The Sultanate is spellbinding – a land blessed with outstanding natural beauty, heritage, and wonder. Here, Team Y’s Aftab H. Kola rediscovers those enigmatic nuggets of interest that may have been forgotten but have definitely not gone.
Can there be a place on Earth where normal rules of gravitational pull don’t apply? We all know that no vehicle can ascend a slope if you switch off its engine but it will go down one.
However, there is a point in Oman where if you switch off your car engine on a slope, your car WILL climb it, at a speed of 25-30 km/hr! Unbelievable but true.
From Taqah on the way to Mirbat, near Tawi Attair (a 210 metre-deep sinkhole); take a left and you will reach Gravity Point, where your vehicle will be pulled uphill even if you switch off its engine.
Turn the ignition off, release the brakes and your car will start to move uphill for about 150 metres, seemingly defying the laws of gravity. This is due to an optical illusion in neuroscience, which means that a very slight gradient appears to be an uphill slope.
A fossilised tree can be found displayed loftily at the front entrance of the Natural History Museum at Al Khuwayr.
Plucked from the desert at Al Huqf in Wusta Region, it is believed to be 260 million years-old or as old as the universe.
It was discovered by geologists and then meticulously transported to the museum.
The tree, it is believed, fell into a stream and became buried in channel sands. Sometimes, a natural disaster like an earthquake or a sudden volcanic eruption buries large swathes of trees in soft sediment.
This leads to petrification, a process of fossilisation in which dissolved minerals replace organic matter.
Trapped and devoid of oxygen, the tree ended up being preserved almost intact, even after millions of years.
Oman is not short of some pretty impressive sinkholes but Bimmah sinkhole (The Hawiyat Najm) is unique.
Not far away from Quriyat, about 40km towards Sur, is where you will find Oman’s second-biggest sinkhole.
The big depression on the surface makes for an amazing view. This is a natural phenomenon and is due to the erosion of limestone and the caving of the rocks around it.
Some believe that this strange, deep hole was created after a meteorite pounded the area.
Fairly deep crystal-clear, turquoise waters make it ideal for a swim. A flight of 80 steps with side railings will lead you to the bottom.
It’s also a great place to bring the family for a day out, where you can enjoy the adjoining gardens.
And the Bimmah sink hole became something of a star turn after being featured in the Nike commercial ‘Make It Count’ in which the actor (or stuntman) dived from the top right part into the waters below (not recommended).
Watches were first created in the 17th century, when the invention of the first self-winding mechanism in the UK freed clockmakers from weight-driven mechanisms.
Arabia had different ways of keeping time. Muslim astronomers and engineers developed a string of dials for timekeeping and for determining the times of the five daily prayers.
Sundials are the oldest known devices used to measure time. They lost their importance with the extensive use of mechanical clocks after the 17th century, and have largely been eroded due to wear and tear down the centuries.
A sundial depends on the rotation and movement of the sun. As the sun moves from east to west, the shadows formed project the time of day.
There is still a sundial proudly nestled within the campus of Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat. Let’s hope the students know what it is.