You Can’t Get There From Here

With the fires out in Dhofar, Oman now turns more attention to its northern exclave, the Musandam Peninsula. Isolated from the main part of Oman by the United Arab Emirates, the strategic toe of land—barely 25 by 50 miles—is reachable only by sea or military plane. Few outsiders have landed along these scorched, pockmarked shores blocked by sheer cliffs and lashed by treach¬erous currents and eddies. No road yet penetrates the craggy wilderness where the primitive Shihuh tribes live just this side of the Stone Age.LissPlattStillfromYouCantGetThereFromHere20058minutesSuper816mmonvideo.
From Al Khasab, the provincial capital on the coast, it is a grueling two-day climb on winding trails, too steep and narrow even for camels or donkeys, to the tiny village of Ras al Yib, 4,000 feet above the sea. But aboard an Oman Air Force helicopter—American built, British flown—it took only six breathtaking minutes. Landing me with Yittat)
The vanishing life of the nomad finds a ready symbol in a camel-skull scarecrow (above) erected by Bedouin who have abandoned their wandering to raise al¬falfa on the edge of the Wahiba Sands.
The features of a young herdswoman from a Dhofar mountain tribe (right) re¬flect her people’s descent from Hamitic rather than Semitic stock. Speaking a non-Arabic tongue, her tribe grazes cattle on the monsoon-nourished hills rather than goats or camels as in the rest of Arabia. cameras, duffel bag, and a handful of smoke signals, the pilot promised to pick me up next day and clattered off.brunstoraymond
At the edge of an eagle’s nest of a village set on a precipitous ridge, I was greeted warily by an old man in dusty turban, patched shirt, and loincloth, clutching a long-handled gerz, the light mountain ax carried by the Shihuhs. We exchanged sa¬laams. His name, he told me in rustic Ara-bic, was Ahmad bin Hassan. His son joined us, shouldering a small wooden plow. A brief sprinkle yesterday had finally moist¬ened the soil, a signal to plant.