Oman et la Mer

The Art of Navigation

Long before the arrival of the compass, Arab sailors had developed sophisticated techniques to guide them across the oceans to the rich lands to the east and south.

On show at Oman and the Sea will be examples of the simple yet powerful instruments that helped Omani sailors use the stars to guide them across the oceans. From the basic kamal – no more than a piece of wood threaded through with a string - to the more complex quadrant, the exhibition will uncover the secrets of Arab navigation.

It will also celebrate the work of renowned Omani navigator Ahmad Ibn Majid, featuring an original manuscript of one his most celebrated works, Alnunyia Al Kubrah.

And a specially commissioned audio visual exhibit means that visitors can experience for themselves the extraordinary rhythms and sounds of another of Ibn Majid’s great 15th century works - the Poem of Soffala.

Such poems were a mainstay of Omani navigational expertise. In rhyming verse, they set out detailed instructions on how to complete challenging journeys. In keeping with Oman’s ancient oral tradition, these epic poems were memorised and then recited when needed – pre-dating by many centuries the speaking sat navs found in our cars today!