festival review -The Muscat Festival: It’s here!

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One of the key events in the Gulf is about to begin in the Sultanate of Oman. Taking place between January 27 and February 24, the Muscat Festival is an annual celebration of Oman’s traditional arts, culture, and heritage and will provide fun, adventure, excitement, and entertainment for the whole family.

His Excellency Eng. Sultan bin Hamdoon Al-Harthi, Head of Muscat Municipality and the Muscat Festival organising committee, is passionate about the role the Festival plays. “This Festival is an important celebration of our heritage as well as a showcase of our ability to host major international events at world-class standards. We expect over two million visitors this year and our programme of events has been specifically chosen to entertain every sector of our society with events, exhibitions, and lectures ranging across a number of fields including sport, culture, food, music, fashion, heritage, and literature.”

The Festival grounds will be located in the heart of Muscat in both Qurum Natural Park and Naseem Park. Open daily from 4 to 11pm, including weekends, activities will include funfairs, electronic games, laser shows, and fireworks, as well as a carnival and a variety of other children’s entertainment.

As well as these generic festival activities, key highlights this year also include the return of the Tour of Oman bike race between February 15 and 20, with 128 of the world’s greatest cyclists racing through Muscat, Sur, up the mighty Jebel Al Akhdar, and through surrounding regions. After the success of the inaugural competition last year, places for this year have been highly contested, and the 16 successful teams comprise some of the world’s greatest cyclists. Legendary cyclist Eddy Merckx, who is the organiser of the Tour of Oman and five-time winner of the Tour de France, will also host bike rides with children before two of the Tour stages.

A lecture circuit with top Arabic poets, book reading sessions, and cultural cinema events, as well as the Oman Heritage Village and the International Arts and Creativity Village, will be further highlights and will include over 200 artisans, exhibitors, and speakers. There will also be an Oman Food Festival in association with the Oman Tourism College and the Oman Chefs’ Association between February 5 and 15, showcasing live Omani cooking and international cuisine.

The music scene will also be active with an Arabic concert on February 3, an Indian night with Sonu Nigam and Lara Dutta on February 10, and a live performance by Shahrukh Khan alongside Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta, and Ganesh Hegde, on February 17.

The Muscat Festival will also be home to the inaugural Muscat Fashion Week and one of the largest celebrations of Arabic-styled fashion worldwide. Taking place over three consecutive nights from February 22-24, the Muscat catwalk will come alive with what’s hot in the world of fashion and feature designs from leading fashion design houses.

The Extreme Sailing Series will also return to Muscat for the start of the 2011 World Series. Over ten teams representing eight nations will tackle a unique mix of open-water races and high-octane ‘stadium’ showdowns, getting spectators so close to the action they can feel the splash! Oman Sail’s The Wave, Muscat, and Oman Air Masirah will be lined up at the start line, with Omani star sailors Khamis Al Anbouri and Nasser Al Mashari. Family entertainment will also be top of the agenda with a range of on-and-off-the-water entertainment, including sailing sessions at the Oman Sailing School between February 22 and 24 at The Wave, Muscat.

Further key highlights of the festival and specific information such as dates and timings, ticket purchases, and further information can also be found on the website www.muscat-festival.com.

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