Government Attention to the Craft Industries
Omanis have continually taken pride in and cherished their role as the owners of an ancient civilization. National heritage has a significant value in Oman. As an international role model on how to combine originality and innovation, Omanis have found a formula that combines history and present day. They have succeeded in achieving a lifestyle that combines historical and contemporary elements in all aspects of social and cultural life.
Affiliation for the Omani is not only about belonging to the land; rather it is also about identity, as a philosophy or way of life. The main features of this lifestyle of life are cooperation and participation, and close interrelationship between the various state institutions, especially those institutions that involve Omani citizens in the decision-making. The decision of the leadership is that we build and work according to the requirements, needs and realities of Oman that are consistent with stages that we want to reach. The Sultanate's long-term strategy has been adopted to develop a modern state, with a special emphasis on the development and preservation of Omani heritage and popular culture.
These initiatives were revived in the prosperous era of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who gave care and attention to recognising their importance and providing leadership for the preservation of these craft industries that convey a sense of authentic Omani identity. He has declared that Omani cultural heritage in all its forms should be given particular attention because of its significant role in the promotion of intellectual and artistic life as well as creativity and innovation in Oman.
“We attach our cultural heritage in all its forms and contents of material of particular importance and we mean a distinct attention because of its importance and significant role in the advancement of vibrant intellectual and artistic creativity and innovation” From the words of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, (03\10\2005) in a speech made by His Majesty to the Commissioner in the 33rd session of the General Conference of the Organization of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - UNESCO on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the organization, which was held in Paris.
A special department in the Ministry of Heritage and Culture had been allocated since its inception called the "circle of traditional crafts" to take care of the craft industries. It was subsequently cancelled with the establishment of the Public Authority for Craft Industries Royal Decree Royal Decree No. 24/2003, issuing regulations for Craft Industries sublime honours of His Majesty the Sultan for his people craftsmen on 03/13/2003, and the issuance of the Statute of the body and the adoption of its organizational structure by Royal Decree No. 53/2003 dated 08/31/2003 in addition to Royal Decree No. 33/2010 dated 6/4/2010 validated some laws in the General Assembly that facilitated the protection and development of craft industries in the Sultanate. This is clear evidence of the importance of craft as a symbol of Omani cultural identity.
Sultan Qaboos has also introduced craft competitions or contests to draw the support of the craftsman and to stimulate them in the development of craft industries inherited by the Sultanate by using symbols that express the historical heritage. The competitions also function to encourage craft projects and increase the efficiency of work performance literally.
On the third of March of each year, the Public Authority for Craft Industries celebrates "the literal Oman" in order to raise the spirit of efficiency and proficiency in Oman particularly for the promotion of the artisan sector. This celebratory ceremony provides integrated programs of support for outstanding craftsmanship to artisans.
The mechanisms to maintain and promote industries are:
• General supervision of the official and private sectors related to crafts.
• The formulation of laws related to the fields of craft industries.
• Planning training.
• Tourism planning.
• Social planning.
• Planning for production and marketing.
• Educational planning for the study of the craft.
• Planning in the field of cultural production.
• Media planning to raise awareness of the importance of craft industries.
There is interest in the establishment of craft fairs domestically and internationally to highlight the craft industries locally and to enhance international marketing programs. The promotion of craft Industries at the regional and international levels help to the showcase the competencies of Omani craft through the provision of live performances by craftsmen in various industries.
The Public Authority for Craft Industries has also launched a website (http://www.paci.gov.om/English/Index_en.aspx) as part of its media outreach. The Authority is keen to develop the website and to ensure that it is continuously updated so that it can highlight all of its activities and diverse services.
There are many commands and Awardees form his majesty in the creation of many of the training and rehabilitation centres in the field of crafts, and the last of those awardees, which has been declared by a tour of his majesty in the establishment of the Generations College for Craft Industries in Ad Dakhiliah regon state of Bahla.
The efforts of the Sultanate of Oman to revive the Omani heritage are coordinated by governmental and private institutions, including:
· Public Authority for Craft Industries: The Commission has an important role and a fundamental interest in craft industries whose efforts have been mentioned in detail previously.
· The Ministry of Heritage and Culture: The Ministry is responsible for the establishment and supervision of museums. There are many museums in the Sultanate including the Museum of Oman, National Museum, Sohar Fort Museum, Bait Al Loban Museum and Bait Al Zubair Museum, which contain a large number of old Omani Khanjars. These museums are interested in highlighting the glorious history of Oman, the traditions and lifestyle of its inhabitants over the centuries and collectibles and historical silver jewellery, Omani Khanjars and copper works that feature the skill and unique ability to turn these raw materials into crafts and wonderful formations.
It is worth mentioning that some of the castles and forts have been converted into museums including Nizwa Fort in Nizwa, Al Hazem Castle and Al Rustaq Fort in Al Rustaq, as well as Nakhal Fort in Nakhal, and Al minterb Fort in Bediah. These museums are filled with many archaeological treasures.
· Ministry of Tourism: The Ministry aims to revive tourism in Oman and Omani legacies including crafts, which is considered one of the most important tourism potentials in the Sultanate of Oman. The Ministry is keen to attract tourists to these legacies by marketing tourist spots such as castles, forts, museums and archaeological sites. In addition, the Ministry is working to promote these legacies in international forums and posts.
· General Authority for documents and manuscripts: The Authority cares for ancient documents and manuscripts that contain a lot of the history and legacies of Omani heritage. These ancient manuscripts are our first cultural memory. Thousands of manuscripts have been collected and stored in the Authority.
· The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education: Both of the ministries have revived Omani heritage including crafts in schools, universities and colleges by introducing courses or curriculum that highlight this heritage. These ministries also encourage students to pay attention to heritage issues through activities, events and competitions in various events.
· Ministry of Interior: The Ministry is interested in reviving Omani heritage and encouraging citizens to maintain it in terms of the official dress of men in government institutions and at local and international events and forums when representing the Sultanate. This official attire consists of formal wear comprising the Omani Dishdasha, Omani turban and Omani Khanjar. The official symbol of the ministries and government institutions consists of the Omani Khanjar with two swords, which should appear as a symbol of governmental organisation in official correspondence.
· Royal Court Affairs: The Court provides all types of material support and moral character to research that on historical, cultural and social issues. The Royal Stable and Royal Camels Unit oversee the races and annual celebrations to mark this side of Omani heritage.
· Muscat Municipality: The Court contributes to the Muscat Municipality to revive authentic Omani legacies. Omani history is celebrated each year in the Muscat Festival, which is promoted globally and regionally.
There are many governmental and private institutions working to support research and studies interested in reviving Omani heritage. Both the researchers and the artisans in these areas receive support (although the institutions that have been mentioned previously are just for males).
Khanjar has a prestigious position in the Sultanate of Oman. The leadership, government and people are equally interested in Omani Khanjar. The General Directorate of Standardization and Metrology in collaboration with the Directorate General for the care of craft preparation and the Royal Decree No. 87/1 on 01/03/1978 provide specifications for the components, parts, types and names of daggers traded in the Sultanate and for the raw materials and manufacturing methods used as well as for the dimensions and weights of the final product, with the ultimate aim of protecting the national craft specification of Oman.
Omani Khanjar has been a personal interest of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who ordered the end of importing Omani Khanjar from abroad as of 9 August 2005 in order to preserve the Khanjar from imitations or counterfeiting because it has cultural meanings to the people of Oman. Resolution No. 1/2006 banned the import of Khanjars from outside the Sultanate.
In the field of intellectual property rights, a certificate of deposit local number 822 was issued for the Omani Khanjar. The Department of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Trade and Industry also issued Ministerial Decree No. 47/2009 on the standard specifications of the Khanjar of Oman, committing Khanjar makers and all stakeholders in the Sultanate to the adoption of such standards governing the maintenance and identity of the Omani Khanjar.
Other approaches continued to be taken to keep the Omani Khanjar tradition and focus its industry on the identity of Oman. Resolution No. 32/2010 of the Public Authority for Craft Industries was issued prohibiting the use of Omani dagger models and other forms of craft in any industrial products, whether locally manufactured or imported without the prior consent of the public Authority for Craft Industries.
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