#OmanPride: National Museum honours Omani women with special showcase
September 30, 2016 | 10:57 PM
by Deeba Hasan/ [email protected]

Muscat: Oman’s National Museum has created a special showcase to spotlight some of the varied achievements of Omani women.

According to Her Highness Sayyida Nada Al Said, head of External Relations and curator at the museum, the idea behind the showcase is to show the representation of Omani female personalities that have played a key role in the progress and development of Oman’s history.

“All these women have changed Omani history by being the firsts of many—an ambassador, author, first to receive a PhD and many more.”

The showcase contains medals given to Khadija Al Lawati, the first female Omani ambassador by Queen Beatrice of the Netherlands, a certificate and medal for Fatma Salem Seif, the first female to earn a PhD in 1955, a letter of congratulations for Shakoor Al Ghammari on making it to the State Council, and Sayyida Salma’s original memoir’s manuscript.

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Salma was the first female to have published a memoir. Also documented is Aysha bint Rashid Al Riyami, whose name is preserved in a handwritten book on Islam; she studied and covered Islam in her writings.

Brainchild of Sayyida Nada, the showcase was developed in a year. “Starting from the beginning of research for personalities, gathering artefacts, solidifying the storyline, getting the text together, restoration and conservation of the artefacts, design of the arrangement of artefacts in the showcase, design of the mounts and supports for the artefacts, production of mounts and supports, installation of the showcase, stages of the inspections of the showcase till it was perfect, the wiring of showcase security and temperature control, installation of mounts and supports, installation of artefacts in the showcase, perfecting the lighting in the showcase, installation of caption (text) panels,” she added.

The items were carefully selected by extensive research on Omani personalities. Although Oman has had many historical female personalities, even from the 1800s, such as Sayyida Moza, a lot of them do not have artefacts for display to go with their stories.

“This is why we had to use another approach by representing more recent female figures that are just as important by breaking through gender barriers and making a change, and we were lucky enough to have ancient artefacts represented by Aysha bint Rashid Al Riyami and Sayyida Salma’s original Memoir of an Arabian Princess, written in German from 1886.

“The list of personalities and objects were then filtered and categorised the best artefacts aesthetically and theoretically, as well as represented as many personalities as possible, given the tight space of the showcase. Linking the artefacts with the same theme and story was also important, so we decided to go with the “firsts.”

The permission was officially given to the National Museum in order to use their artefacts, which are mostly on loan and donation from the owners. The manuscripts and postage stamps are government-owned, which have also gone through an approval process.

Although special stories revolve around most of the artefacts in this showcase, the most interesting story Al Said stated is that of the Memoir of an Arabian Princess. “All artefacts in this showcase have an interesting story, however if I had to chosen one, I would say the original Memoir of an Arabian Princess by Sayyida Salma, which has a capturing ocean view book cover and beautiful style of script written in German.”

“This showcase has inspired me and will inspire other females also, in Oman. It will motivate them to follow their goals to the highest level and never give up on their dreams, as it shows anything is possible. All these women have broken gender barriers, have diverse backgrounds and specialties, and we are honoured to represent them at the National Museum,” Al Said added.

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