Oman: A Grand, Savage Splendour
It was Eid al-Adha, the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar, and we were with our guide, Mohammed, in a wadi surrounded by pomegranate trees sharing a dish traditionally eaten during this family celebration. Sitting on a rug, we used our fingers to scoop out the mushy arisa – goat mixed with rice and served with ghee and a date sauce – which we then followed with dollops of stickily sweet halwa and glasses of mint tea. The meal had been prepared by Mohammed’s father; Mohammed himself had killed the goat the night before.
Such generosity was a feature of the Omanis we met on our journey to Muscat and the Jabal Al Akhdar mountains, a trip that was also something of a return for my wife, Caroline, who had spent six years in the country as a child. Tourism barely existed in the early Eighties and it was an eye-opener for her to see how the country has embraced it in subsequent years. Unlike the in-your-face glitz of Dubai, however, the tourism here is a more subtle affair here, and Sultan Qaboos, who has ruled since 1970, seems determined to keep it that way.
You can read the rest of Simon Horsford’s article, courtesy of Shaw Travel, here.