Bin Askar بن عسكر passed away yesterday. Every single Dhofari knows who Bin Askar is, and every single expat as well who knows the old market area. A few decades ago (at least 40 years) a man named Abdulqawi Bin Askar started up a little shop in the old market area in Salalah to sell Dhofari 'necessities'. Slowly, the modern world came knocking at our door and brought with it electricity, television, trade, telephones, cars, etc .... but one thing remained the same; Bin Askar and his shop.
When you drive into the old market area at Al Husn, you'll notice a little shop on the right with pale green wooden doors and a bunch of old anchors out front. It hasn't changed for at least thirty years. One step into Bin Askar's shop takes you back in time. It smells like old Dhofar.
He sold anything and everything exclusively Dhofari. I used to visit his shop as a child. To me, he sold treasures. Lots of them. What are Dhofari necessities you may wonder? Well, traditional fabric for the wizar and for women's thobes and shawls. He sold our traditional indigo wraps that turn us purple in the monsoon. He sold shrouds and other funeral necessities. He sold white Hajj wraps for Mecca. He sold traditional old kohl. He sold frankincense, traditional old perfumes, leather, spices, trunks, locks, chains, rat traps (yes), lanterns, teapots, fishing equipment and tons of other treasures. He raised 16 children from the profits of his little shop. You can see him sitting happily in his shop in the photo above. He was content. In a rare interview a few years ago he said his mission was to "Keep traditional Dhofar alive". Indeed he has.
I tip my hat to you, Bin Askar. Your legacy will forever live on. Rest in peace.