Today marks our first full day in Oman. Because it’s Friday and a weekend day – we had a more relaxed schedule that included learning about Oman and visiting some historical and tourist sites. We were joined by three of the LFP Fellows that were in the US last Spring; Ali Al-Saidi, Sarah Al-Sharji and Riyadh Abdul Aziz.
We started with a visit to Nizwa in the interior of the country, one of the oldest cities in Oman and it was once a center of trade, religion, education and art. We visited the traditional souq where we experienced goat and cattle trade along with shops for silver, spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fish. From there we walked to the Nizwa Fort built in 1650’s. We also visited the ruins of an ancient village that was destroyed by bombing during a war between the Sultan and the Imams in the 1950’s. The fort and souq gave us a basis of understanding for early Omani life and how this nation grew and prospered with their multitude of date trees.
After lunch we were able to tour the ancient mountain village of Misfat Al Abreyeen, a lush oasis of date palms set among the mountains. This traditional village, dating back 800 years, is a setting from another world. The palms and unique houses set into the mountain side with an aqueduct running through the village is a site to be seen.
For the afternoon we were lucky enough to visit a nearby date farm and property owned by H E Saood Al Nabhani – a sheik in the Omani Ministry and former Omani Ambassador to the United States. He was gracious enough to spend time with the delegation and discuss his views on Oman and cooperation with the United States. I was most struck by his optimism and faith in the Gulf region to weather through these tough political times.
So far, Oman has shown the delegation great hospitality and in the most beautiful setting. I look forward to our meetings with the civic and government sector this week.
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