The annual entertainment bonanza Salalah Tourism Festival (STF) concluded on Thursday amid fireworks, music, dance, vocational workshops, cultural and artistic performances, exhibitions as well as lectures, seminars and shopping opportunities for many. The festival had started on July 11.
The hot air balloon carnival, which is also part of the STF, will be operational till Friday, while some features like international shopping exhibition, traditional dance, electronic games and rides, and restaurants would continue till August 31 at Itin Recreation Centre, the main venue of the STF.
Apart from the main venue, many entertainment events were happening in and around Salalah under the banner of STF. Some events were happening at places like Samharam Tourism Village in north Awqad, Atina Land in Itin, Hafa Souk and Dahariz. On the outskirts of Salalah, some entertainment events took place in Taqah and Mirbat.
The festival kept the Salalah visitors occupied with range of programmes including cultural, heritage, amusement and general entertainment shows. The shows that evoked maximum response were those of Omani folk music and dances and Omani village prototypes that showcased traditional Omani way of living.
Among international shows, the daily carnival comprising stilt walkers, jokers, magicians and spot performers evoked good public response. Al Muruj theatre remained the centre for Arab music lovers. Famous Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram performed on Wednesday, while Thursday and Friday would be the last days for some other performances.
Over the years the STF has gained popularity among Salalah visitors due to its direct link with the Khareef (monsoon) season. It has emerged as a major pastime and platform for activities ranging from entertainment to awareness and promotion for different commercial and non-commercial products.
Talal al Mashali, Director of the Salalah Tourism Festival, expressed happiness over passing of the festival amid joy and cheer. He admitted that some new initiatives taken by the STF committee evoked good response and generally people appreciated those new initiatives.
“We also got some feedback to make the festival better. We have taken note of those feedbacks… we will discuss and incorporate as much as possible,” he said.
Though the festival ended on Thursday, some prize distribution ceremony has been kept for Friday keeping in mind weekend and participants’ full freedom from any assignments. “All through the festival, the performers, volunteers and STF organising committee members and office-bearers were busy doing something or the other so we chose Friday as prize distribution day,” said an official of Dhofar Municipality, which is the main organiser of the STF.
The footfall in the festival ground in Itin was high this year with total visitor arrivals in Salalah being 699,217 till Tuesday. Among the visitors 71.5 per cent were Omanis, 7.7 per cent Emiratis and nine per cent from other GCC countries.
The STF participants were seen greeting each other with a promise to meet next season.
“During our daily interaction with the festival participants, we developed friendship with some of them. We wished them good luck and promised to meet again next season,” said Amina who had showcased her very successful seashell exhibition in Itin ground.