Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Ruins of Old Tanuf, and the tragedy of this water-rich mountain village

Tanuf is the place the bottled water [Tanuf, Salsabel, & Jabal Akhdar) claims to be from, so I asked MOP to take me to the wadi there. I wanted to see water, and dip my toes, so to speak but the ruins of old Tanuf soon claimed my attention.Tucked against the base of the mountain right next to the wadi, the ruins of Old Tanuf are impossible to miss. This was once an important village in the Jebal Akhdar mountain range, as the crumbling structures bear testament to. But unlike the fabled ruins of many places in Oman such as the lost city of Ubhar sunk beneath desert sands, and others abandoned to Jinn and history, Tanuf was "lost" only recently in the long time-line of the Sultanate's history, and her ghosts are of a more tragic kind.

In case you may not know, Oman, and Muscat used to be two different countries pretty much. Oman was its own government since the time of the Prophet Mohammed [S.A.W] and remained such in the Interior of Oman up until the 1950s, and Muscat was ruled by the Said family (whom Sultan Qaboos hails from). Here in this place of Oman, the remembrance of Oman's Old Islamic Caliphate is still strong, and while Sultan Qaboos is well-liked, people often claim the Interior to be less friendly in terms of politics to Muscat, than the rest of Oman. Tanuf will tell you why. Old Tanuf was destroyed with several 1000 pound bombs by the British RAF in the mid 1950s under the orders of Sultan Sai'd bin Taymur. Some of the bombs are still there, as are the graves of the many non-militant women and children who were killed while in their homes. Some of those bravely attempting to route of the planes armed only with ancient rifles managed to escape using routes of the wadi behind to the safety of Sayq Plateau where the 1958-1959 Jebal Akdhar war was fought out. Two planes, shot down by some miracle during the Tanuf tragedy, have left their wreckage amid the mountains and what remains of the houses of Beni Riyam tribe.

One British family is still known by locals to visit Oman to visit the grave of the pilot buried closeby the wreckage of his downed plane.

The scene is haunting to me. Unlike the Dhofar War in the 70s, Tanuf was no hot-bed of communist rebellion. Ibadhi Muslims of the Beni Riyam tribe that were here rejected communism, and under Sheikh Suleyman, also rejected the authority of Muscat's Sultan Taymur as legitamate in the region. While Sultan Qaboos is well-liked (afterall, he overthrew his father) there is still something that remains in this part of the Akdhar range.

I am always highly offended whenever I read that the Interior is less-hospitable, less open than other parts of Oman, as guests and hospitality have always been facets of life out this way. Christian missionaries and doctors always maintained good friendships with Imams of the Interior, and it really does sicken me to read old British (by way of the 60s) books referring to these places of Oman as "regions of warring Imbreds", which make the Akdhar and Nizwa areas seem somehow less accessible than anything they are. It was old Muscat (i.e Oman) under Sultan Taymur that was closed to the outside world, nothing from the Interior, which always welcomed travellers. It makes me think of propoganda and all its effects.

The majority of tourists out this way are British, German, Dutch, and French, and all seem to be made just as welcome as I have always been. Tanuf is beautiful. Many come to see the wadi, the water, and the old falaj running through the ruins of old Tanuf. But for me, there will always be something sad about old Tanuf, something hard to grasp at. I am happy to see the new Tanuf propsering, and that the spirit of the Beni Riyam tribe surrvives.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Muscat Brands: Daazia

I'm all about supporting local artists and designers and I just stumbled across Omani brand Daazia via facebook. I lost the link to their website but if anyone knows it please leave it in the comments section, thank you!

My photos: Minarets from Oman part 1

Nizwa Mosque. Sultan Qaboos Grande Mosque.

Barka Mosque.

Little Mosque near fish souq on Mutrah Corniche.

Ras Al Hamra Mosque adjacent PDO housing.Another Barka Mosque. The Shiite Mosque near the Mutrah souq. Such pretty colours!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Ramadan Decorating Ideas from

I am bloglovin' the sisters over at for their printable templates, recipes, and craft and activity ideas for children. Cute idea for Eid morning. Cute craft project for the kids, paper lantern. Ramadan card---cute little Masjid/Mosque. Pretty!!!! She has a pattern for these cute Ramadan tea cosies;) [make well before Ramadan]. More paper garland patterns.

If you would like to share any of your decorating ideas for Eid or Ramadan please send them to

Monday, August 8, 2011

Eid ul-Fitr---the 3 days after Ramadaan---what is it and how is it celebrated in Oman?

There are two Eids in Oman---the one that is coming up: Eid ul-Fitr, the one at the end of Ramadaan, so I thought I'd write a post about Eid ul-Fitr just to explain what it is, and what is done for it in Oman, in case anybody staying in Oman was curious or chance is invited to participate in the holiday. Both Eids are Islamic Holidays, and Eid ul-Fitr is a 3 day holiday that always begins with the end of Ramadaan. Eid means "holiday/festivity" and "ul-Fitr" means "original/best nature". So it is a holiday Muslims celebrate, as they are supposed to be morally, spiritually, intellectually, and physically improved since fasting the month of Ramadaan.
In Oman for Eid, we keep the Islamic tradition of waking well before sunrise and puting on new, or our best clothes. As we do so we are supposed to put aside any old resentments, and be thankful to God/Allah. In our village usually 3 days of new clothes are purchased before the start of Ramadaan to be worn for Eid ul-Fitr, and the clothes are usually of a traditional Gulf nature, either Omani, or GCC in style, but in Muscat my friends wore anything from the same to Western clothing from Monsoon, ect to Morrocan traditional dress. We women usually put on our favourite jewelry, as well as painting our hands and feet with henna. The men wear their dishdashes along with their khanjar daggers and carry the assa sticks. Many will perfume themselves, and will take a small meal, as in Islam, fasting is forbidden for the day of Eid. In our village the traditional meal we eat on this day is called "Harees" made from rice and chicken. This is also the time, that if anyone has not paid the charitable tax that they owe for the poor on any of their property that falls under the jurisdiction of savings, wealth, or gold (called "zakat"), they must pay it. Before sunrise it is part of Islamic tradition for both men and women to go out for prayer before the sun rises, and pray it together. Even those who are unable to pray come out for the prayer. In our village while all the people come out for the prayer, only the men pray it, which is part of Omani culture, not Islam. I will pray it. I am Muslim before I am Omani. After the prayer a lecture called a khutbah is said aloud and every Muslim is supposed to stay to listen. It is a tradition to take one route to the prayer, and a different one away from it, saying a prayer as one goes to and from the congregational prayer ground.Eid is a time that singing is permitted, and children visit and play. Usually we women sit inside and visit with eachother in our nicest or newest clothes, while the men go outside to cut an animal, in our village, usually a cow, goat, or sheep. This part is an Islamic practice, but the foods made from the meat is an Omani tradition for Eid unique to the region.After the meat is cut, it is divided into sections, one section for the men to keep, for the "shua", and one section for the women for the "mishakeek", some of the men season their section of meat, wrap it in banana leaves and then bags made from date palm (or aluminum foil) and carry it to the place for making the "shua".After the shua meat is ready for cooking, the men go to the place reserved for cooking the shua, and burn wood in the hole for the shua, until hot coals are left, and they lightly cover this with sand, but not enough to put the coals out.The bags of the seasoned shua meat are lowered into the pit, and then buried underground where they will be left to cook overnight or for one day.While the men are doing this, usualy we women change into less formal clothes, and the cut the meat we have been given, and prepare it for lunch.We make it into kebabs called "mishcock" ["mishakeek" plural], and season them. Men that are not in charge of preparing the shua, then cook the mishakeek.For lunch on the first day of Eid we usually enjoy the mishakeek. mmmmm yum (as I write this I am fasting so Eid seems like such a nice thing to envision lol).During the Eid it is a time that alot of us share food, and give optional extra charity (different than the charity tax due by the end of Ramadaan).In our village, money is given to those in need, women, and children. Children collect usually a huge score of rials and baisa notes in Oman. They enjoy walking to the store to purchase toys and candies in the early evening of every Eid day in our village.On the second Eid day we usually eat more mishakeek or the shua meat with rice for the lunch and mass visiting begins.Every house we visit, usally fruit, coffee, and sweets are offered. Whenever I visit in Muscat I am overwhelmed with nuts, chocolates, and of course Patchi. I always make sure to wear shoes that are easy to take on and off for this day! The traditional gretting is "Eid Mubarak" or "Eid Sa'eed",: 1. Eid Congratulations, 2. Happy Eid. Finally, for the 3rd day of Eid, in our village there are traditional dances and songs preformed, and some traditional games for the girls. That is pretty much Eid ul-Fitr as I know it in my regions of Oman;)