Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Natural Splendour in the GCC: the Sultanate of Oman

I woke up this morning and sat outside in the courtyard's sunshine. As I sipped my turkish coffee in a small red clay cup, I was startled by the sizzling turquoise and bedazzling emerald colours of the bird pictured above, apparently named the "little bee eater". Neither the name, nor the picture, do the bird any justice.

And I am a cat person. To be such, you cannot have an overwhelming passion for birds. She was beautiful though, and didn't make a cacaphony of sounds like the neighboring parrots that overhwelm the mango groves, and the dark kohl-like markings around her eyes drew me in. She was probably a "he" so any passiontate bird-watchers out there, forgive me.

If I phoned my friends back home and talked about parrots, gazzelle, and the like, they'd assume I either lived near some rich Sheikh's personal zoo, or, next to an oasis, as fertile as their brainwashed orientalist imaginations run. My father is among them. All they expect are camels, camels, camels, which actually, I am always happy to see because they aren't very common in the places I have lived in the Sultanate. Most people never imagine Oman as green and wild as the Sultanate truly is. When I talked of wolves, foxes, leopards, no one believed me.

I hosted a business woman from the UK for my work around Oman this time last year. She remarked that Oman had surprised her. She expected, of course, desert, and was surpirsed to find the lawns of Muscat's highways and roundabouts so manicured, and, well, green.

Oman has always been green, but I do remember from my childhood, when the only grass I could really find not on a hotel lawn in Muscat was on the grand mosque's garden. Expats who do live in Oman, Muscat has never really BEEN Oman's greenest place, so you do have to venture beyond your safety zones to find a little touch of home.For those of an adventourous nature, or who have always fantasized in an Orientalist mindset of a trek through the desert ending up at an oasis with palms and clear water, Sharqiyah region has many a fine wadi for you:For what I consider a more authentic Oman adventure a climb into the peaks of the mountains to find the green villages between is an enduring pastime of mine, in Al Dakliyah region, and Al Batinah:And for the homesick and heat-stricken, Dhofar region aka Salalah during the Summer will conjure images of Ireland and the rolling English countryside before it does a Gulf oil state, that is, of course, until you spy a camel grazing:I remember a facebook conversation with an American friend of mine who'd remarked she had a Kuwaiti friend who'd said Oman was the armpit of the Gulf States. Since even my most arrogant Saudi friends think Kuwaitis are arrogant I could leave that comment up to that, but since I had a Qatari aquaintance who remarked that Qataris, Kuwaitis, Saudis, and people from Bahrain quickly get bored of the sights of shopping, desert camping, and modern architecture in their own Gulf states, it could be that this Kuwaiti FB fellow was suffering green with envy over Oman's remarkable greenery. Salalah's Khareef is famous GCC wide and the assortment of thobes, ghutras [even Kobra styled ones], igals, and kandouras there year in and year out bear testament to that, as well as some supersized SUVs that DEFINATELY DON'T know how to drive in the rain of Salalah's misty roads. So amid all that envy, and amid the invasion of your arrogant neighboring GCC tourists, I would like to remind my Omani country-mates of your famed Omani friendliness and hospitality despite all that past "Saudi stole our oilfeilds" and "Emirates took our water" and "Kuwaitis make the most horribly ridiculous and repetative soap operas that we are indeed addicted to" yada yada for a minute, and be your cute, adorably grinning selves, because yes, even the Messenger of Allah said this green would stay with ya'll in this place until the day of judgement in a hadith, so: Yay Oman;)


Anonymous said...

wow oman looks breathtaking, i would love to go there some day, but with who? my husband doesn't like traveling, and my in laws live in jordan and seem to only like to go to other arab countries where they have family (ie egypt), so must i travel to oman alone? this post really makes me want to go there and see this beauty in person...

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Anon: Maybe show them the photos? What about your family?

KhaleejiKat said...

Hi, not really relevant as such to this post but can you please publish this comment - really as I just want my blog site listed on it - I am trying to get people to adopt kittens from Al Qurum vet clinic in Muscat - they have loads of kittens needing homes.
Anyone in Oman- please if you want a pet think about adopting a stray needing rehomed rather than going to one of those awful petshops.
My blog is:

@Anonymous - get yourself to Oman - it is the most beautiful place in the world!

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Khaleejikat, will do;)