Here’s something from my last visit to Oman…
Qahwa, the traditional Omani coffee, occupies a special place in Omani life. Qahwa must be served to every guest and the strong aromatic smell of freshly brewed coffee not only welcomes the visitor, but the cup is a sign of friendship that goes a long way i building bonds and community.
Visitors are held in high esteem, and it is mandatory to serve guests a cup of Qahwa. The coffee is also an integral part of all social ceremonies. In fact, each region has its own style of welcoming guests – some prefer to exchange pleasantries before a cup of Qahwa while others would have the coffee and then begin a conversation.
Traditionally, the beans would be roasted in a pan over an open fire and then powdered with a pestle. The flavour of the coffee is enhanced by adding spices like cardamom, cinnamon or cloves or even saffron and rose water.
The person serving will tap the cup on the coffee pot (dhalla) to draw attention of the guests rather than disturb the conversation. If you are finished with your coffee, you shake the cup and return it, or else the server will pour some more coffee into the cup.
No wonder then that the traditional coffee pots were richly ornamented. Omani silver and metalwork is characterised by a intricate designs and patterns that reflect the country’s Islamic heritage. Although the coffee pots of today and factory made and more simple, people still use the old handmade coffee pots.
Throughout the Middle East, it is common to see men wearing headdresses, however, each region has its own special style. The kuma and massar, two forms of headdress, are an integral part of Omani men’s national dress. Most muslim men wear a prayer cap, and in a large part of the Middle East, men will wear a headdress daily.
The kuma is a custom-sized hand-embroidered cap that has small holes throughout the embroidery which help keep the head cool in the desert sun. On the other hand, the massar is a richly embroidered wool turban which is tied neatly around the head, often over a kuma to give the massar a better shape. The massar is made in Kashmir in north India. The kuma is believed to have originated in Zanzibar, a former colony of Oman.