Camels migrate to plains as Khareef brings rains to Salalah

SALALAH:  Khareef plays an important role in culture and economy of Dhofar. It keeps the Dhofaris connected with their past, allows them to celebrate the present and by the time they could think much about the future, the season winds up and puts them again in the celebratory mood to go back to the mountains with the camels which they had brought on the plains to avoid the unsuitable walking conditions caused due to rains and marshy land conditions.

“The camels are top heavy animals with long legs and padded feet base. The monsoon rains make their movement difficult on the mountain slope. So we bring them on the plains closer to our mountain villages, build enclosures and tents to keep them,” said Bakhit al Sahri of Hamran village. Owner of more than 30 camels, he moved his camels to Hamran plains.

There are many areas where the camels are kept during the rainy season. A big enclosure has been created in Itin area for this purpose. Other options are moving the camels just on the other side of the mountains or to the Najd area near Thumrait where there is no impact of Khareef.

“The marshy conditions on the mountains also become ground for insects and mosquitoes, which are good neither for the camels or human beings. Other cattle like cows and goats manage their movement due to their short height and hooves, which help them hold the ground. Thus this is a very old tradition in Dhofar to migrate on the plains for three months of the monsoon season and go back when the season is over,” said Al Sahri.

Al Sahri’s explanation holds ground for the curious visitors from other countries and expatriates of all kinds, who always ask and want to know the very reason of the plastic sheet covered tents and the camels kept inside the enclosures.

The camels are put inside the enclosures to avoid them crossing over the roads and thus avoid accidents. Some the tents also serve as accommodation and place to keep things which would have got damaged due to fungus on mountain houses during the rainy season.

Commenting on expenditure involved in moving the camels from mountains to plains, Al Sahri said, “Yes there is expenditure involved as we have to build own enclosures and tents. For me with 30 camels, it would come something around RO 400 to 500. Thus expenditure depends on the number of camels and size of the enclosure.”

Being on the plains, these camels give spectacular view to the visitors while the civic and sports bodies organise competitions marking camel race, camel milk competition and beautiful camel competition, giving the residents more reasons to celebrate while enjoying their tradition and culture.

Khareef gives the Dhofaris reason to celebrate and for them no celebration is complete without camels. They are their part and parcel, something they cannot think without.