As 2013 nears to an end and makes way for a new year, Y looks back over the last 12 months in Oman and reflects on the events that have made the news headlines
Alot can happen during a year in Oman. We’ve seen some huge developments and small steps, which together have helped shape the country’s future and laid the foundations for what is hoped will be a prosperous 2014.
For Y, 2013 heralded a change with a brand new look and team. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since Y magazine was relaunched.
Over the year, we’ve brought you stories from every region of the Sultanate. There have been royal walkabouts, royal visits, festivals and fashion, soapbox racing and sailing, teacher strikes and touring cyclists. We’ve had the milestone of Oman’s first sitcom and the excitement of Oman’s football team bidding for a place in the World Cup. Talking of which, there’s been some great sporting achievements this year, from our first ever medal won by an Omani team in basketball (thanks to a tremendous effort by the Oman Girl’s U16 team) and the first all-female Omani sailing team take to the waves on the Al Thuraya Bank Muscat.
To kick off the year in some style we had a host of models take to the catwalk showcasing creations from the some of the best emerging designers in Oman and the region at the Muscat Fashion Week from January 15-17. Among those who won plaudits were our homegrown labels Endemage and Dibaj.
Later that month, thousands of locals and visitors flocked to the Muscat Festival 2013, which officially started on January 30. For the first time, the main venue was switched from Qurum Natural Park to Amerat Public Park to avoid the traffic congestion of previous years.
The month also saw the start of a banking revolution with the launch of Oman’s first Islamic bank. Bank Nizwa – Oman’s first dedicated Islamic bank – opened its door to the public to usher in a new era.
February saw a very different kind of crowd arrive in Muscat. To be precise: a posse of stars on two wheels and their ardent fans. More than 200 of the world’s top cyclists descended on the Sultanate to take part in the Tour of Oman, a gruelling six-stage 938km race twisting through some of the most scenic and challenging terrain in the country.
Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins was among the elite pack but in the end, it was fellow Brit, Chris Froome, who took the honours in Oman. (Froome would later go on to win the Tour de France in July).
Indeed, sport had set the tone for the early months of the year. It was in one of our first new-look Y magazines that we revealed how the national Under16 girls had made history by winning a bronze medal in the inaugural GCC Girls Basketball Championship in Doha.
March 2 saw the official opening of Muscat Grand Mall, becoming the king of the capital’s shopping centres as the largest in the country.
We also had the excitement of a visit from a future king. Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, spent a few days in Oman on the last leg of a tour of the Middle East. The couple visited Nizwa, where the Prince tried his hand at a traditional sword dance, and watched an equestrian event in Muscat. Prince Charles also made an appearance at the British School Muscat.
Before their arrival, a performance at the Royal Opera House Muscat had sparked controversy when a member of American group Jason Moran and the Bandwagon recited verses from the Quran on stage. In March, more than 100 protestors gathered outside the Royal Opera House.
On March 19, Al Wisal 96.5FM, Y’s sister Arabic radio station, celebrated its 5th Birthday with a party and cake. (Merge 104.8FM, Y’s other sister radio station, celebrated its second birthday in June).
In April, the country lost a much-loved figure on the Sultanate’s art scene with the death of Sarah White, the museum director at Bait Al Zubair Foundation. Gallery Sarah, in honour of her life’s work and contribution to the Omani art world, was opened at the museum in October.