OMANI CRAFTS CELEBRATIONS ON MARCH 3.
The Public Authority for Craft Industries (PACI) will pay tribute to over 16,000 Omani craftsmen and craftswomen, who have been keeping alive the traditional crafts of the sultanate in commemoration of its foundation day on March 3. The day is observed as Omani Crafts Day every year.
Speaking about the event to be held in the PACI office in Seeb, Tameema al Mahrouqi, consultant to head of PACI, told TheWeek, "Omani Crafts Day is a time to recognise the efforts of those craftsmen who have excelled as well as passed on their skills to future generations. It is also an occasion to showcase the achieveA[degrees] ments of PACI in promoting Omani crafts at all levels."
The celebrations this year, howA[degrees] ever, began early when the authorA[degrees] ity launched carts selling crafts in Muttrah Souq last week. These carts, managed by the craftsmen themselves, are aimed at building relationships between craftsmen and crafts institutions, as well as taking advantage of the current tourist season by promoting Omani crafts.
"We chose Muttrah Souq to showcase Omani crafts since it has been a haven for traditional goods for centuries and will set these handmade products apart from other imported goods," Tameema said. Also, since international tourists flock to this destination everyday, it would be a good opportunity to display Omani crafts to the world, she said.
March 3 is considered a very special day for Omani craftsmen, and the celebrations on this day will showcase efforts put in towards their training, rehabilitaA[degrees] tion as well as sustaining the posiA[degrees] tive results of PACI's projects. A short documentary film showcasA[degrees] ing these achievements will also be screened on the occasion.
Also, for the first time, PACI will honour families of deceased craftsA[degrees] men for their contribution towards the propagation of Omani crafts. H E Ayesha Khalfan al Siyabi, head
of PACI, will personally felicitate family members of these craftsmen on the day.
There will also be awards for the best investor in crafts houses, the best Omani associations of craA[degrees] ftsmen and the best private instituA[degrees] tions that support people with special needs in the field of crafts.
When asked whether PACI was able to make the most of Oman's elevation to the position of vice president of the World Crafts Council in promoting Omani crafts worldwide, Tameema said that the role did put the sultanate in a favourable position. She, however, added that she would have to attend various forums to showA[degrees] case Oman's traditional crafts.
She noted that the World Crafts Council is a gathering of East Asian and Pacific nations that come together to share experiences and that most members have illustriA[degrees] ous history in crafts. As regards the Arabian Peninsula, all countries have a shared history but the comA[degrees] mon pressures for all include the threat from Chinese goods and the
bane of falling prices.
China has a huge labour force and is better equipped for mass production at cheaper rates while the small number of craftsmen in the Arabian Peninsula is dwindling and cannot compete on a global level, especially because most crafts are handmade, Tameema pointed out.
Official statistics reveal that of the total number of craftsmen in the sultanate, 84 per cent are involved in the crafts industry full time. PACI, however, has taken note that young Omanis are keen on taking up traditional crafts and has sought the cooperation of the Ministry of Education to introduce crafts in school curricula.
Omani Crafts Day is a time to recognise the efforts of those craftsmen who have excelled as well as passed on their skills to future generations. It is also an occasion to showcase the achieveA[degrees] ments of PACI in promoting Omani crafts at all levels
Tameema al Mahrouqi
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