By Ali Ahmed al Riyami - The Oman Observer
As per the terms of the memorandum of understanding signed between Oman and China, the Ministry of Heritage and Culture has begun the second phase of a marine survey to search for the wreckage of the Chinese ship Zheng He along the coast of Oman, with the assistance of the Royal Navy of Oman, yesterday.
Through the signing of the agreement, the two countries seek to find the famous Zheng wreckage that is believed to be sunk off the coast of Oman in the 14th Century.
As such, the search reflects the important historical significance of the shipwreck to both countries and the agreement is part of the desire of both countries to strengthen bilateral co-operation in a matter of common interest.
The great Chinese Admiral, Zheng He, and his fleet sailed through these waters on three famous voyages that were mainly diplomatic and commercial in nature.
Today, the research project for the Zheng shipwreck in Omani waters carries several implications, the most important of which are scientific and cultural co-operation between the respective institutions of the two friendly countries.
This will strengthen the historical bonds of friendship between Oman and China, allowing their top practitioners and experts in the field to participate in this research project.
They have worked together continuously for two years in order to reach this phase, which will pave the way for further co-operation in the future, especially in areas of scientific and cultural value.
The Chinese delegation is being accompanied by concerned official representatives that include those from the Royal Oman Police (ROP), Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs.
As noted by Hassan bin Mohammed al Lawati, Director General of Antiquities and Museums, Ministry of Heritage and Culture, “The Ministry of Heritage and Culture, which holds the second phase of this project in collaboration with all stakeholders in the Sultanate, sees this project as part of an ambitious program to take care of the historical effects found offshore in the territorial waters of Oman.
The ministry is considering several alternatives for the items of the program survey and marine survey research findings.
The results of the second phase, in co-operation with China, will help in the search for appropriate frameworks to complement the project, so as to achieve an understanding about the cargo and treasures of the shipwrecks.
The joint effort will strengthen distinguished, historical relations between the Sultanate and China. These kinds of joint bilateral projects may extend to some other countries that are thought to have ship-wreckages in Omani territorial waters.