The 10-day trip was marked by first-hand information, the proverbial Omani hospitality and many great scenic impressions.
The first few days were devoted to the capital Muscat and its environs. The visitors toured the palace district and visited the Bait Al Zubair Museum, with an excursion to nearby Qantab, a coastal town where the Omani Maritime Heritage Centre, run by Eric Staples, is located. Here old fishing boats are restored, and historical vessels reconstructed, such as "the Jewel of Muscat," a replica of a 9th century dhow. It was built strictly according to old specifications without nails or modern tools, and sailed in 2010 from Muscat to Singapore, where it is now on exhibition.
Besuch der experimentellen Schiffswerft in QantabThe magnificent Royal Opera House was enjoyed extensively twice, first, at the performance of the Vienna State Ballet, and the next day, with an interview of the general director, Christina C. Scheppelmann and the program director, Prof. Isam Mallah. Both visits were excellently organized by our friend Hamed Al Rawahi.
Other highlights included a visit to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, where the group was received by our member Dr. Mohammed Said Al-Marmari, the advisor to the Minister of Religion, and the Secretary General of the Ministry, Sheikh Ahmed Al Farsi.
Visits were also paid to the German University of Technology (GUTech), where the group met with the president, Prof. Michael Mulligan from Aachen; and to the University of Nizwa, presided over by Prof. Ahmed Khalfan Al-Rawahi, former Agriculture Minister of Oman. Despite their different aims, the high standard of education was evident in both universities.
Other cultural and scenic attractions were also part of the program: a tour of the Sultan Qaboos Great Mosque; an overnight in a camp in the Wahiba Desert; the livestock market in Nizwa; the fortresses of Nakhl and Bahla; the "living museum" Bait as Safah in Al Hamra, part of a project for the conservation of old mudbrick houses; and a tour of the mountain village of Misfat Al Abreen, with our member Abdul Rahman Al Abri, who is a knowledgeable guide on the topics of oasis culture, irrigation techniques and village life. At another point the group had the opportunity to swim in the Arabian Sea.
An example of Omani hospitality was provided at the beginning of the journey by the former Ambassador of Oman to Germany, Sheikh Ahmed Al Hinai, who invited the visitors to dinner in his own house, and was joined by the German ambassador Baron von Reibnitz to welcome the guests.
At a festive dinner at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Muscat, the President of the German-Omani Association, Bruno Kaiser, thanked the many friends from Oman who helped to make the trip a true adventure, including Christian Seiffert of the German Embassy in Muscat, the professors of the GUTech and especially, the tour leader, the orientalist Heiner Walther. Thanks to his professional and expert guidance, all participants were able to learn a great deal of new and interesting information about the Sultanate of Oman. This last evening witnessed an unexpected climax when Prof. Maurizio Tosi, Adviser to Sayyed Haitham Al Said, Minister for National Heritage, gave a detailed outline of the history of Oman and its future infrastructure projects.