The sad and sudden demise ofHM Sultan Qaboos bin Said earlier this month brought a pall of gloom upon the art movement in Oman, which had been very close to the Late HM’s heart and who had a clear vision for taking Omani art into the 21st century with rene-wed momentum.
Artists in Oman have still not come to terms with this great loss of a benefactor who sought to give them and the art movement not just a solid foundation, but a great filip to set them on par with international artists and art societies.
They hold close to their hearts the fact that the Omani Government established the Omani Society for Fine Arts (OSFA) in 1993 as an official arts hub of Oman to cherish the fine arts movement and to enrich it with cultural elements from the Omani and Arab heritage.
OSFA was created by order of the Late HM, under the umbrella of the Sultan Qaboos Higher Centre for Culture and Science, under the Diwan of Royal Court. It has been supporting artists and taking their work to international levels. Every member now experiences a void and prays to Almighty Allah to rest HM’s benevolent soul in peace. Here’s what some artists said:
Naila al Maskari
The impact of the death of our father, the Late HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said, is immeasurable in all aspects. And, we find it even more difficult to mention after his name – God bless his soul. I still haven’t absorbed the news of his death, even though death is an absolute truth in this life. I believe death is the destiny of every living being, but sadness, feelings and the sense of loss can sometimes be very strong. Somehow, I wish it was just a nightmare.
We lost HM’s noble personality, but his ideas and principles will remain with us because they were implanted in our minds and hearts. We grew with them and based our education and lives on them.
The art movement and artists in Oman will remember him forever. He will be engraved in the hearts and minds of all artists, and in every painting or work they do. How could I not remember that he ordered the establishment of the Youth Studio in 1980, and was attached at that stage to the Ministry of Sports and Youth. He established the Art Education Department in Sultan Qaboos University and the Omani Society for Fine Arts in 1993 and was part of the Diwan of Royal Court.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos – May God bless HM’s soul – had ordered that all art materials be given to artists free of charge as part of his noble support to this movement. He had ordered that shipping of all participations in fine arts events inside or outside Oman will be free for everyone. He had also supported many national and international artists by obtaining a unique collection of their works. He also honoured the pioneers of art in Oman like veteran artist Anwar Sonya.
Lost the soul of art
Anwar Sonya, one of the pioneers of contemporary Omani art and the Omani art movement, expressed deep grief at the passing away of the Late HM Sultan Qaboos, saying, “All Omanis have lost a father figure who cared for us for generations. He was a father, a mother, a guide and guardian. He was everything for us. We can never forget him.”
Disclosing that the news of HM’s demise came down upon him like an earthquake that shattered everything, the ‘Godfather of Omani Art’ said, “HM Sultan Qaboos was a great lover of art and he did everything he could to support artists and promote the art movement in Oman. It was HM who founded the Omani Society for Fine Arts and it has been instrumental in training, nurturing and providing budding artists with a platform to showcase their work, besides giving them an opportunity to aspire to participate in international art events.
Sonya, who belongs to Dhofar region and whose work largely reflects Omani heritage, said, “I personally feel I lost my father and the very reason for my existence as an artist. HM Sultan Qaboos was the heart and soul of art in Oman. It is HM’s vision and support which has given us a clear direction and we will follow that path though we will always miss HM’s presence by our side.”
Last week, I received a short video clip of the Late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said attending an art show/exhibition at the military school (I guess). I cried after watching this clip because the Late HM’s protocol was very impressive and motivating. Simply, he went through each piece of art, enjoying it, analysing the composition, recognising the colouring mediums, giving his feedback about the history, background of one of the art pieces, and even himself adjusting a tilted painting. I haven’t seen a supportive and understanding leader like HM. Unfortunately, the country is in great loss.
In 1993, the Omani Society for Fine Arts startedits responsibilities to promote art and artists upon the Late HM’s recommendations and orders. And when HM saw the growth in talent in art in Oman, he ordered creating the Ministry of Arts Affairs in 2019. HM also appointed an artist to be a minister, which is a very clear wisdom.
Lost a legend
Maryam al Zadjali
No words can express our feelings on receiving the very downheartening news earlier this month. It was very difficult for every Omani and foreigners, too, to accept the news about the demise of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the man who built Oman from the grassroots and who made every citizen proud to be an Omani. HM’s contribution to his people cannot be matched and we will all remember him for ever.
We all believe that in life no one can stay for ever but some people like HM continue to live in the hearts of people forever because what HM has done for his country and his people is unthinkable. He is Oman’s legend. As for artists in Oman, HM took tremendous efforts to put us on par with international artists and given us all support by creating the Omani Society for Fine Arts and the recent Ministry for Arts Affairs. This makes it clear, how much he loved art and wanted to promote Omani artists.
We now have full faith and trust in His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, who heads Oman’s Vision 2040 project, and we hope that many new initiatives will materialise to promote art and artists in Oman.
His Majesty Sultan Haitham had supported many art events and projects in Oman when he previously headed the Ministry of Heritage and Culture and we now look forward to HM’s continued support in many new art projects in the future.
Love for art
Madny al Bakry
I will miss HM and his dedication, commitment and promotion of arts by creating a ministry solely for the promotion of art. It demonstrates HM’s love for art and recognition of its importance in the modern world.
I will specially remember HM for appreciating and acquiring one of my artworks and spending time in going through the details. And, I must point out his amazement when he found out that the artist was an Omani.
Great Collector of art
I was born in the ’70s and we only knew HM as our visionary leader. He established the foundation of everything in the country, and art was one of the priorities in HM’s vision. We miss his presence very much and he is in our heart forever. Many artists in Oman have grown up portraying HM in their works as our father and leader.
The Late HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said loved art and he has a big collection of art from all over the world. His collection involves 18th and 19th century art, as well as some contemporary art. I saw HM’s collection in the palace when it was shown to the public in 1996.
That was one of the most important shows in the historyof Oman.