William & Mary

2020 Study Abroad trip to Oman

An Update from AMES Director, Anne Rasmussen

The third iteration of the interdisciplinary Study Abroad trip to Oman, which occurred from January 6-18, 2020, co-directed by myself and Professor of Geology Chuck Bailey was special in many ways.

First there were security concerns in the region just prior to our departure causing some temporary rerouting of international flights. Second, the weather was rainy and stormy, something I have never experienced in my 10 The Royal Opera House in Muscat Oman on the night of my departure: beautifully lit by night but dark for the 40 days in deference to the late Sultan Qaboos.trips to the Sultanate of Oman since 2010. And third, the beloved leader of the country, Sultan Qaboos bin Said died halfway through our trip. Our group was thus able to experience a profound moment in the history of this modern/ancient nation and the smooth transition to new leadership for Oman by Haitham bin Tariq al Said, the cousin of Sultan Qaboos, whose major governmental experience has been in the Ministries of Foreign affairs and, for 18 years, in the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. One aspect of this historic moment was 3 days of national mourning followed by a period of 40 days, where it is generally understood, that the nation should refrain from celebrate festivities.  As a result 6 events that I had planned for the group at the Opera House, a Music Academy, and the month long Muscat Festival were cancelled.  Our nick name this year was transformed from “Rock, Music, Oman" to "Rock, no-Music, Oman.” Improvisation was key as we built a productive and interesting schedule every day with a terrific group of students and local hosts.  Read all about it in Chuck Bailey’s blog post, which features stunning photos and a day-by-day account of our cultural and geological adventures. 

Anne K. Rasmussen
Professor of Music and Ethnomusicology
William M. and Annie B. Bickers Professor of Middle Eastern Studies