To be honest, the reason most Omanis go to Muscat Festival in Naseem park, is to shop. Or to take the kids on the rides. I am ashamed to say this year, that was me. While I enjoy the cultural events in Qurum much more, and was supposed to attend Muscat Fashion Week in Riyam park [couldn't find anyone to watch the baby alas], and husband wanted to go to the food festival but we didn't get around to buying tickets, we ended up just going to Naseem. I wanted mainly to see the Arabic women's dresses called Jalabiyia, and the abayas. I really like this short sleeve jalabiyia. It had a 1920s-30s vibe that I could see myself rocking with some dark lipstick and finger-waved hair and a gobsmack of crystals over one ear with a hair comb (there's alot of costume jewelry booths inside as well).At this festival, along with the shopping exhibitions held 3x annually at the Seeb Exhibition center next to the Golden Tulip, these are pretty much the cheapest, STILL IN STYLE, ready-to-wear abayas that you are going to find in Oman. Prices go from 10-25 rials per abaya, and some of the fabrics can even be of a decent quality. Beware the cheap sticky jersey stretch though and hot internet "crepe". It isn't the quality stretch and if it is in more than the sleeves you'll regret is with an abaya stuck to both of your butt cheeks for all the guys at the mall to check out;) and internet fabric is killer hot in Muscat heat.I liked the abaya pictured above. I didn't get it though. The sizes left were all too big for me :(. I apologise for not taking pictures as I was on a mission, but other items include foods such as Jordanian olives, feta cheese, Yemeni honey (mmmm yum), dates, sweets, scarves, traditional African, Yemeni, Egyptian, Omani, Moroccan, Syrian, and Egyptian items, Islamic books and goodies, perfumes, music, as well as Chinese imports such as children's clothes, shoes, towels, housewares, toys, blankets, curtains,... And Indian sari fabrics I had a hankering to take home to make a bedskirt and curtain out of. I highly recommend as part of the Global Market experience at Naseem you try the bittersweet traditional beverage served by the fellow pictured above. I found him by the Yemeni booth (which sold REAL Arabic coffee pots, not the ornate ones sold in Omani souqs but the ones used to actually prepare the traditional coffee in and so over an open fire). I wanted to buy one so bad but I always make a deal with myself before entering the souq I will take only what I intended, or anything else that catches my eyes UNDER 1 rial in value. OMIGOD, I have never seen so much fake designer ware anywhere in my life (maybe besides San Fran China town or on Korean exchange students). Fake Gucci, Chanel, Hermes, Dior purses, and Louboutin red-soled shoes. Louis Vuitton everything. A purse, a watch, sunglasses, abaya, fleece blankets, and child's toy teddy bear. Oh my.
What makes Naseem different than the regular Seeb shopping exhibitions? Outside we saw a performance of a Dhofari traditional dance that if you've been in Oman long enough I am sure you are familiar with "da dana" is the song. That's probably not what it's called but it is about pearls. Or was sung traditionally with something to do with the pearl farming/diving industry? Correct me dear Dhofaris if I am wrong because no Omani I know personally well is Dhofari. I'm sorry my photo totally sucks but it was crowded with Omani guys and I was with my husband so I had to resist pushing through to get a better shot or he'd have gotten all anoyed and fussy, and well, it wasn't the most amzing preformance of the number I've seen in Oman so far so I didn't want to slide his rather giving mood that night, especially since I was still shopping lol;)
Near the area where ther were pony cart rides just before the fair/carnival rides of the festival there was the making of Omani helwa section. The guys would let you try stirring it if you wanted to. I didn't. It is really hard work and I've made helwa once. I don't like the taste enough to try again, and all Omanis I know buy it rather than make it at home. They teased me when they found out I went to so much effort to get some ready for the coffee. We didn't go on any of the rides as we were lugging the stroller around and my girl is too young for anything but we thought the kids in our family would love these balls. From here we walked on to the family area. There was an activity center for kids with drawing and a small park, a tv area where "Dore" was on, an ocean area showing Oman's underwater life but with no posted info whatsoever, a ramp going up showing Oman's four-legged wildlife on a faux mountain (baby loved this part because of the ramp---it was her favourite thing at the whole festival:) ). There was also a small area depicting Omani crafts such as the making of the trimmings for Omani women's dress, the embroidery of kumas [Omani men's hats], the weaving of date fronds, pottery, and repairing of fishing nets. Nothing like Qurum and smaller than last year but maybe we came on an off night since it wasn't the weekend. From there we went to the main stage where a group of Irish dancers were performing that night which we enjoyed as it is from my heritage. My husband remarked, amused, that there were more Omani guys watching than women due to the women in general disliking the shorter skirt lengths of the Irish lasses ;D. My camera/cellphone's battery died before that so the last image I got was the camel rides area before the main stage. Camel rides cost 1 rial. My husband would not ride one. He lived with the beduoin before and said to me that generally the Omani bedu milk them, race them by robot, and eat them, but no one really rides them anymore but tourist. I, of course, have. Oh well. That was Naseem for us. My husband didn't really enjoy it the way he does Qurum but he did like the Irish dancing.