Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tourism Proposal: a "fall fair" family fun stye festival for Ad Dhakliyia

I love Muscat Festival and Khareef down in Salalah, but the problem is, none of my friends {Omanis from the Interior} go to these things because of religious reasons. They are against men and women dancing together, and of course, follow their religion in terms of not listening to music. I don't consider this a bad thing, but of course, I feel bad because many of the children miss out on experiencing things from their culture that I, as a Westerner, was actually more exposed to. When I go to Muscat Festival, for example, I just avoid the acrobats or anything I feel goes against my religion. But not everyone feels that is ok. Alot of Omanis feel supporting any part of the festival is supporting those parts that go against our religion. For which reason, you won't really see such a festival in the Interior region despite a tonne of Omanis from there who always head out to Muscat for things for their family to do.

I do think such a festival aimed more at this region would be a great idea, for Omanis, and for tourism alike. Maybe Omanly could take up this post from here, from my rough sketch of an idea?

I thought to myself one morning, as I was homesick for my small town back in Canada as they were going through the motions of their local fall fair, that such a thing aimed at families or showcasing the work of artisans and the livelihood of farmers and agriculturalists, would not be out of place in, say Nizwa maybe, or the plains around Bahla between Nizwa and Bahla. Somewhere with alot of space anyways. Space would be key for a good location, as the whole point of this festival would be to draw more conservative Omanis out. Omani men and women need space to walk around, so no creepy pervy guys can try to run up against one, ect., or any normal decent guy accidently bump into one and a woman be driven to scream or slap him [happens sometimes at the shopping exhibition in Muscat].
I envision it alot like a fall fair in the West, only no music or dancing to keep the conservtaive crowd out and about [which would make for more authentic tourism also]. Since one of the key parts of any fall fair is a fairground. You know, rides, games, craft and educational areas for kids. It should all be very family orientated. For sure any old regular Omani would like to take their kids out for rides, or friends to go out with one another. Even the so-called "extremists" lol, as people often refer to more conservative Omanis who aren't that extreme at all when you know them. You just need to keep the music away from the rides and games areas though or you'll miss out on this large section of this population. Having nasheeds playing would be okay with them ect... and I doubt the tourists would notice that much.
Like any old Western-style fair, there should be a craft section. This better suits more conservative Omanis because what they do is set up stalls and they have goods that have been submitted the previously night before or that afternoon, for judging. Winners of best in their craft win prize ribbons for first, second, third, and the craftspeople leave their business cards out along with lotted numbers for each item. This way people who want to buy or hire the craftsperson can contact them to get something made, which shyer Omani women who work from home would much prefer over to manning a stall in person. Also, you could have a shopping exhibition like they have in Naseem or Seeb in another area if there was enough interest from vendors. Omani women also like to shop these type of exhibitions, and alot of interior women venture to Seeb exhbition or Naseem to shop. Why not bring it to them and make it more accessible? In the crafts submission area you could have a number of areas for submission, traditional garments, foods (that could be another section all together), baked good, preserves, honey, cosmetics, pottery, woven goods, handicrafts, ect...
One of my favourite sections of any fall fair was the animals. People would submit their goats, horses, sheep, rabbits, different breeds of chickens, dogs, cats, and all, for judging. They would win prize money or ribbons ect... depending on the categories and this contest was good for breeders and would make some animals worth more when they got sold. I loved as a kid, wandering around and seeing all the different animals and learning about them because some owners would make displays telling about the care of the animals. Animals kids could pet or ride didn't hurt much either;)
Another interesting area was the fruit, flowers, and veggies. They also won ribbons in different categories and helped farmers advertise. I always like to see the most interestly-formed or huge vegetables. Here also usually food, preserves, and baked goods were judged. Good for ladies wanting to start up home businesses. Just submit and leave a business card out at your stand. Dates, honey, helwa, others.... I think it would interest alot of people. Perfumes, bukhoor, also homemade ect... I don't know what else but it could so be done Omani.
There could be a woman's only area for getting henna done.
Also, there should be contests. My village always had traditional things. Like, since we were a logging village, the contests were wood chopping, and carrying heavy tree trunks in a race, and walking on logs in water. Omani equivelents could be races climbing date trees, chopping wood, preparing shuwa area, marksmanship in a rifle shooting contest.

What do you think? What other ideas do you have and how do you think we could pull it off?


Omanly said...

The interior definitely needs some locally driven events to ad to its appeal. I'd much favor 2-3 thematic and shorter events around the year, than one huge generic festival like the Muscat Festival. If we think of Nizwa and it's region, one could definitely be driven by pottery and other craft, one by the traditions of silver crafting and perhaps another one by dates and the traditions linked to this great fruit.
Perhaps I will elaborate on these and some more, in the coming weeks, when this thing called work will give me more time for reflection.
I have to be frank, my cultural literacy of those regions is fairly scares to say the least.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Omanly: when my husband mentioned my idea to the conservative guys he knew they all loved it... judging the animals, fruit & veg., amusement park rides for kids without music, and stalls/tables for women's handicrafts to be advertised and judged without them sitting there manning the stalls (a no no for women craftspersons in our tribe and other like tribes from the region ect.). But the thing they wer emost excited about was the idea of locally aimed contests: marksmanship, date tree climbing...

I don't know what you could do for pottery and silver except have artisans submit pieces for judging but I'm sure there could be an interactive thing, like a workshop people could sign up for where they pay for their materials and the artisan's time to learn some of the stuff hands-on... that would be super interesting, although maybe not for everyone.

Hehehe, since I've had to go from a Muscati+ HSarqiyah soul forvever girl to a demure Ad Dhakliyia woman I can tell you pretty surely what any of these fols would object to: music, chances of men and women bumping into one another physically, dancing (even though in every village the men dance so i don't get this)... and from there they love anything to do with contests (to show off their local skills), family fun (rides and crafts for kids), and shopping for the women or the chance to show off their home business without actualy having to be visible in public seeling stuff. That's the interior in generic terms.