Excellencies, Colleagues and esteemed friends,
It is truly a very special occasion to be here in Singapore, celebrating this iconic event in our common history.
In the synergy of the Belitung treasure and the Jewel of Muscat project, it seems to me that in the most wonderful fashion this was truly destined.
For Oman, this project also coincides with the 40th anniversary year of the Blessed Renaissance under the wise and benevolent leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. We are so fortunate and proud to have the chance to mark this important moment in our country’s history.
My dear Jewel of Muscat Crew,
You are the Sindbads of the 21st Century.
Your family and friends in Oman, and all of us, have watched you day by day, as you advanced along this arduous journey.
Many of us have read your logs, pored over your photos, staying with you in spirit when we could not be with you in person.
We shared in the celebrations in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, where your hosts welcomed you so warmly and enthusiastically.
We woke at night, concerned for you, when winds outside Galle were so strong they were able to crack the mast, and when you met storms and squalls in the Bay of Bengal.
Our hearts and prayers have sailed with you throughout the entirety of your journey, and they have seen you through, driven by your will power to succeed.
You have triumphed. Congratulations to you, to the Peoples of our respective regions and to the Dream Team, behind this endeavour.
What began as a diplomatic, cultural and educational initiative between friendly countries, an academic endeavour, a scientific experiment, has achieved all these things and so much more.
The Jewel of Muscat has brought us closer to understand better our ancient history, and the knowledge and experience of our ancestors.
It has advanced our present, helping us develop ourselves further by discovering more knowledge and skills.
It has bolstered a promising future, reinforcing friendly ties with peoples throughout our region and beyond.
It is these ties, relationships of friendship and cooperation, which form the real fabric of trust, peace and stability.
In a log dated June 20th, posted on the project’s website, an excerpt is included from a 9th grade student in Oman. She writes: ‘The Jewel is not just a ship sailing to Singapore, it is a symbol of peace and friendship between countries. It is worth our applause when one country reconstructs the oldest shipwreck in the Indian Ocean, then sails it across great bodies of water just to give it to another nation. Today, while many nations are involved in wars, two countries took an initiative for peace.’
In my view this young lady’s words capture the heart of the project.
To the crew I thank you for your courage, the passion and dedication, with which you have executed your mission.
What you did will inspire generations to come and will be told in legendary scripts, stories and documentaries, museums, films and history books, just as you have been inspired by Sindbad from centuries past.
As you praise God for your safe passage, your family, friends and many more are anxiously awaiting to welcome you back home.
Now I would like to speak of our gratitude to all our friends in Singapore.
We were honoured that President Nathan came to Muscat, visiting the construction site and launching our website at an early stage in the project. Indeed, we are deeply grateful that he chose to come himself to welcome the arrival of the Jewel in Singapore.
It was just a wonderful conclusion to the voyage, a celebration of happy emotions and love.
Dear Excellency George Yeo, Minister for Foreign Affairs; We are grateful to you for bringing to us the story of the Tang Treasure, and inspiring us to embark on this project of nobility. I thank you too, for your magnificent hospitality this evening.
I also wish to express deep thanks to Senior Minister of State Zainuldin Rasheed, and Mr. Bilhari Kausikan, Second Permanent Secretary, with whom I signed the original Memorandum that gave birth to this remarkable project.
I feel deeply privileged to count all these senior members of the Government of Singapore as my dear friends.
And to all of you in Singapore may I say your partnership in this project has been invaluable.
We are humbled to enjoy such strong friendship with you.
We intend to hold a 3rd Gala evening in Muscat later this year, to celebrate the safe return of the crew. I hope very much that some of you will be able to attend.
And before I end, I hope many of you may be able to attend the Oman Trade and Friendship Experience which takes place in front of this Asian Civilizations Museum, from July 23rd to 29th.
May we continue to celebrate this epic story of cultural discovery and engagement, enriching more than twelve hundred years of friendship and trade throughout the Indian Ocean. These ties and joint achievements will, no doubt, lead us further into a future of mutual peace, mutual benefit and prosperity.