Abd Allah bin Abbas bin Ahmad, president of the organising committee, said 1,715,435 people visited Oman's capital attraction.

"It is a welcome rise in tourism and trade activities and augurs well for the future of the international fiesta," he said, adding that most hotels reported full occupancy.

"The festival, growing in mass appeal every year, is here to stay.

"The festival 2005 is going to be even bigger," said Abd Allah Abbas, who did not give last year's figures.

Friday's farewell night was marked by a beach concert featuring Egyptian crooner Hashim Abbas as crowds also flocked to the Heritage Village at the Qurum Natural Park in the heart of the city.

The Bahja Theatre also put on children's shows.

The festival, which began on 19 January, closed before the new Hijra Year 1425 according to the Muslim calendar, which started on Sunday in Oman.