Monday, February 26, 2024 | Sha'ban 15, 1445 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

A ride back to past with National Geographic team

It was not the first time that I participated in a TV show about Oman but being part of a production by Nat Geo was the ultimate experience.
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It was last year when Marianne Tames-Demauras, an archeologist, sent me a message asking if I was interested in participating in a National Geographic episode on Oman for the series “Lost cities revealed” with Albert Lin.


It was an unexpected and great offer, one that I could not refuse, so I responded with a big “YES”.


It was not the first time that I participated in a TV show about Oman but being part of a production by Nat Geo was the ultimate experience.


A ride back to past with National Geographic team
A ride back to past with National Geographic team


A couple of months following the first contact, the director, Pete Chinn and the health and safety officer Graeme Douglas came to Oman to meet with me in order to check the sites I proposed for the episode.


Albert was interested in the Bronze Age period when Oman was known as Majan and was trading in copper with Mesopotamia.


The first site we visited was Wadi Al Hijri, one of the main branches of Wadi Tanuf, which originates in Al Jabal Al Akhdar.


In this Wadi that I visited many times in the past, I had seen many petroglyphs and beehive tombs dating back to the bronze age.


A ride back to past with National Geographic team
A ride back to past with National Geographic team


Wadi al Hijri is, as well, home to many abandoned villages where I met my belated friend Musabah al Jamoodi when he was living in Dmeitha with his wife Nasra around 17 years ago.


Along with Pete and Graeme we drove early morning on 26 October, 2022 to Wadi Al Hijri to check the site. We parked our car at the junction of Wadi Hijri and Wadi Qasheh, the two branches of Wadi Tanuf and started our hike in the Wadi where the tombs and petroglyphs are located.


On our way we passed by an abandoned village called Al Hobe which some shepherds still use as a shelter. The stone houses were built in the caves in the cliff on the right bank of the canyon.


After approximately one hour and a half of trekking we reached the place where we had to climb on the mountain to reach the old beehive tombs. They were situated at the edge of the cliff overlooking the Wadi below with a breathtaking panoramic view!


A ride back to past with National Geographic team
A ride back to past with National Geographic team


Pete and Graeme were very happy with what they saw and decided to shoot one sequence of the documentary in that spot when they returned to Oman in January with Albert.


They took plenty of pictures of the sites we visited before returning to Muscat.


On the next day I decided to take them to the Selma plateau to Aaqabat Khashal aka the Seventh Hole, one of the 4 sinkholes that forms the 12 kilometers Selma plateau cave system.


The drive took around 3 hours from Muscat, in the direction of Sur on the coastal highway.


When we reached the village of Fins we had to drive up the mountain to approximately 1400 meters of altitude on one of the most spectacular dirt roads in the country.


A ride back to past with National Geographic team
A ride back to past with National Geographic team


The track is very steep with plenty of tight curves to take!


It took us around one hour to reach our destination after leaving the highway.


On the way we passed by the village of Al Marfas where my friend Yusuf Al Ghadani used to live before moving to Fins recently.


I had met Yusuf around 23 years ago when I visited the resurgence of the 4 sinkholes. He was watching his goats at the entrance of the gigantic cave Al Tahri.


The first time I came to the 7th hole was in 2004 with a couple of French professional climbers and an English journalist visiting Oman to write an article about outdoors activities in the country.


It is an impressive 120 meters deep sinkhole draining 3 canyons on the plateau. The chamber of the sinkhole is huge and looks like a massive cathedral.


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Pete and Graeme were impressed by the site and decided to use it as well for the documentary in the part where Albert would be talking about the aquifer in Oman.


In the next few days, they went to visit other archeological sites in Ras al Hadd and Bissiah.


Peter and Graeme were very enthusiastic to come back in January with a team of 14 people including Albert Lin, an archeologist and the technical personnel for the shooting of the documentary titled “Miracle in the desert.”


The whole crew was in Oman by the end of December 2022


and I joined them to start the shooting of the documentary on Selma plateau. A team from the company I work with ‘Change Your Routine’ joined me to set up the ropes needed to take down Albert Lin and the filming crew in the Seventh hole.


A ride back to past with National Geographic team
A ride back to past with National Geographic team


Albert was the first to abseil down the sinkhole and I was the second. The filming crew went into the cave using another route and they were ready inside to film our descent (Albert and me) of the 120m free drop.


It took the whole day to finish the shooting after which we headed to our campsite to spend the night and move the next day to Wadi Hijri.


It took us two more days to finish filming the petroglyphs and the beehive tombs in Wadi Hijri after which I left the team who continued shooting in Ras al Hadd and Bissiah for 5 more days.


I was so proud to be part of such a prestigious project and happy to work with a great professional team.


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