Muscat – Considering the numerous opportunities to promote date products at date festivals, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers and those involved in allied businesses are demanding that these promotional events be held twice a year.
The 8th Omani Dates Festival kicked off on Monday at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre and will continue till November 6.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Khalid al Zadjali from Safa al Baher Dates Company, described the dates festival as a “great opportunity” to promote products and meet consumers face to face, more so after the pandemic-induced restrictions have been lifted. “We hope the festival is held twice a year, once before Ramadan and again in October to support the industry and promote Omani dates.”
Safa al Baher Dates’ product line includes 25 different items which it has been making for more than 15 years.
Having started Karam Palace Trading Company by preparing date products at home, Hamida Said al Esry has exhibited 15 different items at seven consecutive editions of the festival. “Holding the festival more than once in a year is important as it will support owners of small and medium enterprises,” Hamida observed.
For Mohammed Abdullah al Hamdi from Remarose Company in Sohar, the festival is an opportunity to exchange experiences with other date producers to develop products and learn about new advancements in production.
“We make more than ten varieties of date products with nuts and have obtained a patent for two of our signature items that are made with oats and sesame. These are very beneficial to diabetics and athletes,” Hamdi said, adding that more festivals of a similar nature are needed to stimulate the sector.
Emphasising the opportunity it affords to promote one of the most important Omani food products, Asma al Mahdi, Executive Manager of Violet for Dates and Chocolate Company, noted that the ongoing festival is witnessing a good turnout of citizens, residents and tourists. The company has participated in five editions of the festival.
Though in the business for four years, Suleiman al Lamki has brought his Amir Dates Company to the festival for the first time this year. He described the sector as profitable but in need of support and promotional activities. Currently, Lamki promotes his products through social media and travels to several countries to learn about new developments in dates production.
Another debutant at the festival this year, Ibrahim Saeed al Abri, owner of Gifting Garden Company, is showcasing a product line which includes dates mixed with chocolates and honey. “I do not own a shop, so the exhibition is an ideal opportunity for me to promote my products.” In keeping with current marketing trends, Abri sells his products through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
In contrast, Mohammed Ahmed al Sawafi, General Manager of Tamraty Company from Sinaw, has participated in more than 35 local and international exhibitions promoting Omani dates. He described the Omani Dates Festival as a “small village” that brings together many date producers from all over the sultanate.
While hoping the festival is held more often, he advised jobseekers to engage in the sector as it is a profitable business. “Youngsters should take advantage of this traditional Omani trade and profession,” Sawafi said.