Massive preparations - planned over a year and carried out over several weeks - have gone behind getting the capital and its surrounding areas ready for the 42nd National Day celebrations. The streets of Muscat have been illuminated with colourful lights and decorated with the Omani national flag.
These fixtures continue till the Bait al Barka roundabout on the Sultan Qaboos Highway as well as Muscat Expressway, said Sabaa bin Hamdan al Saadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for National Day celebrations.
Muhammad Tirmizi, general manager of Al Awal Innovations, one of the contracting firms involved in the decorations, talked about the work involved and what it meant to him.
Tirmizi, involved in National Day decorations for 35 years, said that LED technology - which he says was introduced to the Supreme Committee by him, and which was first used for the 40th National Day - is by far the most important development in the field of lighting.
“LEDs or light emitting diodes are inexpensive, longer lasting, reusable, eco-friendly, 100 per cent safe and maintenance-free. They allow for easy change in designs and their biggest advantage is the massive savings on energy costs.
“LEDs utilise only five per cent of energy that conventional lights need. In these, 1mm copper cables can be used, whereas conventional lights require 10mm cables. Using LEDs has significantly decreased our carbon footprint,” he added.
This year, Al Awal Innovations has used 20mn LED lights for the decorations. “This may sound like a lot, but for the 40th National Day, we used approximately 200mn LEDs. That year, we illuminated government buildings as well as roads. The celebrations are on a grander scale for every fifth National Day,” he said.
This year’s decorations include nearly 13,000 flags and 80 illuminated portraits of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. As many as 15,000 light features decorate old Muscat gates, pedestrian bridges, street lights and flyovers.
Termizi explained the planning that goes behind National Day celebrations. “It's a process that lasts the whole year. We work closely with the committee on the designs and colour combinations in which red, white and green are of course, always prevalent. Once the designs are approved, more than a hundred people are directly and indirectly involved in the fixing of flags and lights, and as we get closer to the big day, our staff increases to around 300, and we sometimes work in three shifts,” he said. “All the hard work pays off when the roads are decorated and illuminated for approximately ten days November 18.”
National Day fireworks
Al Awal Innovations is also organising this year’s musical firework displays in Amerat, Halban al Faisili and Salalah, “The show in Amerat, which will be seen by the most number of people, will feature a portrait of His Majesty the Sultan, the Omani emblem, the number 42, as well as an Omani flag. Fireworks displays at all three locations will begin at 8:30pm and last for half an hour,” said Tirmizi.
“The main location has been shifted from Qurum Natural Park to Amerat for safety reasons. There is heavy traffic in Qurum which makes it difficult for emergency services to get in and out of the location,” he explained.