Archive | January 2013

Pearl Diving in Kuwait – Revisiting History

Kuwait City

When you think of Kuwait, the first thought that pops up in your mind is probably of an oil-rich Arab state, which is absolutely true as Kuwait has more than 10% of the world’s estimated oil reserves and is a leading exporter of petroleum. If you are a tourist who loves wandering around souqs, mosques and other sandy traces of ancient Bedouin days, Kuwait should be a good match for you.

The post-oil boom era that happened about four decades ago, transformed Kuwait completely, not only in terms of the infrastructure but also the population structure, which changed completely with the huge influx of manpower from various countries, required for the constant development. Today’s population of Kuwait comprises of over 100 nationalities reducing Kuwaiti citizens to a minority in their own country.

In this blog we are going to talk about a lesser known fact about Kuwait, a shiny and bright past before oil became the main source of the economy. A lifestyle that more or less served a major part of the country’s population in the pre-oil era.

Did you know that pearls, in the past, were the main source of wealth in Kuwait and not oil as it is today? Now, annual pearl diving festivals are held to help the younger generations to feel the excitement and hardships faced by their forefathers. It’s literally a dive in to their past heritage and history for today’s young men. These festivals are a tribute men who spent their lives searching for pearls and making their daily domestic ends meet; a far cry from today’s prosperous Kuwaiti lifestyle.

In the pre-oil era sailboats and dhows were mostly made of imported Indian teak which was waterproofed by using the traditional mixture of sheep oil and lime! The boats were maintained on shore for cracks and other repairs which were caulked with cotton dipped in shark oil. Finally, the body of the ship was manually smeared over, up to the water line, by a thick coating of noora (a mixture of shark oil and powder).

Before the dive the young divers would make extensive preparations and arrangements for the event; they were submitted to rigorous diving and sailing training, met experienced captains and old divers and listened to them explaining the intricacies of pearl diving and familiarised themselves with the necessary equipments. After extensive training, young divers use traditional equipment, such as the dieng (neck basket) and the hajer (toe anchor) to search for pearls. The costumes the youngsters wore were the same as their forefathers’. They wore the Izar, which is a wrap-around skirt that also serves as a head wrap, along with diving trunks and t-shirts. When diving, the diver was secured to the boat’s railing with a rope tied around his waist. Each diver also had a helper who at the surface held the rope all along the dive. The end of the festival, locally known as qafal, was celebrated with traditional singing and dancing.

The festival which this year is expected to take place sometime after Eid al Fitr is now seeing a healthy increase in the number of participants each year making Pearl Diving in Kuwait is one of the most enjoyable and entertaining activities today. It has now become an integral part of the Kuwaiti culture which keeps the tradition alive and makes the youth aware of the rich heritage of their country!

Oman Air operates 13 weekly flights from Muscat to Kuwait!

Muscat Festival 2013 – A True Arabic Cultural Extravaganza

Muscat Festival

In what has been a wonderful start to the New Year 2013, get drenched in the annual celebratory occasion of the Sultanate – the ‘Muscat Festival 2013. In its successive 16th year, this event will let you enjoy a wholesome time with your family and friends, while still remaining true to its Arabian roots.

Since it started in 1998, Muscat Festival has been a cultural and artistic event, entertaining arenas in which people from all walks of life come together, involving multilingual activities, a celebration of sorts and much more. Yet, it is also marked by another magical touch, with a past and present sense spreading all over. In truth, it is a festival for all.

As it starts, the city totally indulges in an extravagant festive mood. The festival opens a door of treasury where you have lots of shopping, culinary, entertainment and most of discover many unique facets of Oman in Muscat. This year’s locations have been mainly distribute between three locations; Naseem Garden, Amerat Park and SQ Baushar stadium and the preparations are in full swing to get Muscat ready before the festival starts on 30th of January.

Tour of Oman

The festival is bursting with fun filled and action packed events. In addition to shopping and prizes, the festival awaits to acknowledge you with many activities. There is an impressive line-up of concerts, musicals and shows, a lot more for those who love sports, outdoor and fashion events. Some important events to look out for are the Tour of Oman, one of the biggest cycling events in the Middle East. If you love food, you would not like to miss the Oman Food Festival, which explores Oman’s culinary history and variety in its truest form. You can also find more information about the festival on their official website, http://www.muscat-festival.com/

Get ready to be part of Muscat Festival 2013 and if you are planning to visit Muscat, and you couldn’t have chosen a better time to visit, then book flights to Muscat on omanair.com to join the festival.

Masalam!

Oman Air is the official carrier for the Muscat Festival 2013

Gulf Cup 2013: Perfect for the ‘Dream’

Oman National Football Team

 

Oman the 2009 Gulf Cup champions, have begun their Gulf Cup campaign with a stalemate draw in the first match against the host nations, Bahrain. Although, they might have started with a draw, the team is expected to qualify from their group. Never has the expectations of the people of the Sultanate for their football team been higher than they are now. And, their expectations are justified as Oman has consistently stepped up to the plate and put up a great string of performances in recent times.

Although, Oman are one of the contenders for the 2013 Gulf Cup, their morale took a hit when their captain and international star goal keeper Ali Al Habsi was ruled out of the tournament with a nagging shoulder injury and his Premier League club Wigan Athletic refused to release him for that very reason. Now in the absence of Al Habsi, star midfielder Ahmed Hadeed gets the captain’s armband.

Though the current team looks stronger than when they won the 2009 title and is a favourite to win and recapture it again, coach Paul Le Guen is fully aware of the task that lies ahead of him and his troops. He has made it abundantly clear in his media & press interviews that his teams motivation will have to be at the highest level possible to be able to come back home triumphant.

The way the Oman football team is balanced with youth and good measure of experience, Gulf Cup 2013 trophy doesn’t look like a distant dream. Gulf Cup will be graced by many UEFA officials including the the president and football legend Michel Platini. You can also expect scouts from around the world to keep a close eye on the developments of the tournament and it provides a perfect platform for our players to shine at this stage.

Without taking anything away from the competition and its importance, this tournament can provide as the perfect platform for Oman to build confidence and gain momentum in the race to the FIFA Brazil World Cup 2014. Currently, the group is tentatively poised with Japan looking almost certain to qualify, leaving just one automatic qualification spot open which is being fought tooth and nail between Oman, Australia and Jordan. Winning the Gulf Cup would not only give the boys a reason to cheer but fill them with the belief that they are the best in the region which might just act as a catapult to take Oman, where they have been dreaming to go for the very first time, the World Cup.

 

Oman Air is the proud sponsor and carrier of the Oman National Football team and we wish them luck!

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