Oman's traditional mud houses tell tales of the past

Energy Wednesday 13/February/2019 21:57 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman's traditional mud houses tell tales of the past

The Ministry of Tourism is encouraging citizens to invest in green heritage tourist inns and guesthouses in an effort to add value to the tourism sector of Oman. For this purpose, it is utilising heritage and environmental components available in villages and at heritage sites, such as old houses and ancient lanes.
The Ministry is working to give licenses to citizens who are interested in investing in this area. It has also adopted special standards aimed at the classification of these facilities in order to match them with the volume and momentum of tourism in the country. All efforts are being made to ensure that the terms and conditions of these inns are met so that they make a good impression on tourists and visitors.
To achieve this goal, the authorities in the ministry will visit these inns, monitor them and record their observations to determine the level reached to meet the
conditions set earlier. It will also collect comments from guests regarding the hospitality. All this information and data will be categorised and used for the improvement of these inns to make them more acceptable and attractive to visitors.
The tourist inns are, generally, aimed at informing visitors about the Omani environment with all its traditions, customs, and details of social life, which are a unique mix of originality and modernism. This also provides an opportunity to introduce Omani crafts and industries of the various wilayats in the Sultanate.
These craft industries are the expression of the wilayats to which they belong and are also economically important as they engage a large number of local
people and become their main source of income. Besides this, they can also contribute to tourism in Oman , urging tourists who like the products to come back to the Sultanate.
These tourist inns are of utmost importance in wilayats, which do not have adequate hotel facilities. Therefore, it is important to take care of their growth and improve their quality standards.
Many tourists expressed satisfaction with their experience of staying at these inns, as they see it as a tourist product with a distinct Omani taste. These inns provide tourists an opportunity to experience day-to-day life in Oman, with all its precise details, dimensions, traditions and practices.
Recently, a number of investors in the tourist inns expressed satisfaction with their investment experience—due the encouragement of the Ministry of Tourism, which is providing all the required support to overcome difficulties, if any—and confidence over the venture succeeding.
They urged all interested investors to enter this area and move forward with confidence, as there is no risk involved. They said that these inns have been renovated to become more attractive, yet maintain their heritage element.
Stating that it gives them satisfactory financial returns, the investors said it also plays an important role in the social, economic and financial stability in the area.
In addition, it also urges the preservation of heritage so that it will always remain an identity for the country, the area and its people.
Mounir Al Ismaili, director of the Nizwa Heritage Inns, said: "These inns are aimed at reviving the ancient lanes, protecting them from extinction, highlighting the history of the region and explaining the stages of Omani urbanization through the ages, as well as providing practical and material benefits." He added that the village of Al Aqar, which houses the inns, is one of the most important heritage villages in Nizwa. He said that one of the main goals of these inns is to get the owners of these houses to take care of them and restore them.
Al Ismaili said that the inns consisted of four old houses, which have been prepared for accommodation. They have 20 rooms with toilets and a total of 42 beds, as well as lounges of different sizes, which are used for sitting and eating.
These inns have an administrative office, which works as a front desk to serve guests round the clock.
The guests of Nizwa Inns appreciated the beauty of the surrounding villages and their tranquility, including the traditional treasures of Nizwa Fort and the traditional market called Souq. They described staying in a traditional mud house as a unique and unforgettable experience.
Yaqoub Bin Badr Al Abri, promotions executive of Misfah Heritage Inn, said that the inn was very popular with tourists, especially in the winter season from
October to the end of April when it has a 70 to 80 per cent occupancy. During the summer, the occupancy is 40 to 60 per cent.
He added that the inn has several facilities, including rooms with their own bathrooms and four resorts where traditional Omani food is served. He pointed out that the most important activities at the inn were walking along the mountain tracks—explored by the elders before the 1970s—including those of
Jabal Shams, Jabal Akhdar and Jabal Sharqi from where one can reach areas good for camping. Also, tours of village farms are organised on request.
In addition to this, the management of the inns is working on projects to increase the number of rooms. There were five rooms in 2009, which has now reached 15.
The plan is to increase the number of rooms to 25.
Badr bin Saif Al Abri, owner of Al Nakhr inns in the Wilayat Al Hamra in Al Dakhiliyah governorate, said that the site where the inn was located and its surroundings were beautiful. He said that Wadi Al Nakhr is one of the largest wadis of wilayat Al Hamra. It is also one of Oman's most beautiful wadis because it flows through Jabal Shams.
He said that the inns comprised eight rooms of different sizes with each having an attached toilet. In addition to this, the inn has meeting and sitting rooms, which are being further developed by the management. It is also working to increase the number of rooms to meet the increasing demands of tourists.
Al Nakhr Inn offers a number of services for tourists. They have traditional Omani food, mountain trips, walking in the Wadi Al Nakhr tributaries with a tour guide and access to fresh water ponds in the wadi. In addition to this, Al Nakhr Inn offers job opportunities to the people of the surrounding area, in addition to marketing their handicrafts and agricultural products.
Mohammed Al Mughairy is the owner of Durat Al Misfah Heritage Inn, which is located in the village of Misfah Al Abriyen in wilayat Al Hamra. He said that the Dorat Al Misfah Inn offers guests accommodation in a comfortable and clean atmosphere, and familiarity with local customs and culture. The hostel has a reception hall, guest rooms, a restaurant with a stunning view, and an open top deck to see the beauty of nature and take memorable pictures.
Al Mughairy said that the inns were becoming popular among tourists thanks to the continuous promotional campaigns. They have helped increase the number of guests and bookings in all the rooms, which have windows overlooking the beautiful mountains. He added that the inns offer several activities for guests, including mountain walks and cycling.
These inns add value to the tourism sector as important tourism projects. Al Mughairy said that tourism projects, such as the establishment of heritage inns, enrich options for tourists and create competition in providing better services.
The guests of these inns also get an opportunity to visit the green farmlands spread across the village, enjoy moderate weather with low temperatures and light cool winds during most of the year, and appreciate the beautiful nature and hospitality of the Omani people.