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Symphony of spices: In Oman the way to hospitality is through the stomach

Three panellists speak on stage, another is digitally connected.

The panellists were unanimous: Eating together brings people together

Eating is more than just taking in food, it conveys a culture, it relates stories and is an expression of hospitality. Omani cuisine combines influences from various parts of the world, but there are vast differences within the country itself. These culinary traditions are still being cultivated and visitors to the country can share in them, during visits to restaurants but also through local cookery courses. The important part that Omani gastronomy plays in the implementation of sustainable tourism concepts formed the subject matter of the discussion between researchers and practitioners and Dr. Hamed Almuhrzi from the Oman Tourism College on Thursday morning on the Hybrid Stage at ITB Berlin.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Khusaibi, Head of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Sultan Qaboos University joined the panel, speaking from Oman. He pointed out that eating communally brings people together and that in Oman the preparation of festive meals is a festive occasion in itself. He explained that Omani cuisine is characterised by numerous spices that can be attributed to difference cultural influences. For example, cardamom was introduced from India, while cloves, used among other things for aromatic rice dishes in Oman, originally came from Zanzibar. “One could consider Omani cuisine as a symphony of different spices”, said Dr. Mohammed Al-Khusaibi.

Omani cuisine is very diverse – from fish curry on the coast to lamb dishes in the interior of the country. One particular speciality is shuwa, a meat dish in which marinaded beef, lamb or goat meat is slowly cooked in a hole in the ground, often overnight. Dates are a typical sweet snack in Oman. Shatha Al Jabri, co-founder of Meshan Global, has made an art of her presentation and has expanded the traditional range of flavours such as cardamom, cinnamon or saffron by adding new aromas such as lemon or lavender. Together with her sister she currently runs the Damask Resort, which also offers cookery courses (

In the past there were no refrigerators, which is why dried meat has also been an important part of Omani cuisine, and Ammar Almarhoon, co-owner of the Gangplank Restaurant in Salalah ( explained what dishes can be made with it. He also pointed out that very different dishes are available in Oman, depending on the season. For example, one particular dish made with fungi is only available for a few weeks. “These fungi are quite special, and are prepared with onions, tomatoes, garlic and salt”, according to Ammar Almarhoon.