British Council
Matrah, Oman

The older part of the British Council is a typical 19th century Arab courtyard house. A series of well proportioned rooms, with original detailing, open off the courtyard. Originally this was a single-storey building, but a first-storey was added some time ago, over the south-east wing.

Around the beginning of the present century a second, much more substantial building was constructed to the north of the courtyard, facing the harbor. This is in a completely different style, which has been characterized as Indo-Portuguese, or Anglo-Indian, and the classical features such as the cornice and round-headed windows contrast oddly with some distinctly Indian mouldings in the forecourt. A central corridor runs through both floors. The most striking feature, however, is a large verandah facing north, enclosed by a purdah screen and supported by a dozen massive square stone piers, which entirely mask the front of the building and shelter its gravelled forecourt.

The house went through further changes this century, being occupied up to 1932 as a mission hospital. After years of being left empty and derelict, the house underwent a complete reconstruction and restoration to accommodate the requirements of the British Council.

The Council required classrooms and office space, a library and the local representative's flat. The Arab section was converted into living quarters, and the classrooms, office and library were put into the India section. Two more rooms were created on the first floor of the Arab section and the large veranda was transformed into a small theatre or reception area. In 1978, with the expansion of the Council's activities, the whole of the Arab section was also converted into classrooms and offices and separate accommodation was found for the representative.

Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Matrah, Oman
Images & Videos
Associated Names
Associated Collections
11,710 m²
Building Usages