During his five-decade reign, Sultan Qaboos bin Said relied on heritage as a key tool for nation-building. Old forts and objects central to Omani traditional culture like the coffee urn and the ceremonial dagger became symbols of a unifying national ethos. At the same time, their former political significance was downplayed. But some Omanis have held onto memories of a different conception of the past. And now, after the sultan’s death in 2020, heritage is becoming more of a privatized business sector.

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