The Sultanate has entered 2015 on the right foot, as Nizwa begins its reign as the Capital of Islamic Culture, along with three other cities.
Nizwa, which was the capital of Oman in ancient times and the seat of government for 1,000 years according to researcher Mohammed bin Abdullah al Saifi, will join Almaty in Kazakhstan and Cotonou in Benin as the focus of the Arab and Muslim world for the duration of 2015.
The city is home to one of Oman’s most popular tourist attractions, Nizwa Fort. The fort dates back to the ninth century and is considered one of the most important military monuments in the Middle East region. British royals Prince Charles and Prince Harry both visited the fort in their tours of Oman in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
The fort itself has been fully restored and now provides a fascinating insight into how Omani people used to live. It is unique among other forts due to the cylindrical shape of the main tower, which rises 30 metres into the air.
Nizwa was chosen as the as the Capital of Islamic Culture by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISECO) for its strong historic influence throughout the ages. The new Nizwa Cultural Centre is currently in the process of being built and is due to open in May this year. Once open, it will begin hosting commemorative events that highlight Omani culture.
A programme of events is being organised to mark a year of being in the spotlight, with the University of Nizwa, the College of Applied Science, the Youth Complex, the Higher Judicial Institute and the Nizwa Fort square all set to host festivities, according to Sheikh Hamad bin Hilal al Maamari, cultural affairs undersecretary at the Ministry of Heritage and Culture. A special logo has also been unveiled (below), depicting two long-standing landmarks of the city: the dome of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Nizwa Fort.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos extolled Nizwa’s cultural significance to the country as far back as 1994 in an address to the nation. “The homeland of great leaders, scientists, scholars, intellectuals and literati. It occupies a big place in the hearts of the Omani people”
Nizwa becomes the third city in the GCC to be named the Capital of Islamic Culture, following in the footsteps on Madina in Saudi Arabi, which was awarded the title in 2013 and Sharjah in the UAE, which claimed the honour last year.