Torrential rains that battered Oman are bringing waterfalls back to the country, turning parched valleys into flowing water parks.
Rain that reached 120 millimetres in some areas is creating waterfalls that are pulling in domestic tourists. The wet weather is a boon for some farmers whose irrigation systems are benefiting.
Some visitors have driven for more than an hour and a half to reach the “mesmerising” waterfalls, which they say made the long drive worth it.
“It is amazing. The waterfalls are fantastic to watch. It is mesmerising to the eyes and the splashing of the water from the rocks is very pleasing. We have been driving for over 90 minutes from Muscat to Misfat Al Abriyeen and it is worth it,” Taha Al-Shidi, 37, a mechanical engineer, told The National.
But other visitors from Muscat who ventured farther afield said their path through mountain roads to get a better view of the water below proved treacherous.
“What a view we have of the valleys full of water below us,” said Ibrahim Al Raisi, 67, a retired civil servant. “We are at Jabal Shams but the drive up here was not easy. The waterfalls are all around us. It is also almost freezing here since the temperature is about 12 degrees now.”
Jabal Shams at 3,009 metres is the highest peak in the Gulf region. It is located in the western Hajar mountains, about 250 kilometres from Muscat.
Those who live there marvelled at the land transformation as the rain kept pouring down in much of the country.
“Everything is coming back to life,” said Rashid Al Toki, 44, a resident of Liwa in the Batnah region. “The valleys have now been transformed to water parks. It is greening up and we even see wild animals like wild goats, red foxes and rabbits coming to drink. The herdsmen are bringing their goats and sheep to water.”
Rains that started on December 31, 2021, have so far killed six people, who drowned in overflowing wadis as some towns were cut off by flooding.
The meteorological office said moderate to heavy rains would continue until January 5 and warned the public to avoid wadis and low-lying areas.
Farmers in one of the driest areas of the country are happy to see their aflaaj overflowing with water again.
“My farm is in Ibri, close to Rub Al Khali [the Empty Quarter desert]. This area does not rain much. We struggle to get our aflaaj filled up and we get water tankers to irrigate our farms in the driest spells of the year. But this time, the aflaaj are overflowing and we are building water holes as reserves,” Hafidh Al Siyabi, 47, a farmer in Ibri, told The National.
Oman was devastated by Cyclone Shaheen in October, when 11 people died. Most of the damage then was in the Batnah region.
The memories of Shaheen still linger for Omanis who suffered damage to their properties.
“At least this time round the rains bring something positive and not as destructive like it was during Shaheen. Dry areas are filled up, stunning waterfalls, farmers are happy and visitors find beautiful spots to camp,” said Ghalib Al Hadhrami, 51, a resident of Musannah in the Batnah region, whose house was destroyed by Cyclone Shaheen.