Muscat: For the past many decades, a visit to Al Jabal Al Akhdar, not many would have returned from the Green Mountains without bringing along the juicy pomegranates during the season in August and September. Visitors would often find local people sitting by the roadside selling apricots, figs and bottles of honey and rose water. Al Jabal Al Akhdar has been known for such produce besides the rose season in March.
Forget the pomegranates, apricots and figs. There is a new crop that is making waves in recent times. Olive farming and olives are known to grow in Mediterranean countries but Al Jabal Al Akhdar has gradually emerged as an ideal place for olive farming. Tonnes of olive oils have been produced in recent years from the plantations in Al Jabal Al Akhdar.
Realising the need to promote olive farming and put spotlight on Omani olives, Anantara Al Jabal Akhdar Resort, one of the top luxury properties in Oman, came up with a pioneering initiative: the Olive Harvest Festival 2023 from September 21-23.
The three-day event was the second edition, with the inaugural festival held last September.
Buoyed by the success of last year, Anantara held the second edition, which turned out to be a grandA4 success with the participation of dozens of hotel guests culminating in harvesting of olives.
From Thursday to Friday [September 21-23] it was a pleasing sight to watch guests and hotel staff plucking olives from the groves inside and around the resort as much as they could.
It was an entertaining and exciting way to involve the guests in the activity with the person who collects the maximum olives awarded a prize as a weighing scale measured the fruit of labour of the participants.
Holding hand-woven baskets in the morning, men, women and children all joined hands as the olive enthusiasts rejoiced after plucking a few kilograms following an hour-long event.
Speaking to Times of Oman, Maren Kuehl, General Manager of Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, said: “Following the success of the inaugural event in 2022, we wanted to continue with the initiative that highlights the potential of olive farming in Al Jabal Al Akhdar. It also allows us to provide our guests a unique experience of not only being part of the festival but also enjoying the culinary delights made out of olive oils.”
The festival is a celebration of the region’s bounty, in partnership with local olive farmers and olive oil producers. Al Jabal Al Akhdar, also called the Green Mountain, is known as one of the most fertile areas of Oman for olive farming.
The mountain town already boasts of ancient falaj irrigation system, picturesque farms that have helped roses bloom and the growth of pomegranates and apricots for several years.
Around 2012, seeking to reap the benefits of olive farming, local farmers decided to plant olive trees as they believed that it would give them good returns.
Since then, olive harvest has given good yields and is now one of the most grown crops by the locals in the mountain town.
The Olive Harvest Festival saw guests enjoying a daily schedule of events for three days.
Maren Kuehl said: “From cooking demonstrations to storytelling by a local olive expert, guests of all ages can enjoy a full programme. The olive harvesting is a great way to work up an appetite before sampling the best olives in a variety of dishes made by the team of chefs at the resort.
“The guests were also taken to the local olive oil factory where fresh olives plucked were pressed and oil extracted. It was a great way for guests to watch the fruit [read oil] of their own efforts.”
The resort’s top boss added: “Throughout the month of September, which is officially olives harvest season, we will feature special dishes showcasing the local olives and olive oil at Bella Vista, our contemporary Mediterranean restaurant located on the canyon edge with spectacular views. The menu will include delicacies such as seared cod with olive tapenade and ricotta-stuffed olives.”
She added: “Guests can also enjoy treatment at Anantara Spa, which will also incorporate the super ingredient in a selection of its pampering therapies.”
“At Anantara, we understand that our guests like to connect with the destination through immersive experiences. It is our pleasure to partner with local individuals and companies to highlight the wonders of Al Jabal Al Akhdar,” said Maren Kuehl.
“With the second edition of the festival we were delighted to offer our guests an opportunity to learn more about the region, its unique features and produce.”
She also informed that during the festival, they harvested nearly 3,000kgs of olives and the oil extracted is used by the hotel chefs for cooking.