Bull Fights in Oman

Friday afternoon is the traditional time for a few villages on Oman’s Batina coast to hold Bull Fights and recently I went to two.

Bull Fight Barka Oman
Bull Fight Barka Oman

These Bull Fights, rather than a Spanish style fight where a Matador kills a Bull, are contests between two evenly matched bulls.

Bull Fight Khaboora Oman
Bull Fight Khaboora Oman

The Bulls are usually an owners pride and joy and much personal prestige hangs on the result. The Bulls are given heroic names like Antar (an ancient Arab hero) or even modern ones perhaps Arnold (after Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Bull Fight Khaboora Oman
Bull Fight Khaboora Oman

These are said to have been brought into Oman by the Portuguese in the 16thc, and as they are only popular on the thin coastal strip that was under Portugal’s influence this does seem probable. Owners may have several Bulls who are lead onto the arena under the supervision of a ‘Master of Ceremonies’ often complete with loudspeaker.

Bull Fight Barka Oman
Bull Fight Barka Oman

The contest is to have the two bulls use brute force to make the other animal submit and run away. Sometimes the losing opponent runs before the contest, other times the animals are so evenly matched that after 5 minutes or so they are separated.

Bull Fight Khaboora Oman
Bull Fight Khaboora Oman

Doubtless, with a ton of animal on each side injuries to the animals happen, though after innumerable visits I’ve never seen any; indeed with a value in excess of luxury cars, its in the owner’s interest to keep it from happening.

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman – edition 4