Home Manama to Muscat 2012 Day 11: Highway star, Omani style
Day 11: Highway star, Omani style
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Thursday, 12 April 2012 15:49

Hamdan and friends enjoying the sunset at Arabian Oryx camp 

Have you seen the movie Thelma and Louise, the part where the two women are driving at speed down an American highway in their convertible with the top down, the wind blowing their hair artistically, music wafting gently on the air waves and the scenery flashing by in a delicate blur? 

Somehow I found myself today in my own movie set experience except this time I was in a jeep with roll bars, accompanied by 3 young Omani men, Arabic rock music boomed out and I fought to maintain some semblance of elegance by frequently adjusting my headscarf which preferred to blow crazily in the wind.  I failed in this regard and for sure had the wild, windswept look down to a T! 

We’d met these adventurous young men at a petrol station along the way and, as they were travelling in the same direction, negotiated a ride for me as far as Ibra.  On route, my mood swung between the exhilaration of the high speed drive and abject fear at the driver with his hands free driving style – we’re only young once right?!  At least the scenery was beautiful (that which I saw from behind my wayward scarf) and once I got into it, I actually enjoyed it at some crazy level.  I mean who would choose to drive in a boring team 4x4 with this as the alternative?

The team with cyclist Ruben in Muscat 

It’s been a day of contrast all in all.  This morning as we were leaving our hotel in Muscat we met Ruben Elejalde a Spaniard who‘d just spent 14 days cycling around Oman.  And what a trip he’d had taking in beaches, mountains, wadis and towns along his 1100km route  – 900 by bike and 200 by taxi, the latter only due to time constraints he assured me.  I was exhausted hearing about it. 

Ruben told me it’d been a wonderful experience; the Omani people had been very friendly and helpful, he’d found water along the way at mosques and cafes and pitched his tent alongside wadis and on beaches without problems.  He did recommend that people cycle in the winter as the 40 degree temperatures this week had made it very hard work for him. 

The team with Hafidh Al Harthi at the Marina in The Wave development 

Sadly there wasn’t time to hear more of his story as we had to meet our friend Hafidh Al Harthi, Marketing Manager at The Wave – a new 2000 unit development under construction just outside Muscat and close to the airport.  It has everything – a marina, shops, restaurants and high end residencies, just the place for Ali to retire to!  Next stop was the recently opened Golf Course Al Mouj to drop off some 101Things to see and do in Oman guide books and then a pit stop at the Central Market to pick up watermelons – a favourite of Shafik’s, get him to tell you the story some time…..

And now we’re safely in the arms of the desert at the Arabian Oryx Camp in Al Sharqiya Sands, the guest of Hamdan Al Hajry.  I’m writing this as the sun sets and the camp muaathen gives the call for prayer.  We watched the setting sun atop the magnificent sand dunes that form the back drop to the camp; use your camera up there for sure but take time to absorb all that you see, hear and sense without the obstruction of a lens.  It’s truly a beautiful and breathtaking view and hard to believe that only 2.5 hour’s drive away is the hustle and bustle of Muscat.  This surely is the place to escape, relax and unwind among friends.

So as the wind whistles around the camp, the smells of supper waft my way and the traditional Bedouin musicians strike up, I’m looking forward to sharing stories with the other camp guests, after a nice shower that is to clean away some of the grim stuck to my face from my “speedway” driving experience earlier!  Later I will rest my head under the stars and begin to count.  It could take some time to reach a final tally so I’d better sign off now.