Olympic torch relay in Muscat concludes

The Olympic torch relay in Muscat, the ninth leg of its global journey, concluded on Monday evening at the Qurm Natural Park.At about 8:30 p.m. (1630 GMT), the last torchbearer Habib Abdulnabi Macki, vice chairman of the Oman Olympic Committee (OOC), arrived at the floating theater of the Qurm Natural Park, where about ten thousand people had already waited to receive the flame.

Beijing Olympic Mascots Fuwa were walking around the park, causing screaming from the people, especially the children. After Macki lit the cauldron, the audience brought out a burst of applause.

Fireworks were set and displayed, which is usually displayed only on the occasion of celebrating the birthday of Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Sayyid Al Mutassim bin Hamoud Al Bousaidi, minister of state and governor of Muscat, addressed the people, saying this event is "an indicator to the extent of the historical relations between Oman and China."

Muscat was selected among other host cities around the world for its special position on the "silk route," Rogge said.Liu Jingmin, vice president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games, said this event has witnessed the continuation of the traditional friendship between the two countries. A grand celebration will be held, consisting of several performance and presentations. Over 5,000 students are holding the flags of Oman to perform certain backdrop to the stage performance. The torch relay in Muscat started at 5:00 p.m. (1300 GMT) Monday at Al Bustan roundabout in the eastern part of the coastal city, where lies the boat of "Sohar" which visited China in 1981. Sayyid Shihab bin Tareq al Said, advisor to Omani Sultan Qaboosbin Said, was the first of the 80 torchbearers. After 250 meters, he handed the flame over to Sayyid Fatik bin Fahar al Said, under secretary of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture and also a member of the Royal family.

The route of the torch relay stretched along the coast, passing Al Alam Palace, old Muscat, Muscat Gate and Mutrah Souq where a break was made. After the break, the torch relay continued, passing through the Qurm Flyover, and reached its destination, the Qurm Natural Park. Most of the Omani torchbearers are celebrities such as Royal family members, senior officials and sports stars. The stop in Muscat is the ninth one in the Olympic torch relay outside China's mainland, and the torch has already toured Almaty, Istanbul, St. Petersburg, London, Paris, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Dar es Salaam.

The Olympic flame arrived in Muscat early Monday from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and will continue its tour in Islamabad, Pakistan. *Source of News*


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