Al Jabal al Akhdar
from Bid Bid, the road to the historic city of Nizwa looks more
and more like an intestine coursing its way within the bowels
of a range of mountains flanking both sides of the highway.
just a few kilometres before the heart of Nizwa, one of those
mountains rises to a dizzying height. At about ten thousand feet above sea level, Al
Jabal al Akhdar (The Green Mountain) is undoubtedly one of the
highest points in the Sultanate, making it a hotspot for the adventurous.
Al Jabal al Akhdar is not just another geological curiosity or
challenge waiting to be unraveled or surmounted by the curious
and the adventurous.
of the protected areas in the Sultanate of Oman, it is inhabited
by as much as 54 nuclear communities sprinkled over different
levels on the mountain.
about ten thousand feet above sea level, Al Jabal Al
Akhdar is undoubtedly a hotspot for the adventurous
As in other communities, the inhabitants of Al Jabal al Akhdar
are entitled to essential municipal services by the Ministry of
Regional Municipalities, Environment and Water Resources (MRME&WR).
the ministrys presence is registered by a municipal building
whose staff patrol the area, help the inhabitants to become more
environmentally aware, and report their needs to the appropriate
authorities, among other tasks.
our bid to highlight the people and resources in the municipalities
great and small, conspicuous and obscure, we set out to the communities
of Al Jabal al Akhdar.
As it was a typically hot and humid day in summer, we took all
the accessories that we believed would help us assail the sweltering
the very moment we arrived at the military check-point at the
foot of the mountain, we were pleasantly surprised by the temperate
and breezy atmosphere that greeted us.
There was a spontaneous feeling of being in an
entirely different world, a difference that became even more pronounced
as we made our winding way up to crest of the mountain.
on Al Jabal al Akhdar
coolness was so pervasive the offices and houses we happened to
have gone into, during the trip, were so comfortable without fans
or air conditioners! According to Salem Amir Awlad Thani, one
of our guides, the hottest summer does not exceed 30 degrees Centigrade
on the Jabal, while in winter the temperature can plunge below
5 degrees Centigrade. But in most of the summer season, the temperature
is pleasantly average as we experienced.
for the green
At the heels of the mountain, you could be excused for wondering
why it was called the Green Mountain, for the surroundings are
typically semi-arid features, largely rocky terrain and dusty
once again, a pleasant surprise awaits you at the higher planes
of the mountain. Scattered over the area are vegetations comprising
fruit trees, flowers and shrubs.
According to our sources, Al Jabal al Akhdar
receives an average of 303mm of rainfall in a year. Coupled with
its cool climate, it is therefore a friendly turf for these plants.
such as Wadi Bani Habib, Saiq, Al Manakher, Al Ain, Kotom al Hail
and Al Shuraijah have clusters of farms growing pomegranates,
apricots, peaches, cherries and walnuts.
gardens overlooking the mighty Wadi
al Mayali gorge in the jabals
from serving the immediate food needs of the locals, most of the
fruits are sold in the markets in Nizwa and nearby municipalities,
thereby constituting a considerable proportion of the income of
item of ecological importance as well as source of income for
the inhabitants of the communities on the mountain top is the
desert rose (Adenium obesum) whose sweetly scented flowers are
used in the making of rose water.
more than half a century, Mohammed al Sakri, one of the residents
of Al Shuraijah community, has been tapping the fragrance and
other properties of the rose flower in his distillery locally
known as al dhujan. As he explains, the product is widely used
in a variety of ways.
its fragrance is used to keep houses freshly scented, especially
during festivities such as weddings and Eid celebrations. The
fragrance is also said to add pep to the aroma of the Omani coffee
Additionally, rose water is believed to have
medicinal properties. Locally, it is dabbed on the forehead to
relieve headache or drunk to alleviate stomachache.
enhance the natural
beauty of Al Jabal al Akhdar
line with the rising demand for the product, therefore, several
traditional perfumers can be seen at work especially in Al Aqr
community, where there is a dense rose vegetation.
A great part of the Jabal consists of woodland, with junipers,
(Juniperus excelsa) constituting the dominant species. Their fruit
are edible, but the leaves are of more ecological significance.
to our sources, these leaves, soaked in locally made massaging
oils, are very effective for the treatment of muscular pain and
commonly occurring tree contributing to the woodland section of
the Jabal is the thorn bush (Acacia tortilis) whose leaves and
pods provide livestock with regular fodder.
are also Monotheca buxifiolia trees locally known as butt, and
whose fruit is also a staple within the area. The woodland areas,
especially in Al Hail, offer very cozy premises for the many campers
who visit the Jabal.
One of the alluring sights on the Jabal is the glistening water
cascading down the rocky mountain against a sunny backdrop. In
one area alone, Ain Wadi Kotom, there are more than 10 major springs.
springs are the main source of water supply for the communities,
especially those at the higher planes on the mountain. The entire
breadth of the area is linked with a network of Aflaj which hold
the water and deliver it, as it were, to the doorsteps of the
highly prominent feature of the mountain connected with water
is the wadi. Al Jabal al Akhdar has not less than 300 wadis and
streams most of which extend further down into the wadis of Nizwa
and neighbouring areas like Izki and Al Awabi.
Our guides say that the Jabal is home to a number of wild animals
and birds. Of these, gazelles are said to be the most predominant.
However, due to on-going construction work and the increasing
human traffic on the mountain, most of the animals have been driven
into the most obscure parts of the mountain.
by the joint collaboration of the MRME&WR and the Diwan of
the Royal Court, there is a strong surveillance in the area to
ensure that whatever population of wild animals and plants that
are of importance to biodiversity in the Sultanate are protected.
An MRME&WR decree, for example, forbids the
felling of Al Alan and other trees with sturdy wood which were
previously used for ceiling and beams in traditional architecture.
The thrilling views from the Jabal, as well as its balmy climate,
are among the qualities that distinguish it as one of the top
tourism spots in the Sultanate. In appreciation of this fact,
MRME&WR is playing a major role in the development of the
area by providing the basic municipal facilities.
sitting park at Wadi Bani Habib, where visitors can enjoy the
breathtaking views below
These include the construction of access roads to the Jabal in
addition to surfacing already existing ones. There are also plans
to establish a market and a sewage treatment plant in the area.
Wadi Bani Habib, which offers one of the best viewing points in
the area, the MRME&WR has built a portable sitting park from
where visitors can enjoy the breathtaking views below.
have also been built to let people down into the nearby wadis
and farms. Furthermore, under the joint partnership of government
and private entrepreneurs, a hotel has since been built on the
Jabal. The Jabal Akhdar Hotel is centrally located at about 7,000
ft on the main road leading to the top of the Jabal.
is so much to say about the fascinating features of the Green
Mountain, but nothing can bring the message home more than a personal
experience. If, during the heat of this summer, anyone ever challenges
your belief in the maxim the higher you go, the cooler
it becomes take them to Al Jabal al Akhdar.
Adapted from Oman Observer. Nizwa.NET is not responsible for contents.