All roads lead to Dhofar

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 An evening drizzling on Wednesday was some kind of an announcement to the residents of Salalah that the all important Salalah Tourism Festival (STF) is opening on Thursday with people’s expectations of some new features and new entertainment activities. “Yes the light drizzling is great relief for us and it reminded me about tomorrow’s opening of the Khareef Festival. The monsoon seems to be slightly late, but I got worked up soon after getting some drops of rain and drove directly towards the festival ground just to get a view of the on-going preparations at the festival venue in Itin,” said Salalah resident Salem al Khatiri.

The festival venue, according to Salem, is all set to receive visitors, with some finishing touches being given to some new stalls in the central area of the festival ground where traditional music, dance and some events showcasing Oman’s heritage take place. An official of the Salalah Tourism Festival said everything was in order to open the festival on Thursday. Commenting on some work still going on inside, he said, “Some events or progammes happen in stages and it continues till the end of the festival. Soon after one exhibition or event, another opens at the same venue because demand for such halls and stalls are very high.”

The festival ground is abuzz with activities as government establishments and private and public companies are giving final touches to their stalls, while the municipality officials are busy lining up facilities and services. The STF’s all time hit shows are traditional and global village, dance and music competitions involving different wilayats (districts) of the sultanate and handicraft courtyards which gathers more than 1,000 crafts persons from all over the Sultanate. The STF this year has invited international troupes to perform folk music and dance besides regular games for children and adults.

The participation of private sector in the festival is going to be high this year due to wide collaboration between public and private sectors. Global village would be a place where stalls would be set up by Omani entrepreneurs. More than 600 events are scheduled to be held in the festival ground this year. Simultaneously, events have been planned at many places in Salalah, Taqah, Mirbat and Mughsayl. Many new events have been lined up in Samaharam Tourism Village and an entirely new tourism venue is being developed in Sahalnut where hot air balloon carnival is to open from July 22. Samaharam Tourism Village has also many new attractions like dolphin show, circus movies on wheels.

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