Treasures of Oman in Lithuania
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Oman and Lithuania, important guests from Oman have come to visit Lithuania. On this occasion, the Honorary Consulate of the Sultanate of Oman in Lithuania together with the Ministry of Information of Oman has organized a noble opening event in the Town Hall of Vilnius which has been accompanied by the exhibition of photography and jewellery crafts “Treasures of Oman”, calligraphers, as well as the ensemble of Omani oud fans Association.
The honorary consul of the Sultanate of Oman in the Republic of Lithuania Boleta Senkiene, who is one of the organizers of the project, was pleased that all of the ideas that have been proposed to the representatives of the Ministry of Information of Oman, as well as to the organizers, have been implemented and embraced with great enthusiasm: “What stood out for me the most and left a great impression was the fact that all of the ideas that have emerged in relation to such a distant and quite unfamiliar country, have been accepted with an open heart. To all of the ideas that we proposed, they responded with remarkable enthusiasm and provided us with more than we expected. This shows that we are not so distant lands, inasmuch as good, pro-active, and beautiful people always find each other.”
During the event, it was possible to get acquainted with different cultural features of Oman, which have been presented by the Omani themselves during various events and concerts. Tables that have been spread with the Omani delicacies, coffee, and dates, which have been sent from the selected farms in Oman especially for this occasion, proclaimed the Arab hospitality.
As for the scent of incense, it took us to the unique country in the Middle East - Oman. It seemed that all Vilnius smelled of incense, called frankinsence, which has been promoting Oman for more than three thousand years. On the second day of events the PhD of biochemistry Fahad Al Zadjali has lectured about this rare gift of nature. He have introduced the history of frankinsence and its meaning for the human health, inasmuch as the frankinsence has healing properties and have been used in medicine for a long time. Frankinsence – is dried resin of the boswellia sacra, it is also obtained in Yemen and East Africa; however, in the opinion of the experts, precisely Oman is providing the frankinsence of the best quality for global market and in particular the southern region of the country – Dhofar Governorate.
On the 9th of February at the celebratory opening ceremony concert in the great hall of the Town Hall six musicians have been playing - the ensemble of Omani oud fans Association. The ensemble have performed the ancient and modern Arabic music, and at the end of the concert they have made a pleasant surprise for Lithuanian audience - performed Lithuanian folk song “Augo kieme klevelis” during which the whole auditorium have been singing together with the musicians. Oud is one of the oldest musical instruments in the Arab musical tradition. Although Arabic music is regional – i.e. it is unique in each region, oud is one of the most common and most popular instruments in the Arab world. This music is distinguished by its melody which is based on heptatonic scales, unique rhythms, and performance. Group of the finest musicians who are playing at the castle of Sultan Qaboos in Muscat have been summoned especially for this event. The gathering of the group has been initiated by the Ministry of Information of the Sultanate of Oman, which, together with other Omani goods and treasures brought to Lithuania the traditional Arabic music. One of the group members Salem al Maqrashi, who is oud virtuoso, has agreed to share his and the troupe’s impressions about Lithuania, which the musicians have visited for the first time: “We were invited in order to show our culture (the culture of Oman) to Lithuania, and we were pleased to do so. Before that, we did not know anything about Lithuania, except its name (laughs). The thing that we enjoyed most was the weather (laughs). I do not know what the weather is at other seasons but when we arrived the temperature has dropped to 10 degrees below zero. For us, it was like a joke (laughs) – it is really too cold. However, we liked Lithuania a lot, especially its architecture, and the event itself was very well organized. We were asked to play Lithuanian folk song; it is a really beautiful song.
We did not know if Lithuanians will be aware of the chosen song (“Augo kieme klevelis”) and if it will be popular; therefore, together with the group we decided to go to an Indian restaurant where a few Lithuanians were and played this song on piano. Just as we started to play the song, all Lithuanians started to listen and asked how we know how this song. So we were very happy, because we already knew that people will know how to sing it. We liked Lithuania, we will definitely come back here, and we would like to travel around the country; what is more, Lithuanians seemed to be nice people.”
During the event, there was a possibility to get acquainted with Arab calligraphy and traditional body painting. For centuries, calligraphy has remained the essential element of visual culture in the Arab world and the Arab culture has acquired the name of the writing culture. During the event, a master of calligraphy has been writing the phrases and names requested by the visitors in the fonts of Osmani Diwani and Naskh.
The Diwani font of Ottoman origin is derived from the word “diwan”, meaning the power of royal palace. The font was created in the sixteenth century and was mostly used for the documents of the palace, as it was hard to be falsified and difficult to read; therefore, it ensured confidentiality. Naskh – is one of the most common italic fonts. This font is inscribed much easier and faster.
During the event, “Arab Cultural Forum” has interviewed the Minister of the Ministry of Information of the Sultanate of Oman Abdulmunim bin Mansour bin Said al-Hasani, who shared his thoughts and insights about cooperation and cultural dialogue between Lithuania and Oman: “Since 1992, Oman and Lithuania are maintaining diplomatic relations. Why is this important for us? In Oman, we emphasize the need to promote peace, to spread love and cherish the friendship not only between people but also between countries. History shows, that Omani have always been travellers, who have been sailing in both East and West directions to China, Europe and Africa. Now our world is facing wars, economic problems and other challenges oriented towards the human being; therefore, in Oman we are promoting peace and encouraging fostering culture. We appreciate the advantages of humanity, not wars and conflicts. We share our culture, peace and love. It is very important not only for our generation but for our children as well, who are growing in the environment created by us.
Therefore, it is very important for us to be here in Lithuania, and to promote interest in Oman; moreover, to find answers to the questions: what is Oman? What is Omani culture like? What is unique about our music and photography? We, as the Arab and Muslim country, want to be known for these values which we spread in the world. Arabian proverb says - the culture is always a way to everything. Therefore, the investment, business, trade, and even political cooperation are not possible without a mutual understanding. And how to form the best understanding if not through culture, art, music, photography? We see a lot of different possibilities for further cooperation between Oman and Lithuania: development of trading and business, healthcare services, educational exchanges, agriculture. All these areas are very important to us, but first, we have to introduce our country to Lithuania. Before convincing entrepreneurs to expand their business, to invest in Oman, we need to provide them with the opportunity to get to know Oman and our life. Therefore, we have chosen the cultural co-operation and we brought a little piece of Oman to Lithuania, in order the Lithuanians to get to know us”.
The Minister Abdulmunim bin Mansour bin Said al-Hasani has informed that two years have passed since the last visit of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania to Oman, and during these years, the number of entrepreneurs and investors who are coming to Oman from Lithuania has significantly increased, as well as more of the Omani are traveling to Lithuania. Cooperation is carried out in various fields. But there are still a number of areas, such as tourism, which can be developed together. According to the Minister, Lithuania has many beautiful places that are attractive for tourists, especially during the summer, and the Omani people are travellers who would travel to Lithuania willingly. On the other hand, we want the Lithuanians to know that Oman is very safe, beautiful, and friendly country.
“Today, we introduce Oman to Lithuania through a cultural prism. I am sure that the Honorary Consulate of Oman will help to organize more than one project in Lithuania intended for bilateral cooperation of our countries. After this event which will last the entire month of February, we hope to see Lithuania and Lithuanians in Oman, to communicate with them and to learn more about Lithuania".
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