Oman's 50th National Day: never-before-seen photos of Oman-British relationship revealed in online exhibition

The Anglo-Omani Society sourced more than 100 images to celebrate Oman's National Day

An online exhibition celebrating Oman’s 50th National Day reveals unique photographs of the Omani-British relationship.

The Britain with Oman online gallery, curated and hosted by the Anglo-Omani Society, was made public on Wednesday and celebrates the rich history of co-operation between the two nations.

The exhibition was first envisaged to take place at the Anglo-Omani Society’s premises in London’s Piccadilly, but the coronavirus pandemic forced organisers to switch to an online show.

“In spite of Covid, which has inevitably restricted the selection, the society’s members and friends in Oman and Britain have contributed over 100 fantastic images showing the extraordinary depth and breadth of this longstanding friendship under Sultan Qaboos and now renewed under Sultan Haitham,” said the gallery’s curator and former British ambassador to Oman, Richard Muir.

The exhibition features photographs from the private collections of members of the society and other official sources showing the varied strands of Omani-British friendship, taking in the Omani Renaissance from 1970-2020.

The oldest document on display is a copy of the original agreement of 1800 between Sayyid Sultan bin Ahmad Al Busaidi and Britain's Capt John Malcolm, which stated that “an English gentleman of respectability shall always reside at the port of Muscat”.

Other highlights include photographs of state visits, military exercises and daily life over the past 50 years.

The UK’s Prince Charles recorded a video message of support for the collection, praising the “rich history” of co-operation between the UK and Oman.

“It has been a most remarkable half century,” he said.

“Under the wise leadership of his late Majesty Sultan Qaboos, Oman rapidly developed all the attributes of an advanced modern state. But it did so without losing the fundamental characteristics which make Oman and its people unique: tolerance, pragmatism, and pride in a rich past."

He also voiced support for Oman’s new sultan, Haitham bin Tarik.

“I know that under His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik this legacy is cherished and continues to be renewed as the country faces fresh challenges.”

Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham, the Sultan’s oldest son and Oman’s culture minister, echoed Prince Charles’ sentiments.

“These digital images are a visual display of the enduring friendship that binds the people of our two countries and a singularly effective way to celebrate the deep affection and longstanding friendship between Oman and Britain."

He said the relationship with the UK was and remains “particularly close”.

“Under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik we shall preserve these enormous gains and build on them in the renewal of the Renaissance. We are confident that the United Kingdom will remain with us as an old and close friend and partner as we do so.”