By Fahad Al Ghadani — MUSCAT: Jan. 1: The Muscat Festival 2017 will be a 24-day affair this time instead of a month-long extravaganza. The festival, which usually begins early January, will kick off on January 19. “The decision (to reduce the duration of the festival) has been taken to cut down on expenditure. Usually the cost of holding the festival is RO 10 million, but this time the municipality is allocating only half the amount,” said Salim al Ghammari, a member of Muscat Municipal Council. The festival is expected to cost about RO 4.5 million. “The suggestion to have a shorter festival was made by the Muscat Municipality and approved by the Council,” said Al Ghammari.
The suggestion was based on studies that found 24 days are enough for the festival, he said. The decision to open the festival on January 19 has come as a relief to both students and parents because it coincides with their holidays. “Usually, the festival begins early January, but this time it will begin on January 19 in order to enable children to enjoy with families,” said a source at the Muscat Municipality. “This (revised schedule) was suggested by the Muscat Festival Committee and welcomed by the Municipal Council,” said the source. Ali Khalfan, a resident of Muscat, said in the past, it was difficult for his children to attend the festival as they had to study for exams. “Now, I can go once or twice (to the festival) with the kids.”
The decision has been appreciated by those from the interior regions. “I stay in Muscat for two nights when I come for the festival. I had to leave my children at home as they would have exams. I found it sad to leave them, but now this is good news to me and my family,” said Mohammed al Fahdi, a resident of Al Dakhiliyah. The municipality said the focus will be more on “public contributions” this year. “Individuals, productive families, and small and medium entrepreneurs will be part of the festival. A bigger consumer exhibition will take place for displaying local products,” said the municipality source.