This is the "Magan" boat. I put its name in quotations because the actual name is Majan but the stupid Omani press has been trying to fake an Omani accent by spelling it with a G instead of a J. This hard G has been turning into quite a bother recently, especially on Oman tv and radio with more and more presenters deliberately changing their pronounciation of most words that have the letter g in them so that it's always pronounced hard (Blue-chi wrote about it a couple months ago). It's a new trend I guess. I remember ten years ago all of a sudden most of the presenters on Oman tv suddenly started talking in khaleeji accents as if they were embarrassed of their Omani accents.
Now they've gone to the other extreme to the point that it's become disgusting. And it's not just Oman tv or radio. I hear it everywhere. It's like a "more Omani than thou" phenomenon. I know that in some regions in Oman they have strong accents with very hard G's, but now it's become so ridiculous that they do it even when they speak in English. Imagine someone pronouncing the word "suggest" with hard instead of soft g's.
Which brings us to the ridiculous journey of the sailboat, Magan. For the past few weeks the Ministry of Heritage and Culture has been on a huge publicity drive promoting an upcoming historical journey. It's a continuation of Oman's almost maniacal obsession with our past's naval history. Apparently they found bitumen fragments from an ancient civilization which proved to them that the people of Majan (or Magan as they want to call it now) used to sail boats all the way to India 5000 years ago. So they financed the building of a replica using the same methods and materials and were planning to sail it 600km from Sur to Gujrat in India.
The 40 foot vessel is made of "reeds formed into bundles, lashed together with rope made from date palm fibres and covered with a woven mat coated with black bitumen or tar to make it waterproof. The vessel was powered by a square-rigged sail made of tightly woven wool and manoeuvered using two teak steering oars." The crew consisting of two Omanis, two Australians, two Americans, an Indian and an Italian, set sail from Sur to great fanfare on the afternoon of September 7th with huge media coverage and an official ceremony full of ministers and top VIPs. By nighttime the boat was overwhelmed by wind and waves and began to take in water. Soon after, just 6km into its 600km journey, the crew were transferred to the Royal Navy's support vessel which was trailing them and Magan sank.
Commenting on the incident, a senior representative of the Ministry said, "True to the complexities involved in any scientific experiment, the 'Magan Boat' project too poses many challenges. An expedition of this nature has many imponderables which manifest as we go along, but only provide us opportunities for great learning. Every challenge we face will help us appreciate the extraordinary prowess, skill, knowledge and experience of ancient Omani boat builders and seafarers. Despite these stumbling blocks, our resolve to continue the quest to rediscover and understand this ancient compendium of knowledge only stands strengthened."Ok.
Links: Middle East Online, Oman Tribune, Times of Oman