Friday, 03 December 2021 08:33 GMT

Experience an Omani adventure


(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) IT'S TOUTED AS a popular weekend retreat for UAE residents, but scratch beneath the surface and you'll find parts of Musandam offer so much more. What you'll discover is, of course, an area of outstanding natural beauty, but also a region steeped in unique tradition.

There are no official tours to Kumzar. The population is ex-tremely welcoming although, at the same time, values its privacy. To inquire about/ arrange a tour, visit the harbour at Khasab and get talking to the fishermen. They will judge when it is appropriate to head over and take care of organis-ing a boat. Costs for this service may vary, though a morning's trip can be around Dhs500.
Take the almost inaccessible village of Kumzar. This thousands-year old habitation has no road link to the nearest town Khasab (although this is in the process of development), lying surrounded by mountains forming an almost bowl-like environment - along with the bay - in which the village sits. Were it not for the natural spring accessed by a deep well on the far extremity of the village, about 800 metres back from the shore, life would never have flourished.

Given Kumzar's position in between Iran and the main Oman peninsula and its abundance of fresh water, the village has traditionally been an ideal stopping-off point for sea merchants, explorers and migrants. This constant inundation of foreign visitors has influenced the development of the now 5,000-strong population over the centuries.

Kumzaris are proud Omanis and culturally Arabic. Ask any resident and they will fervently confirm this fact. However, Kumzar's inhabitants speak their own language containing possible linguistic amalgamations with a variety of tongues including Portuguese and English. Given it is strictly an oral tradition, nothing is written about its history, and so nobody can be 100 per cent sure. All one man, who bore the Al Kumzari name and whose family had been a presence there for at least six generations, could surmise was the words for 'star' and 'door' were almost identical to the English equivalents, which for him added credence to the assumption.

Over the summer almost the entire population of Kumzar moves wholesale for three months to Khasab to tend to family date plantations and enjoy the slightly more modern amenities the mainland provides to escape the heat. Many of Kumzar's few houses are little more than rooms with a kitchen, although recent larger developments are beginning to take shape. A couple of palatial looking two-storey detached houses, a small restaurant and even a tailor surround the village's two large mosques. Kumzar has a school, a small hospital and since the early '90s its own power station and desalination plant, rendering the well surplus to requirements, although the occasional visitors are led to it as a matter of course.

I stepped onto Kumzar's beach in the middle of August meaning there were only a handful of people milling about either taking a break from building the road up the side of the far mountain to Khasab or herding the village's hundreds of goats. The empty alleyways and main thoroughfare which floods when it rains was as tranquil as it was charming. While I would enjoy returning to witness how the village operates under normal conditions, wandering around left to my own devices was a wonderful introduction and about as far removed as I could be from the opulence of Dubai.


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