In the two-day Grape Festival held in Al Mudhaibi, about 45 grape growers from across the country gathered to showcase the abundant harvest they experienced this year.
Grapes had been grown in various parts of Oman, most especially in the mountainous regions where the climate is more temperate but Al Mudhaibi was the perfect location for the festival as it’s right in the middle of the crossroad and barely an hour away from places like Wakan, Al Rustaq, Samayil and even Al Jabal Al Akhdhar where grapes are produced in larger quantities.
The festival witnessed grape grower families working together to create beautiful stalls. At the centre of the festivities are the children of the farmers who are an important part of making sure that agricultural farming becomes sustainable and the knowledge is passed to the next generation.
For this year’s festival, a large tent was set up for the farmers. Each of them was given a stall that they can decorate and put their harvested grapes on display. At the entrance, a giant arch was erected covered with grape leaves and fruits while a centrepiece is placed at the centre of the event tent pregnant with different coloured grapes.
“There are several varieties of grapes in Oman — some of them are local and some of them are imported. This kind of festival will bring the necessary awareness and the importance of the agricultural sector in Oman including grapes and other agricultural products,” shared Dr Said bin Mohammed al Saqri, Minister of Economy, during a local TV interview.
Talking to the farmers, it is easy to assess that there are more than 30 grape varieties in Oman. The Omani grape is one of the most heavily produced primarily because it has adapted well to the country’s often harsh climate.
While there are numerous answers to the question of what makes a grape Omani, one thing is clear — the Omani grapefruit is usually smaller in size but rounder and smoother compared to other grapes. The colour can also vary ranging from green to golden yellow, and even reddish-purple for some varieties. The skin of Omani grapes is often thin and delicate.
Taste-wise, the festival was the perfect place to learn that Omani grapes also come in different complex flavours. Some, when green or golden, can either be acidic or sour. Farmers, however, explained that there are varieties that are juicy and have a pleasing texture.
In a previous interview with a grape grower from Al Jabal Al Akhdhar, Mussabah al Awaimari explained that in the beginning, it was difficult to cultivate grapes but over time, when they learned some of the more helpful methodologies, grapes had been the easiest to propagate that when he started, he only has 20 vines, now he has over a hundred spread across his two gardens — one in his home and the other in his actual farm in Al Jabal Al Akhdhar.
Mussabah was not only to attend this year’s grape festival but believe that it is necessary to create visibility about what they go through as farmers and will also allow people to understand that locally produced grapes are not necessarily inferior to imported ones. He also thinks that with more investment into the sector, grapes in Oman will only get better as farmers also learn more techniques on how to make their grapes sweeter and better.
To the farmers who attended the festival, it was a fruitful two days as they not only meet other farmers who are passionate about growing grapes, but the government also gave them ample opportunity to meet with investors and the public and create awareness about the locally produced grapes.
For the visitors, the grapes were not only sold at very affordable prices but they are also given the opportunity to buy grape plants ready for transplanting.