Omani Nights

Oman debunks the myth that the Arab world tends to be removed from the rest of the world with its numerous efforts to collaborate with Asia, Europe and America.

The old world character and immense greenery of Muscat are a pleasure to behold.

Perhaps one of the most attractive aspects of Salalah is that it actually enjoys a monsoon season!

These are lines from some of the numerous articles I’ve written on Oman and its major cities for a newspaper called Global Jobs. Over the years, I’ve read so much about this Arabian pearl and I’ve marvelled at its unblemished beauty in photographs. But alas, I’ve had to recreate this country in words without ever having the privilege of experiencing it for real.

So when I needed information on what to do and where to go while in Oman, I had to look no further than my own inbox! Years of research on the living conditions, culture, weather and business environment in Oman, Muscat and Salalah lay in front of me. And to supplement that in terms of breath-taking images and picturesque descriptions was Oman’s tourism website: http://www.omantourism.gov.om/

 



When I look at images of Jabreen Castle or the sun-kissed Jabal Shams, I feel as though I’ve known the hypnotic deserts of Oman in a previous lifetime. To quote from the Arabian nights:

And I have regretted the separation of our companionship :: An eon, and tears flooded my eyes
And I’ve sworn if time brought us back together :: I’ll never utter any separation with my tongue


I imagine having been an Arabian princess, swathed in the gorgeous harem pants and blouses that royal women were then wont to wear. I might have gone for my morning bath at AlKasfah Spring, accompanied by my merry companions. And then we would have submerged ourselves in its invigorating warm water and pondered over the deeper questions of life while gazing into its serene aquamarine depths.

 

At dusk, I might have sneaked into Jabreen Castle for a secret rendezvous with my Arabian lover. Masked by its majestic turrets, we might have been enthralled by a belly dancing performance. I would have dreamt of shimmying for an adoring audience, my pretty sequins reflecting the dancing flames of the campfire.
As a mark of rebellion against my stifling father who asked me to stop meeting my lover, I might have trekked to Jabal Shams or the Sun Mountain. I would have sought refuge in the An Nakhr balcony, a deep ravine in the heart of the rocks. Surrounded by these silent, sympathising bastions of time, I would have plotted escape from a household that dared to shatter my dreams.


To allay the fears of his favourite daughter, my father the Sultan would have taken me on a trip to Mutrah Corniche port in Muscat. We would have picnicked by the sea while he told me the stories behind the ancient structures that kept us company.


In my dreams, I would fly away on a magic carpet to the turtle reserve on the beaches extending from Ras Al Hadd to Masirah Island. I would marvel at the intricate detailing of the green turtle’s shell. This turtle is a rare species that returns every year to lay eggs on the same beach where it was born decades ago. What binds a creature so deeply to its birthplace? And was I bound to Oman in a similar manner? I would mull over questions such as these while I snacked on luscious Omani dates and drank Arabian wine.



An assassination attempt on my father! We would now have to move around with a khanjar, the traditional dagger of Oman, hidden beneath our robes. Under the guise of participating in a horse race, the favourite sport of Omanis, we would ride far, far away from our enemies and hide at the Strait of Hormuz. By day, we would watch the myriad birds at Birds Island and by night, we would plot ways of extricating ourselves from this torturous exile.


Our adventures would take us to the Akhwar (beach lagoons) on whose banks, we would sing traditional Omani songs and recount tales from the times when the beautiful island of Zanzibar used to be Oman’s capital. Beneath the lagoon’s tranquil ripples, there lurked many different kinds of fishes and secret marine denizens. The children in the family would have a lovely time trying to coax them to the surface.


To pray for the swift defeat of our enemies, we would pay a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque whose regal corridors and pristine marble floors would instil a sense of faith in the Almighty. In my prayers, I would include a line for my abandoned lover who might be languishing in the sand dunes of Ramlat Tawq, awaiting my return.


Ramlat Tawq would be my lover’s favourite desert with its endless stretches of undulating dunes and proximity to our birthplace, Muscat. Unknown to me, he would go on a quest for my favourite attar (perfume) at the Sohar Handicrafts Souq (market). Ali believes that this perfume would bring me back to his forlorn arms.


Our reunion would finally happen in the blessed glades of the As Saleel Nature Park. Here an Arabian gazelle would watch us shyly while we exchanged promises to be by each other’s side for many different lifetimes to come. We would write down our vows on parchment and bury it beneath an acacia tree, holding nature as witness to the solemnity of our love.


If I ever had the pleasure of setting foot on the history-laden streets of Oman, perhaps the valleys and the flamingos would speak to me in a language I hadn’t even known I understood. Perhaps, they would resurrect memories and impressions of bygone eras – times that my memory was too young to remember but my soul certainly was not. Perhaps, the caves and the canyons, so far away from the city I call home would bring me to a different home altogether – the home I had yearned for all along.



Shukran, Indiblogger (http://www.indiblogger.in/topic.php?topic=110) and the Ministry of Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman, for allowing me the opportunity to live a fantasy through these words. An actual trip would be the crystallisation of a dream I have already seen, many times in my sleep.