Jebel Akhdhar, Oman

(the Green Mountain)

The Jebel Akhdhar is a rough, mountainous region at 2000+ meters above sea level.  Because of the elevation, the climate is quite temperate; and terraced agriculture has been practiced there for centuries. That's probably how it acquired the name Green Mountain. In actual fact of course, the greenery is restricted to only a few, steep, terraced slopes. The area is fairly difficult to get to, requiring a 4x4 to be driven in low gear for quite long distances. There is a major project currently (2002/2003) to provide a tarmac road to the high plateau, no easy task. You get very nervous when a heavy construction truck, laden with road fill, is slowly winding its way up ahead of you on the gravel road. Your own 4x4 is already struggling in low gear. Will the truck stall? Will its brakes hold? Will your own 4x4 stall?! The main conurbation is Saiq and this is the road leading up to it:

Nonetheless most of the villages on the plateau itself have already been linked by tarmac road. Everyone in Oman is familiar with Jebel Akhdhar photos of the terraced agriculture. Main produce comprises roses (to make rose water), pomegranates, grapes, apricots, honey through bee-keeping, etc. After wandering around for several hours looking for a good photo location, I finally stopped at a small hotel that's been opened a couple of years back for guidance. The manager gave me a map leading to Diana Point! It seems that Princess Diana had been flown in by helicopter back in 1990 to be shown the terraces from this location:

Indeed it's probably the best viewpoint on the entire plateau. I took the photos at sunrise the following day. It's a pity really, that life is so difficult for the farmers. Just walking down and up those slopes a couple of times a day is enough to exhaust anyone. The consequence is that the lower terraces are slowly being left unplanted. It seems that the increased mobility in recent decades has enabled many of the locals to opt for alternative employment elsewhere in Oman. I wonder how much of the terraces will still be planted 20 years from now...

Turning a bit to the left, here's another view from Diana Point:

Notice the village nestled between the jebels way down below? Oh, and modernity is creeping in. Somebody called Homoud decided to write his name on the rock next to the camera (in Arabic), just to demonstrate that "Kildaire was here" occurs all over the world, in all languages ;-)

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