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Enthusiasts In Oman, curious and nostalgic rediscover a village engulfed by the desert

15:05  11 january  2021
15:05  11 january  2021 Source:   francetvinfo.fr

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Encroaching sands have left little evidence that the Omani village of Wadi al-Murr ever existed, but former inhabitants and curious visitors are coming to rediscover the hamlet engulfed by the desert . Salem al-Arimi, originally from the area, looked out nostalgically over the expanse. READ MORE.

Encroaching sands have left little evidence that the Omani village of Wadi al-Murr ever existed, but former inhabitants and curious visitors are coming to rediscover the hamlet engulfed by the desert . Salem al-Arimi, originally from the area, looked out nostalgically over the expanse.

Desert sand has invaded everything, leaving few visible vestiges of the Omani village of Wadi al-Murr, but former inhabitants and visitors curious come to explore and rediscover the submerged hamlet.

  À Oman, des curieux et des nostalgiques redécouvrent un village englouti par le désert © Provided by Franceinfo

"All the houses in the village were invaded by the sand which assaulted them 30 years ago, and pushed the inhabitants to leave their homes, according to what the elders say", explains Salem al-Arimi. Originally from the village, this Omani embraces with a nostalgic gaze the expanse of sand, the few skeletal trees and the remains of stone walls emerging here and there. A few roofs, sections of wall and pieces of wood, this is all that today testifies to the past presence of a population on the site. It was deserted a few decades ago, faced with the inexorable advance of the desert.

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Omani village of Wadi al-Murr ever existed, but former inhabitants and curious visitors are coming to rediscover the hamlet engulfed by the desert . Salem al-Arimi, originally from the area, looked out nostalgically over the expanse. According to local elders, "all the houses in the village were invaded

Encroaching sands have left little evidence that the Omani village of Wadi al-Murr ever existed, but former inhabitants and curious visitors are coming to rediscover the hamlet engulfed by the desert .

Climate change

However, this phenomenon is not specific to the Sultanate of Oman. It is attributed by specialists to climate change and has been observed in different regions of the world. The populations concerned have few means to cope with it and the inhabitants of Wadi al-Murr have thus had to give up their pastoral activities and have been forced into rural exodus.

Located at the bottom of a valley nearly 400 km southwest of the Omani capital Muscat, Wadi al-Murr is also cut off from the main roads by a 3 km track that is difficult to pass. Its isolation, and the fact that the village, which had around thirty homes and 150 inhabitants, is not connected to the electricity network or to the water distribution network, has contributed to its decrepitude.

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WADI AL-MURR ( OMAN ) - Encroaching sands have left little evidence that the Omani village of Wadi al-Murr ever existed, but former inhabitants and curious visitors are coming to rediscover the hamlet engulfed by the desert . Salem al-Arimi, originally from the area, looked out nostalgically over the

Omani village of Wadi al-Murr ever existed, but former inhabitants and curious visitors are coming to rediscover the hamlet engulfed by the desert . Salem al-Arimi, originally from the area, looked out nostalgically over the expanse. According to local elders, "all the houses in the village were invaded

But that does not prevent old nostalgic inhabitants from returning there, just like certain followers of the trekking, in love with the excursions in the desert. Mohammed al-Ghanbousi, a former resident, explains that the movement of the unstable dunes means that some dwellings today have partly emerged from the desert. The village mosque has notably reappeared in part thanks to the movement of the sands.

This has prompted "nostalgic people to visit the village whose solid structures, because built in stone, stand up," says Mohammed al-Ghanbousi. And "the village has recently been integrated into trekking circuits and attracts photography enthusiasts", he adds. "When my mother learned that some houses had reappeared, she asked me to take her to her old village," says Mohamed al-Alaoui. "She often wants to come back and she likes to tell her memories there while shedding a few tears."

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He was also shown the village 's traditional irrigation system. Driving through valleys in the mountains of Oman , the Prince Charles then visited the Ras Al Shajar Nature Reserve. After seeing gazelles and desert beehives, the prince viewed traditional pottery, carpet making, and henna designs.

A tourist curiosity

"What astonished me is the force of nature which was able to erase the trace of an entire village", marvels Rached al-Ameri, a local tourist who came with two friends from the city from Sour, hundreds of kilometers away, to discover the silted village. "But what is more astonishing is how this village, with its old walls, resists these assaults", he adds. According to him and former residents, Wadi al-Murr could easily feature in Oman's tourist circuits. All the more so as the sultanate, which depends 70% on oil, is trying to diversify its economy and in particular is developing tourism.

Oman attracted three million tourists in 2019, according to official statistics. As everywhere, however, the country has seen its tourist flow reduced like a skin of heart last year because of the pandemic of new coronavirus.

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