman. I am excited to see her now visiting the Sultanate of Oman as the President of the United Republic of Tanzania.”
“I never felt like a guest when I was in Tanzania not because I speak Swahili but because I see how all are treated. The hospitality is great no matter which country a person is from. And the food too it is what we eat at home as well,” said Maher al Barwani.