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Attraction of Expo 2020 Pavilion of Oman, sweet- scented with frankinsence

How many times has Lithuania presented itself for the world as a land of amber? Nobody has counted and nobody will. Oman has chosen a very similar way for this year’s Expo 2020 in Dubai. The nation, which is not dissimilar to Lithuania in terms of the population, has also chosen its natural treasure as its symbol. It is no less famous than amber, the sweet-scented frankincense.
The solution has made a profound impression on Boleta Senkienė, the Honorary Consul of the Sultanate of Oman in Lithuania, who has already visited the Oman pavilion in Dubai twice.
The edifice is quite literally immersed in the scent of frankincense, one of the luxurious aromatic resins in the world. The exterior takes its inspiration in boswellia, a desert tree which produces the aromatic resin that, dried, eventually forms pieces of frankincense. The tree, which in Dubai appears in a rather otherworldly shape, is a sea of frankincense inside. In the broader context, frankincense speaks both of long history (with what is now Oman known to have traded frankincense with the world for at least 5,000 years) and modern globalism as all kinds of ties have never been more intense than nowadays.
“It is not easy to describe the feeling I had inside and outside the Oman pavilion in Dubai,” Boleta Senkienė said. “It is elegant, modern, growing towards the skies and wavy. Stone and wooden elements, water and natural trees – all goes perfectly hand in hand with the new technology so that a visitor finds inspiration at every turn.”
According to her, Oman has been remarkably successful over the past several decades in matching its rich history and traditional culture with investment into the modern society, including education, medicine, infrastructure, tourism, industry and other sectors. The links between the old and new, the today and tomorrow is among the hey ideas behind the concept of the Oman pavilion at the Expo Dubai.
As it has become routine, you’re invited to disinfect your hands before entering. Do not even look for a traditional dispenser this time. Instead, get closer to the smoking vessel. Immerse your palms into the “smoke” and keep them there for a while. That’s disinfection the Omani way. Smelling of frankincense, no doubt. Your hands will now carry some of the aroma with you.
In Lithuania, amber is found at the Baltic Sea only. In Oman, frankincense is also “grown” in the only region, Dhofar, at the border with Yemen. It is only there that the sea, the hills and the desert all create ideal conditions for boswellias. In Latin, by the way, its name is Boswellia sacra. A simple yet delicate procedure of cutting the bark of the tree is required to get the “sacred” resin. They then dry and harden in the heat to form the nuggets of various shapes and colours. They are used to make aromatic oils and fragrances, as well as for medicinal purposes.
Frankincense has been the pride of Oman for many centuries. It is no wonder then that the living boswellia inside the pavilion has found its place in the best spot, near the entrance and even on a special pedestal. It here that the visitors are invited to stop and spend several minutes delving into the history of frankincense by watching a film about the miraculous tree and its legendary produce projected on one of the walls.
Even the large-scale industrial and infrastructure projects currently underway in Oman are presented with the stylised boswellias at the background. The video of Omani music also follows the theme of the fragrant substance.
In European view, some projects on display might seem somewhat exotic, such as the scheme of planting one million date palms all over Oman. Or the botanic garden which, under a roof, will house a variety of plants native to much cooler regions of the world.
Inside the Crystal Hall, the “crystal” domes suspended from the ceiling serve as information points telling dozens of stories about Oman, beginning with the nature and history and down to investment and tourism. Frankincense included, surely. Could it be that the mankind will use the odorous gum when it decides to settle on Mars? The aromas of frankincense, by the way, are different inside the pavilion: pure, lemon- and rose-scented.
“This time, Oman has chosen frankincense as a symbol of the entire nation. I think that’s just a great job,” Boleta Sekienė concluded.


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