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By: Saleh Abdullah Alkhamyasi 

The jiggling of his coffee cups against one another in a rhythmic tone attracts people and tempts them for a pause. A pause during which they can enjoy a sip of delicate Omani coffee that is lit over a fresh fire. His smile reveals a hospitable atmosphere for his clientele who gather around him as if they are in a beehives. His customers hails from all walks of life. Their language and ethnic background do not seem to be barriers at all. In fact some of them enjoy a long and friendly relationship with him . they throw jokes with him and share a moment of laughter to kick  away the stress and boredom of their daily routine .

 

As a honey bee he roams around each corner of the Mattrah Souq serving Omani coffee for  his clients and providing  them with some convenience. With his natural instinct he behaves as if he is well versed with the latest marketing theories on customer satisfaction. His Omani clientele rejoice a moment of their cherishable heritage. They are very grateful to this coffee vendor for preserving such tradition in the midst of the fierce competition which his product is facing. As for his expatriate clients it is a golden opportunity to explore our diverse and versatile culture.

 

Salim shanoon al-Akzami, hails from the  village Saia  in the outskirt of Muscat situated about 60 Km away from the capital Muscat. He has been in this profession for forty years. About the preparation process he revealed that his day starts after the dawn prayer. He said that "after fajir prayer (dawn) I resume my work where I prepare my coffee at home and then pour it in the coffee vessel . the coffee vessel is attached to a  a base, which he filled with sand and put charcoal on the top of it in order to keep his coffee constantly  warm.  He takes a two hours rest in the afternoon to resume serving his coffee at 4 pm. During the last forty years he was an eye witness to so many modernization that took place in  Muttrah. He said look at how eloquent  the Souq is now . Many visitors come and enjoy their time in this traditional architectural touch. Meanwhile, they interact with  diverse group of people. This is a real evidence as Salim said  "After all we are all human regardless of our differences".

  

Serving Omani coffee has certain traditions to be observed. Such rituals include that the cup should not be filled  to the rim. It is rather  served with only one fourth of the cup is filled, Also when the person have taken enough coffee he or she should shake his cup as a sign  so that the one who is serving stop pouring more coffee for him. In the past coffee was the only drink which used to be served before and after meals. It used to be consumed with Omani dates. People used to gather in one of the houses and exchange the news that is taking place in the community as well as in the country at large. However in modern time coffee is met with fierce competition by many drinks such as tea. Bedouins would lit their fire in the middle of a  Wadi (Valley) as they are stopping  for a period of relaxation after a long journey during which they exchange talks and sing and fill the surroundings with joyful atmosphere. Coffee is a real symbol of the Arab generosity and friendliness.

 

 Salim has an immense  devotion for serving Omani coffee for it has been his profession for the last forty years. As with regard to communicating with foreign tourists he said he has no problem. He smile and stated "You know I only jiggle my cups, smile and ask them coffee. They also approach me with a smile and taste my coffee. They shake their heads and say good…. Good, they pay whatever, I am not peculiar about the price then wave bye.. bye." .

 

Since scarcity makes value, why do not you try Salim's Omani coffee while you enjoy the enchanting beauty of Mattruh next time you are in Oman the land of peace and hospitality.

Source: Omanet.

Date:9/7/2006

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