OUTLOOK — By Mohammed Al Rahbi — The story goes back to the late eighties when a group of intellectuals were invited for a meet in the Journalists Club, just before it was being cancelled. During the meeting we discussed several issues on the cultural situation in the Sultanate. At that time, the Minister of Information was Abdulaziz bin Mohammed al Rowas and he was sitting between the two under-secretaries of information and one of them was Hamed bin Mohammed al Rashdi. Among the ideas and opinions was a request to come up with an Omani cultural magazine. The attendees elaborated on the importance of having this magazine and the enlightening role it should play in the society.
After a period of time, the new Omani cultural magazine emerged under the name of Nizwa, the city which is known in Omani history as the city of science and intellectual maturity. The editor-in-chief of the magazine was Saif al Rahbi, the poet who had just come back from abroad. The magazine was supervised by the Oman Establishment for Press, News, Publication and Advertising as it was called at that time. Later, the name was changed to Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising.
Therefore, this is how we got the much-awaited cultural magazine. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there may be many people around the world who would not know where Oman is located but they know Saif al Rahbi and his magazine Nizwa.
Nizwa, which is worth remembering as a valuable publication, is now entering its 70th issue, reflecting the contemporary Omani culture.
It is very popular and well-liked abroad more than in the country itself; people are admiring it as an outstanding cultural project established in Oman. However, there are some who are trying to stop this valuable project under the accusation that it is going against the local cultural heritage and that it is following the concept of imitation.
These people also claim that the editor of the magazine is following Western ideas which are in conflict with our morals.
All the old rumours about Saif al Rahbi and Nizwa have been well-publicised and very popular among people, some of whom believe that they are actually true! They are striving to harass the locally and internationally renowned poet and his outstanding magazine without making any attempt to comment on the poet’s thoughts or the articles and studies published in the magazine.
Many intellectuals and culture enthusiasts in Oman believe in this magazine and they consider it as a much-awaited dream that came true. They are very pro-active about their views on the magazine. The editor is always willing to include anybody who is willing to participate and enrich the input of the magazine. What are the reasons behind these kinds of criticism from the public? Saif al Rahbi always says that the doors of the magazine are open for people willing to participate, however, there are people who are only interested in creating excuses and unwanted barriers even though they are not involved in publishing the same.
In fact, there are names of many Omani writers that have appeared in this magazine during the past issues, in addition to other Arab and foreign ones. All those names have helped in making Nizwa an Omani cultural treasure for the Arabs and the whole world as well.
Therefore, the disagreements about the magazine and its editor-in-chief can be considered as normal only if they are based on reason.