OUTLOOK — By Asim Al Shedi — Paris appeared like a beautiful woman who had just come from heaven as gift sent to mankind by God. Everything about it revealed unparallel beauty and mesmeric grandeur. For all her splendour Paris the City of Lights became the peerless capital of culture and arts. You don’t have to read history books to discover how genius were the people who created such beauty, you just walk along the streets and visit the museums scattered across the city and you will surely find out about the story of immortal human arts.
A morning walk along the bank of the River Seine offers matchless pleasure and if you have the chance to visit the Latin Quarter you will explore the Arabian arts created over the centuries by generations of artists. The Boulevard Saint-Michel leads to the Sorbonne University where you can enjoy a cup of coffee at its ancient tomb while reading Arabic papers which are available there.
The Omani culture was present last week in Paris exactly in a venue adjacent to the Latin Quarter on the bank of the River Seine. The Siblat Oman forum honoured the renowned Omani poet Saif al Rabhi, and held a pavilion for Omani books at an exhibition held at the Arab World Institute. The event was attended by a large gathering of writers and thinkers based in Paris. All keynoters spoke about the Omani culture and hailed the young generation of Omani writers who have put in wide presence in the Arab cultural scene with their brilliant literary works.
Strangely enough, no-one from the Sultanate’s commission at Unesco attended the event although the topic was in the core of their responsibility. It seems that serving the issues of the Omani culture is not included in their agenda unless the event is an official one and sponsored by a high-profile state personality. As for the events organised by individuals and civil society bodies aimed at promoting the Omani cultural scene, they are destined to be deprived from official attention.
Ahmed al Sayyad, Deputy Secretary-General of Unesco, attended the event without waiting for an official invitation unlike the Sultanate’s representative at Unesco who kept a low profile. Sayyad heard about the Omani cultural event from his friends and decided to attend it in spite of all the responsibilities imposed by his high position. He also held a dialogue with the Omani youths who participated in the event, and listened to the attendees’ viewpoints regarding the Arab cultural issues.
Personally, I hope the Omani commission at Unesco in Paris holds its responsibilities and play its role in serving the issues of the Omani culture. Not everything can be achieved by means of bureaucracy and via official channels. Those who are involved in the cultural issues can better understand that dialogue can achieve a lot in promoting the Omani arts and literature. Official and non-official bodies have to join their efforts as long as the objective is the same, to enrich the Omani cultural scene and place it high among the world nations.
The sky gets overcast, it was about to rain, now a cup of coffee seems insufficient to keep me warm. At the time I was packing my suitcase and getting myself ready to bid farewell to the lovely city. I was packed with sweet memories of a city with a lovely woman’s appearances.