Driving thru the busy Sultan Qaboos highway everyday, motorists ( that includes me) can’t help but take a split-second clear view (atop the Ghala roundabout flyover) of Oman’s famous Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. I got an interest to feature this place of worship in Muscat for being featured in UK’s leading newspaper The Telegraph’s list of the 25 most beautiful mosques in the world.Other notable mosques like Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, Al Haram Mosque, Saudi Arabia, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi – Medina, Saudi Arabia are also included in the list.With peaceful courtyards and elegant arcades, this mosque nestled within the hub of the City of Muscat is one of the most impressive buildings in this Gulf country. Its central minaret is 91.5 m (300 ft) tall, and the main prayer hall has a Persian carpet that took 600 women and four years to weave.
In the North African desert, elephants scour the area for fruits that have fallen from the trees and deposit the seeds in their droppings several miles away. In South American jungles, monkeys eat figs and other fruit, carrying some away in their stomachs and dropping others onto the ground and in South Africa, even ants carry seeds into their nests, eat the tasty outer covering and leave the seeds to grow safely underground.
Even humans carry seeds far away for plants – by taking an apple on a picnic, for example, and throwing the core, with its seeds, into the bushes.
Hi all fellow bloggers! It’s good to be back and I am excited to share with you my very recent jaunt with friends to a must-see beautiful high place in Oman , THE JEBEL SHAMS touted as the The Grand Canyon of the Arabias. And talking about Jebel in Oman , there’s got to be plenty of them but only one stands out …This blog zeroes in on a top tourist attraction called Jebel Shams or Sun Mountain.
A mountain or a hill would refer to Jebel in arabic.The one other famous and spectacular Jebel lying in close proximity is Jebel Akhdar meaning the Green Mountain but is overshadowed by Jebel Shams in magnificence being the highest point in Oman and the whole of Eastern Arabia both of which lie in the strategic Al Hajar Mountain range in Northeast Oman. Jebel Shams has an Elevation of 9,934′ (3,028 m). For the hikers coming from downtown Muscat and other places down,the air offers a unique experience.It is a chilly mountain air that goes down to single digits on the thermo scale or at most to as low as two below zero.
TheStory of Jebel Shams
As the author have gathered, the Jebel Shams has a long history dating back 250,000,000 years ago. The Jebel came into existence with the formation of a sea called tethys which was formed when Oman and Iraq separated.Tethys sea is a former tropical body of salt water that separated the supercontinent of Laurasia in the north from Gondwana in the south during much of the Mesozoic era (251 to 65.5 million years ago).. In Oman sediments were deposited in relatively shallow waters, which later formed the very hard grey limestone found on the jebel.The sea was warm and rich in life, and many fossils can be found throughout the region. As tethys was crated, submarine volcanoes were formed and the magma from these has turned some of the limestone to marble. When the tethys sea began to disappear about 90,000,000 years ago, the ocean floor was pushed over the land, forming the mountain. After the formation of the mountain, water erosion has shaped the “Grand Canyon” with a vertical drop of 2,100 meters from the summit to the base.
Today the jebel is home to at least a dozen small villages, where the main occupations are animal husbandry, farming, and rug weaving.
Jebel Shams also has some of the oldest Juniper trees or al’alaan in the world, some specimens are hundreds of years old and with trunks 2 – 3 meters wide. Another common tree on the mountain is the thorn of Christ tree or sidr, the fruit “nubuq” are eaten by the locals, and taste similar to apples.
This scenic area, often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Arabia, once supported dozens of remote mountain settlements. In the early 2000s however, the Oman Government moved all the inhabitants to less remote sites with easier access to modern services, leaving the villages to ghosts and foreign trampers.
The rim of Al Nakhur summit – strange-looking black thing is sitting atop a boulder. Very surreal-looking. It raises the question whether it is a head of something ,like the head of an animal, a sheep perhaps. We can see eyes, and some facial features. And that’s the beauty of Arabia’s Grand Canyon.
The drive into the heart of the beast! A narrow and imposing opening to the grand canyon is a rather suitable beginning to what becomes a rough graded track. After passing thru the village of Al Hajir, the walls of the canyon close in and soar above you…
When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen : There will be something solid for you to stand on, or, you will be taught how to fly.