Salam alaikum, everyone! Marhaba! Welcome to the Sultanate of Oman! My name is Saeed Abdullah Al Dhoori! I am the Rashid of the Wilayat of Khasab, a senior official in the local administration, serving under the local Sheikh.
Interview by Ali Al Badi
Tell us a little bit about Khasab?
My city is named so, because of the fertility of the soil. Khasab’s best points of accessibility from the rest of Oman are through Khasab Port, via the sea, and from the air, where planes land at Khasab Airport.
The city is home to a number of archaeological ruins, which include a number of castles, forts and towers. There is Khasab Fort, which dates back to the beginning of the era of the Al Said dynasty, and was restored by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture in the beginning of 1990.
As for Khasab Castle, the exact date of its construction is unknown, but it is located in the area of Kumzar area. In addition to that, there are three watchtowers, one of which is the Siba tower, which is located in Siba, near the residence of the current Sheikh of Khasab, Sheikh Juma bin Hamdan Al Malik Al Shehhi.
Please also visit the other two towers – Kibbis Al Qasr – although there are only ruins where it once stood, and the Said bin Ahmed bin Suleiman Al Malik tower, which is located in Bani Sanad. It used to be part of a castle, but only the tower stands now.
How do you welcome visitors in Wilayat Khasab?
When it comes to Khasab’s traditional customs, people in Musandam in general, and especially in Khasab, perform the Nadba. This is a very old traditional custom, and features the person performing the dance put one hand over his ear, while slowly raising the other in front of him, while shouting the traditional chants that are a part of the song.
Nadba was earlier used as a signal to call people to war, or to alert people when enemies attacked their villages and their homes. Now, of course, people use this Nadba dance to welcome guests to their homes.
What sort of hospitality do you show guests?
In the morning, people offer to their guests fresh honey with piping-hot oven-baked bread, harees, which is a dish of coarsely ground wheat with seasonings and meat, ersiyah, which is similar to harees, but features a more finely beaten mixture of wheat and meat, as well as laban, and the milk of cows and sheep that have been personally raised by the family that is welcoming you into their homes.For lunch, people offer to their guests a dish of rice with locally-prepared meats from sheep, while for dinner, rice, which is a staple of the region, is served with chickens that are reared locally, or fish that are caught from our seas. This is how we sometimes welcome people into our homes. This is particularly true when people in Khasab welcome tourists, especially guests from other GCC countries, and offer them the original Arabian hospitality.
Sounds lovely! What else is there to see in Khasab?
There are many ancient mosques in Khasab. Among the oldest mosques in Khasab is the Siba mosque, also called the Western Mosque. This was rebuilt in 1980. Equally important are the Suq and the Kumzar mosques, which were also rebuilt during the era of the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimour.
On the occasions of Eid Al Fitr or Eid Al Adha, people first pray at the Mosque, and they then congratulate their families. After this, all of the inhabitants of Khasab gather at the Majlis – our common meeting area – to first congratulate the Sheikh of Khasab, then our elders, and finally, each other.
Khasab is often known as the Norway of Arabia due to its fjords and amazing natural landscape. Is this true?
Very much so! There are many natural parks as well as fjords – we call them ‘khor’ in Arabic – that are extremely popular among tourists. There are many tourist sites such as the natural parks in Al Rawdhah, Alsi and Al Khalidiyah. In addition, there are many hotspots in Wadi Khan, Musaiyfah Hayout and Khor Najd. There are many other khors that are popular, such as Khor Sham, Khor Al Nedow, Khor Hablain, Khour Gab, Khor Qibal and Khour Qadi.
Please also visit the Gulf of Khasab, and the Gulf of Kumzar, when they come here. Kumzar is an amazing place. It is the northernmost settlement in Oman and is only accessible by boat. Visiting there requires an invitation from a resident on the island. Please also visit Telegraph Island while here. It used to be a British communication post, but it has now been abandoned.
Other important islands include Jazirat Lima, which is just off the town of Lima, as well as Ghanam, Umm Al Tayyer, Salamah, Abu Makhlaef, Makhbooq, Al Khail and Saweek.
– [email protected]