More than 2 million regional and international visitors are expected to flock to Oman to celebrate Omani art, culture and heritage during the 13th Annual Muscat Festival taking place from January 27 to February 24, 2011. Oman’s Ministry of Tourism is currently finalizing preparations for the comprehensive lineup of heritage, entertainment, promotional and cultural activities, most of which will be held at the Qurum Natural Park and Naseem Gardens.
An online survey conducted by Bayt.com, the leading online employment portal in the Middle East, shows that Muscat is regarded as the second best city in the MENA region. Travelers are impressed by Muscat’s excellent labour and economic markets, socio-cultural activities and cleanliness. The city’s colorful greenery, most notable during the cooler months from November to March during which various colorful flowers are in full bloom, are also major tourist attractions. Muscat Festival 2011 will present the city and the entire country as a leisure and lifestyle destination of choice in the Middle East.
“Oman offers a host of destinations and amenities to cater to all types of travelers. For adventurers and leisure seekers we offer many cave, desert camping, nature trekking and diving sites considered as some of the most beautiful and scenic destinations in the Arab World. For history lovers we have many castles, forts, museums and archeological sites exuding a unique old-world charm. Even shoppers will enjoy our mix of quaint souks, old markets and modern shopping centers. The Muscat Festival perfectly reflects the diversity of our travel and leisure offerings, which is why it has emerged as one of the most awaited festivals in the region,” said Salem Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotions, Oman Ministry of Tourism.
Among the highlights of this year’s festival are the Oman Heritage and Culture Village, the International Festival for Arts, Heritage and Creativity, concerts and theatre shows to be held at the Qurum Amphitheatre and a special National Geographic Exhibition titled ‘From China to Arabia: Ancient Treasure Ships and the Great Oman Voyage.’ There will also be a series of lectures, poetry reading, classic cinema and Arabic novels hosted by various city venues as well as an Oman Food Festival and a Muscat Fashion Week.
Two major sporting events are included in the festival agenda: the 2nd Edition of the Tour of Oman running from February 15 to 20, 2011, gathering 16 teams comprised of 128 of the world’s best cyclists to a 6-stage, 848 km race, and the Extreme Sailing Series, an exciting sailing event.
As a family-friendly event, this year’s Muscat Festival will also feature fun fairs, electronic games, displays from over 30 countries, more than 400 shops, jugglers and children’s entertainment to be located at Naseem Park.
The Muscat Festival was first held in 1998 and has since emerged as one of the key fixtures in Oman’s annual social calendar. The event is organized annually by the Muscat Municipality and regularly attracts large numbers of visitors from surrounding Gulf and Middle Eastern states and from Europe. It is a unique platform for showcasing Oman’s distinctive Arabian cultural heritage and promoting Muscat’s status as a UNESCO Arab Cultural Capital.