Muscat: The Omani Women's Forum at Al Amerat Park is bursting at its seams as several shoppers and onlookers throng this pavilion where a group of young and budding women entrepreneurs have displayed their wares.
local flavour: From ready-made garments and home linen to local perfumes and jewellery, the stalls have it all. Photo –Talib Al Wahaibi/Times of Oman
From ready-made garments, home linen and accessories to local made perfumes, frankincense and jewellery, a stopover at this forum brings lots of surprises and lives up to the wow-factor too. A collection of knick-knacks are there too. As you enter the hall the first thing that catches your attention is the bright and colourful ready-to-wear garment stall. Sheikha, who is managing the stall, tells us that they have their shop Muzan Al Sabah Co LLC at Al Hail where they sell quality clothes at affordable prices.
"Most of the garments available here are imported from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia," says Sheikha.
There is also an assortment of abayas and headscarves in varieties. From stone work, embroidery and other variations the abayas and the colourful headscarves are the latest in fashion and fast-selling collection too, informs Sheikha.
Whether it is the fragrance emanating from the traditional burners or the ones entrapped in artistically designed bottles, we are well aware of the predominance of scents in Arabian societies. As you head towards the next stall, exotic fragrances fill the air. Ardh Al Saeed Perfume, one of the city's well-known perfumeries, displays some of the finest and exotic local-made perfumes.
Ranging from OMR5 to OMR16 and more, Ibtisaam, the enthusiastic woman at the stall, guided us through the array of crystal bottles and explains the uniqueness of each one.
"Frankincense, which is found in abundance in the Dhofar region of Oman, was liberally traded in the past and today it sells as the most demanded perfumes," informs Ibtisaam.
Highlighting people's love for perfumes she says that perfumes are preferred in Arabian societies not just for its association with the culture and tradition of Arabia but also for its natural scents.
"Available in variety with exquisite aromas these local-made perfumes have a wide clientele. Some of them you do not even need to spray. Just dab a bit on your wrist and the scent stays with you for the whole day," she adds.
As you wander further inside you see groups of women manning stalls selling different products, including sweets and other eatables.
Nadheerah, who hails from Muscat and is a home businesswoman, sells a wide selection of cotton material for the headscarves and the dress at one of the outlets and they are available in plenty. "We get the cotton material from Thailand and sometimes send these to the UAE for the designs," she says.
All you need to do is rummage through the heap and pick your choice.
As you are all set to step out you bump into a stall that sells homemade cosmetics including moisturisers and perfume oil. Kawakib Al Mukheini and Noor, who hail from Sur have specialised in making these cosmetics.
"These are 100 per cent natural product," Noor says while pointing at the jars that are neatly arranged on the counter.
"Called mukhmaria in Arabic, these products are completely made of natural ingredients and it does not have any side effects on the skin no matter how sensitive it is. It's totally safe to use it and there is no expiry date to these homemade products," Kawakib adds.
From its entry to the exit, the Omani Women's forum pavilion boasts of a mind-boggling range of products and truly charm the visitors.