Aftab H. Kola
Sunday, September 13, 2009 12:30:15 AM Oman Time
ONCE upon a time, the luxuriant date palm was the ‘tree of life’ in this part of the world and barring the cultivation of dates, farming in Arabia was a perpetual contest between man and nature.
But today the scene has changed dramatically with the government of Oman backing all efforts to produce fruits and vegetables in the country. Perhaps the government has self-sufficiency in mind. What government does not?
The agricultural sector plays a leading role in food self-sufficiency and in contributing considerably towards non-oil export. Due to continuous and growing inter-relationship with other economic sectors, the agricultural activities make great impact on social development as well as on employment and rural communities.
Jabal Al Akhdar, where the height of the peaks vary from 7,000 to 9,000 feet, moored high up in the central mountain ranges of Al Hajar, is not just a plethora of colour and sheer unadulterated picture-postcard mountains, but also a place where fruit orchards and roses flourish.
Seeing is believing
Come September and the mountains here bloom with a profusion of pomegranates and a variety of fruits, fruits the kind which no one would believe grow here — peaches, pears of many different origins. And so recently one fine morning we ascended the green mountain to explore the fruit oasis.
The climb up to Jabal Akhdar isn’t that tough, but one has to be careful as unlike on Indian roads, people here do not have the habit of blowing their horn while driving.
Saturday, August 08, 2009 10:39:43 PM Oman Time
MUSCAT — As Oman waits with baited breath to view the first of its kind exhibition where 100 original Rembrandt prints will be shown at the Afrah Ballroom of Grand Hyatt from August 19, connoisseurs of art should be grateful to the Sultanate’s oldest library — Al Salmi Library — for initiating this remarkable project.
Al Salmi Library is presenting the Rembrandt in Oman exhibition, which will end on September 19.
Though Al Salmi Library has been around for more than 100 years, not many are aware of its existence or the richness of its past.
Narrating the story of how the library came into being, Abdullah Salem Al Salmi says: “The library was started by my grandfather Noor Aldeen Al Salmi. He was born in 1867. We presume that the library started taking shape sometime in 1887.”
The library initially was part of the school that Noor Aldeen Al Salmi founded.
A teacher of language, history, religion and various other subjects, Noor Aldeen Al Salmi’s love for books and manuscripts was legendary.
Read the rest of the article at Times of Oman
Saturday, August 08, 2009 10:40:52 PM Oman Time
A decade ago, Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Zedjali decided to change drug addicts’ lives both within and outside the Sultanate through awareness and voluntary campaigns. This extraordinary Omani citizen is currently conducting lectures in private sector organisations, and taking his crusade to schools, colleges and universities. His latest successful campaign, undertaken in cooperation with Oman Mobile, was titled, ‘We Are Healthy Without Drugs’. In the campaign, he came up with a million copies of Hayyak cards with quotes and pictures of famous Omanis. Mohammed Al Zedjali shares his experiences with Times of Oman.
Read the rest of the article at Times of Oman
On a visit to frankincense land, Times of Oman zeroed in on the municipality recreational centre, to meet some women who engaged in two of these traditional occupations —
saviac and pottery making.
While saviac and pottery have, in the past, been used as household objects, today, their appeal is more aesthetic — they are mostly used for decorating homes.
Al safiat, made from palm leaves (Al kous), catches the eye for sheer variety of form and colour. Once a part of daily life, being used for eating, drinking and a host of other things, Al safiat is a part of Oman’s heritage. No wonder, women well-versed in the craft are now teaching their daughters the art of making Al safiat.
Woven out of palm frond, Al safiat is used for making Al hassier (carpet), Al selal (basket), Al tefal or Al kifaiah (mat), Al kafaf, Al jeriat and several other things. Leather is used in some of the items.
Read the rest of this article in the Times of Oman, 8th August 2009
JUST over ten years ago, a book called Regards Muscat was launched in the market. The book had a bright vermilion cover and a watercolour of a mosque with blue domes. It was from the Editions Michel Hetier, written by Michele Barrault and translated into English by Nadia Fairbrother. The same trio has now come out with Regards Batinah with credit for photography going to Michel Hetier.
Regards Batinah begins with the opening lines: Batinah — The Very Essence of Oman — No other region in Oman is so close to its geography, geology, history or traditions as Batinah. With these words, Regards Batinah is presented in seven chapters covering history, the economy, the city of Sohar, Batinah South, the forts and wadis of Batinah and Northern Batinah.
A Field Guide to the Plants of Oman features 250 species of plant with about 550 full-colour images of plants, celebrating the green heritage of the Oman countryside. Authors Dr Helen Pickering and Dr Annette Patzelt have won praise for their commendable work: “This publication is the result of many months of field trips, sleeping under the stars, being stuck in the sand, long treks in the mountains, cuts, bruises and filthy clothes. I hope people will use it to get to understand the beautiful plants of Oman, on their own adventures in the wadis, mountains and deserts of the country,” the authors stated in a joint statement.
Venturing into the living vastness
The urge to explore the mysterious landscape is all too tempting for many, but the desert can be a challenge even for the experienced off-roader.
By Zoi Constantine and Emmanuelle Landais, Staff Reporters, Gulf News UAE, 30th December 2006
Dubai: Stunning, tranquil, mysterious and ever-changing. These are just some of the ways in which the UAE's vast expanses of desert have been described by those who prefer to spend their time navigating through sand dunes and sleeping under the stars.
Click here to see the map of popular desert areas in the UAE (pdf) (ed. visit the link to access the map)
However, while the urge to explore this unique, mysterious landscape is all too tempting for some, the desert can often be a challenge even for experienced off-roaders.
This hard truth was all too evident in May of this year, when the desert proved just how unpredictable an environment it can be. Two Ukrainian men were found dead after being lost for 20 hours near Ras Al Khaimah. et seq.
(36th National Day briefing on healthcare in Oman)
OMAN'S healthcare sector has to its credit a host of impressive milestones in most areas, including life expectancy, infant mortality, human resources development, establishing public healthcare centres and expansion of private healthcare facilities. In the past 36 years, the country has witnessed rapid and significant changes in health and mortality patterns. The crude death rate had declined from 13.3 to only 2 per 1,000 people. Infant mortality rate and under-five mortality rate have declined to 10.3 and 11.1 per 1,000 live births, down from 118 and 181 respectively. Most importantly, the average life span in Oman has increased from 49 years in 1970 to 74 years today.
The Council of Oman comprising the Majlis Addawla and Majlis Ash'shura, has evolved into a vibrant forum for discussion on social and economic issues in the highest traditions of the shura (consultation) process. Over the years, the two bodies have developed into a truly representative institution of Omani society
Oman's lofty institution of shura (consultation), which serves the nation as the people's voice at two distinct levels — Majlis Addawla and Majlis Ash'shura — took a full circle in November 2002 when His Majesty Sultan Qaboos issued a historic directive to expand citizens' participation in Majlis Ash'shura elections, offering franchise for all aged 21 years and above. The Royal directive stipulated that every Omani male and female citizen, aged 21 years and above, were eligible to vote, beginning from the fifth term of Majlis Ash'shura.
The Council of Oman comprising the Majlis Addawla and Majlis Ash'shura, has evolved into a vibrant forum for discussion on social and economic issues in the highest traditions of the shura (consultation) process. Over the years, the two bodies have developed into a truly representative institution of Omani society. Preparations to elect members of the sixth Majlis Ash'shura are presently under way. Sayyid Saud bin Ibrahim al Busaidy, Minister of Interior, recently highlighted the ministry's role in conducting the upcoming Majlis election.