By Abdulaziz al Jahdhami -
SINCE Oman is known as the gateway of the Arabian Gulf, it is also the haven of the Gulf region. The thousands of oasis and gardens spread all over the country distinguish it from other parts of the region. Omanis also are known for the love of their fertile land, farming being one of their main interests and which regulates their day-to-day style of living.
Samad al Shan, with its 42 small villages, in the Wilayat of Al Mudhaibi is one of the beautiful touristic places in the Al Sharqiyah Governorate. Each village is characterised with distinctive natural attractions due to their geographical locations. Some of the villages are located in mountainous areas while others are situated in agricultural lands.
One of the most beautiful spots that we can find here is the Al Rawdha Village which is the second biggest in Samad al Shan as well. Apart from being the gateway to the whole wilayat, Al Rawdha is very rich with several natural and historical wonders. It is also famous for its gorgeous farms and breathtaking greenery.
Al Rawdha is considered an idyll of greenery. Many who pass by the village from the main road on the way to the centre of the wilayat or are travelling by the roadside would think that it is a small village with a few farms. However, it is not even half the truth about Al Rawdha compared to other parts not just in the wilayat, but in the whole of Al Sharqiyah Governorate.
The village as a whole with the big farms surrounding the houses looks like an oasis offering a colourful and spectacular picture, combining the beauty of the greenery, mountains, valleys and houses. Looking at the village from all sides creates a feeling of fascination and delight which one can only see in nature.
The visitors to this remarkable village will have the chance of strolling through spectacular gardens which are grown between the different types of trees and plants. The eye-catching scenes of ample green landmarks and the pleasant smell of the trees, bushes and the ripe fruits stimulate the senses. Farming is considered as the main interest of many people living in Al Rawdha in particular, and in the whole wilayat in general.
Especially attractive in Al Rawdha is the variety of farms with different plantation producing a wide range of crops such as bananas, mangoes, grapes, dates, mulberry beans, cucumber, chillies, tomatoes and many other seasonal crops. What makes it so unusual is the continuous production of different kinds of fruits and vegetables, some of which are brought to the local market on a daily basis. One such crop is the succulent cucumber. During the summer season, starting from mid-summer, most of the farms produce the local type grapes. Al Rawdha is well known for its delicious Omani grape which is grown in a large quantity.
Among the distinguished natural and historical attractions in Al Rawdha are the Al Rawdha Castle and Awlaad Dhenain Castle, in addition to the three towers that were built hundreds of years back in the surrounding mountains. Al Rawdha Castle is the only restored castle in the village while of other castles and towers only ruins remain. The exact date of construction of the castle is not known, but it dates back to 400 years and was built as a martial house at that time. According to Rashid bin Khalfan al Habsi, the tourist guide in the castle, the castle was built by Saleem bin Omran al Habsi.
At that time, the village was surrounded by a huge wall to protect the residents inside. Thus, the castle served as a safeguard for the village and helped the guards at the main gate of the village. It was built on a high mountain range overlooking the nearby houses and farms of palm trees.
Al Rawdha is also famous for many of its aflaj, for example, Falaj Al Naqah and Falaj Al Khatum. Besides, it has natural landscapes like valleys and green farms. All these aspects of Al Rawdha make the place attractive to tourists and an ideal location for picnics and camping, especially in the valleys next to the farms.