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 to topple Omar Hassan al-Bashir's government, though there success as of the 12 May and damage to the city is not known.
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:
Colleges and universities 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.
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.
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.
(87)xxx-xxx (calls within Khartoum State that includes Omdurman, Khartoum North and Khartoum city)
249-187-xxx-xxx (call from outside Sudan)
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.