Sultan Qaboos graces Sultanate’s 40th National Day celebrations

Massive march and festival in Al Fatah Square, military parade in Hisn al-Shomoukh

Sultan Qaboos gives Queen Elizabeth II of Britain warm welcome

Sultanate, UK sign two agreements on mutual exemption from visas, joint working group

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, presided over the Oman Military Music Festival (Tattoo) titled ‘Loyalty and Obedience March’ organized at Al Fatah Square in Wattayah.

The event was organized by the Royal Oman Police. The colorful event started with a tableau presented by five corps — the Royal Guard of Oman (RGO), the Royal Army of Oman (RAO), the Royal Air Force of Oman (Rafo), the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) and the Royal Oman Police (ROP). Each group comprising 140 personnel in protocol uniform saluted His Majesty.

The ‘Blessed Renaissance’ tableau reflected the tangible progress witnessed by the Sultanate under the wise leadership of His Majesty.

The music performance was staged by the female music bands of RGO, RAFO and ROP, as well as, the Royal Court Affairs band. As many as 340 females participated in the tableau. The tableau highlighted the prominent role of women in Omani society.

The 40th National Day tableau reflected the Sultanate’s progress in the past 40 years. The festival included a spectacular fireworks display that covered the Al Fatah Square with magnificent colors celebrating the 40th National Day.

Loyalty and Obedience March ’ was the theme of the Oman Military Music Festival (Tattoo) for the year 2010.

The festival shed light on the big boom and great achievements witnessed by the Sultanate under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said during the past 40 years of Renaissance.

The Sultanate’s different military bands and groups took part in the festival drawing a wonderful tableau. Royal Guard of Oman (RGO), Royal Oman Police (ROP), Royal Air Forces of Oman (RAFO), Women Music Band of the Royal Court Affairs and Scout Music Band, in addition to a military music band from Jordan took part in the festival activities.

History of Tattoo festivals

The first Tattoo Festival was held in 1975 on the occasion of the fifth Blessed Renaissance, which was led by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, the Supreme Commander. Friendly countries, including the United Kingdom and India participated in the festival.

In 1978, British bands in addition to the music band of Sri Lanka Police and Omanis who played a prominent role in the success of the festival, participated in the festival.

The third festival was held in 1980.

The performance was better and it got better and better with experience.

Later, it was decided to hold such festival every five years, and so in 1985 the Sultanate witnessed the fourth festival, followed by the fifth one in 1990, and the sixth in 1995.

Modern technology helped in perfecting the music harmony and different bands participated in those festivals.

In 2000, the festival took the name ‘Oman Military Music Festival’ (Tattoo). Later, after five years, the Sultanate marked the 35th National Day with the eighth Tattoo Festival, which was held under the theme ‘Oman Peace’ to shed light on the peaceful atmosphere, security and stability in Oman.

Royal Oman Police (ROP)

Police Music Band was the first military and police music band to be founded in the Sultanate. It received continues care on the level of music cadre who provided excellent training. The band was established in 1972 and took part in public, national and official events.

The Police Band has made many visits abroad and had given brilliant and splendid performances, including single instrumental and original Arab pieces together with expressive performance by the Omani folklore dancing group. The Police Band took part in several military music festivals held during the country’s celebrations of the glorious National Days.

In 1973, the Police Band performed music show before His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in Al Seeb Palace. In 1981, it took part in the first abroad participation when it flew to the UK and took part in the festival there.

Under the Royal Orders, Women Military Music Band was established as the second band in ROP. The women band took part in the 35th National Day Festival.

Royal Guard of Oman (RGO)

Royal Guard of Oman Music Band was also founded in the first years of the Renaissance March.

Protocol commitments required the formation of Military Bands and then the reorganization of the Sultan Private Band to become Royal Band South of the Royal Band North in 1977 and in 1973 followed by the formation later, after the introduction of mounted Trumpeters, the formation of the Royal Mounted Band, and the formation of Cavalry Music Band.

Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra (Roso)

As a result of the Royal Directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra was established in September 1985. Therefore, the decision was taken to recruit young Omani musicians (male and female) who were keen to go ahead with a new world of music. These young musicians began training under the instruction of professional musicians. After some time of training and qualification, their talents grew and they soon began taking examinations from the Associated Board of Music in Britain and thereby attaining recognized qualifications.

Royal Army of Oman (RAO)

The Royal Army of Oman Music Band was established in 1974 with a small section of musicians from bagpipers and drummers. The Band has performed at National Day celebrations as well as military and private The band was divided into two groups; one in Muscat and the other in Salalah.

As a result of these most successful performances they came very popular in music performances at home and abroad. The first performance was held at Salalah on the occasion of the eighth National Day.

Royal Air Force of Oman (Rafo)

In 1981 the band was established with a small number of young players. After one year, they became qualified players in brass, woodwind and percussion.

In 1983, the Band played their first performance. After six months they played in front of His Majesty the Sultan at Seeb Palace.

From then, the Band joined and played many performances in Oman and abroad. The band took part in a festival in 2006 at Canada, while the folk arts’ wing of the band took part in Omani Students Association Festival in Melbourne, Australia. Guitar and drums were also included later to be part of the band equipment.

Royal Navy of Oman (RNO)

The Royal Navy of Oman Band is the latest Band in the Armed Forces of Oman Bands, which was established on February 15, 1983 at the Training Battalion in Sur.

The band team included 35 players. In June 1984, the Band temporarily changed its place to Muscat. Later in 1988, the Band showed up at the ceremony of opening Said Bin Sultan Naval Base at Wadam which was held under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. Later, the band left Muscat to this basement. RNO Band has become one of the basic Military Bands in Oman which did many performances in the Sultanate and abroad.

Royal Cavalry

The Royal Cavalry Band was established in 1999 as per the Royal Orders of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. The band team included 35 players from the Royal Cavalry who received accurate training at the school of Royal Guard of Oman for Military Music. The first musical band of the Royal Cavalry was established in 2004 while the second musical band was created in 2009 which included 60 well-trained women of the Royal Cavalry personnel.

Meanwhile, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said hosted an official dinner at Al Alam Palace Guest House in honour of Queen Elizabeth II of the UK of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Head of the Commonwealth, Duke Philip of Edinburgh and their delegation.

The dinner was attended by Their Highnesses, the Chairmen of the State and Shura Councils, ministers, advisers, the Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF) and Royal Oman Police (ROP) commanders, some honorable members of the State Council, members of Shura Council, undersecretaries, members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Sultanate, ambassadors at the Foreign Ministry, a number of Sheikhs and dignitaries of the Governorate of Muscat, a number of editors-in-chiefs of the media and a number of SAF and ROP senior officers.

Before the dinner, His Majesty the Sultan and Queen Elizabeth II exchanged commemorative gifts on the occasion of the Queen’s visit to the Sultanate.

Queen Elizabeth II of UK and Duke Philip of Edinburgh last week met the British community in the Sultanate at the residence of the British ambassador to the Sultanate accompanied by HH Sayyid Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said, Heritage and Culture Minister ‘Head of the Mission of Honor.’

Queen Elizabeth was received by a number of ministers, senior officials in the state, Dr. Noel Guckian, the UK Ambassador to the Sultanate, chairman of the Omani-British Friendship Association and the British community in the Sultanate.

After the arrival of the Queen to the residence of the British ambassador to the Sultanate, students of the British school and the American-British school lined up to greet the Queen, waving the Sultanate’s and the UK’s flags, while the band of the American-British school played music welcoming the visit of the Queen.

Thereafter, the Queen and Duke Philip of Edinburgh took a tour of a number of craft industries and traditional Omani handicrafts.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague affirmed the Sultanate and the UK were still bound by strong ties and common grounds that kept both countries in a strong relationship from the very beginning.

In an interview with Zamzam Bint Sulaiman Al Rashdiyah, the Director-General and Editor-in-Chief of Oman News Agency (ONA), Hague said that having a rich marine history was one thing both the countries had in common. He added that both countries have looked upon the foreign world to build good relations with their neighbors, as they realize the need for building strong friendship and alliances with the rest of the world. Both countries are also known for their strategic location, he declared.

While, the Sultanate overlooks the Indian Ocean the UK overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.

He opined that both countries also shared a vision towards a number of strategic global issues, and expected the relationship to expand in all directions.

Hague said that the Sultanate had witnessed major developments and growth since Queen Elizabeth’s visit 31 years ago.

“I myself have seen this positive development during my recurrent visits to the Sultanate during the last 10 years,” he said.

He pointed out to the constant development witnessed by the education sector in the Sultanate which provides Omanis with many opportunities for growth and development. He said that with such great development, the British government now looks for stronger relations in the fields of economics, trade and education, and hailed the Sultanate’s achievements in its march towards progress and development.

As for the agreement which was signed between the Sultanate and the UK, he pointed out it would make the access to UK for holders of diplomatic and special passports process, easy and fast. The agreement would also help the governments to cooperate more closely.

He cited the UK visa manipulation in the past as a reason for Britain’s strict visa requirements. He added that the British government reviewed the visa regulations from time to time and it would try to soften the entry visa requirements for citizens of the friendly countries.

William Hague pointed out that there were a number of major topics on the agenda of the joint working committee between the two countries, especially in the economic and trade fields. While there were a number of investment opportunities for UK investors to carry out more ventures in the Sultanate, the Omani investors also had investment and trade opportunities in the Britain, he added.

He pointed out that the two sides will discuss the increasing opportunities in education, technology and cultural exchange fields, in addition to the existing cooperation in defense field.

He affirmed that the focus in the coming period will be on exploring the possibility for deepening the bilateral cooperation in different fields, especially on the joint working groups that include experts and supervised by the ministers in both countries.

He added that the joint working group will meet regularly to explore the possibility for enhancing and increasing bilateral cooperation.

As for the timing of Queen’s visit to the Sultanate, he said that the visit came at a very important time. He said that while UK has had strong relations with the Sultanate for more that 200 years, especially over the past 40 years, the British government was looking forward to cementing these relations further. This, he said, was the reason for more agreements that were signed.

As for the role played by the Sultanate in serving peace, security and stability issues in the region, Hague pointed out that the Sultanate played an important role in it. He also highlighted the importance of understanding the history and culture of countries in the region.

He affirmed that the conversation with His Majesty the Sultan and the ministers in the Sultanate on some of the regional issues had been very valuable to him and that the Omani vision reflected a good insight for the situation in these countries.

This sound vision emanates from the long experience and the good relations between the Sultanate and its neighboring countries.

He pointed out that both sides discussed the situation in Yemen, Iran, the Middle East peace process and the importance of having strong relations with Pakistan. He added that while these countries suffered from different types of challenges and difficulties, the British government appreciated the efforts exerted by the countries to support security and stability in the region. He hailed the role played by the Sultanate and said Omanis ought to feel proud of the role played by their country in the region.

‘We seek to increase security and stability of the region and strengthen our relations with all the Gulf countries, especially Oman with which we have good relations since long time on which we can build on,” he said speaking about Britain’s foreign policy towards the Middle East.

Hague pointed out that while there were many challenges and risks in the Middle East, there were also many opportunities and that there were some countries that made great achievements and many leaders who sought to enhance the economic growth and development rates in their countries.

They also endeavored to enhance stability and security in the region.

He said that the relations between the Sultanate and the Britain enable the two countries to foster the bilateral cooperation to enhance stability and security in the region.

He affirmed that the UK would try to enhance stability and security in the region and that it would support the peace process in the Middle East, reaching peaceful solution for the international controversy on the Iranian nuclear program.

It would also seek to establish economic relations with many countries in the Middle East which in turn will have positive impact on the ME region, he added.

As for the role played by the Sultan, chairs in the various universities of the world in promoting tolerance and dialogue among countries, civilizations and nations he said that these chairs played an important role in enhancing understanding and that a good example for this was the Centre for Islamic Studies at Oxford University, the university from which he graduated.

This centre attracted prominent speakers, from across the globe, whose expertise and knowledge helped many students.

He added that such centers encouraged building bridges of communication among religions, peoples, families and individuals from different religions. This, he said, was the spirit of tolerance that should be present before us, especially since the last 10 years have witnessed many controversies and tensions regarding religious issues.

At the end of his statement, Hague expressed his appreciation for the status of the Omani women and the achievements made by them during the last period. This was evident during his meetings with the Omani female ministers and senior officials.

He also pointed out that the UK appreciated such trend by the Sultanate, as it revealed its intention to benefit from the capabilities of both men and women alike.

The Sultanate and the UK government signed two agreements on reciprocal visa waiver for diplomatic and special passport holders and the setting up of a joint working group.

The agreements were signed by HE Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Sultanate, while William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, signed for the government of UK.

In the meeting held at the Al Bustan Palace hotel, they reaffirmed their commitment to the close and special relationship between the two countries. To further enhance this relationship, a joint working group will be established, with its first meeting to be held early in 2011.

They also affirmed that the reciprocal visa waiver for diplomatic and special passport holders will come into effect shortly.

Alawi said the two agreements are an umbrella for the existing relations and the committees that work within the framework of the bilateral relations are an added value to the existing relationship between the Sultanate and Britain.

He said that the joint cooperation is the basic goal of the existing relationship between the two countries. Alawi also pointed out that there are a number of projects that may develop these relations. He said that the agreements will help in carrying out joint work on the regional and international arena to enhance security and stability in the region.

William Hague said in a statement after the meeting that the visit to the Sultanate is a good opportunity for building strong relationship between the two countries. He pointed out that signing an agreement to set up a joint working group is a bid to develop the bilateral relations. He also pointed out that there are opportunities for more cooperation in a number of areas such as commerce, industry, tourism and development. The two sides can also work more closely on issues related to the international cooperation which will benefit Oman and UK.

The two sides pointed out that the partnership is based on a historical relationship dating back to centuries. This is underlined by the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Sultanate on the occasion of the 40th National Day of the Sultanate. Both the Sultanate and the UK renewed their commitment to enhancing their close bilateral relationship, based on partnership, mutual respect and shared value.

The signing ceremony was attended by HE Sayyid Badr Bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry, HE Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Al Hinai, the Sultanate’s ambassador to the UK heads of departments at the Foreign Ministry and the UK’s ambassador to the Sultanate.