Located 130km away from Muscat, the town, on the foothills of Al Jabal Al Akhdar provides a perfect weekend getaway with classy cafes and traditional restaurants.
Muscat: Oman is known for its picturesque landscapes and rich heritage and culture. While the Ministry of Heritage and Culture is constantly taking efforts to preserve and promote the rich heritage and culture, in recent times, there has been encouraging entrepreneurship in this sector by local Omanis.
One of the most sought-after places in recent times for tourists and locals has been the small town of Birkat Al Mouz. Lying on the foothills of the majestic Al Jabal Al-Akhdar, this town is nearly 130km from Muscat on the way to another important tourist destination, Nizwa.
The town has been well-known since the early times and people traveling to Al Jabal Al Akhdar had to go past it. However, the recent developments by a few enterprising Omanis to promote heritage and culture with a blend of modern touch is what stands out and makes it a must-visit place on your next trip to Al Dakhiliyah Governorate.
A recent visit to Birkat Al Mouz led to an enjoyable walking trek through the old ruins of the town and a visit to Falaj Al Khatmain, listed in UNESCO world heritage. But the most noticeable part of the trip was getting to know how locals have transformed old sites into lovely eateries and coffee shops offering some delicious brew for an enriching experience with the village.
The concept of a coffee shop where heritage and culture are blended in a perfect mix to offer the visitors a memorable tour is showcased at Kawa Kava. A visit to the café finds the outlet richly reflecting the Omani heritage and culture in vivid colors and designs inside the shop.
The outlet has redefined modernity and heritage with an interior design made up of the feel of a mud house in the Al Sibani neighborhood. Coupled with a Scandinavian design that's comfortable, elegant and modern at the same time time, the founders and owners of The café is Assim Al Saqri, who is a native of Birkat Al Mouz, and his Hajar Al Balushi's wife.
The bamboo chairs provide a relaxing feel along with normal seating arrangements. The popularity of this outlet seems to be a must-stop pit stop for traveling tourists to Al Jabal Al Akhdar. It provides space for friends, colleagues, students, and families to meet, study, and talk with a menu of drinks and desserts that suits the taste buds of different age groups.
The couple also designed a space for children and they dedicated a shelf for games and books for children to play or read while other family members enjoy their drinks. And to promote the outlet for students of the nearby University of Nizwa, they also offer student discounts.
The cafe seeks to empower young Omanis and one would meet another young Omani, Salim Zahir Al Shereqi while ordering a drink at the counter. Salim is a student and a barista at the cafe.
Speaking about his experience as a barista, he said, “Working at the café made me better at communicating and opening conversation with the visitors. I am passionate about coffee and being a barista helps me. As a student when I am brewing coffee, I destress myself from my academic pressures.”
He added: “More than communication and leadership skills, the cafe helped me to develop my skills as a barista and I have participated in a number of competitions. Recently, I participated in the AeroPress competition at the national level.”
AeroPress events are a fandriven phenomenon where challengers compete to make the best cup of coffee using their favorite AeroPress recipe.
Kawa Kava also offers community initiatives at its outlet as they offer maps of the famous sites around Birkat Al Mouz, support schools and university projects, participate in social events and provide training opportunities for different community people. The cafe recently hosted trainees with hearing disability.
Bait Alsabah is another place that has captured the minds of tourists and has grown into a very popular dining place. The setting of the place reminds the guests of the ancient ruins of the town. Bait Alsabah is a heritage inn and cafe in Al Sibani's old village. The village goes back to the 16th century at the beginning of the Ya'arubi era.
The mud house has been restored and belongs to the owner's family's ancestors. The age of the house is about 200 years old and after being restored it opened its doors to visitors.
History is built on the walls of the house that once used to be a home for a large family in a different era. Today, it reminds guests of the historic place amid a beautiful ambience.
The glass-designed cafe allows the guests to see hundreds of palms trees and the green surroundings around the house. There is even Afalaj that crosses through the house. The three-storeyed house has stairs that would lead to Aflaj and rooms, while the café is on another floor. The cafe is located in the center of the second floor with an open verandah that provides seating outdoors. The rooftop provides a picture-perfect view of the rooftop ruins. The elegant rooms have all modern amenities but are mixed with heritage and culture reminding the guests of the historic past.
During the night, the view is breathtaking as guests can watch the shining stars in a calm and quiet setting and enjoy their coffee or tea. Bait Alsabah provides you with an extraordinary experience where you would relate to nature and refresh your mind.
On the way back to the city from Birkat Al Mouz, another place that has become popular is the recent Alam opened a coffee shop and a bakery. Alam manufactures its bakery products and offers delicious breakfast menu. Alam is a modern place in the town and is designed to engage you with the nature of Birkat Al Mouz while guests enjoy breakfast or coffee while admiring the majestic Al Hajar mountain range that surrounds the town through the glass set-up of the restaurant.
(The contributor is pursuing a master's degree at the University of Nizwa)