Made at an abandoned (?) village on Jebel Harim Musandam: I question the abandoned because the owners would leave their Jebel accommodation and move to the coast for a couple of months each year, for fishing and general trade, so I was never sure.
The people of this area of Oman are very interesting in many ways, according to recent research the ‘Shihuh’ who occupy most of the mountainous area are a mystery.
Paolo Costa, former head of Oman’s Department of Antiquities say “Ethnically, we don’t know who they are, there is speculation that they are the original inhabitants of Arabia, pushed back into the mountains by successive Muslim and Portuguese invasions” . The Shihuh are semi-nomadic – farming their hillside terraces in the winter and living by the coast in summer to fish and harvest dates – their summer homes palm frond huts, their winter ones low stone houses that blend almost invisibly into the mountainsides. Another of the Shihuh’s peculiarities is that the men carry a long-handled axe (called a jerz) rather than the traditional curved Arab dagger, or khanjar. “The remains of some prehistoric weapon?” (From Aramco World. Vol:34)
I have one of these axes from my time in the Musandam.
Other than arriving by sea, getting into the Musandam was very difficult and in some ways dangerous for outsiders; not only because of the lack of access (mountainous with precipitous cliffs) but also because the locals had a fearsome reputation. Whether justified or not, it did dissuade outsiders which achieved the result they wanted.
They speak a dialect of Arabic (A mixture of Arabic, Farsi and Urdu) which has probably evolved through several hundred years of isolation. Another area on the coast called Kumzar has a language very similar; a mix of Farsi, Arabic, Baluchi, Portuguese and English.
Since the mid – 1970’s there has been a development programme that is modernising the Musandam but still maintaining its culture and traditions. It welcomes tourists with modern hotels, 4×4 adventure camping, Dhow cruises and I have enjoyed some of the best diving in the Gulf. (Large Sharks, whale sharks & tropical reef fish)