It was a freezing evening after class, in the middle of Harvard Square (USA), when my dear colleague and friend Sadiq and I saw a building. The sign on it read “ALGIERS.”
We decided to go inside and discovered a Middle Eastern cafe. We were so happy; we felt we had found a treasure… and a treasure it truly was.
I remember the walls were red and yellow, the tables and chairs were wooden, an ancient coffee machine sat by the entrance, and the atmosphere was cozy and vibrant. It felt like home to many.
Sarah welcomed us and seated us. She then spoke to us about Algiers and its owner, Emile Durzi, a Palestinian who immigrated to Algeria and then to the US some 50 years ago that day. She told us Emile had just left a few minutes before us that night and that we would surely meet him if we came any other day.
I went to Algiers the next day and saw Sadiq sitting with an older man––Emile Durzi. I went and introduced myself to Emile. When he heard I was from Oman, he stood up with all his might, despite his weak mobility, and took down a frame hanging right behind our table. He handed the frame over to me and pointed. I looked, and to my complete surprise, I found myself holding a letter written by Sultan Said bin Sultan.
Sultan Said reigned over Oman from 1804 to 1856. His reign was crucial in Omani history as the country witnessed significant growth during his era, which included sending the first Arab emissary to the United States of America.
Emile was a gentle human. I remember he invited us to his home to see his collection of books. He had one of the first translations of the Quran in English. It was such an incredible moment to hold the book in my hands.
Over the years, Emile and Sadiq formed a strong bond: one of father and son. Emile battled an illness, and Sadiq stood by him, taking care of him in every way imaginable up to the moment Emile was laid to eternal peace in 2018.
During Emile’s final days, he told Sadiq he wanted me to have the Sultan’s letter. I was honored and grateful to be entrusted with such a historic gem. Upon receiving it, I took it to the National Archives in Oman to ensure it was authentic. They removed it from its frame and examined it. Once they realized it was, in fact, a genuine letter written by Sultan Said bin Sultan, they asked me how I managed to get the letter, where it was... and just… how?
I responded: Would you believe it if I told you it was hanging in a cafe in America?
Momaz was inspired by my time spent in America, where I discovered a love for coffee, and by my brother’s vision of elevating the F&B market in Oman.
Momaz was inspired by the desire to open a place in Oman that would provide the community with a vibrant space to gather with family and friends and offer the best products.
We are proud to be a brand rooted in the earnest desire to give our country the best we can and to grow internationally as an Omani brand.
This historic letter hung gracefully in a cafe in the middle of Harvard Square in the USA for over 40 years. Today, it is proudly displayed in a cafe back in its home origins in Oman.
- Momaz Founders
*In celebration of Oman National Day, the original letter is displayed in Momaz Park from November 18 - November 30.
Momaz Park Location: