Muscat Festival is the best time to learn

Yeru Ebuen –
yru.weekend@gmail.com –

Did you know that shorts, even if you’re a guy, is not allowed in the Muscat Festival ground? I learned this the very funny way last year when the security personnel won’t let me in because my shorts did not cover my knees.
If this is the first time you’ve heard of this, might as well take some cue from my mistake that way you can avoid precious hours traveling back home to get some decent pants on and the evenings can be quite chilly both in Naseem and Amerat Park it makes more logical sense to go in comfortable pants that shield you from the cold breeze.
I learn some very important lessons during Muscat Festival — not only intellectually but culturally. A frustrated social scientist, I’ve spent countless hours checking out each of the attraction last year.
I sat down with old Omani men as they gathered around a bonfire passing around Omani coffee accompanied by halwa. I drank several cups until I remembered that I have to shake the cup several times to indicate that I have enough.
I gawked at old women inside barastis as they weaved ornaments and pieces of jewelry while kids were busy outside running after an apparent surprised and scared camel.
I quizzed silversmiths and miniature dhow makers about their process and how they kept the tradition alive and despite broken English, I discovered that many of them were the last in their profession holding the fort so something important is not totally forgotten.
I sat on the sand as young men played Al Hawalais, a very old Omani game where stones are passed from one square to another, that reminded me of the game we played back home.
I watched in pain as a bull laboriously helped out its masters gather water — the reality of the olden times that the Oman we see today is but built upon the pains and achievements of the older generation.
I cheered on a friend as she was asked to join a birthday celebration where she was dressed in traditional Omani women clothing and made to sing along very eager young girls cheering on the birthday celebrant.
I partied with drummers, danced a few steps taught by Omani friends and didn’t mind that I can’t keep up with the beat.
The year 2017 – 18 was about knowing some very traditional things — things you’d not see every day.
While many of the visitors are entertained by presentations from invited guests including traditional Dhofari dances, I can be found roaming the area where the foods are. I always find myself in the food section, and if there are sweets, you know exactly the kind of corner I will spend a great time hanging out in.
The halwa making process is a tedious one and the more you see how much of an effort is needed to make it, the more you’d appreciate that you’d think it is performance art. It’s also not every day you’ll find someone in front of a large cauldron mixing their hearts out so they’d make the halwa to perfection.
Muscat Festival has something for everyone. It is a good mix of wholesome entertainment and fun.
But for me, I always associate the festival with loqaymat, Omani bread bathed in chocolate, spicy mangoes and barbecues and mishkak.
As I roam around the huge festival ground this year, I know exactly where I’d end up being. I still have the time to learn a few cultural lessons about Oman but my goal this year is discovering which of the food stalls serve the best meals.
See you at the food section!