Wadi Samail (سمائل‎).

Wadi Samail from its largest fort: considered to be the biggest valley in Oman.


Note all the different ‘transliterations’ of the name – this can make it very difficult researching information, not to mention the total change in a village name over the years.

Samail, Sumail, Samaiyl, Semail…………..  سمائل

In 1845, Lieutenant C.S.D.Cole, one of the East India Company’s Surveying crew on the Brig Palinurus, made a journey overland from al-Ashkhara to Muscat via Bidyyah, Sinaw, Manah, Nizwa, the Green Mountain (Al Jabal Al Akhdar) and Samaiyl.
Despite being disguised under the name of ‘Salim’, Cole was always, during his journey, surrounded by immense crowds with great curiosity.
Wherever he went in Oman, he was accommodated and received courteously. In Jalan, he ‘was nearly suffocated with the great quantities of milk’ which the native ideas of hospitality compelled him to swallow.
Leaving Nizwa, on his final route to Muscat, Cole tells us that he halted for a night at a traveller’s bungalow in a village named Mettee (probably Muti or now Imti), noticing that most places in Oman had a building set apart solely for the use of travellers.
His comments on a visit to Sumaiyel (sic) were very complimentary:

I found the place of considerable extent and the most flourishing of any I had seen in Oman. Water was plentiful; the data groves, which are extensive, were in the best condition and everything about looked green and healthy.

Contrast this with an account by Lieut; Colonel S.B. Miles 1885.

In the month of March of this year 1885, a cyclone storm of unprecedented violence had burst over central Oman, causing widespread destruction and misery. It had been followed by a deluge of rain, which had swept down the valleys and poured a devastating flood of water through the villages & settlements and had done incalculable damage to houses and cultivation, while hundreds of thousands of date trees had perished.
Dashed by the cyclone against the precipitous walls of Jebel Akhdar, the clouds had broken and fallen in torrents of rain down the steep gorges and ravines, and had concentrated a mighty wave down the Semail valley, which had carried everything before it.
Makes Gonu (1st to 7th June 2007) sound like a pussy cat by comparison – having lived through it (just) I can tell you it was not good !! so this must have been absolutely dreadful.
In 1876 on a previous visit: Miles also noted that Semail ‘Fard’ dates, one of the finest varieties of this fruit produced anywhere. Is the kind most appreciated and esteemed by the Americans, who are good judges and a very large quantity of boxed Fard dates are annually shipped to New York & Boston markets.

Most of the above found from either the Royal Geographic or National Archives UK.

Afalaj in Misfat Al Abryeen.

Walking around with my new Fuji Xpro1 camera – a nice but frustrating experience.

I found that although it was nice not having a large SLR hanging from my shoulder, using the camera was less than intuitive. This is my fault not the cameras…….. I am so familiar with the layout of Nikon cameras that my fingers would not hit the right button unless I made a conscious effort and looked for which one I needed.

Another annoying problem was that I kept getting lost when it came to the display settings; I like grid lines (available) but they kept disappearing. The preview display would sometimes only show in the viewfinder and this seems to be why I lost the grid lines. I think I will need to re-read the instructions and stop making what for me (I thought) were intuitive selections – the old saying “when in doubt read the instructions !  🙂 ” is very apt.

Something I did find very good, was having a ‘proper’ viewfinder – none of this holding the camera at arms length and struggling with glare on the back screen.

That said, it was so nice being able to walk around and almost forget I had a camera with me, especially when negotiating difficult terrain.