While traveling in the Sultanate of Oman during Ramadan, writer Frederic Jarry took the opportunity of meeting with advisor to the Minister of Culture and Heritage, Hassan Mohammed Ali Al Lawati.
The Minister's advisor proudly introduced his Omani homeland as a destination where, although luxury and ecological tourism are encouraged, it is never at the expense of the rich archaeological heritage or the natural environment of this former maritime empire, which are always keenly respected.
There is a clear link between governmental ethos and the tolerance of the third path of Islam, Ibadism, which is widely practised in Oman. Ibadism, a minority sect in comparison to Sunnism and Shiasm, promotes the idea of not discrimination between the Islamic and the non-Islamic heritage of Oman.
Indeed, the entire archaeological heritage of this ancient land, which, down through the centuries, has enjoyed an exciting history at the crossroads of many cultures, is defended and protected with a passion unparalleled elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf.
"The strategic position of Oman, between Iran, India, Africa and the Sunni monarchies has historically been an opportunity for openness to all these civilisations. If we go back to the 5th millennium BC, we can see that our country has been a target of the different powers of the east and west, as from north to south. Italians, English, Portuguese, Indians left traces of their passages. This has created openness and tolerance within this formidable maritime crossroads. A heritage that extends on the land and the sea," explained Hassan Mohammed Ali Al Lawati.
Throughout Oman's landscapes and territories, there is an archaeological diversity rich in discoveries, across an area stretching from Khantab in the north, to Dhofar, in Salalah, the country's southern most region. More than a hundred forts, towers and ancient stone mosques define the iconic singularities of the sultanate. Some are well preserved; others have suffered the effects of the harsh climatic conditions in the heart of the country.
This presents a real challenge for the government, especially for exploration of those sites below ground. An ancient and fabulous world remains to be brought to light from the depths of this earth, according to the findings of Tunisian, Moroccan and Italian researchers, as well as French missions, who have brought their valuable expertise to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage...