Esquire Middle East - - FEATURE -

af­ter it passed Ras al-khaimah. I’d been trav­el­ling for a month and, with the ex­cep­tion of Sir Bani Yas, had yet to see so much as a hill since leav­ing the Turk­ish bor­der be­hind in Syria. Ev­ery­thing had been flat, whether it was the plains of Nin­eveh, or the marshes and deserts of the Gulf. But that soon changed when I ar­rived at the Al Jeer bor­der cross­ing into Oman. It her­alded the gate­way to the Mu­san­dam Penin­sula, a fin­ger-like piece of land that juts out into the Strait of Hor­muz, a stone’s throw away from Iran. I needed to get to the town of Khasab on the coast, and from there my plan was to take the twice-weekly boat around the penin­sula to­wards Mus­cat. The moun­tains ahead marked a new phase of my jour­ney. I was ex­cited to be leav­ing be­hind the ‘civil­i­sa­tion’ of the Gulf and get into the wilder­ness. I wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence the Ara­bia of old, and to get a flavour of the re­al­ity of ru­ral life in the Mid­dle East. For the most part, I’d had lit­tle con­tact with Arabs in the Gulf, and apart from a few of­fi­cials, I’d met only for­eign ex­pats. I hoped that Oman would fi­nally give me the op­por­tu­nity to meet the lo­cals.

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