1990's Video

These video clips of the people and their villages in the mountains in Oman were recorded from 1991 to 1994 when my walking companions and I only had 1:100,000 Nakhal and Rustaq military maps. These covered most of the Western Hajar which is where we did most of our hiking and I took these videos. At that time there was only one road up Al Jabal Al Akhdar, to Sayq, which was limited to local and military traffic. However there were no restrictions on walking up the mountain tracks. From Sayq there were only two roads on the mountain plateau each connecting a village; Al Manakhir and a road head close to Wadi Bani Habib.

The tracks between villages and the villages themselves were bustling with people. The first clip sequence is scenes on the mountain plateau that you will traverse on Day 4 at the head of Wadi Al Hijri and Wadi Al Qashah where there were summer villages used by pastoral farmers. Most of them, for example Ar Rus, Al Hilaylut and Aqbat Al Biyut had twin winter villages deep in these two wadis near springs that irrigated their crops grown on narrow terraces. The close proximity between the 1950m elevation browsing plateau and the 1400m elevation irrigated terraces, approximately 4.5km of donkey track, supported a high density of paired summer and winter villages. Most families owned a house in each village and migrated between the two according to the season and crop maintenance. At the time these video were taken only the area around Sayq was more populated on the Western Hajar. The first clip in the sequence shows children cooking in an outside kitchen with copper pots. The second clip shows a man walking at his normal speed. The woman on the right in the fourth clip is wearing an amuletic silver disc called sunt, bracelets and a headdress that includes a nose ornament. In the sixth clip notice only the right hand touches the communal food tray. The elder of the two boys in the last clip who happened to walk past us while a man was giving us directions is carrying a walking stick that he clearly does not need. Walking sticks in Oman are used as an indication of wisdom as in 17 - 18th century Europe.

At each village we visited nearly everybody at home assembled to greet us. This clip sequence is of our reception at Ar Rus. At the request of the villagers today, from whom I asked permission to post this video, I have removed any images of women who are still alive. The children are wearing kulutiyyah caps and the women are wearing colourful clothes and silver jewellery which is part of their dowry, for example the bracelets on the sitting lady, the aqam chinstrap on the mother carrying her child, and the rings and bracelet on the standing lady. This jewellery is still worn, although today it is more likely to be gold. Only female hikers will have any chance of observing this.

After the road head reached as close as practicable to Wadi Bani Habib this historic village was slowly abandoned and new houses built beside the road. This video was taken about ten years after the completion of the road when only a few of the old houses remained occupied.

This is how villages looked in 1992 in Wadi Bani Awf shortly after the roads were built. Today Balad Sayt is modernised with power poles and concrete buildings.

This villager from An Nakhur in Wadi An Nakhur, whom we met after attempting to climb from inside the wadi to the top of Jabal Shams, is entertaining us with his whistling.

Rain, hail and thunder in Wadi An Nakhur in a storm that lasted less than an hour.

Recent Video

Making coffee on the Eastern Hajar Mountains starts with roasting the beans.