Times of Oman
Nov 26, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 10:40 PM GMT
Handwritten heritage
March 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Photo - Hi

Unravelling the history and cultural heritage of Oman are the thousands of private records collected and preserved by the National Records and Archives Authority, a great source for 'scientific research and intellectual innovation'.

Ahmed Al Mahrouqi and Mahmood Al Ghamari are busy in front of the most modern copy machines, their careful hands flipping through the thin and yellow sheets of paper broken at their edges, the medieval manuscripts that have been collected and restored. Kept around them safely in the dim-lit room are small containers with long scrolls inside where ancient scholars scribbled wise words and speeches of leaders, parchments that reveal a country's psyche centuries ago, legal documents from yesteryears that speak of the laws that ruled the land and even simple receipt slips or notes that unraveled family histories!

Besides them, there are many other young citizens like Saud Al Busaidi and Hilal al Shiadi, who have been handpicked to preserve the handwritten or printed heritage of the Sultanate and their job is to collect the records owned or possessed by individuals, families and tribes that contain information or data which exceeds the scope of their owners…documents and agreements on lineage, rights, inheritance, business and agricultural practices spanning centuries, which could constitute a nation's memory.

That's exactly the aim of National Records and Archives Authority (NRAA), which has now amassed thousands of records and manuscripts from the citizens across the country for future research and studies. "We began our work in the year 2009 and so far we have collected more than 100,000 records besides about 15,000 manuscripts," says Hamood Salim Al Hinai, the senior head of Private Records at the NRAA.

The NRAA's main source for records is of course all types of papers and files that are created by the administrative divisions in all governmental bodies. Since its inception in 2007, the authority has transferred into its shelves four to seven percent of all archived records from various ministries and departments which document the social, political, economical and cultural practices in the present time. However, the Private Records section formed at a later stage has gained a significant place in the NRAA as it collects historically significant records from citizens and even from other countries, which are organised in a proper manner for reference and research.

Five options for citizens
in possession of old records

Register with NRAA, which will restore the
records if required and give it back with proper files and bags to preserve them at home
Owners can sell the records to the authority (an expert committee will decide the price)
Owners can gift it to NRAA
Owners can keep the records with NRAA for a period of time based on a contract, free of cost, and take it back
Owners can bequeath it to NRAA
Private Records
Records on lineage, proving of rights,
personal matters relating to the education,
life, orders and business,
personal possessions and achievements,
records showing social,
economic and cultural life in the community including wills, inheritance, power of attorneys, sales, regulation of endowments,
agricultural projects, the regulation of Falajs and records created for implementation of projects.
Records Restoration
A technical process which
includes collection,
fixing and strengthening of papers, making it similar to its original form by treating and repairing it
with natural, chemical and biological substances.

Dating back to the medieval era

The records collected from citizens are from previous centuries dating back to 200-500 years and most of them are lease or sale agreements of

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