fake vs. authentic

Salaam from Nizwa, Oman,

Whilst there are many dangerous and unsavoury side-effects of globalisation, there are obvious benefits. Everything from goods, capital, labour, sport, disease and entertainment cross the international boundaries with alacrity, with good and bad effects. Lots of people are materially better off. Trade has improved their existence, at least from that point of view. Also crossing those hitherto non-porous boundaries are the tourists, us included.

Nine million per day

There are now more than 9 million commercial flights every day. Most of them are carrying hundreds of paying passengers. Most of these tourists are reaching destinations where they require lodgings. Hotels are private businesses only too willing to fill that gap.

Whilst some tourists are apparently content to stay in the same style of hotel in any given city, there are sufficient numbers of slightly more intrepid travellers who will want something different. It’s inevitable, then that the hotel experience will need to be different from country to country. And the niche is no longer a niche but a growing slice of the market.

This explains why there are ice hotels in Scandinavia, underground labyrinths at Coober Pedy, treetop safaris in Serengeti and Mongolian gers. The providers of these unique accommodations are catering for those who have exhausted the cookie cutter hotel experience and want something a bit more authentic. They are joining the most recent marketing development: the consumer experience is more important than the product itself.

Nizwa oasis

Here in Oman, we have ventured inland from Muscat, across the mountains, to Nizwa, which is an oasis in an otherwise barren hinterland. We are staying in an exquisitely-renovated mud hotel right next door to the historic Nizwa Fort.

The fort and castle were constructed during the 17th century. They were designed to defend the Imamate from attackers interested in the lucrative trade routes. The fort is an impressive structure all by itself. It took a dozen years to build (and a decade to renovate during the 1990s). It is a cylindrical structure, measuring 34 metres across the diameter. There are numerous cannon emplacements around the circumference and five pitfalls in the staircase, so defenders could pour down boiling date syrup onto anyone who had encroached through the wall. There were also a number of “murder holes”, created at angles so the defending force could aim rifles downwards on the invaders.

All of the buildings in the castle, the souk (market) and the old town have flat rooves. They are all the same colour – as per attached photograph. And here in Nizwa, in the oasis, we are in among thousands of date palms.

Our hotel room is in a restored 500-year old adobe building within the narrow streets which were designed for pedestrians only. The locals all wear their national dress as a matter of course. All the décor and furnishings are traditional. When we’re not camping, this is our kind of stay. This is one of the better consequences to globalisation.

Maa salama from Nizwa,


Other photos from hereabouts

Wadi Al Ayn
Nizwa – from the top of the fort
Oman – attempt to clean up the waterways
on the sand dunes Al Mintirib
mini-oasis near Wadi Al Ayn
Wadi Al Ayn
inside the fort

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