Oman since the Beginning of Time… The story of a Nation with a Rich and Proud History

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  • The book narrates the story of the people of Oman and their lives by using illustrations inspired by carvings and drawings that are up to 7000 years old
  • Comprises of four volumes, 1,792 pages and 5,188 pictures that document the history of the people of Oman

Muscat: Under the auspices of His Excellency Salim Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism, and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Museum, the encyclopaedia ‘Oman Since the Beginning of Time, an Illustrated Historical Record’ was launched at the National Museum on December 30, 2020. The event was also attended by several excellencies. 

The encyclopaedia comprises of four large volumes documenting Omani history over a period of seven thousand years. The volumes were published as per the directives of the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimur – may the Almighty rest his soul in peace – and was supervised by His Majesty’s advisor for Economic Planning Affairs. The National Museum is one of the main supporters and contributors to this project.

Covering 1,792 pages, the encyclopaedia includes 5,188 images that were selected and documented from over 150,000 images collected from various sources, in an attempt to rewrite Omani history objectively. The aim is for the encyclopaedia to serve as an accurate reference for scholars and researchers in the historical field. The authors of the book were inspired by the directives of the late Majesty – may the Almighty rest his soul in peace – to the students of Sultan Qaboos University during a visit in May 2000, in which he spoke about the misrepresentation of Oman’s history throughout time in great detail. At the time, the late His Majesty called on history scholars and researchers to not take what is written as factual information, but instead analyse, research and hold discussions to understand more about what happened and thus be able to correct the nation’s history.

Commenting on his journey devising the encyclopaedia, Mohammad Al Zubair, said, “I discussed Oman’s history in several meetings with the late His Majesty. He spoke about the need to refine the general consensus, which started us on the path to develop a comprehensive study for this encyclopaedia. With the results of this study arose the need to create an illustrated record of our history in order to eliminate doubts and convey the truth. The first challenge was to obtain the relevant images encompassing this period. We had to rely on ancient monuments, findings and inscriptions that were discovered in various parts of the Sultanate, as well as historical sites that we studied, documented and took pictures of. The assisting scientific committee also drew up an accurate list of historic accounts of the region, all writings of reliable historians and visitors to Oman. These writings were collected, analysed and documented, with information extracted that could be considered factual and not based on imagination or exaggeration. The information was then transformed into infographics, to make it easy and accessible for a larger segment of readers.”

The encyclopaedia uses a variety of illustrative styles, including anecdotes, chronology, images, poetry, colours, visual images and illustrations based on scientific evidence and archaeological findings, to display content. It uses as little text or commentary as possible, to avoid misinterpretation. Instead, readers are called upon to use their imagination to explore and understand the history of Oman, accompanied by different shapes and patterns that continue to play a role today.  

Four volumes that tell the story of Oman’s history over seven thousand years

The four volumes of the encyclopaedia narrate Oman’s history according to a precise chronology. The first volume tells the story of ancient Oman, before the introduction of Islam. Shaped by geological forces over 700 million years ago, the nation’s natural diversity in terms of climate and resources initially allowed for primitive human activities. In subsequent eras, industrial, commercial and navigational activities developed that, together with intellectual, cultural and urban development, were heavily influenced by peaceful and hostile tribal relations.

The second volume covers the time from the introduction of Islam, around 629-630 AD, until the ascension of the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said – may the Almighty rest his soul in peace – in 1970. Manuscripts and pictures tell the story of a civilization that made valuable contributions in the fields of literature, language, law, medicine, architecture, science, arts, navigation, trade, governance, politics and others. It also showcases the different families that ruled over Oman during the Islamic and modern eras, up to the Al Busaidi dynasty, and the mark they left on the history of modern Oman. 

The third and fourth volume cover the era of the modern renaissance until today, with the ascension of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik bin Said – may the Almighty protect and preserve him – on January 11, 2020. Starting from July 23, 1970, deemed the beginning of Oman’s modern renaissance, they provide insight into the development of Oman and touch upon achievements in fields such as culture, economy, society, politics and international relations. The volumes also showcase the qualitative leap Oman has achieved in these last five decades.

Concluding the introduction he wrote for this encyclopaedia, Mohammad Al Zubair said, “It is truly a great honour to have been able to transform the wish of the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, voiced in his speech at Sultan Qaboos University in 2000, into reality. He spoke about the need to conduct research and document the history of Oman with facts and imagery. I believe that this encyclopaedia will be the beginning of other, similar projects that rewrite the history of Oman in true accuracy. I hope that it will help Oman’s youth get a valuable insight into the ancient and modern history of their country through interesting and engaging content.”