Ismail Al Farsi heads to Bahla on a Destination assignment that’s a little out of the ordinary, to find a rose dedicated to His Majesty that is finally able to grow in the heartland of the nation.
A rose by any other name…as the saying goes, wouldn’t smell as sweet. We beg to differ. In fact, there’s one growing in Bahla in a shade of red as rich and deep as the crimson of the Omani flag, and in honour of the man who led our nation to greatness.
Known for its vibrant aroma and distinctive hue, the most unique feature of this intensely-fragrant flower is its name. The Sultan Qaboos Rose is a new species named after His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, by the World Rose Society in the Netherlands in recognition of His Majesty’s efforts and contributions towards world peace.
Just a two-hour drive from Muscat, a little way past Nizwa, Bahla is already known for its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its iconic (and haunted!) Bahla Fort dating back to the 13th-century and drawing scores of tourists to this small town at the feet of the Al Hajjar Mountains.
It’s also home to the Agricultural Research Station in Jamah where a team of horticultural scientists are trying to grow a hardier version of the delicate Sultan Qaboos Rose that can withstand the Sultanate’s extreme climate.
“We’re growing this unique plant for research purposes only at the moment, in the hopes of utilizing it later for other purposes,” says Mohammed bin Said Al Kindi, Head of Production and Propagation Research at the station.
After two years of intense genetic research on the rose species, according to Al Kindi, his team at the agricultural station have managed to cultivate a version of the rose that is resistant to the effects of hot weather.
“The rose blooms in winter, but with the right care it can grow throughout the year,” he says. In the world of professional horticulture – especially with roses, naming a new species of rose after celebrities or world leaders is a common practice.
According to HGTV, the John F. Kennedy rose was named after the U.S. President shortly after his assassination in 1963 – and hundreds of other roses have also been touched by fame, with other varieties named after the late Diana, Princess of Wales, actress Ingrid Bergman, and Elvis Presley to name a few.
As His Majesty joins the ranks of the rose world’s honorary nomenclature, here in Bahla, delicate and humble blooms his rose – a reminder of how our nation, under his leadership, continues to flourish.