Shaquel al Balushi heads off on a magical mystery tour near Jebel Akhdar, but doesn’t know the name of his destination until he learns it from the locals
My friend recently suggested that we explore a village about 15 minutes past the turn-off to Jebel Akhdar.
The only problem? We had no idea what the village was called, so – unsurprisingly – we got incredibly lost. And asking for directions were almost impossible as we couldn’t tell anybody the name of the village. All we knew was that it was nestled in the foothills of the famous mountain.
But after a couple of hours, we finally stumbled on the village of Harat Seebani – at least that is what the locals called it when we arrived – and it turned out to be the very one we’d been looking for all morning.
Our first clue that perhaps we were heading in the right direction was a large group of date palm trees on the outskirts of Harat Seebani.
A cross between modern and old, I found everything mind-blowing in the village. Part of it is made up of the ruins of an old city, which sit beside the modern homes of the villagers.
There are some very large buildings that now sit in ruins, which makes me wonder if it was once a small, but prosperous city. These imposing buildings are no longer used and have an unusual architecture, which reminded me of Roman times. The shape of the windows were incredible and I quickly fired off a few shots of them, trying to capture their shape and how they looked out on the surroundings. Some buildings were typically Omani in design, but you can see the influences from other cultures, possibly from foreign traders long ago.
The biggest challenge taking photos mainly lay in the fact that it is a large area and there is so much to see. From walking beneath large archways and through dimly lit passageways to taking winding stairs between walls so close that you almost lose your breath, it was a fascinating insight into the history of Oman.
The villagers were very friendly and they were the ones who told us the name of the village. I assume that Seebani is a tribe name, while I know that “hara” means neighbourhood. One young guy invited us to his home for refreshments, but we politely declined as we still wanted to explore.
After a few hours, we headed home – it had been a hot day, so it was a surprise that we encountered a very heavy rainstorm on the way back, even though the sun was still out.
From Muscat, take the road heading to Jebel Akhdar. At the Jebel Akhdar turn-off, continue going straight for about 15 minutes or so . You don’t need a 4×4 to get there. When you arrive, you will see a group of palm trees at the edge of the village.
GPS Location of Harat Seebani:
N 22º55’29.5” E57º40’29.9”