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Read Around the World: Oman

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In May our world reading tour took us to Oman, so what books did we read and what have we learnt about our latest travel destination.

Fun facts about Oman provided by this website.

The sultan of Oman–Sultan Qaboos Bin Said–is the longest-serving ruler in the Middle East. Born on November 18, 1940, he is the person behind the modernization of Oman. He took control of the Sultanate of Oman in 1970 on July 23rd.  And he is yet to name his successor.

Trade of fish, dates and some agricultural products along with tourism form a significant portion of the economy of Oman. Whereas its neighbors (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) are solely oil-dependent economies.

About 75% of the people living in Oman are Muslims.

Oman is also one of the oldest human-inhabited places on the planet. It is estimated that humans have been living in the country for at least 106,000 years.It is also the oldest independent state in the Arab world.

Birds from three continents–Asia, Europe and Africa–can be seen in Oman. Oman has been called ‘the best-kept secret in the world of birdwatching.’

Muscat Clock Tower is the oldest monument in modern Oman.

Oman is a country where crime is also almost nonexistent.

Oman produces a whopping 900,000 barrels of oil per day.

Mountain Dew is the top-selling beverage in Oman.

The grandest mosque in Oman–The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque–was built from 300,000 tons of Indian sandstone. The construction of the mosque took six years and four months to complete. It is located in Muscat.

Oman also hasone of the oldest marketplaces in the world – The Mutrah Souq. This marketplace has so many colorful little shops where you can buy bukhoor, frankincense (an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes), silver khanjars, jewelry and many other exotic items.

More than 100 tombs all shaped like beehives stand contumaciously on the hilltops of Northern Oman. These tombs are estimated to date from 3000 to 2000 B.C.E.

Migrating turtles. Thousands of turtles migrate to the Omani coastline each year. If you are interested in watching the turtles hatch, you may want to visit Ras Al Jinz, which is one of the prime locations for turtle watching. There, you have a chance to see different species of turtles, including the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle and the Leatherback Turtle.

A component of the most valuable perfume in the world–Amouage–is produced and traded in Oman. It is known as Frankincense, and is available in its purest form for purchase for OMR 50 per bag.

For my visit to Oman I read Celestial Bodies by Jokha Altharthi (this is on the Man Booker International Shortlist for 2019)

Synopsis from Goodreads: In the village of al-Awafi in Oman live three sisters. Mayya marries after a heartbreak. Asma marries from a sense of duty. Khawla rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. Elegantly structured, Celestial Bodies is the story of the history and people of modern Oman told through one family’s losses and loves.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: This is a demanding book because it requires the reader to concentrate on it and nothing else to get the full benefit of the tricksy interwoven storylines. I can see this may put some people off reading the book while others like me will half pick up on certain hints on the first reading and will then go back to immediately to the beginning to see what they have missed. Personally I enjoyed the book more on my second reading as I knew what was coming and could put the clues together as I read again.

The narrative technique is unusual as it blends multiple narrators and multiple time lines. For those of you thinking well lots of books do that, what makes this book different is that certain narrators appear in multiple timelines not just in one alternating timeline which is unusual at least amongst the books I have read.

Did you visit Oman with us this month? If you did which books did you read?

Who will be joining us in in June when we visit Swaziland? What books are you planning to read?

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