She is the custodian of Dhofari heritage and culture and proud of whatever she is doing in her own way to preserve her culture for the generations to come.
Jamila Mubarak Kora does her job very seriously at her ‘house museum’ -cum-training centre called Dhofar Craft Centre and she does not have any doubts about the success of her mission which she runs from her house in New Salalah.
She has converted the ground floor of her house into a museum and is trying to
preserve whatever comes in
her way as a testimony to the rich culture of the Omani society.
Besides maintaining her ‘house museum’ she runs a training centre at the same place where women and girls come to learn the skills of handicrafts, cosmetics and bakhour (incense made of locally available frankincense) making.
When asked about the benefits that she is getting form her endeavours, she says: “Not much, but a lot of satisfaction from preserving parts of our own culture. I am trying to transfer my skills to the generations to come. Because the visitors here are not only people of my age, but many of them are young girls of my daughter’s age and women who come along with their kids.”
Jamila is trying to inculcate a taste for heritage and culture among the young Omanis before they are lost or forgotten in the modern luxuries, thus losing out on the very essence of Oman. To emphasise her point she says: “It is better to do something today before it is too late.”
She expressed happiness over the government’s efforts to preserve the heritage and culture of Oman by organising events like Muscat and Salalah Festivals and showcasing the heritage and culture in a big way.
Jamila wants to give a helping hand to such efforts saying, “We should not expect the government to do everything. We should play our own role and ask for support from the authorities concerned when we really need them.”
Jamila’s daughter Wafa Yusuf al Marju is doing Engineering in Architecture from College of Technology and helps her mother during her leisure time.
She agrees with her mother that preserving the heritage and culture of a country is an important job. “I help my mother because I also get to learn many things about our past, about the lives of our grandparents and great grandparents. And most importantly, I get some new architectural ideas while experimenting with the lifestyle of our ancestors,” says Wafa.
She helps her mother in many ways. She takes the non-Arabic visitors on a tour of her mother’s ‘house museums’, explaining to them various interesting facts about old artefacts and helps her mother to converse with the non-Arabic guests by translating from Arabic to English.
“It is really a great job and quite interesting also. I do not get tired while helping my mother in her craft centre,” says Wafa. The house has a big kitchen, which serves as a manufacturing area for products like home-made cosmetics, henna and bakhour.
The living room and another room adjacent to it serves the purpose of a museum, while yet another room has been converted into a stitching training area, where the ladies learn to stitch garments for day-to-day use and weddings. Her centre also offers training in pottery making, leather works, and handicrafts.
“There is very good demand for wedding garments as special suits are needed for the event and as skilled workers are needed to make those special suits. I have hired some ladies who are experts in wedding garments to work as trainers at my craft centre,” says Jamila.
Jamila’s Craft Centre has a variety of things like gift items, bakhour and frankincense, baskets and bowls made of date leaves and locally produced perfumes. These products are made by Jamila and her team and they are on sale, for a “very reasonable price.”
Fatma Said al Gharibi, Manager of Al Madina Kindergarten School, brings her school students to the Jamila’s Craft Centre, to let them understand the old style of living in Dhofar and in many parts of Oman.
“Every year I bring them here, as many of them do not know the old style of living. I want them to know about our past only then will they be able to understand the meaning of development,” says Fatma.
Anisa Musthal works as a teacher and comes to Jamila’s Carft Centre to learn new skills in handicraft and stitching. The Ministry of Education encourages the school teachers to learn such skills and many teachers love to visit the Craft Centre for training as per their interest and requirements.
Jamila’s work has been duly recognised and she has received many certificates for her good work. She wants to spread the message of ‘hospitable Oman’ far and wide and let people understand the value of preserving the past.
From / Oman Observer