Skip navigation

Tamás Mayer, guest student for one year in Muscat International School 2006/2007

Experiences in Oman

I love to celebrate eid al fitr in Oman. Following the the fasting month of Ramadan the celebration is one of the highlights of the year. The men dress in their best and whitest dishdasha, and their most beautiful musar, a finely detailed turban, which strongly harkens to Sindbad the Sailor. The women don a black abaya, with a colorful dress underneath.

The parents of the family stay at home, while the children -- on average a family has about six -- go in the morning to visit the relatives living close by. Best wishes are exchanged, and everyone sits together while Omani dates, biscuits and coffee flavored with cardamom is served. Everyone chats while other relatives come and go -- the families are very large in Oman. The kids are given aediya, usually a little money. .

After about an hour it is time to move on, as the next of kin are already waiting. And so it goes until noon, and then it's time for lunch, the first after a month of fasting. Of course this must be something special. By far the most delicious meal is shuwa; spiced beef stewed overnight in palm sacks buried in the earth and surrounded by hot stones. In this way the meat is very tender and tasty, and it also can be kept this way a long time without refrigeration. Lunch is enjoyed with the whole family. The atmosphere is very relaxed and happy, sitting together and chatting sometimes until evening.

In general, I was most impressed by the close family ties. Certainly Oman also has breathtaking landscapes, but -- especially for Europeans -- it is extremely pleasant to live in an extended family, where there is always something going on.

The habits and traditions of the people are also very interesting and fascinating. The aroma of incense is present virtually throughout the country  Even as a tourist, it is relatively easy to be in contact with Omanis. The tolerance of Ibadi Islam, and the cosmopolitan history of the country certainly contribute to that to a great extent.

Without the support of the German-Omani Society this fantastic visit and these new experiences would not have been possible for me.

-- Tamas Mayer