"The Green Desert"
Al Ashkhara < OMAN EXPLORER

 

Al Ashkhara — pride of sharqiya

Traditional dhows preserved on Al Ashkhara beach — Pictures by Abdullah Ibrahim al Shuhi

The coastal town of Al Ashkhara in the wilayat of Jaalan Bani bu Ali is the jewel of the eastern Sharqiya region, inseparably linked to the sea with a good majority of its 6000-odd population eking out their livelihood from traditional fishing.

The stunning charm of Al Ashkhara has for long drawn the irrepressible nature lovers to its pristine locales.From 11th century AH onwards when Jaalan Bani bu Ali was a trading hub, Al Ashkhara was the landing point for merchant ships from Iran, Yemen and India.

The quaintness of Al Ashkhara is heightened by a unique suffusion of the sea and desert — the blue expanse of the Indian Ocean mingling with the enchanting Wahiba Sands.

The Bedouins of Al Ashkhara are well-known for their simplicity and industriousness.

The gentle people continue to live in nature's lap, maintaining their inalienable ties with the sea.

The very lifestyle and culture of the people of Al Ashkhara have evolved from their proximity to the ocean. The traditions clearly manifest this aspect, especially on festive occasions.

The sea has enough for all and the people of Al Ashkhara are content to pursue their fortunes in the sea.

There are over 300 fishing boats, including 57 traditional dhows, engaged in fishing activities off the coast of Al Ashkhara.

The endless stretch of pure sands adorns Al Ashkhara

The quaintness of Al Ashkhara is heightened by a unique suffusion of the sea and desert — the blue expanse of the Indian Ocean mingling with the enchanting Wahiba Sands

The centuries-old ties with the sea are on display on Al Ashkhara beach where traditional dhows in a state of disuse are preserved as prestigious symbols of the families that own them.

There was a time when Al Ashkhara's craftsmen were actively involved in dhow-building. The heydays of dhow-fishing had all the ingredients of high drama in sea when voyages normally lasted two months.

Bird life complements Al Ashkhara's captivating charm

Today, however, due to several compelling reasons, traditional dhows have given way to the emergence of fibreglass boats.

The marine traditions that influenced the culture of Al Ashkhara are best reflected during festivals and special occasions when folklore presentations reaffirm the people's ties with the sea.

The activities include folk songs and dances, boat races and dhow processions.

The beachfront town of Al Ashkhara has mainly a cluster of residential quarters linked by sand-laden alleys.

With the cool breeze blowing in from the sea, the need for air-conditioners or fans are never felt in Al Ashkhara, even during the peak of summer.

A proposed tourism project in Al Ashkhara is set to spur economic development and place the idyllic coastal town on the international tourism map.

Currently, Al Ashkhara has four schools, banks, a factory of Oman Fisheries Co, in addition to several shops engaged in trading and commercial activities.

A beach facility to enjoy the scenic beauty

A panoramic view of Al Ashkhara

A proposed tourism project in Al Ashkhara is set to spur economic development and place the idyllic coastal town on the international tourism map

With regard to welfare activities, Al Ashkhara has a Local Development Centre which runs seven child development centres, three public meeting rooms and four public libraries in rural villages.

Literacy classes are organised by the centres, besides health campaigns, handicrafts development, seminars and workshops for fishermen.During summer, when conditions turn hostile for fishing, the fishermen take care of their lands, tending date palm plantations.

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