On the surface, Oman has a lot in common with its Arab neighbors, especially those in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Despite these commonalities, Oman is distinct in the Middle East due to a number of reasons. These are influenced by geography, history, and culture as well as economy. Oman’s state is very new and artificial, making it difficult to define a national culture; nevertheless, significant cultural variety exists inside its national borders to distinguish Oman from other Arab Gulf states. Given its historical extension to the Swahili Coast and the Indian Ocean, Oman’s cultural variety is higher than that of its Arab neighbors.
Oman has a lengthy history of shipbuilding, since marine travel was crucial to the Omani people’s capacity to communicate with ancient civilisations. Sur was one of the most well-known Indian Ocean shipbuilding cities. The Al Ghanja ship takes a year to construct. As Sunbouq and Al Badan are two more kinds of Omani ships.
Archaeologists excavating off the coast of Al Hallaniyah Island discovered a wreckage thought to be the Esmeralda from Vasco da Gama’s fleet of 1502-1503. The shipwreck was found in 1998. Later, between 2013 and 2015, underwater excavations were conducted in collaboration with the Oman Ministry of Heritage and Culture and Bluewater Recoveries Ltd., a shipwreck recovery firm. A “Portuguese coin issued for commerce with India (one of only two known to survive) and stone cannonballs etched with what seem to be the initials of Vincente Sodré, da Gama’s maternal uncle and the captain of the Esmeralda” were used to identify the ship.
The dishdasha, a modest, ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves, is Oman’s national attire for men. The dishdasha is most often white, although it may also be a variety of different colors. The primary embellishment, a tassel (furakha) stitched into the neckline, may be perfumed. Men wear a simple, broad piece of fabric wrapped around the body from the waist down under the dishdasha. The most noticeable geographical variations in dishdasha patterns are the embroidery styles, which vary depending on the age range. A bisht, a black or beige cloak, may be worn over the dishdasha on ceremonial occasions. The cloak’s edging embroidery is usually done in silver or gold thread and is quite detailed.
There are two kinds of headgear worn by Omani men:
- The ghutra is a square piece of woven wool or cotton cloth in one color that is embroidered with different designs.
- The kummah is a cap that is used as a headdress during leisure time.
Some men carry an assa, a stick that may be utilized for functional purposes or just as a fashion item during formal occasions. Omani males, on the general, go about in sandals.
Men wear the khanjar (dagger) on all formal public events and festivals, and it is part of the national attire. It’s usually worn around the waist. Simple coverings to elaborate silver or gold-decorated sheaths are available. It is a sign of a man’s ancestors, masculinity, and bravery. On the national flag, there is a representation of a khanjar.
Omani ladies dress in eye-catching national costumes that vary according to location. All of the outfits include bright colors, needlework, and embellishments. The choice of colors used to represent a tribe’s tradition. The Omani women’s traditional costume consists of many items, including the kandoorah, a long tunic with hand-stitched embroidery of various patterns on the sleeves or radoon. The dishdasha is worn over a pair of loose-fitting sirwals that are tight around the ankles. A head wrap, known as the lihaf, is worn by women as well.
Women now wear a loose black cloak called an abaya over their own choice of clothes instead of their traditional attire on important occasions, but the burqa is still used in certain areas, especially among the Bedouin. Although some women cover their faces and hands with hijab, the majority do not. In public office, the Sultan has made it illegal to conceal one’s face.
Music and cinema
Because of Oman’s imperial past, the country’s music is very varied. Traditional Omani music and dances come in approximately 130 distinct varieties. To conserve them, the Oman Centre for Traditional Music was founded in 1984. Sultan Qaboos established the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra in 1985, owing to his passion for classical music. Instead of hiring international musicians, he opted to form an Oman-based orchestra. The Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra performed its first performance on July 1, 1987, at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel’s Oman Auditorium.
Oman’s cinema is tiny, with just one Omani film, Al-Boom (2006), released in 2007.
The Oman Arab Cinema Company LLC is the country’s biggest movie theater network. It is part of the Jawad Sultan Group of Companies, which has been operating in the Sultanate of Oman for over 40 years. In the world of popular music, a seven-minute music video about Oman became viral, gaining 500,000 views on YouTube in only ten days after its debut in November 2015. Three of the region’s most well-known artists are included in the a cappella production: Kahliji musician Al Wasmi, Omani poet Mazin Al-Haddabi, and actress Buthaina Al Raisi.
On November 17, 1974, Sultanate of Oman Television started broadcasting from Muscat, and on November 25, 1975, it began broadcasting from Salalah. The two stations in Muscat and Salalah were connected by satellite on June 1, 1979, to create a unified broadcasting service. To overcome the natural difficulties posed by the hilly terrain, Oman TV’s transmissions are transmitted through a network of transmitters located across the nation in both inhabited and rural regions.
In comparison to its neighbors Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Oman has less limitations on independent media. On Reporters Without Borders’ 2016 World Press Freedom Index, the nation was rated 125th out of 180 countries, one position below Zimbabwe. However, following a revelation exposing corruption in the country’s court, the government attracted worldwide condemnation by shutting the daily Azamn and detaining three journalists in 2016.
Omani cuisine is varied and influenced by a wide range of civilizations. Omanis often eat their major daily meal around noon, with a lighter evening meal. Dinner is given after the Taraweeh prayers during Ramadan, often as late as 11 p.m. However, each family’s supper schedule varies; for example, some families like to eat immediately after maghrib prayers and have dessert after taraweeh.
Arsia is a festive dish made of mashed rice and meat that is eaten during festivities (sometimes chicken). Shuwa, another traditional celebration dish, consisting of slow-cooked beef in an underground clay oven (occasionally for up to two days). The flesh gets very soft, and before cooking, it is infused with spices and herbs to give it a unique flavor. Fish is often utilized in main courses, and kingfish is a popular choice. A entire spit-roasted kingfish paired with lemon rice is known as mashuai.
Rukhal bread is a thin, circular loaf that was traditionally cooked over a palm-leaf fire. It may be eaten at any time of day, but is most often served with Omani honey for breakfast or crumbled over curries for night. Dishes often include chicken, seafood, and lamb or mutton. The Omani halwa is a famous dessert made mostly of cooked raw sugar and almonds. There are numerous distinct tastes, with the black halwa (original) and the saffron halwa being the most popular. Halwa is typically offered with coffee and is regarded as a hallmark of Omani hospitality. Alcohol is exclusively accessible to non-Muslims, as it is in other Arab Gulf countries. Alcohol is offered at several hotels and a few restaurants.
Dhow racing, horse racing, camel racing, bullfighting, and falconry are among Oman’s traditional sports. Sports such as association football, basketball, waterskiing, and sandboarding have rapidly acquired appeal among the younger population.
The Omani government established the Ministry of Sports Affairs in October 2004 to replace the General Organization for Youth, Sports, and Cultural Affairs. The Omani national football team won the 19th edition of the Gulf Cup of Nations, which was held in Muscat from January 4 to 17, 2009.
Ali Al-Habsi plays professional association football for the Omani national team. As of 2015, he is a goalkeeper for Reading in the Football League Championship. The old GOYSCA received the coveted medal for sporting excellence from the International Olympic Committee in honor of its services to youth and sports, as well as its efforts to promote the Olympic spirit and objectives.
The Oman Olympic Committee was instrumental in the successful organization of the 2003 Olympic Days, which benefited sports organizations, clubs, and young participants greatly. The football association, as well as handball, basketball, rugby union, hockey, volleyball, athletics, swimming, and tennis organizations, all participated. Muscat hosted the Asian Beach Games in 2010.
Every year, Oman organizes tennis events in various age categories. A 50-meter swimming pool is located inside the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex stadium and is utilized for international competitions involving schools from many nations. In February, the Tour of Oman, a professional cycling six-day stage event, takes place. The Asian 2011 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup qualifications were held in Oman, with 11 teams competing for three places in the FIFA World Cup. From July 8 to 13, the Millennium Resort in Mussanah held the Men’s and Women’s 2012 Beach Handball World Championships. Oman has fought for a spot in the FIFA World Cup on many occasions, but has yet to qualify for the event.
Oman, along with Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, are the only Middle Eastern countries to conduct a kind of bullfighting known as ‘bull-butting.’ The Al-Batena region in Oman is particularly well-known for such occasions. It pits two Brahmanbreed bulls against one another, and they fight in a ferocious bombardment of headbutts, as the name suggests. The loser is the first to collapse or give up their position. The majority of bull-butting bouts are brief, lasting less than 5 minutes. Bull-roots butting’s in Oman are unclear, but many locals think it was introduced to the country by Spanish-speaking Moors. Others believe it has a direct link to Portugal, which ruled the Omani coast for almost two centuries.
Oman qualified for the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 by finishing sixth in the 2015 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in cricket. They were also given T20I qualification for finishing among the top six teams in the qualifiers.