The Sultanate of Oman is a land of oases, deserts, rolling sands, shifting dunes, and mountains upon which ancient cities have been carved from stone. A land that boasts the Queen of Sheba, Sindbad the Sailor, and The Lost City of Ubar buried for millennia under the Arabian Sands. A country that was heralded for its wealth in frankincense, and it is from here that ancient frankincense caravans began carrying their precious cargoes to the classical world.
Oman is a country where the Bedouin still wander the deserts as they have since time immemorial. A mystical land where eagles soar over the mountain that is home to the prophet Job, a prophet in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
In the mountains nearby live an ancient people whose language predates Aramaic. The age of the language remains a mystery. It is a spoken language with no written form. In these mountains one finds caves that are decorated with prehistoric art. Mines and distinctive cone-like tombs dating from the Bronze Age feature all over the country. It is a land that has tales of wizardry, magic, jinns, and exorcisms. Embark on a magical and mystical Arabian Odyssey with one man and his traveler's tales through this land that time has all but forgotten.
©2010 Rory Patrick Allen (P)2014 Rory Patrick Allen
I am now half way through the book, but I felt I had to write a review now while I have the time rather than later and not have it done at all. As an Omani, I still found this book thoroughly enjoyable. It's nice to see how a foreigner perceives us and our customs and traditions. As of the point where I have reached in the book so far, I do find that the authors Omani social circles had focused on one ethnic group out of a vastly varied mixture of cultures.So far, it seems that the author has spent most of his time with the Badu and missed out on mixing with African Omani's (I am not talking about people who have been in Oman for 5 generations, I am talking about Omani's who even today speak Swahili and can give you a mile long list of relatives in Africa), he also has not covered the culture of Baluchi people from Baluchistan and the culture of Lawati people who are mostly based in Mutrah.
I also find his stories about wildlife very comical but totally inaccurate. Camel spiders might be the ugliest thing you could ever run across, but they have no venom and no numbing poison. They do however have a very powerful bite that can go through your clothes and because they tend to eat things like mice, they are very likely to be carrying diseases that they can infect you with. Similar inaccuracies about other critters. But it's OK, because it does make for a more entertaining story to tell people that we have this terribly ugly spider that you could eat you alive and you wouldn't even notice till it was too late.
The author romantices Oman in a wonderful way and paints it s a land of fairy tales, as a measure of the success of this book, even me as a native Omani started seeing Oman in different more romantic way while listening to this book.
On the down side, the narrator would occasionally swallow words at ends of sentences and you couldn't make out what he was mumbling even after rewinding several times. I assure you this has nothing to do with English being my third language. There has also been many editing errors where the narrator would make mistakes and repeat a sentence then not edit out the error. It would get rather confusing to the listener sometimes. There have also been many instances where the Narrator paused for a very long time. This could have easily been edited out.
A message to the author just in case he hasn't been to Oman for a while. Development goes on and sometimes at the expense of loosing some of the charm the country has. The old dirt road Quraiyat to Sur has been replaced with a modern super highway, but as a result, the road has lost all it's charm and the entrance to Wadi Shab is no defiled by concrete pillars holding the highway in place. Lots of the beaches in the north of Oman are now allocated for hotel projects and if you really wanted a nice isolated beach, you would either have to go by boat or drive very far our of the capital.
Many gems still remain, some of them have benefited from the modernization. Misfat Al-Irbiyeen is now more accessible with no risk of your 4WD vehicle falling of the edge of the mountain, you can now safely take that ice cold shower under the waterfall to ward off the summer heat. Little villages near the Wadi Shab tombs are now far more accessible but still retain their charm.
Anyway, enough straying off topic. Buy the book, it's funny, engaging and offers a pleasant distraction from daily life. I highly recommend it.
A note to anybody tempted by this book to visit Oman. If you want to enjoy Oman, you need to do lots and lots of research. Oman isn't the sort of place you would enjoy just dropping into with your suitcase and fully enjoy. There are two ways to enjoy Oman. Either get a tour company to arrange your activities for you...... Or, just make Omani friends, preferable ones driving around in unwashed 4WD vehicles
Magical Beautiful Hospitable
None because this is a brilliant travel book with a difference because of the incredible adventures experienced by the author and the uniqueness of this travel book.
Yes Oman is now on my bucket list.
A wonderful listen without the over the top, highbrow style of certain other travel books. I highly recommend this excellent book. A cracking good listen.
You can clearly visualise the natural beauty,culture and ancient history of Oman coupled with the fascinating and mystical experiences revealed throughout the book.
There is no comparison as this is a unique, wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable travel book.
Alan Pelz-Sharpe's narration is absolutely superb and I found it an easy listen. I was able to absorb and visualise these wonderfully narrated spellbinding stories.
Yes most definitely. Many of the stories were gripping and humourous, others were informative and enlightening.
I strongly recommend this book as it is a truly authentic and an original guide to beautiful Oman and its wonderful hospitable people. It's a unique visitors travel book with its personal exploration from a westerner who has lived in an Omani community.
Absolutely the audio breathes life into the words of the author, conjuring up vivid pictures of deserts, mountains, villages wadis and the culture of this exotic land.
A wonderful traveller's tale where the author takes us on a fabulous journey through the length and breadth of this enigma of a country. We are taken through deserts, over mountains, stops in villages that have changed little since biblical times. The author travels alone at times and at others with his two Bedouin companions and soaks up the culture of a fabulous land, real Arabia, one is drawn to images of Aladdin, 1001 Arabian nights, Sinbad and magic carpets and so much more. A highly recommended listen where one is transported as if one has indeed borrowed a magic carpet and travelled in time and space to a land, some would call, the world of dreams.
I can not single out one part. Each chapter tells a different story and every story becomes part of one glorious adventure.
The last chapter, "The Final Journey" had me in tears.
"The Land of The Sultans"
A wonderful traveller's tale where the author takes us on an odyssey through this enigma of a country that takes in the length and breath of this exotic area of the world. Few of us even have heard of Oman, yet after listening to this you will want to visit this land that time has almost forgot. The author takes us over mountains, across deserts and into villages where little seems to have changes since biblical times and even before, where the author points out that, with its Frankincense Trade, Oman was a major player in the ancient and classical world.. The author gives the listener an deep insight into the culture and people of Oman, its long rich history and ancient sites, villages, forts, castles and so much more. There are moments of great joy, wonder and sadness as we travel through time and space and enter the world of the author and his journey through "The Land of The Sultans." Highly recommended for any armchair traveller or someone travelling to Oman. Just do as I did, close your eyes, dim the lights and allow yourself to be transported to the place that is called Oman.
The narrator told this story with great sensitivity and understanding of the thoughts and emotions of the author. He also manages to carry us along effortlessly through this fascinating story evoking sights and sounds that leaves vivid pictures in the listener's mind.
Several stories in this work moved me, "The Prophet" where the author visits the tomb of the prophet Job in Salalah and "The Final Journey" a trip to a Bedouin necropolis in the desert and many more stories contained in this work.
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