Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wadi Dawkah: Land of the Frankincense

Wadi Dawkah is a natural park in Dhofar Region bearing copious growth of frankincense trees (Boswellia Sacra). It is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Wadi Dawkah is a protected stretch of over one thousand frankincense trees situated about 40 kilometer north of Salalah.

The landscape of Wadi Dawkah, Dhofar Region, Oman

The precious sap from these trees brought Oman great wealth throughout history and increased its connections with other nations as the fragrance was traded as far away as Europe and China.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Beehive Tombs of Al Ayn

The beehive tombs of Al Ayn is located in the rocky hills on the northern bank of Wadi Al Ayn about 30 kilometers north-east of Bat settlement in Wilayat Ibri, Ad Dhahirah Region .

The rolling hills of Al Ayn with Jabel Misht at backdrop 

The tombs are of the same beehive style tombs as the Bat settlements which are believed to date back to the third millennium B.C. There are 21 tombs that lined up in an almost straight line on a ridge near Jabel Misht. Each tomb measures 5 meters across, they are built in limestone blocks and have a triangular entrance facing east.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tawi Atayr: Well of the Birds

The sinkhole of Tawi Atayr is located in the Qara Mountains in Dhofar Region. Tawi Atayr is Arabic for "Well of the Birds" which is a very fitting description since many birds are nestling in the crevices, cracks, holes and ledges along the sheer vertical walls.

View Larger Map

In early times, local people believed that the giant hole in Qara Mountains was caused by a meteorite. But in reality the gap was formed by groundwater through the karsts processes.

Tawi Atayr is a very impressive limestone formation at the surface level which is 680 meter above sea level; it is 140 meter across from NE - SW direction and 100 meter from NW - SE direction. In the lower half portion, it narrows down to 60 meter across. The depth of the sinkhole is 211 meter which is similar to a 60-floor high building. The volume was estimated to be somewhere 975,000 cubic meters.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Majlis Al Jinn: Meeting Place of Spirits

In the remote Selma Plateau region in Oman, there was a myth known some time ago about hearing noises coming out of a cave known as Majlis Al Jinn, the Arabic term for "Meeting Place of Spirits."

Majlis Al Jinn is the second largest subterranean cave chamber in the world, next only to Sarawak Chamber in Borneo, Malaysia. The cave chamber is big enough to fit ten jumbo jets into the floor space and tall enough to stack them four stories high.

Artist impression of Majlis Al Jinn crosssection

Situated on a plateau of Jabel Bani Jabir (Ash Sharqiyah Region), 100 kilometers south-east from Muscat, 17 kilometers west from Tiwi. The entrance is through one of three inconspicuous openings in the ground. The fissure is an extremely difficult cave to negotiate and it is important that the expedition is not undertaken lightly without professional equipment and guidance.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Palawan: Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Puerto Princesa, Palawan is an adventure place worth multiple visits.

One very notably landmark is called Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park; this underground river is included among list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Entrance to the Subterranean River

The National Park is part of the St. Paul Mountain Range of the northern coast located about 50 kilometers from the city of Puerto Princesa. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and Babuyan River to the east. It is assumed to be the longest underground river in the world and one of the most important biodiversity conservation areas of the Philippines.

In November 11, 2011, Puerto Princesa Subterranean National Park has been declared as one of the provisional winners in the search for the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fahud Oil Field - A Humble Beginning

The Sultanate of Oman's dramatic economic development over the past 40 years was brought about by the revenues from oil, gas and petroleum products.

Oil was first discovered in the interior near Fahud (where I am presently based), in the western desert in 1964. Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) began production in August 1967. The Omani Government owns 60% of PDO, and foreign interests own 40%; Royal Dutch Shell owns 34%; 4% is owned by Compagnie Francaise des Petroles, known today as Total and Partex owns 2% interest.

A typical pumpjack used to produce the remaining recoverable oil after
natural pressure is no longer sufficient to raise oil to the surface.

Oman's growth into a successful oil- and gas-producing nation had humble beginnings. In fact, it was so humble that it originated from a miserable failure. A geological survey of the country in 1925 found no conclusive evidence of oil. Twelve years later, however, when geologists began intensively searching for oil in neighboring Saudi Arabia, Oman's Sultan Said bin Taimur granted a 75-year concession to the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC).

The Flyby: Asteroid 2005 YU55

This chronicle will be considered as one of the many significant highlights of Year 2011.

Asteriod - an artist impression of a
Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) 
Asteroid 2005 YU55 is set to pass between the Earth and Moon on November 8 and 9, 2011 at a distance of 325,000 kilometers or more than 200,000 miles. It was discovered on December 28, 2005 by Robert S. McMillan of the Spacewatch Program in Tucson Arizona. The event will be the closest approach to date by an object which is over 400 meters or greater than 1200 feet in length, about the length of an aircraft carrier. This episode that we came to know in advance and in such nature will not happen again until June 26, 2028 when asteroid (153814) 2001 WN5 will pass to within 0.6 lunar distances.

Asteroid 2005 YU55 poses no threat of an Earth collision. Classified as a C-type or Carbon-type spectra and composition asteroid, 2005 YU55′s “flyby” at 0.85 lunar distances is close enough to offer astronomers a rare chance to observe a large asteroid in action from the ground.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In Memoriam

If Tears Could Build A Stairway

If tears could build a stairway and memories were a lane.
We would walk right up to heaven and bring you back again.

No farewell words were spoken, no time to say goodbye.
You were gone before we knew it, only God knows why.

Our hearts still ache in sadness and secret tears still flow.
What it meant to lose you,  no one will ever know.

But now we know you want us, to mourn for you no more.
To remember all the happy times, life still has much in store.

Since you'll never be forgotten, we pledge to you today.
A cherished place within our heart, is where you'll always stay.

Rest in Peace.

In Memoriam.... November 1, 2011

Tropical Storm Keila

Tropical storm Keila is forecast to strike Oman at about 12:00 GMT on 2 November. Data supplied by the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center suggest that point of landfall will be near 16.2 N,54.0 E.

Keila formed from an area of disturbed weather just south of the Arabian Peninsula. The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 64 kph (40 mph) as it skirted the coastline of far southern Oman early Wednesday. At least eleven people died as flash flooding from Keila surged across the desert region. But the storm quickly began to dissipate after moving ashore over Oman's arid interior.  Such tropical cyclones form in that area only during two brief periods each year.

Tropical Storm Keila swirling along the coast of Oman

A study released this week says that manmade pollution over India is causing storms over the Arabian Sea to become intense in recent years.


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