Who believes that the civilized city of Nizwa would have hid an ancient village in its depths, featuring a comprehensive town that mixed the past with the present. No doubt, it is the Omani people’s concern until today to preserve their legacy and that is hugely noticed in their persistence at reconstructing old villages around the Sultanate.
The Sultanate of Oman is unique in its ancient cultural and historical heritage that is rich in rooted culture and authentic legacies that reflect the extent to which the Omani man is connected to his environment and society. This is evident in the old villages, which have become a symbol of the Omani man who exerted efforts and time to come up with special architectural design. In the past, the building was simple and the people exploited all the sources of nature. The Omani man used to benefit from every gift that Allah gave him from nature in the construction process.
The village of Al Suwjara gives an example of an ancient Omani village whose houses were built with mud and stone, where ancient heritage was mixed with the beauty of modern ideas to generate a wonderful tourist village. This village is in Jabal Al Akhdar, 176 km away from Muscat can be reached by four-wheel drive vehicles. Reaching it requires driving 4 km on unpaved road and then walking for 15 minutes. Upon reaching there, the tourist would forget the trouble and hardship of the road when feeling the calm and fresh air.
The idea of converting the old village into a tourist hostel began when the original residents of the village moved to another residential blocks and built their modern homes there, said a resident. the question then, how can these people preserve this heritage village from disappearance? The idea came from a visitor who used to visit the village a lot. So, in 2016, residents started implementing the idea for two goals, firstly, to preserve the heritage and the effort and creativity of the Omani man, and secondly, to introduce future generations to the life of the ancient Omani people. The project started with two rooms created by a volunteer tourism team.
“We focused on involving the village's youth and creating opportunities for families who want additional income. We faced several economic difficulties due to the lack of sufficient financial support to open the rest of the rooms and receive tourists. As the expansion of the village is required to accommodate the largest number of tourists, we needed financial support from private or governmental companies to develop the village and provide it with good services”, said the developing team.
The village offers many experiences such as involving in the natural daily life and the beautiful scenery surrounding it. The tourist will notice the plant diversity that abounds in the mountain such as walnut trees. It also offers a visit to Amer Cave, where you can see the beautiful rock formations, stalagmites, and stalactites. Entry to the cave requires the use of ropes and the tourist should be medically fit for this trype of experience. the atmosphere in the first half of the cave is cold the other half is dry and wet and muddy with a total length of about 800 meters. Amer Cave is one of the five longest caves in Al-Jabal Al Akhdar. The village also offers plenty of mountain hiking trails. For those who love adventure, they can go down from the top of the mountain to the bottom. There are also heritage rooms where a tourist can stay overnight.
“Currently, we are completely renovating the village to suit families and also individual visitors. visits to the village of Al Suwjara are appropriate in all seasons, as it is influenced by the Al Jabal Al Akhdar’s climate, where it is moderately cold in summer and very cold in winter. There are some instructions that the tourist must follow to enter the village, which are posted at the entrance” added the team.
The team also advises that “we must all preserve the Omani heritage for future generations. These mud houses are considered one of the ancient architectures that reflects the civilizational development of peoples in the ancient time and expresses the development of human needs in every time and place. It is a symbol of the strong Omani man who paved the way from the harsh environmental conditions surrounding him to make his own home with its simple primitive tools. Al Suwjara Village is a successful project that we must focus on to develop and make it an integrated tourist village; together to preserve the efforts of the Omani ancestors”.