Cross country to the canyon.

Using a Bedouin desert track we travelled from the Sharma road to the Duba road. I have no idea how long it would take driving non-stop but with all our stops it took us all day. It’s been a year since we travelled this route and whether it was because the weather was a bit overcast but it was like seeing some of the scenery for the first time, so I ended up taking lots of photos. Our first stop was at a huge cavern where I have placed a Geocache. The last people to search for it had been unable to find it so I wanted to check if it was still there. As soon as I got there I saw the problem- a Bedouin had decided to store some sacks of feed in the same place! Luckily, I could just reach the Geocache and rescue it. It is now in another hidey hole, close by.

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Coffee time.
From there we continued to an amazing rock art site. I believe these figures are representations of deities, but from which era I have no idea. I have found a lot of rock art in the area, but the workmanship of these is exquisite. I just wish I could find out more about them and the people who carved them.

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3 deities or the 3 spacemen as we affectionately call them!
Next we stopped at a large rock pinnacle attached to a huge rock massive. The view from the ‘saddle’ between the two was beautiful.

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We decided it was lunchtime so headed to another rock art site to have our picnic.

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We were just packing up when we had a very strange experience. A vehicle with 2 young Saudis came driving up to us. However, they didn’t get out to chat etc. but the passenger started taking photos and or video of us on his phone! As we started to drive away they pursued us with the passenger still standing up out of his doorway, taking photos!

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We now know how animals in safari situations feel!
‘Our friends’ headed off after a while and we continued our trip to the canyon, passing some amazing rock formations on the way.

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We named this one balloon rock, as one of our group flies a hot air balloon and reckoned it looked just like one.

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A striped tailed lizard.

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Desert apples.
And finally to the canyon!

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Another truly enjoyable trip which will be reminisced about when we leave Saudi in a few months.

An inspirational artist.

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be staying at the Shangrli La Resort in Oman and chanced upon an exhibition by the Omani artist Safiya Al Bahlani. I loved her mixed media approach and admired her even more when I read her biography and the challenges she has faced.

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Her pieces definitely reflect her culture and I was sorely tempted to buy one, but didn’t. Instead I bought some silver Bedouin jewellery as a momento of my visit. I hope I don’t regret my decision.

Biography
My name is Safiya Al Bahlani, I am an Omani artist, graphic designer, and inspirational and motivational speaker.

I was studying animation and graphic design, but was not able to complete my studies, but on a daily basis I try teaching myself through various tutorials and through practise.

I am a physically challenged young woman. I would like to draw the attention of Omani society to recognize that people with special needs, are unique, talented and able to contribute to the society.
I have been drawing and painting ever since I can remember, it has always been my way of expressing my emotions and communicating my thoughts to the world.

I was recognized for my skills when I was fourteen, then I started learning art under various teachers and artists.

At The American International School of Muscat, I took AP Art, which is an advanced program for art in preparation for studying art in college, where I started learning using different medias in art using various mediums and techniques.
During my college years in Jordan I held my first solo exhibition which contained thirty of my paintings. It was a wonderful experience, had many positive feedbacks that encouraged me to think of doing one in my own country.

In March 2011 in collaboration with an Omani fashion designer, we had combined fashion show and art exhibition. The theme was derived from His Majesty annual speeches which inspired to us to incorporate them in a collection of dresses, and paintings.

I have also been drawing on the I Pad, which I participated in Muscat Festival 2012 with ITA to promote technology as in COMEX 2012

I just had my third solo exhibition, with Bait Al Zubair, at the Shangri La, Bar Al Jissah “Beneath The Surface”.

Currently, I am trying to establish my own graphic design company, I am also a freelancer in Inspirational, and Motivational speaker.

My first visit to a mosque.

Last week I visited a mosque for the very first time. So what? Say any readers who don’t know my background, but I have been living in Saudi Arabia for 28 years and am never very far away from these places of worship. However, as a non-Moslem it is forbidden for me to enter a mosque here. Last week, I spent an interesting 6 days in Muscat, Oman and before I went there one of the must dos according to a few friends was to visit the Grand Mosque there.
We organised it as part of a city tour and were lucky to meet Abdullah, our charming and knowledgable Omani guide. He made us feel very relaxed, told us many interesting things, answered our questions and gave us space and time to enjoy the different venues. The mosque was, for me, of special interest. As a woman I had to be vey respectfully dressed and before leaving the car park Abdullah made sure my hair and neck were all covered by my scarves- it was at this point I thought how silly of me to have left my abaya in the car in Jordan as that would have made my dilemma of suitable attire a bit easier that morning. Anyway, it was an amazing experience and like some of the magnificent cathedrals I have visited in Britain and mainland Europe I felt very humbled and experienced a great sense of peace whilst walking around inside, both the woman’s hall and the much larger men’s hall.

20131109-223319.jpgthe inner courtyard and one of the 5 minarets.

20131109-223435.jpgmy shoes in the rack outside the men’s hall.

20131109-223542.jpgchandelier and stained glass window in the woman’s hall.

20131109-223728.jpgMe, suitably covered, with Abdullah.

20131109-223841.jpgthe magnificent chandelier inside the men’s hall.

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At the end of the visit we went to the hospitality area, where I met an extremely friendly and informative young woman called Marwa. We had a lovely chat over Arabic coffee, ginger tea and dates and at no time did I feel like she was trying to convert me! I would happily have stayed longer, but had to move on if we wanted to fit in a couple of other things before they closed at lunchtime. My first mosque was certainly no ordinary mosque but it will be long remembered just as much for the people who made the visit special rather than just the magnificent opulence and architecture.