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Salalalalalalalalah

Salalalalalalalalah

So this past weekend we went to Oman’s second city, Salalah. It’s a pretty small city, only about 150,000 or so, but it has had major significance in both the past and the present. The culture of Salalah, and the rest of the Dhofar region (the area in the south of Oman, bordering Yemen) has a culture, people, language, and climate separate from the rest of the country.

People in Salalah are taller (generally), speak Jabali (the montain language – not even a dialect of Arabic, it’s actually it’s own language), and generally see themselves as separate from the rest of the Gulf.

However, Salalah has had a major impact on world history in the form of Frankincense. The luban form of Frankincense – the real stuff – really only grows in the Dhofar region in Oman. So for thousands of years Omanis made bank by shipping the stuff to the Romans, the Greeks, the Chinese, and pretty much every other culture. People couldn’t get enough of the stuff.

This also explains how Oman became known as a nation of seafarers and how they first got their feet wet (ha!) in maritime trade. Their boats, the most prominent of which is the dhow, were shipping stuff all over the world for thousands of years. The first Arab boat to dock in the United States was an Omani ship which arrived in New York in 1840.

Anyway – Dhofar. Because of this sense of separatism, along with numerous other encroaching factors (neglect from the Sultan, communist insurrection) the Dhofaris staged a rebellion during the early 1970s. The rebellion managed to be supressed by the Sultan and since then the Dhofaris have slowly become more connected with the Omani identity.

Today the Sultanate has investments massive amounts of capital into the Salalah area. The biggest is the Port of Salalah which has been successful because of its premium location. Also in Salalah is the Salalah free zone. This is located right next to the port and allows foreign companies to operate free of corporate tax. Currently the zone has only six foreign companies but there are several more on the waiting list.  However because of the massive utility requirements of these facilities progress has been slow in establishing new companies. I got a lot from the trip to Salalah, enough to possibly change my ISP topic – the proposal for which is due the day after tomorrow.

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