Even today in Mombasa, most families trace their roots to joint Omani and Kenyan ancestors and many of them have relatives living in both the countries," said Yabesh O Monari, Chargé d'Affaires at the recently opened Kenyan Embassy in Oman.
Mombasa was under Omani control for a period of nearly two centuries between 1698 to 1898, except for two years from 1824 to 1826 when it was a British protectorate. And, according to Monari, the Omani influence on architecture, culture and food habits in Kenya's second-largest city is evident even now.
"If you visit Mombasa, you will find the place very similar to Muscat,” he told Muscat Daily. “The pristine beaches are common to both countries. Some of the older areas in both the cities look identical, such as the traditional buildings still seen in Muttrah. When people from Mombasa visit Muscat and put on their traditional dishdashas, it is very difficult to distinguish them from their Omani counterparts." Mombasa has three sister cities in the US - Seattle (Washington), Long Beach (California) and Honolulu (Hawaii).
Stressing that the sister-cities programme will provide the necessary push to economic and cultural ties between Kenya and Oman, Monari said that both the governments are also currently finalising the draft of a cooperation agreement.
"We are working on an MoU (memorandum of understanding) on a general agreement of cooperation between Oman and Kenya. Once the MoU is signed, it will open a framework of cooperation and partnership on a wide range of areas including trade, education, culture, tourism, sports, business, investments and labour."
The envoy also expressed hope that the agreement will be finalised when the Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula visits Oman to inaugurate his nation's mission here. "Although the embassy opened for public in April this year, we are working on a formal inauguration to be jointly officiated by foreign ministers of both the countries soon. We hope that a final date will be decided, most likely, for next month. The official Kenyan Ambassador will be appointed subsequently."