Witnessing the beautiful chaos of habta


Some of the shoppers and sellers came as early as five in the morning long before the sun peeped from the horizon. Coming from different villages in their respective wilayats, they are conditioned that it is a time not only to meet friends one seldom see in person but also a time for buying things needed as they celebrate Eid al Adha.
Habta or open markets pop up all over the country — from parking lots in Wadi Kabi, to the iconic structures of Nizwa Fort and under canopies of dates in many of the Wilayats from Barka all the way to Salalah.
Photography enthusiasts Rimna Rasheed knew from experience that the days before Eid are the perfect times to know a little bit more about the Omani culture through these morning markets.
She recently visited one of the morning markets held under date plantations and was fascinated by what she saw.
“Be it foodstuff, livestock, clothes or toys for children; a habta market is the place to be. Little children dressed in their best attires look forward to visiting and experiencing the buzz of the market,” she shared on her Instagram page.
Her friends agree that it is a great tradition, something that Muslims and Omanis in particular do every year as a celebration of their faith.
What Rimna is most thankful about is that the habta in Oman has been well-preserved.
“A tradition that Oman has held for years now, habta markets begin ten days before Eid and concludes just before the first day begins. From large open areas to forts and castles or even under a tree, a habta market can be setup anywhere offering Eid shoppers all that they need,” she said.
Her collection of photos showcased a lively scene — where people were on a permanent move as they collect the things they need from sellers.
Usually ending at around 11 am, one of the highlights of the morning markets are the livestock auctions where people outbid each other to acquire a goat, cows, sheep or camels.
When they bid for the livestock, they check whether the animals are healthy, have no physical disabilities like having broken bones, horns or teeth, or have cut marks on ears or are not able to see.
They should also be of the right age with camels around the age of five, cattles at around two years old and sheep and goats at about a year old.
A habta brings people from all walks of life, giving sellers a platform to market their products and livestock and for buyers to quickly find what they need.
For Rimna and his photographer friends, they are happy to have been allowed to capture life at its rawest form. Rimna loved how the hospitality and vibrancy of culture is on full display and having a kid smile for her not even moving to remove a fly on his cheek just not to blur a photo is one of the key moments that taking photographs during these days make it memorable and worth the trip out.