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The practice of weaving palm fronds to make myriad items has been a part of sultanate's heritage for long. Though the craft is not widely practised now, but with the support of the government, the craft is being revived and promoted through entrepreneurs who have inherited the skill from their ancestors.

A Seeb-based entrepreneur Asila Hamoud Saud al Ghamari is someone who is doing her best to keep this tradition alive. She does not miss a chance to showcase the intricate yet simple and beautiful works of art at places like the Muscat Festival.

Asila started weaving when she was eight. She weaves palm fronds to make prayer mats, dolls, table mats, mandoos (a traditional chest) and a variety of other items. The palm fronds have to be soaked in water for ten days before they are ready for weaving the items, said Asila.

A peek into her stall at Naseem is sure to leave visitors in awe. 'I started weaving from the age of eight. It is a skill I have inherited from my parents. I make more than five pieces per day and spend around four hours a day weaving.'

Her craft list is not limited to just baskets and mats. 'I like to make different things like incense holders, traditional Omani door mats in distinct colours, prayer mats and various other home furnishing accessories that are unique to the sultanate.'

In addition to the Muscat Festival, Asila ensures she participates in all exhibitions organised by the Public Authority for Craft Industries (PACI).

'I take part in all exhibitions affiliated to PACI. I showcase my work at schools, universities and institutes too. I also organise workshops for students to educate them about the importance of such skills and a heritage that needs to be preserved and handed down to successive generations.'

The products are reasonably priced. 'They range between 500bz and RO10. A lot of tourists have bought my works and appreciated.'

Sustaining on an ancient craft is not an easy task. 'The raw materials needed for making these items are expensive. Making them also requires a lot of time and marketing these products too is difficult. But patience, determination helped me hold on.'

Asila hopes to set up an exclusive shop in future. 'I wish I had a shop to export my products. I want sell these items to countries across the world.'

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Publication:Muscat Daily (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Jan 22, 2018

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