Larger than life

Mohammad Abdul Qudoos
Filed on May 6, 2011

A woman who loves to handle stones with rock solid determination, Kanika Dewan has overseen the designing and the making of a full-size portrait of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman that has gone into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest marble mosaic in the world.

The hand-made portrait, termed “a work of art” by Guinness, measures 8.3 metres in height and 5.3 metres in width. There were 128,274 individual marble pieces, using 90 different natural shades, sourced from the mountains and seabed of Oman. Each piece is 1.5 square centimetres. The measurements of the marble mosaic portrait were verified in Muscat by Liz Smith, adjudications executive of Guinness World Records. “I stood speechless as the magnificent image of the Sultan stood before me. The size of the mosaic was incredible and the craftsmanship was astounding. It truly was a work of art,” Liz wrote in her report.

Dewan who was born in India, raised in Bahrain, and educated in London and the US, holds a dual concentration degree in finance and entrepreneurial management in economics from the Wharton Business School University of Pennsylvania. She heads three companies: she is group president of the Bahrain-headquartered Bramco Group WLL, the CEO and founder of UK-based KA’ Design Atelier, and the president of Natural Stone Depot.

Bramco and KA’ Design Atelier were commissioned to undertake the Sultan Qaboos portrait project in July last year by popular e-forum, Sablat Oman, which produced the portrait to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sultan Qaboos’s accession.

“Sablat Oman appointed us [to make this portrait] because we had done previous work in the Sultanate, including designing its largest yacht, and executing the stonework design for the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat,” says Dewan.

The criteria for producing the world’s largest marble mosaic portrait was that its height should be at least six metres and that every piece used be marble with natural calcium carbo-nate content.

The marble mosaic portrait depicts an image of 70-year-old Sultan Qaboos, taken from a photograph by his private photographer, Mohamed Mustafa, which best capture his characteristics of simplicity, humbleness, love and justice.

Dewan proudly remembers the moment when the portrait was unveiled at The Wave — a real estate development project in Muscat — and the Guinness World Records announced that Sablat Oman and His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said had achieved a new world record for making and having the largest marble mosaic in the world. The CEO of Sablat Oman, Moosa bin Abdullah Al Farai, was honoured with an official certificate for this.

“I was also rewarded a Guinness Book certificate for my ‘meticulous work’ on the portrait,” reveals Dewan.

It was her will power and determination to get things done right and her personal on-field hard work in the hot summer months that earned her the recognition.

KA’ Design Atelier had undertaken stone selection, concept, supervision, designing and creative direction, while Bramco undertook the execution work for the portrait, she says.

Dewan went to the extent of personally marking the marble blocks in the mountains that were to be mined exclusively for the project: the red, yellow and light brown marbles from the Al Rawda region in Wilayat Mahda; the light brown for the dress and desert rose from the Wilayat of Ibra; the pink colours for the nails from the Wilayat of Ibri; other colours for the background from stones of Quryat Beach; and the pearl colour for the khanjar from Sadeh Beach near Mirbat.

In addition, several vibrant colours that reflect Oman’s scenic landscape such as blue, red, golden brown and green were incorporated into the background of the portrait.

The masterpiece required 3,792 man-hours; it was created in 120 days with the help of 15 artists who worked tirelessly for 12 hours every day. The face of the Sultan alone took 40 days to perfect.

The portrait was completed on October 27 last year, and transported to the Sultanate on November 2.

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