ITB Berlin News – Review Edition

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Culture meets culture

The handover from Malaysia – Official ITB Berlin Partner Country 2019 – to Oman – Official ITB Berlin Partner Country 2020, represents the heart of what ITB Berlin is all about when it comes to discovering, understanding and promoting diversity in cultures.

The meeting of these two cultures in this way is interesting, as while each is extraordinary, their bases are very different. On the other hand, each nation leads the way in its region when it comes to culture.

A good example is Malaysia’s Istana Budaya national theatre, renowned as being number one in Asia since 1999, while in Oman, at the initiative of Sultan Qaboos, an accomplished musician himself, the Sultanate was the first in the region to open a veritable opera house – in 2011.

Of course, Malaysia as a nation is very young, while the Sultanate of Oman dates back thousands of years. Malaysia’s catch-phrase “Truly Asia” is based on the fact that the nation is a highly diverse collection of different cultures, tribes, and national origins. This was indeed demonstrated in no uncertain terms at the opening event of ITB Berlin which also stood out through its colour, liveliness and professionalism. The baton has now been passed to Oman, a tiny nation in terms of population – just over four million, with Omani nationals making up around 60% of that. While being at the “heart” of the Middle East, bordering the UAE, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, Oman is also renowned as having a highly diverse culture, with one reason no doubt being its strategic location on the “Silk Road”. According to Ahmed Bin Nasser Bin Hamed Al Mahrizi, the nation’s Minister of Tourism, “We are open to all cultures and all religions. Churches and even Buddhist temples can be found in Oman and have been there for a long time”.

So, from Malaysia to Oman… from the Far East to the Middle East. We look forward to seeing how the Sultanate will present its cultural riches at ITB Berlin2020.

Richard Barnes
Editor-in-Chief, ITB Berlin News