After promoting India’s cultural heritage of handlooms and handicrafts in UAE, I visited Sultanate of Oman for the same purpose. On the 9th January 2009 I reached Muscat by Oman Airlines flight at 12 noon. At the airport 2nd Secretary in Indian embassy NikhileshGiri received me. Because of exposure to cold in the night and bathing early in the morning I caught a cold and felt unwell. However, I met CM Sardar, a prominent businessman from Gujarat. His father had settled in Oman under encouragement from the then Sultan. We took lunch at Hotel Mumtaz Mahal, designed and decorated on Mughal architecture and motifs. It is located on the hill top in the town area. Besides Indian cuisine the ambience was also Indian. This hotel belongs to Khimjis of Gujarat origin. Sardar told me that there was total freedom to people from different religions and the Sultan is a secular person. Many of his trusted advisors are Hindus and non-Muslims.

In night Anil Wadhwa, India’s Ambassador to Sultanate of Oman hosted a formal dinner in my honour. The construction of the residence of the Ambassador was completed recently. The beautiful and impressive building blended in desert setting was designed by an architect from Delhi and actual construction was done by local builder. The interior decoration bore ethnic Indian touch. At the dinner there were NRI guests like former DGP of Rajasthan Thakur who came with his family including daughter Binu Jha and her husband Sanjeev who hails from Supaul in Bihar. The couple has business in Muscat. Anil Wadhwa’s wife is also an IFS and was then posted as Ambassador in another country. We discussed about the life in Oman and opportunities for Indian community particularly in handlooms and handicrafts business.

In the morning I met the director general of public authority for crafts. They wanted to develop skills of their artisans so that their handicrafts can get international response. But they wanted to take services of trainer artisans at low cost. They wanted to specially develop camel bone handicrafts. The unique symbol of Oman, the Khanjar, is a curved dagger worn by men on ceremonial and cultural occasions is a typical handicraft of Oman.

CM Sardar took me to all over city of Muscat. I saw the traditional palace of the Sultan in Muscat city. The ministries and government building are located near it. The premises are located on the banks of Arabian Gulf. I discussed with Omani entrepreneurs about Indian arts, handlooms and handicrafts. The shopping malls in the city are doing good business due to oil based economy. I also visited city centre Mall.

Muscat is among the most clean capitals in the world. It has mountains on one side and the Arabian Gulf on the other. Oman has large Indian population. I noticed sign boards in Malyalam and Hindi besides Arabic and English.

After my hectic visit on 10th January 2009 I boarded the Oman Air flight no. WY 0655 which had schedule departure time at 7.40 pm. The Muscat-Bahrain flight takes 1 hour 35 minutes. The flight was full of Indian passengers who were to take connecting flights from Bahrain to various destinations in India. I reached Bahrain in the night where I was received by Faisal Sultan, my brother-in-law, my sister’s husband.

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