Forming the N/E portion of the Arabian peninsula, we are across the Gulf of Oman from Iran, and our stop at Salalah is approximately 30 miles up the coast from Yemen, neither one of which are current feel good spots for Americans. The mountains, arroyos and blue water remind us of southern Baja – I guess it’s called a desert.
Oman is also our first contact with Marco Polo country, since he stopped here, returning to Venice by sea from one of his trips to China.
Salalah is the world’s historic source of frankincense, brought to the birth of Jesus by the three kings and delivered to Zanzibar and India by early sailor/traders.
Our cabbie for the day, Noah, just became a father the previous day, adding to his children, who are 25, 24, 14 and 12.
We drove into the mountains to see Job’s tomb, crowded because it was a post Ramadan holiday.
Along the way, we passed literally hundreds of acres of a festival site, which occur annually over a month or two. By its size it must dwarf Coachella or Burning Man.
Hotel sized homes dotted the road. The size accommodates a wealthy man, his multiple wives and children.
The desert and foothills were scattered with camels, domestic and wild. They control the roads, since there are no fences.
The capital, Muscat, is a dead ringer for Indian Wells, California. Date palms, and bougainvillea, Mount Eisenhower and the Living Desert, no high-rises, just white-washed villas and green lawns – tiled palaces and mosques, with the Sultan’s two yachts bobbing in the harbor.
The current Sultan deposed his father in the 1970s and has used his oil and gas dollars to create a clean attractive capital, which has half the population of Oman.
With the exception of a few old stone forts, the development is all post 1970.
Large roads, cut through the coastal range to allow expansion of the city inland, keeping the port village, small and quaint. Inland the row of car dealerships line up, like Los Angeles, including all the exotic manufacturers.
A planned community with a planned economy, and with total iron fisted control, which results in this kind of eye candy, is almost tempting to endorse.