The four different locations of Muscat Nights offer plenty of entertainment. Visiting two of these locations and seeing clips on social media proved that every location is unique, each offering a plethora of fun and entertainment all connected under the banner of the reformatted and truly missed Muscat Festival.
While Qurum Park, the Oman Automobile Association venue and The Carnival at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre offer international flavours showcasing nightly a range of musical shows and costumed performers roaming the grounds, the Heritage Village at Naseem Park in Barka has a strong pull and unique than the three other locations.
Visiting Naseem Park on its first weekend, there were long queues everywhere and it took nearly 15 minutes before we could get a ticket.
Naseem Park shares a few characteristics with the other venues. There are sections for food. There is a massive stage dedicated to musical performances with big screens where even people from far distances can still see the action happening on stage. There are fairy lights almost everywhere and the park is so wide that a pair of good shoes is necessary.
One section is dedicated to pony and horse riding and there are also corners dedicated to children's rides.
Unlike the other parks, Naseem Park has one specific corner for halwa makers. Here, the air is thick with delicious-smelling smoke as dozens of people line up to both watch as the halwa is being made and to purchase the different versions available at the display area.
Nearly a hundred steps away, the huge banner of the Heritage Village calls out to visitors. Right in the middle of the square is a man-made pond, a lever constantly moving as the water flows through it. There was a tiny bridge in the middle of the pond and seated at the front side of this pond are fishermen tending to their fishing gears -- from simple fishing nets to the more elaborate contraption used to catch crabs and other sea creatures.
On the right side near the entrance, a group of performers gather. It is here where traditional folk songs and dances are performed. There are a set of drummers masterfully tapping into their instruments and amidst the chaos is the loud melody of a bagpipe. Performances are usually scheduled and with every beat of the drum, the singing and the dancing later on follow. The loud, thunderous voices of the men performers can be heard throughout the whole square.
Next to this are a collection of traditional Omani women's dresses strategically placed on an elevated platform showcasing fashion from different areas of Oman -- from the elaborate dresses of Al Batinah and Sharqiyah to the intricate traditional articles of clothing of Salalah and other areas.
Traditional games are being played right beside this small clothing museum and a small souq displaying traditional crafts is receiving inquiries from left and right.
At the very far corner of the square is my favourite -- the section for traditional food. Although the area dedicated to traditional food was small, it was as diverse as it can get. Women are selling my favourite luqaimat beside another seller who sells the wafer-thin Omani bread usually complemented with cheese, Chips Oman and usually drizzled with honey. Some sell dingo (boiled chickpeas) and a few more were hard to get to because of the long lines of patrons trying to get their fill.
There's a space for bukhoor and frankincense sellers, for traditional crafts including khanjars, silver accessories and canes and even products from the Bedus including traditional mats, rose oil, henna and kohl. It was a beautiful small souq filled with a collection of proudly Oman products.
There are open majlis areas where people can take photos as souvenirs.
The Heritage Village is an amalgam of different nationalities. While there was a huge number of locals visiting, there was also an equal interest from the expat communities. Throughout the nearly one hour we spent there, people kept on coming and it was the kind of fun vibe you would not want to miss.
For many expats, the Heritage Village is the perfect place to get to know Oman. It brings a sense of nostalgia both to citizens and residents alike. It's a place for discovery and rediscovery and while it doesn't boast magical beings or unicorns and floating lighted creatures, it is a magical place all the same filled with things that made everyone fall in love with Oman.
At the heart of Muscat Nights is to create a fun, entertaining environment where the people of Oman can enjoy when the embrace of an amazing temperature makes it ideal to go out at night. The Heritage Village is the soul of this whole event, one that needed to be always included and enhanced and ultimately elevated so that it too can become an attraction worthy of international recognition and presentation.