By: Kabeer Yousuf
MUSCAT: The Omani-French Museum in the capital area near Al Alam Palace in Muttrah will receive a major facelift with the support of Ministry of Heritage, it is learnt. The museum falls in the heritage segment and is located in the former residence of the French Consul, Bait Faransa on Lane 9310, Qasr al Alam Street, in the old quarter of Muscat. The museum, also called Bait Faransa will be renovated under a 50:50 partnership between the ministry and the French Embassy in Oman this year.
“We are in the process of finalising the aspects of renovating the Omani-French Museum in Muscat area”, Clement Moutel, Adviser, Cooperation and Cultural Activities, told the Observer, adding that both the parties will bear the expenses equally and the contract is already signed. The Bait al Faransa is an old house built about 170 years ago which accommodates the museum. Sultan Faisal bin Turki donated the white building which was essentially a palace to the first Consul of France in Muscat to be the French Consulate in 1896.
In addition to the Hall of Maritime Navigation, the museum which stands as a testimony to the long relations of the two countries, also has rooms which include models of Omani and French ships, a traditional costume hall and many other artifacts and pictures that reflect the cultural connection between the two countries.
On January 29, 1992, a museum was established in the palace to preserve the historical Omani-French relations. The museum has a substantial collection of items to this effect including photographs of the early French diplomats, historical documents, Omani-French ships, Omani and French costumes and jewellery and furniture.
Hundreds of citizens and expatriates, school and college students visit this museum regularly.
As part of spreading French culture and spreading awareness about the French language, the embassy has worked out a programme with the Ministry of Education to introduce French in Omani public schools. According to the pilot project, French is taught in four schools of Oman two in Muscat and two in Sohar since 2013.
“So, students in the 11th and 12th grades can learn this language as second language and learn more about the French literature”, Jean-Francois Mirailles, Economic Counsellor, Head of the Economic Department, said, adding that this will help them in considering Paris as their destination of higher studies.
At present, the French Omani Centre, MSQ, which is co-managed by the embassy and the Omani Ministry of Education, is offering French language courses for the public. More than 1,000 students have mastered the language from this centre.
“We have four sessions a year with all levels — beginner’s level and advanced levels and movies and exhibitions are a regular affairs there as part of teaching the language”, he added.
The embassy gives certifications to those students who do a course in French at these educational institutions. Currently, SQU, University of Nizwa and many foreign schools and colleges are teaching French in Oman.
SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER