Frankincense, from Oman to the World

Frankincense

Frankincense, the wealth of ancient Oman, flowed from the scared trunks of scrappy little trees on the wadi flats and mountain sides of misty Dhofar. The prized scent intensified as the resin dried and hardened.Then it was sent out by land and sea across the known world.

Dhows, the traditional sailing vessels of the region, carried frankincense to ports in Africa, Mesopotamia and India. While great caravans of 1,000 or more camels walked 2,000 miles north across the unforgiving Arabian Desert to ports on the Mediterranean Sea.

Camels can survive weeks without food or water, drawing on the fat stored in their humps. When necessary, they ate grains they carried or whatever they could find to graze on. Caravan drivers ate food packed by the camels, hunted, and shopped where they could on the way.

Tribal territories around the routes carved their share of the trade by charging tolls for passage and selling supplies.

Overnight camps were set up in the open desert or at caravanserai, the truck stops of the ancient trade routes. Song and dance around the fire recapped the highlights of each day’s journey, celebrated a step closer to completion and energized the company for the next leg.

The frankincense trade goes back at least 5,000 years. Egyptians and Mesopotamians were crazy for it, and the Greeks and Romans after them. It was used in religious ritual, in cosmetics, in medicine, even to embalm the dead. Today it’s used in pretty much the same ways and Dhofar still produces some of the highest quality frankincense in the world.

In Dhofar, you can visit remains of the ancient frankincense trade at Sumhuram and Al Baleed, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites near Salalah in southwestern Oman.

Check out our Oman tours at www.yallatours.com/oman.

NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 125

In Dhofar, the southern region of our mystery country, near the city of Salalah, we find the remains of ancient Sumhuram, aka Khor Rori, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Two thousand years ago, Sumhuram was a major port and the world center for the trade of frankincense. It’s also rumored that the Queen of Sheba had a palace here.

Can you name that country? 
See below for answers.

Continue reading

Foto Friday – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman

As promised, here are a few more images from our fam trip to the Arabian Peninsula, specifically, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and northern Oman. All of these photos were taken by two travelers on the trip. I hope you enjoy the viewing as much as I have. There are still lots more to come.

DUBAI

Dubai, photo by Sue Alstedt

Dubai, photo by Sue Alstedt

Dubai, photo by Sallie Volotzky

Dubai, photo by Sallie Volotzky

ABU DHABI

Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, photo by Sue Alstedt

Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, photo by Sue Alstedt

Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, photo by Sue Alstedt

Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, photo by Sue Alstedt

Men & their falcons, Abu Dhabi, photo by Sue Alstedt

Men & their falcons, Abu Dhabi, photo by Sue Alstedt

ARABIAN DESERT

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort near Abu Dhabi, photo by Sue Alstedt

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort near Abu Dhabi, photo by Sue Alstedt

Arabian Desert, photo by Sallie Volotzky

Arabian Desert, photo by Sallie Volotzky

OMAN

northern coast of Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

northern coast of Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

leaning in for a pat, Muscat, Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

leaning in for a pat, Muscat, Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

somewhere in Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

somewhere in Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

Muscat, Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

Muscat, Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

Muscat, Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

Muscat, Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

Nizwa Fort, Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

Nizwa Fort, Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

northern coast of Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

northern coast of Oman, photo by Sue Alstedt

See our website for tours to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman. We have 10 tours published there with detailed itineraries, from 3 and 4-day stopover tours focused on the highlights of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat or Salalah, to a 15-day comprehensive tour of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and Oman. In between, we have two 8-day tours, Wonders of Arabia and Glory of Arabia, with different configurations of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Arabian Desert in UAE. In Oman, we have a 6-day tour that includes both Muscat in the north and Salalah in the south, two very different regions, and a 9-day tour covering Muscat, Salalah, Nizwa, Sur and the Wahiba Sands desert. All itineraries are privately escorted and so totally flexible. We will also create custom itineraries to any of our destinations in the Arabian Peninsula.

Happy weekend!