AskDefine | Define omdurman

Dictionary Definition



1 a city of Sudan; located in the central Sudan on the White Nile opposite Khartoum
2 a battle (1898) in which an English and Egyptian army under Kitchener defeated the Sudanese [syn: battle of Omdurman]

Extensive Definition

Omdurman (Standard Arabic Umm Durmān أم درمان) is the largest city in Sudan and Khartoum State, lying on the western banks of the river Nile, opposite the capital, Khartoum. Omdurman has a population of over 3 million (2007) and is the largest city in the country and the national center of commerce. With Khartoum and Khartoum North or Bahri, it forms the cultural and industrial heart of the nation.


According to writer H. C. Jackson, the origin of the word 'Omdurman' is not known for certain. Some say the name comes from the two small hills (durman) in the neighborhood, and the village was known as the 'mother of the two small hills.' Others prefer the story that the place was named after the mother of a man called 'Durman', who came from the west many years ago. He is reputed to have made a fortune, and his mother, an enterprising woman, is said to have started a ferry service between Omdurman, the island of Tuti, the settlements of Halfaya and what was later known as Khartoum. Visitors to these places when asked how they had crossed the river and would reply that they had been brought by "UmmDurman" (the mother of Durman) or the mother (um) of Abdurahaman which is slowly derived to ummdurman.


In 1884, Muḥammad Aḥmad, "the Mahdi", made his military headquarters in the village of Omdurman. The conflicts that followed over the next fifteen years have become known as the Mahdist War. Following the defeat of the besieged British defenders of Khartoum in 1885, the Mahdi's successor, Khalifa ˤAbdullahi ibn Muḥammad, made Omdurman his capital.
The city, now the location of the tomb of the Mahdi, grew rapidly. However, in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 (which actually took place in the nearby village of Kerreri), Lord Kitchener decisively defeated the Mahdist forces, ensuring British control over the Sudan, and killed Khalifa.
Kitchener restored Khartoum as the capital and, from 1899 until 1956 Sudan was jointly governed by Great Britain and Egypt, at least in theory. In practice, it was Great Britain who ruled Sudan, relegating Egyptians to second positions in the government, despite the Condominium Agreement fixing a shared rule. Although most of the city was destroyed in the battle, the Mahdi's tomb was restored and refurbished.
On the 10 May 2008 the Darfur rebel group of the Justice and Equality Movement moved into the city where they engaged in heavy fighting with Sudanese government forces. Their goal was the topeling of Omar Hassan al-Bashir's government, though there success as of the 12 May and damage to the city is not known.



Depicted as an icon for nationalism and diversity, Omdurman has been featured in numerous poems and songs. As the uno national capital of Sudan, the word "national" is tied to many of the city attractions. Some of Omdurman's famous arts facilities include National Theatre, Al-Arays (Puppets) Theatre, Alwataniya Cinema, Sudan TV and radio station studios, The Higher Institute for Music and Theatre and Qasr Alshabab o Alatfal (Youth & Kids Palace).
Every Friday in Omdurman one can see the Whirling Dervishes. The whirling Dervishes are Sufi Muslims who wear colourful patchwork robes and dance to the beat of drums, twirling and stamping their feet until they go into a trance. The dance is a ritual from Islam's earliest days, and at the height of the dance, participants say that their souls communicate with Allah and are cleansed of evil. The spell is only broken with the call to evening prayer.


There are several educational institutions in Omdurman. Some of the notable high schools include:
Furthermore, there are several public libraries in Omdurman. Albashir Alrayah Library is a famous library and hot destination for students, researchers and intellectuals. The library hosts several lectures and panels from different guest speakers and organizations.

Shopping and Recreation

Souqs (Markets)

Omdurman has several multicultural tourist targets and facilities that attract local and international visitors. Souq is the Arabic term for a market. Souq Omdurman, Souq Libya and Souq Aljilod are considered the largest merchandise spots common sceneries at Alshohada. Along this busy and noisy environment, there lies two hospitals: Omdurman Hospital and for Sudanese commodities and gadgets.
Another important destination in Omdurman is Almourada. Famous for its fish market along the banks of the Nile, Almourada is one of the old historical neighbourhoods in Omdurman. Fishermen and local merchants post at the shores selling their fresh catch. It is also home of Almourada football club, named after the neighbourhood, a top Sudan Premier League team that has represented Sudan on numerous CAF, and other regional tournaments.
Another shopping area is Alshohada or Hay Alsouq , Omdurman's downtown area. Transportation lines, buses, taxis, canteens, barbershops, fast-food restaurants and music stores are Blue Nile Hospital with several pharmacies at walking distances.
Another important speciality trading area is Abu Rouf. Known for its small-scale crafts including metallic beds, boat-making and extracting wood. Located along the shores of the Nile, swimming is considered an eternal hobby of Abu Rouf residents.
Just outside of Omdurman there is a camel market, where merchants come to buy and sell their desert animals. The white or paler coloured camels are the more desired and therefore highly prized, and many of the camels wear leather kitabs, talismatic pouches containing prayers to protect to the animals on their long walk to the souq.
Omdurman city has its own industrial area, in which many of huge factories are working under the control of Sudanese government, in terms of production control and quality assurance.

Famous Places and Buildings


There are several outdoor activities and destinations that are worth visiting in Omdurman. This include Almourada Family Park, on the opposite side of Souq Almourada. Rivera Recreational is another modern park along the shores of the Nile that features outdoor dining and children playing facilities. The recreational facility has a large rental ballroom that is available for the public for hosting events such as weddings.
Another attraction is also the tomb of Sheikh Hamad El Nil Tomb, a Muslim propagator, who was active in Sudan during the Funj Kingdom (1505-1820). The tomb and the adjoining mosque are located on the western side of Omdurman. The followers of Quadriya sect Sufi gather on Friday afternoons for Zikr (recital). The congregations usually attract large crowds of local people and tourists.
There is also Souq El Naaga, which is a typical pastoral market, Located southwest of Omdurman, cattle sales are held at the market, where it also offers various basic necessities for pastorals. The major attraction of the Souq is its stalls of freshly slaughtered meat and traditional food sheds where roasted and stewed meat is served. Camel meat, and its spiced uncooked liver are considered delicious delicacies to many Sudanese. The Camel Market Located west of Omdurman, this Souq is one of the main trading centers of camels in Sudan. Camels offered in this market are brought in mainly from western Sudan and subsequently are usually herded overland to markets in Lower Egypt.


In a country torn by wars and poverty, more facilitated hospitals are needed in the whole of Sudan. Furthermore being a highly-dense city, small private clinics that are scattered throughout the city, are a common sight, especially close to Hay Alshohada. Some notable hospitals include:
  • Omdurman Hospital, a public hospital with an emergency centre.
  • Blue Nile Hospital, a private hospital
  • Aldayat Hospital, a public hospital specializing in pregnancy and delivery
  • Alsilah Altiby, a private police hospital
  • Altigany Almahy Hospital, a public historical hospital specializing in psychological and mental disorders


With Sudan's best three football clubs based in Omdurman, the city is considered as the centre of football in Sudan. Al-Hilal, Al-Merrikh and Al-Mourada football clubs constitute the triplet of Sudanese football. Other sports played include basketball, with Coptic School Omdurman Club being one team that plays the posrt.

Alhilal vs. Almerrikh

When historic rivals Alhilal and Almerrikh are play against each other, precautions and advisory announcements are posted. On game days, police forces circle the pitch, local companies compete to support the teams, musical instruments play, newspapers are burnt, and vehicle horns honk. Early fan arrivals are recommended
Some of Omdurman's football stadiums include: Almerrikh Stadium, AlHilal Stadium, Almourada Stadium, Stade de Omdurman and Dar Alrayada.

Communication and Mass Transit

Telephone System

The telephone system in Sudan has greatly improved since the privatization of the telephone company. The telephone service was further improved by the introduction of the cellular system in 1996. Khartoum State (including Omdurman) follows closed telephone numbering plan as follows:
(87)xxx-xxx (calls within Khartoum State that includes Omdurman, Khartoum North and Khartoum city)
249-187-xxx-xxx (call from outside Sudan)

TV and Radio

Omdurman features the buildings and studios of the national TV and radio stations. "Hona Omdurman", (This is Omdurman), is the name of Sudan's national radio station. Other local radio stations include: Taybah 103 FM, AlKawthar, Mango 96, 100 FM and radio Holy Quran stations.
There are two TV stations in Sudan, Sudan TV which is the national TV of Sudan and Blue Nile Channel, a private channel that is part of Arab Radio and TV network package.

Public Transportation

There are several bus lines that operate within Khartoum state. From Khartoum city to Omdurman, the main lines include Alshohada, Atthoura (passes through Alshohada) and Alfitihab. Minivans, Amjaads (4-wheeled microvans), taxis and raksha (s) (autorickshaw) are also common mass transportation schemes.


According to Sudanese officials, a new airport facility has been proposed south of Omdurman. Arguably speaking to be within the non-defined boundaries of Omdurman, the project is estimated to be completed by 2010 with an estimated budget of $530 million.


omdurman in Arabic: أم درمان
omdurman in German: Omdurman
omdurman in Estonian: Umm Durmān
omdurman in Spanish: Omdurmán
omdurman in French: Omdourman
omdurman in Indonesian: Omdurman
omdurman in Swahili (macrolanguage): Omdurman
omdurman in Latvian: Omdurmāna
omdurman in Lithuanian: Omdurmanas
omdurman in Dutch: Omdurman
omdurman in Japanese: オムドゥルマン
omdurman in Piemontese: Omdurman
omdurman in Polish: Omdurman
omdurman in Portuguese: Ondurmã
omdurman in Romanian: Omdurman
omdurman in Russian: Омдурман
omdurman in Finnish: Omdurman
omdurman in Turkish: Omdurman
omdurman in Chinese: 恩图曼
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