Flavours of Oman

IN a boost to tourism in Oman, popular cuisines Khubz Rakhal, Orseya, Madhbi, Omani halwa and chicken shawarma, went global recently. The Best Ever Food Review Show (BEFRS) showcased the delicacies under the episode’s ‘Discover Oman’ series featuring most unique street eats in Muscat.

Their YouTube videos notched up over 7 million views bringing in rave reviews from all over the globe. The first one covered street food and some traditional foods, the second video showcased Bedouin culture and featured camel meat experience, and the third focused on traditional dish, Shuwa.

BEFRS is the first comedy or food review show, which explores the unique foods of each country. They help travellers know more about the country and its cuisines prior to visiting the country.
The show illustrates a fresh point of view with a punchy delivery, while encouraging empathy and understanding of other cultures.

Their 5-day food crawl which began from Muscat explored the street foods of Oman, experiencing the traditional method of making Shuwa, and concluded with a trip to Rimal Al Sharqiya to savour the desert life of Bedouins. But how did BEFRS land in Oman?

It was left to Ahmed Ali Habib al Lawati, a petroleum engineering graduate, who was instrumental in bringing BEFRS to Oman. He had been watching the show for 2 years and one day decided to contact Sonny, the host, for an opportunity to shoot in Oman and show the world how beautiful the country is in addition to its culture.

Ahmed decided to collaborate with the show to create a series on Oman which went on to attain popularity and success. His invite to visit was grabbed instantly and Ahmed went all out to help the BEFRS for the shoots who partnered with his OmanTravels team.

The programme documented the channel’s international audience and the beautiful and unique culture of Oman through their food. Highlighting the range of culinary delicacies the country has to offer, they used social media to engage locals and create awareness in the series.

Sonny, the show host is a well-known American media and food personality in the film industry, now based in Vietnam. He was born and raised in Minnesota, US, and found his passion for film-making and food while travelling and living in Asia.

Ahmed was a great help in the pre-production and production stages of the Oman project, notes Sonny. He has worked with popular channels such as The Travel Channel and collaborated with a few other big names in the film industry.

Sonny explains that BEFRS mission was to seek out and document the most unique food from around the world, encouraging empathy, understanding and appreciation of different cultures through their cuisine.

60 per cent of their viewers are outside of the US and 70 per cent of them in the age range of 18-35 years. Restaurants that collaborated for the Oman shoot included Foodies in Al Khoudh, HoodHood in Al Athaiba, Yaqoob Saleh Mohammed al Obedani, Omani Halwa factory and Fayrooz Café in Bidiya.

The residence of Ahmed’s friend Issa al Bahri at Barka was the shoot that beautifully featured the Eid feast on Omani Shuwa. “We can’t imagine a better way to do that in Oman than exploring the food all the way from busy Muscat to Rimal Al Sharqiya desert.”

Sonny worked on many film projects before starting his own channel. He was focused on finding the best foods and incorporating comedy into his reviews. Shortly after, he relocated to Vietnam, where he began working with a local cameraman and focusing on finding the most unique foods in each country they visited.

They have a small, international team of hungry storytellers on a mission to seek out and document the most unique food from around the world. The ten-member team works assiduously to create high-quality content, handling all aspects from research to shooting and post-production, in an effort to connect the world through the love of laughter and food.

The BEFRS team was always interested in Oman as a destination. The passion of the people and rich cultures are what drew their attention the most. Sonny says filming in Oman was every film-makers dream. “The scenery in Oman is breathtaking which added significant value to our shots at various locations.”

“Oman’s food culture can be described as diverse. It was a pleasure to be able to document the food and be introduced to their lifestyles and customs,” he says. Their primary platform is YouTube and BEFRS channel premiered the first episode of the Oman limited series on May 19.

The next two episodes were aired on usual YouTube schedules on Sundays and Wednesdays. “Our fascination with Omani food was met with immense satisfaction. We enjoyed the unique flavours, spices and colourful plates that Oman had to offer. Our viewers were also extremely intrigued by the country’s food and culture,” concludes Sonny.

The event was covered by official OmanTravels, a project operated by Omani local guides and hosted by Ahmed. He is eager to give a helping hand to BEFRS again and wants them to come back to Oman to shoot the second part of the series.