The dune I’m sitting on is the color and consistency of sifted wheat flour. In its grooves are impressions from everyone around me: the long bare feet of my bedouin guide; the deep crescent hoofs of his camels; tick marks from small desert birds, beetles and iridescent scorpions. Nothing comes through this desert without leaving its mark,” my guide says, refilling my cup with saffron tea, “Not even something as weightless as the wind. The powdery sand rests in 300-foot-tall mounds, dunes so high they lend a new perspective of the Middle East, and as the orange sun that’s been dominating the sky all day drops behind the farthest drift on the horizon, I reconsider what I know — or thought I knew — about this part of the world. “This dune we sit on now will shift to a different position by sunrise tomorrow,” he explains, and I slug back the last sip of saffron tea, now bitter and cold from the wind. Back at the Nomadic Desert Camp, a bedouin camp travelers can stay at, carpets are rolled across the sand outside of my palm frond hut for a makeshift terrace under a star-studded sky. From the Sharqiya Sands to Nizwa, the band of freshly paved highway is lined with rock quarries, “For Sale” signs to empty desert lots, dust devils and billboards of popular leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Because the country’s tourism industry is young and small — the doors only opened to outside tourists in the early 1990s — Oman is still a country primarily designed for locals, not foreigners. The map on my iPhone only displays a large swath of beige as we weave our rental car around Kias and pickup trucks full of camels. Soon we pull in to Nizwa, an ancient city wedged at the foot of the Al Hajar Mountains, a sawtooth range that separates the country’s northern coast from its desert interior. To the southeast is the lonely edge of the Ar Rub al Khali, or the Empty Quarter, the largest uninterrupted expanse of sand on the planet. Tables are splayed with hammered silver jewelry, marble decorative objects and rose-hued clay water jugs. Farmers sell pyramids of sticky dates and amber cubes of locally harvested frankincense. Other than some modern trinkets and conveniences, the scene probably is not much changed in 150 years, back to when the Omani empire included portions of Abu Dhabi, Iran, Zanzibar and the East African coastline down to Mozambique. Nizwa has its share of historical sites — the imposing Nizwa Fort is among the country’s most popular monuments — but portions of the town itself are a living museum of a culture shaped by trade, by the desert and by the people who came through one to do the other. Jebel Akhdar is a far cry from both Oman’s sea and deserts in many ways, and its stony mountainsides, wide plateaus and vertiginous valleys are oases of Eden-esque farms I was not expecting in Oman. Behind iron gates front doors are dizzy with Islamic geometric patterns, and reflective gold windows allow residents to see out and prevent outsiders from seeing in. Connecting it all is a web of Omani aflaj irrigation systems, tranquil narrow channels engineered to water crops that can be traced back 5,000 years. After overcoming a violent history of tribal warfare, Oman has quietly been a rising force for peace in the region, promoting religious tolerance and serving as neutral ground for diplomatic talks. Shaggy free-range goats bleat as they clomp over piles of rocks to tear small thick leaves from the branches of an acacia tree. An hour south of Muscat, swallows swoop over placid estuaries, cliffs plummet into a swirling ocean, old shipwrecks crest the shallow waters, and a man sells dates and watermelon slices from the back of a Westfalia alongside the serpentine road. Sand-castle-like fortresses freckle the bluffs, and parts of the drive are queued with evidence of Oman’s changing landscape: lines of construction workers in baby-blue jumpsuits picking away at the mountains, and a gridlock of tankers, loaders and excavators clearing the way for more transportation infrastructure, part of an ambitious plan the government is striving to roll out over the next few years. The beach is empty except for a few fishing boats with peeling paint, and the silhouettes of a group of women strolling the shoreline. Each room is equipped with luxury bed linens and a balcony. The resort has 40 well-appointed rooms with views of the sea, an infinity pool, a spa and three gourmet restaurants. A classic Omani restaurant that offers an elevated interpretation of traditional Arabic specialities. Located on Atheiba Beach, the Beach serves fresh, Mediterranean-inspired seafood in an elegant setting with a view of the gulf. A mix of Moroccan, Arabic and Omani dishes served up in an opulent interior of curtain draped doorways, a shimmering ceiling, and Moroccan lamps.
NYS Entity Status
NYS Filing Date
MARCH 18, 2013
NYS DOS ID#
NYS Entity Type
DOMESTIC LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
2013 - MINDFUL MOUNTAIN GUIDES LLC
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