Saturday, June 26, 2010

Change in Wahiba Sands

The National looks at the changing life of Wahiba Sands Bedouin:
"Over the past 10 years, authorities have built major roadways leading to and between hitherto isolated towns and villages in an effort to develop local economies through investment and tourism.

"Apart from the increased appearance of other Omanis and foreign tourists in the sprawling 15,000-sq-km region, the greatest change, many locals say, has been to their lifestyles, which were traditionally in herding, farming and fishing.

"'I had hundreds of goats, sheep and camels grazing in this farm until the road came along four years ago,' said Mansoor al Hikmani, 76, a resident of the growing village of Al Sakaa in the southern Wahiba Sands.

"'Now my land is a quarter of what it was and I had to sell most of the animals because there is not much grazing land left,' he said, pointing to his few remaining camels and some rows of date palms that make up the border of his farm, which is hemmed in by a new road...

"Both men said the government had 'generously compensated' them for the farmland they lost, with Mr al Wahiba saying that the money he received for his land was triple the market value.

"Like many other farmers in the region, they have renovated parts of the remnants of their farms to cater to the increasing number of tourists to the area, building small restaurants and setting up areas for camel rides."



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