Vilnius: Oman and its residents can take pride in winning the hearts and minds of people in Europe, after the Sultanate became one of the top highlights during the Arab Cultural Days event, which was held in Lithuania from September 15 to 17.
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Held in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, and across several other cities in the Baltic nation, the Arab Cultural Days event offered Europeans an opportunity to learn much about the history and culture of Arabia, with several artists, musicians, poets, academics and journalists having their works and deeds showcased for visitors to experience.
Situated in the main government quarter of Vilnius, visitors to Oman’s pavilion were given a window into what made the Sultanate the essence of Arabia, as they sampled classic Omani fare, such as farm-grown dates and freshly-brewed qahwa, as they perused films, read books and took in the photos of famous Omani photographers, with the familiar scent of frankincense from the Dhofar region lingering in the air.
“For all our guests, this was a place for pleasant encounters and revelations, because we wanted them to learn more about Oman,” said Boleta Senkienė, the honorary consul of the Sultanate of Oman in Lithuania.
Omani literature was represented through excerpts from works by Muhamad Sai Al Rahbi, translated into Lithuanian, during an evening dedicated to Arab literature, on September 14 at the Vilnius University Library.
Established in 2013, Oman is the only Arab nation to be represented by an honorary consulate in Lithuania, and this is not the first time the Sultanate has stepped forward to share its culture in the country.
Two years in a row, in 2015 and 2016, Oman took part in the Vilnius Book Fair, where its colourful stand enjoyed enormous success and was visited by tens of thousands of people, including Dalia Grybauskaitė, the president of Lithuania.
In February 2017, a series of events representing Omani culture were held at the Town Hall of Vilnius. The programme included an exhibition of Omani photographers, lessons in traditional calligraphy and body painting, a concert of Arabic music and a lecture about Omani frankincense.
With Oman’s reputation for warm and friendly relations and as an advocate for peace, which has seen it advocate a path of neutrality in global affairs well known, the two countries have recently signed a bilateral agreement, which will see young Omanis travel to Lithuania to train as commercial airline pilots.
What’s more is that during the Arab Cultural Days event, representatives from Oman’s Ministry of Education, along with the country’s Honorary Consul, had the opportunity to directly introduce Oman to thousands of people, during their live interview on Lithuania’s public TV network.
The Arab Cultural Days event was organised by the Lithuanian Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. The project is also backed by UNESCO. This year, it brought together artists, musicians, academics, journalists, and officials from Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and Palestine.