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Wahiba Sands, Oman: Home to the Bedouin
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief

Wahiba Sands, Oman

The Sharqiya Sands, popularly known as Wahiba Sands, is a region of desert in Oman. The region was named for the Bani Wahiba tribe. It has an area of 12,500 square kilometers. We were at the gates at the Arabian Oryx Camp at about 4 in the afternoon. Our immediate plan was to get ready and go for a round of dune-bashing in our Land Cruiser itself. Abdulhamid, our driver-cum-guide would be at the wheels.

Wahiba Sands, Oman The desert was formed during the Quaternary period as a result of the forces of south-west blowing monsoon and the northern shamal trade wind, coming in from the east. Based on the types of dunes found in the area, it is divided into the high, or upper, Wahiba and low Wahiba. The upper area contains mega-ridge sand systems on a north-south line that are believed to have been formed by monsoon. The dunes of the north, formed at some point after the last regional glaciation, measure up to 100 meters with peaks accumulating in the areas just beyond the strongest wind speeds, where declining velocity wind deposited sand. The north and west boundaries of the desert are delineated by the fluvial systems Wadi Batha and Wadi Andam. Beneath the surface sands are an older layer of cemented carbonate sand. Wind erosion is believed to have contributed to the existence of a nearly level plain in the southwest.

Wahiba Sands, Oman With geological technicalities behind, we set for a 30-minute dune-bashing adventure trip. It was time for the sunset. We parked our car on one of the high dunes and enjoyed the tranquil moments.

It was indeed a thrilling experience and normally no mishaps occur save for the vehicle getting stuck on the slopes. And that's exactly what happened to our car. While coming downhill on one of the slopes, the sand under the wheels slipped more than expected, making two of the wheels uneven thus minimising the 4-wheel drive power. But nothing to worry. Abdulhamid had many driver-friends around. One of them got us back to the camp. Later, one of his other friends, pulled his car out. All good.

Normally, all meals are included in desert camps. And our camp was no exception. It was a buffet spread accompanied by some local live music. No belly-dancing, just a few male singers!

Tomorrow would be our last day in Oman. We would drive to the airport with a stop at Sur - a port town.

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