Muscat: Omanis and expatriates alike can help contribute to the Sultanate’s economy in 2016 simply by having fun.
That was the message from the Muscat Festival Organising Committee, which yesterday urged the public to support the event and make it the biggest-ever yet.
The festival will be open to the public from January 14, 2016 until February 13, at Naseem Park, Amerat Park, and Oman Automobile Association venues.
Amid the global oil crisis, the Sultanate is bracing for a year of austerity where the price of fuel is expected to rise in the coming weeks.
Read also: Municipal Council member resigns in protest against Muscat Festival
However, Salem Al Maamari, Ministry of Tourism representative, said that the festival would definitely contribute to the economy and that the amount spent for the events and infrastructure is minimal compared to what the festival will be offering.
“We cannot give you an exact figure on how much is spent on the festival; however, the amount spent is nothing compared to what the festival can provide to the people as well as the economy,” said Al Maamari on the sidelines of a press conference.
He added that restaurants, hotels and taxis would benefit from visitors and residents during the festival.
He also said that families visiting from around Muscat would also contribute indirectly by filling their cars with petrol, taking their families to restaurants and renting hotel rooms if they were to stay in Muscat.
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“Now if you multiply that with a million which was last year’s visitor count, for example, you receive a great number (of money),” said Al Maawali.
Earlier, the Municipal Council discussed plans to hold Muscat Festival every alternative year but Khalid Bahram, Deputy Head of the Main Organising Committee of Muscat Festival, said that the event would be held every year saying that it has become a “necessity”.
“Muscat Festival became a necessity to hold it annually since it coincides with school holidays, so there must be some entertainment (for the children),” said Bahram highlighting the need to hold Muscat Festival every year for the good of the economy.
Ironically, one highlight of the ‘cultural event’ is a talk about the impact of oil price decline on the national economy.
In a presentation, the organising committee reviewed the most prominent activities and events included in this session.
Amerat Park will host the Omani Heritage Village, performance of folklore groups from India, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Turkey and the Philippines, entertainment Art Park, field shows, dinosaur village, science and knowledge village, and small and medium-sized enterprises exhibitions.
The Times of Oman reported on Wednesday how Al Shaima Al Raisi, a former member of the Muscat Festival Committee, claimed no financial returns in the reports submitted by the authorities and reviewed by the council, which prompted her to resign from her post as a member of the Muscat Festival Council.
Al Shaima was against the decision to go ahead with the holding of festival despite a majority vote to postpone it.