MUSCAT – The Khasab Castle in the spectacularly-mountainous Musandam Peninsula of Oman has bagged the prestigious UK-based “Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence” in the international category. This is definitely big news for Oman, which has unleashed a gamut of measures to develop its museums and heritage sites into world-renowned locations. The award, given to the Directorate of Historic Sites Development, Ministry of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman for development of Khasab Castle, was received by delegates from the Ministry of tourism, Oman, in London a few days ago.
The glittering ceremony held in London’s Church House, Westminster, was attended by more than 250 industry professionals, celebrating the achievements of the world of museums, galleries, and heritage visitor attractions. The awards ceremony was hosted by broadcaster and journalist, Simon Calder, who announced the winners in each of the twelve categories.
Created by The Museums & Heritage Show, the sector’s largest annual trade exhibition, the awards aim to recognize and celebrate best practice within the world of museums, galleries, and heritage visitor attractions. Khasab Castle faced tough competition before edging out celebrated museum/heritage sites like the Ring Werk, Nuerburgring Germany, and Gallo-Roman Museum Belgium, for the international category award.
The awards provide those within the industry a rare occasion to celebrate the spectacular projects that are taking place in cultural attractions today.
The awards were adjudicated by a panel of industry professionals, including: Bernard Donoghue, chairman of British Tourism Week; Diane Lees, director of the Imperial War Museum; Matthew Tanner MBE, director of ssGreat Britain; Marie Roberts, editor of M&H Online; and Sam Mullins, director of the London Transport Museum.
Says Anna Preedy, director of the Museums & Heritage Show and founder of the Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence said: “Despite the challenge of these uncertain times, the creativity and determination of this sector has never been more evident, and it was a great privilege to be able to celebrate the impressive achievements of so many. The event really is one to remember – the diversity of the projects submitted was truly remarkable, and it is enormously uplifting to see what a difference so many of them have made in encouraging new audiences to our museums, galleries, and heritage visitor attractions and often working within extremely tight budgetary constraints.”
Khasab Castle, which houses a museum, is located in the Musandum peninsula. The region is dissected by deep canyons and ribbed by layer upon layer of almost impassable, mile-high slabs of rock tossed upward by some prehistoric geological convulsion.
The picturesque Khasab Castle on the inner cove of Khasab Bay overlooks the harbor and represents Khasab’s eastern line of defense. Contained within its low, crenellated walls is a massive central tower that pre-dates the castle itself and the arrival Cof the Portuguese in the 16th century. A Portuguese garrison occupied the site until 1644, when Imam Nasir bin Murshid Al Yarubi united Oman’s land forces and supported by strengthened naval forces, regained control of the coast.
The castle was renovated by his successor, Saif bin Sultan Al Yarubi, in the latter half of the 17th century and was used as a strategic outpost by the rulers of the Al Bu Said dynasty in the later centuries. Recently, the castle was developed under the Forts and Castles Development Project initiated by the Ministry of Tourism, which aims to further upgrade facilities at Oman’s extant citadels to make them even more tourist-friendly.
Featuring three cannons, which face the sea, the Khasab Cstle was used until recently to signal the sighting of the moon – indicating the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid. The Khasab Castle is open to visitors year round, from Saturday to Thursday, 0900 to 1600 hours, and on Fridays, from 0800 to 1100 hours.
There is a museum displaying local Omani handicrafts and artifacts. Traditional Musandam boats and houses are exhibited in the castle’s courtyard, and additional displays in the central tower and residential wings showcase the heritage and culture of Musandam region.