Muscat – The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism (MHT) awarded a tender to rebuild Bait al Ajaib – House of Wonders – in Zanzibar on Monday, as part of its programme to restore and rehabilitate several historical monuments of Omani architectural heritage in Zanzibar.
A landmark building dating back to 1883, Bait al Ajaib is a Unesco World Heritage Site in Stone Town, Zanzibar, a part of which collapsed in December 2020 during renovation works.
The agreement was signed by H E Ibrahim bin Said al Kharousi, Undersecretary for Heritage in MHT, and Simai Mohammed Said, Zanzibar’s Minister of Tourism and Heritage.
The agreement was signed in the presence of H E Salim bin Mohammed al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism, the Consul General of Oman in Zanzibar and the Ambassador of Tanzania to Oman.
The scope of the tender includes rebuilding, restoring and rehabilitating the house in coordination with the Government of Zanzibar and the Unesco World Heritage Centre.
The work includes rebuilding the house using the traditional materials used in the construction originally on the directives and guidelines of the Unesco World Heritage Centre and its advisory bodies.
‘The house will be a joint centre showcasing the common history and enhance interaction in cultural, social, economic and tourism fields between the two countries,’ MHT stated.
Owing to its long history of relations and shared culture and heritage with Zanzibar, Oman committed to renovate Bait al Ajaib following Royal Orders of the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
The House of Wonders was once the most modern building in East Africa; it was the first building to have electricity and an elevator. With a mix of elements of European style and Zanzibari tradition, the building boasts of cast iron columns, elaborate door carvings and open central courtyards coming together for a unique architectural achievement.
Just next to it is the Palace Museum, built by the second sultan of Zanzibar – Sayyid Barghash bin Said al Busaidi – in 1883. It is an opulent palace with beautiful marble flooring, coral stonewalls and silver decorations.