Habta abuzz only in memories

MUSCAT: The historic Habta marketplace in the Wadi Kabeer area in Muscat, which is used to be thronged by Eid shoppers, is wearing a ghostly look due to the ban on gatherings as part of the government measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A market where both citizens and expatriates used to converge to buy not only the livestock, but also everything from toys to household items, has been closed for the second time this year due to the restrictions.

“In the living memory, this is the only year that would pass by without any activity at this traditional market. Normally, during this season, the place used to resonate with the sounds of both men and animals,” said Abdullah al Balushi.

The Sultanate is known for its traditional markets which have their presence in every governorate. And shopping in this cultural market is a famous tradition for many Omanis and is revived from one generation after another.

This unique seasonal market called Habta, which means coming down to the market in Arabic, is usually organised before Eid celebrations and hosts local goods and products including livestock, fruits and vegetables, as well as sweets and spices.

“The Eid celebrations are not complete without buying a lamb from this market which has been serving both buyers and sellers. People from far flung places used to bring their animals to market,” said Abdullah.

The Eid shopping season usually starts from the beginning of Ramadhan, runs through Eid Al Fitr and ends after about three months with Eid Al Adha.

Habta markets in all the governorates have been cancelled to avoid gathering of people as a measure to contain the coronavirus spread.

The General Directorate of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources has already announced that Habta markets will be cancelled in all wilayats of South and North Al Batinah governorates for this year in compliance with the decisions of the Supreme Committee on COVID-19.