Coffee and Dates = Omani hospitality
Sinaw, Oman, 2009-11-30 12:00 by Martin
Arriving at Salim’s mothers house near Sinaw, we were met by Salim and a small part of his giant family; the number of brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and children of all these were many. As we had come to almost expect of Omanis, we were greeted with open hearts and lovely smiles by everyone. There were still a day left of Eid, so much of the family were gathered in their home town, which set the a good mood and a happy and inviting atmosphere.

Salim and his wife had lived in Scotland for two years, as the wife was doing her Masters there, so we could share many stories about cold, dark, winter days – which none of us fancied! Salim and his family could not have been better hosts, we were treated royally and were fed even more good Eid food – and also some dishes without beef, which was nice for a change. Salim’s sister cooked up a great feast of many traditional Omani dishes and it was hard to decide which one we liked the best.

An interesting detail about Salim’s family is that they are of mixed decent; Salim’s father had two wifes, one Arabian Omani and one Zanzibar Omani. Therefore some of his brothers were half African and most of the grownups spoke some Zwahili. Zanzibar was until relatively recently part of Oman, and at some point, it was actually the capital of Oman! We were told many stories about the conquests of the Omani, and a little bragging about how Oman had conquered Afghanistan once, something that neither the Soviet Union or Coalition Forces (US) could say to have achieved.
Together with Salim, his wife and two of their children we went out to search for a Beduin (or Bedu in Arabic) camp one evening. The Bedu is known for their hospitality, and as Salims hometown is in one of the regions where the most Bedu lives, he thought we should meet some. Eventually we found a camp and wandered towards it in the fading lights; we were met half way by an older man wielding a huge knife, looking rather grim! As we neared him, he pointed his knife towards us, but soon pointed it to the camp and welcomed us in with a surprised smile. Salim didn’t know the Bedus, but they welcomed us warmly and we had tea, halwa, dades and other sweets as well.