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Saturday, April 19, 2014  
Destination Wadi Shab
THE SULTANATE OF OMAN IS SET TO HOST THE GRAND FINALE OF THE 2012 RED BULL CLIFF DIVING WORLD SERIES IN THE GORGEOUS WADI SHAB, WRITES STACEY ROSS

THE geographical diversity and the pristine beauty of the natural landscape that is there to be seen and experienced all across the Sultanate of Oman have made the country a haven for tourists from all over the world. Oman abounds in some of the most beautiful stretches of rolling silvery beaches that border the vast expanse of blue seas. All around there are the towering and craggy, brown mountains, vast stretches of golden red sands and many cool, shady wadis, watered by underground streams and springs. It is true that nowhere in the entire Middle East or the whole of the Gulf region can you get to see such a diverse and fascinating array of physical features and landscapes, overwhelmingly beautiful and awe-inspiring.

The Sultanate is blessed with several scenic wadis, where water, flora and rugged mountains blend into one harmonious natural portrait. While Wadi Bani Khalid , Wadi Daiqah and Wadi Tiwi are hugely popular with tourists, very few people are aware of the equally beautiful Wadi Shab. This hidden treasure, which is located in Niyabat Tiwi, a village between Muscat and the town of Sur, has at least seven pools of emerald green water and is studded with dramatic boulders. Palm and date trees line the narrow, winding, old rock paths, with a series of streams, aquamarine pools and waterfalls. The final pool is in a cave where light streams in dramatically from above and there are fantastic echoes heard when one swims in it. Some of the natural pools are not for swimming as the spring water is an important part of the local villages’ resources.

The wadi combines the attractions of coastal areas and inland wonders and can be easily reached from the Quriyat-Sur highway. And, although certain areas of the wadi were damaged in a cyclone, it is still one of the most scenic wadis in all of Oman.

Until recently, Wadi Shab was largely unnoticed except for the few international tourists who used to visit it now and then. But thanks to Red Bull, this scenic spot is all set to become the cynosure of all eyes. The grand finale of the 2012 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series will be held here on September 27.

Cliff diving is one of the most dangerous adventure sports, which involves diving from cliff tops. Also known as ‘tombstoning’, this sport requires both immense strength and balance or what is known as “Mana” and “Pono” in ancient Hawaiian Shamans’ lingo. These fundamental beliefs were at the core of 18th century cliff diver – Lei Lei Kawa’s philosophy as he rose to fame for his daring jumps.  In modern times, cliff diving continues to call for these two qualities, particularly with diving adventures thriving in various locations around the world. Yet, it wasn’t until May 2009 that the sport acquired its organised and professional form of today, when Red Bull launched the Cliff Diving World Series involving dives of vertiginous heights comparable to that of the roof of a 10-storey building.

Said Gary Hunt, who represents the United Kingdom Cliff Diving World Series: “It’s a feeling that’s out of this world. There are not many other sports as extreme where you don’t need any other machinery or equipment. The feeling when you are in the air is really like you are free and in the wild.”

The canyon-like valley will see the world’s elite cliff divers step up their game for the high adrenaline grand finale and provide a spectacular backdrop for the crowning of the 2012 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series Champion. The Oman stop will be held under the patronage of HH Sayyid Tariq Bin Shabib Al Said and in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism.  Every year, 14 of the world’s cliff diving elite with huge amount of cliff diving experience and ranging in age between 25 and 46 years are selected from 10 different countries to compete in this absorbing contest. Said Jorge Ferzuli representing Mexico: “ Qualification this year was definitely harder, everybody was really good and ripped their dives. It was hard and this makes me even happier that I made it into the World Series.”

Given its international attention, the event will once again bring into bolder and sharper focus the tremendous tourist attractions within the Sultanate and the potential to further develop them.

sross1988@gmail.com

Oman Mirror
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