landscapes in Mad'ha wilayat
by Khamis al Moharbi
the dozens of holiday hideaways dotting parts of the Sultanate, the
wilayat of Mad'ha is perhaps the least known. This tiny tract of Omani
territory, belonging to the Governorate of Musandam, is near the border
of the United Arab Emirates. Yet, this secluded world boasts a rich
mix of landscapes rocky hills, quiet valleys, tranquil oasis-villages
and gentle streams all inviting discovery.
there from Muscat, drive all the way to Shinas and onward to Khatmat
Malahah, the frontier post on the border between Oman and the UAE.
The road sweeps along the Gulf of Oman coast as you cross the emirate
of Fujairah and proceed north in the direction of Musandam. About
60km down this route from Shinas, a signpost appears indicating the
turn to Mad'ha, which is just 3km from this intersection. New Mad'ha
is the wilayat's main administrative town bristling with government
offices and all modern amenities like schools and health centres,
besides smart villas and social houses for low-income citizens.
some of the wilayat's better attractions, take the dirt track leading
westward deep into Mad'ha's rugged countryside. Just a kilometre down
this route is Al Andhar, a charming oasis-village nestled amid date
palms. The famous Al Hura Wadi skirts the village, replenishing aquifers
that feed a number of aflaj coursing through farms and orchards around
the village.A short distance away is Al Gonah, the wilayat's second
most populous village, nestled in the wedge of rocky hills. A circular
watchtower of a pastel hue, quite unlike the typically buff-coloured
towers found elsewhere in Oman, watches over this tranquil village.
ahead to explore the picturesque Sa'ad village, surrounded by date
palm gardens. You can relax at the Al Madhhar park, laid out
by the local municipality amid natural settings close to the edge
of a wadi. There are opportunities for picnicking close to the burbling
streams of the wadi, besides a play area for children. Hajar bin Humaid,
12km west of New Mad'ha, is the last village on this route and a major
tourist attraction as well. Nestled close to the mountains, this village
is endowed with myriad springs that contribute to the area's varied
of rock calligraphy found in Mad'ha
attraction is Jebal al Rukham, or the Marble Mountain, where quarried
sections of the mountain reveal white marble that gleams during the
day. Apart from its natural attractions, the wilayat of Mad'ha also
boasts an antiquity dating back over 1,000 years. Rock art and calligraphy
are an important part of its historical heritage as seen in the numerous
examples of ancient calligraphy scrawled on rocks scattered around
the wilayat. A study done in 1992 reported over 500 such pieces of
rock calligraphy in the wilayat, notably in Al Husei and Al Maeqlah.
about a hundred of these valuable relics remain, which interestingly,
feature the Arabic script without the dots associated with the modern
version of the script. Preserving all of these priceless samples of
history is a near impossible task considering the size of the rocks
on which the calligraphy appears. Most are believed to be of 10th
and 11th century antiquity, while a few even date back to pre-Islamic
samples of rock art found in the wilayat include drawings of animals
and folk dances.While in Mad'ha, be sure to visit the private museum
of the local historian, Mohammed bin Salem al Madhani. His modest
home is filled chock-a-block with samples of relics, curios and handicrafts
all Omani. A retired government employee, Al Madhani
began pursuing his passion for antiques in 1972 and has since amassed
a hoard of over 12,000 samples of Oman's heritage.
include valuable manuscripts, samples of rock art, Omani silverware
and jewellery, khanjars, ancient weapons and other trappings of Omani
daily life in antiquity. He is now working to house his priceless
collection in a full-fledged museum as part of his contribution towards
preserving Oman's rich and varied heritage.
Adapted from Oman Observer. Nizwa.NET is not responsible for contents.