Sultan Qaboos Bin Said patronizes opening of Royal Opera House Muscat

Final results of Omani Shura Council elections to be announced

Interior Minister says elections saw development of legal, procedural and technical aspects

Undersecretary of Information Ministry: Sultan Qaboos is interested in youths who represent the base for the National Project

Jewel of Muscat museum opens in Singapore

A number of news agencies and media focused on the opening ceremony of the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) which was held under the patronage of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.

Bahrain News Agency, under the title Sultan of Oman Opens Royal Opera House Muscat, said the Royal Opera launched by His Majesty the Sultan in the presence of large number of the officials and heads of Arab and European governments, is the first opera house in the Gulf region.

It added that the establishment of the opera house comes with the attention accorded by His Majesty to cultural and urban communication with other countries.

It said that the opening of the opera is the culmination of the sustainable cultural development witnessed by the Sultanate under the leadership of His Majesty the Sultan.

Alarabiya.net website said, under the title ‘Sultan Qaboos Opens the First Opera House in the Gulf region’, that the launch of the opera house is a culmination of the sustainable development process in the Sultanate and comes from the importance of cultural development as one of the benefits of the renaissance its effective role in the rapprochement between civilizations.

It is considered that the opening of the Opera House marks the start of a new phase of the ongoing efforts to promote the heritage of Oman and the interaction with the world’s culture and arts.

DPA said, under the title ‘Sultan Qaboos Opens the First Gulf Opera House’, that the launch of the first opera house in the Gulf is the culmination of sustainable development process in the Sultanate.

It added that the opening of the Opera House marked the start of a new phase of the ongoing efforts to promote the heritage of Oman and the interaction with the world’s culture and arts.

The ROHM will serve as a centre of global cultural excellence and promote dialogue across civilizations, according to Her Excellency Dr. Rawiyah Bint Saud Al Busaidiyah, Chairperson of the ROHM Board of Directors here on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference for local as well as international media, Rawiyah said: “The opening of the Royal Opera House is a landmark event not just for the people of Oman and the neighboring Gulf states but for the whole world and it reflects the great vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said”.

She added: “The inaugural season of the Royal Opera House Muscat represents a significant milestone in the cultural development of this country, and a momentous contribution to the performing arts worldwide.

Elaborating further Rawiyah said: “The landmark building is an iconic symbol of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said’s ongoing dedication to support the cultural development of the Sultanate and a commitment to global outreach and dialogue through the arts.

Furthermore, this historic cultural effort is unprecedented in the region: A world-class performing arts venue that will serve as a place for creativity and innovation for generations to come.

She added: “This opening season will present outstanding international artists and attractions, many of which are being seen for the first time in the region. ROHM is distinguished by an august and stately architecture that represents Oman’s proud heritage. Its technical facilities are state-of-the-art”.

“This year’s productions were chosen not only for their artistic excellence, but also for the inspiration they give to the human spirit. The Royal Opera House welcomes all the people of Oman – as well as friends and colleagues from the region and around the world – to join in celebrating this splendid first season.”

Addressing a post-lunch press conference, renowned film and stage director Franco Zeffirelli and world-renowned Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, said: “Now that you have a world-class opera house, the next step is to create a wider audience that can appreciate opera”.

They suggested that as a first step it would be nice to introduce Omani children to the beauty of classical music and perhaps a start could be made by allowing school-children to come and witness the rehearsals of various productions that are to be staged during the inaugural season”.

A spectacular production of Puccini’s Turandot opens the Royal Opera House Muscat to the public on Friday, October 14, and continues on October 15. The production is directed and designed by the great Italian film and stage director, Franco Zeffirelli (Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew).

The chorus and orchestra of the Fondazione Arena di Verona (Verona, Italy) is conducted by world-renowned Spanish tenor Placido Domingo.

An inaugural performance was conducted on October 12 and was attended by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said who performed a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Throughout its inaugural season, the ROH Muscat will host various activities, including open houses for the public featuring free performances; backstage tours; pre-performance talks with artistes and experts in the fields of music and opera; and workshops for children and adults.

From November 28 to 30, the ROH Muscat will host approximately 200 arts and culture leaders, policy makers and cultural entrepreneurs at the Royal Opera House Muscat-Aspen Creative Arts World Summit Leadership.

The Supreme Committee has engaged The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to provide interim executive leadership.

The transition team is led by Michael M. Kaiser, President, and Brett Egan, Director of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center.

Journalists and media persons were later taken on tour of the Royal Opera House by Geoffrey Wheel, technical director at the ROHM, to get an inside view of the world-class facilities.

Dr. Abdulatif Bin Rashid Al Zayani, GCC Secretary-General, hailed the Sultanate’s achievements under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.

He said the great achievements, which are seen by everyone and need no evidence, have been made during the Blessed Renaissance march witnessed by the Sultanate.

Al Zayani, who attended the opening ceremony of the ROHM, expressed joy for taking part in the ceremony which was presided over by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.

He said the Royal Opera House is one of the most prominent cultural projects in the GCC and a source of pride for everyone in the GCC countries.

He said it reflects the Royal vision of HM the Sultan and his sublime and realistic style in leadership which secured a prominent place for the Sultanate among countries.

Al Zayani said the cultural edifice will enable Oman to host the prestigious international opera troupes, making Muscat a hub for lovers of quality art. He hailed the Sultanate’s interests in the cultural aspects and the diversifying of its fields.

He praised the architecture of the Royal Opera House which is inspired from modern architecture while maintaining the Omani, Arab and Islamic architecture.

He expressed admiration for the opening gala. He wished the Sultanate more progress and development under the wise leadership of HM the Sultan.

Meanwhile, HE Sayyid Hamoud Bin Faisal Al Busaidi, Interior Minister, expressed deep gratitude and loyalty to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said for the Royal care and wise guidance that facilitated the full participation of the Omani citizen in the Shura Council seventh term election in all wilayats.

In a statement on Sunday on the occasion of announcing the election results, he thanked Allah the Almighty as the election of the Shura Council members has been completed as per the rules of the State Council and Shura Council System promulgated vide Royal Decree No. 86/97 regarding the Council of Oman and the regulations of the Executive Bylaw for Shura Council Elections issued by the Royal Decree No. 26/2003.

He said the Interior Ministry has been fully prepared for the election process, which witnessed development of the legal and procedurals aspects, and introduction of modern technologies that ens¬ured accuracy and speed in the election process.

Thanks to Allah, all these efforts have been crowned with success, he said.

He expressed his deep thanks for all the public, NGOs and individuals inside and outside the Sultanate for their positive interaction during the process. He thanked all those who contributed to the success of the election process.

Busaidi had visited a number of election centers in Al Dakhiliyah region and Muscat governorate on Friday.

He reviewed preparations for Saturday’s elections. He met the heads of the election committees at the centers and was briefed about the arrangements in the voting rooms, some of which have 16 boxes.

He stressed the importance of making it easy for voters to enter and leave the voting centers. He was accompanied by the undersecretary at the Ministry of Interior, and members of election committee. The 105 voting centers across the wilayats have 900 voting boxes.

Seventy-six per cent of registered voters exercised their franchise in the Shura Council seventh term election on Saturday, according to HE Sayyid Mohammed Bin Sultan Al Busaidi, Undersecretary at the Interior Ministry and Chairman of the Main Committee for the Shura Council Seventh Term Elections.

Expressing his satisfaction over the election results, he said 400,000 out of 518,000 registered male and female voters cast their votes. Some wilayats witnessed very high turnout, he said during the press conference at the Interior Ministry on Sunday.

He thanked all those who cast their votes.

Mohammed Al Busaidi attributed the enthusiasm of voters to their eagerness to respond to the call of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said to elect the most efficient candidate.

He said His Majesty the Sultan has promised Shura Council more powers in the coming period. His Majesty the Sultan has already granted some Shura Council members ministerial posts.

Al Busaidi said efforts made in the run-up to the election paid off and that the process concluded without any delays. Sorting of votes continued into the early hours of the following day.

He said the wilayats with 30,000 plus population are represented by two members and those with less than 30,000 are represented by one member.

The Interior Ministry conducts studies and surveys to determine the population percentage at wilayats before organizing any election, he said.

On the issue of increasing the number of representatives in heavily populated wilayats, such as those with a population of 150,000 or more, he said this does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry or the Election Organizing Committee.

On implementing the quota system to help women’s representation in the Shura Council, he said women have not requested it.

He also said he believes the Omani woman does not need this as she has managed to get membership by depending on herself, her effort and persistence.

He expressed joy over a woman winning a seat in the Shura Council poll.

Al Busaidi said the wilayats of Sohar, Barka, Ibri, Salalah and Suwaiq witnessed very high turnout in the elections. Some wilayats have re-elected sitting members while others elected new ones, he said, attributing the re-election of members to their success in winning the confidence of voters.

The Main Elections Committee has so far not received any appeals against the election results, he said, adding that appeals are open for 10 days.

“Today we can affirm with honesty and pride that the vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in his support for the Jewel of Muscat project has turned into reality.” With these words, HE Sayyid Badr Bin Hamad Bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, Secretary-General at the Foreign Ministry and Chairman of the Omani Delegation began his speech at the opening ceremony for the Maritime Experiential Museum in Sentosa tourist island that houses the historic ship, Jewel of Muscat, on Sunday.

Badr Busaidi, who was assigned by His Majesty the Sultan to take part in the ceremony, expressed his delight at the opening of the museum.

“This day is a milestone in the life of the Jewel of Muscat,” Badr Busaidi told reporters on the occasion. He said the opening of the museum, with the Jewel of Muscat in it, provides visitors a unique opportunity to discover the Silk Route.

He said history teaches us that the spirit of exploration, trade and cultural exchange play a key role in bringing about peace and prosperity for all the participating parties. The spirit of openness and cultural diversity can yield fruits, he said.

He said the Jewel of Muscat project had a good interaction with students as it connected them to their rich history.

He referred to the comment posted by a ninth grade student on the Jewel of Muscat website that the Jewel is not only a vessel that sails to Singapore, but also a symbol of peace and friendship among countries.

He said it is impressive that a country decides to build a vessel similar to the archaeological find in the Indian Ocean then sail it through the roughest waters to gift it to another country.

This happens at a time many nations are engaged in wars, he said.

“We can affirm with utmost truth and pride, that the vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in supporting the project of Jewel of Muscat has turned into reality,” he said. He said that amidst this project and the new museum, there is an important lesson not only for Oman and Singapore but for all countries overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Through the meeting of cultural heritage for these countries and with the blessing of science and technology, everyone can now open wider horizons and a promising future through working together with a spirit of friendship and humanity, he said.

He concluded by saying that the international team that built the vessel comprised individuals from India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Britain, the US, Italy and Oman. He conveyed the Sultanate’s appreciation to all those who contributed to the project.

Former prime Minister Goh Chok Tong Goh Chok Tong referred to the historic trade ties between the Sultanate and Singapore and other countries of the region. He said the presence of the Jewel of Muscat in this place in particular aims to shed light on the glorious Omani maritime history and its contacts with countries of the region.

Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Executive Chairman of Genting Singapore, said, “We have utilized the gift extended to us by the Sultanate in an ideal way through organizing a special museum for the vessel. This museum is based on presenting and highlighting the deep-rooted relations and trade links between countries of the region in the ancient times in general and between the Sultanate and Singapore in particular.”

He thanked the Sultanate for the gift, saying that Jewel is a beacon that teaches the new generations in Singapore, the Sultanate and the world the importance of peace and human relations among peoples. He 10 million people are expected to visit the museum in the next couple of years.

The opening ceremony also included miscellaneous programs of the Singaporean traditional arts inspired by the marine heritage of the region.

After the ceremony, Badr Busaidi, accompanied by Goh Chok Tong and Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay toured the new museum.

The opening ceremony was attended by HE Mohammed Bin Saif Al Zarafi, Undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry for Administrative and Financial Affairs, Zakariya Bin Hamad Al Sa’adi , the Sultanate’s Consul General in Singapore, Saud Bin Ahmed Al Nahari, Chairman of the Omani side at the Omani-Singaporean Business Council, members of the Omani delegation accompanying the Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry, members of the Sultanate’s General Consulate in Singapore, other Singaporean officials, Arab ambassadors, ambassadors of countries where the Jewel called in and officials of the Singaporean government.

The vessel was named by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said and built in the Sultanate on Qantab coast in Muscat City.

It is a Royal gift by His Majesty to the Singaporean people in recognition of the positive cooperation between the two countries and Singapore’s role in the maritime trade routes and Silk Route and also because Singapore played a pioneering role in possessing the valuable treasures discovered in the shipwreck. It has also taken the lead in documenting this discovery and bringing it to light.

During its 138-day journey from Sultan Qaboos Port to Singapore, the vessel spent 68 days on sea and covered 3,580 nautical miles (about 6,630km) using the traditional navigation methods of the 19th century, besides modern technologies to enhance data about these mediums and documenting them.