Muscat: One of the best-known adventurers and a well-known expert on caves and canyons in the Sultanate of Oman, Dr Khaled Abdul Malak, has reiterated the need to set up a geopark in the country.
Speaking to Times of Oman on the sidelines of a talk show titled ‘Unique Oman’ on Monday evening, Khaled said, “This is one of the projects I am working upon, in coordination with the Oman government, and I hope that we can have a geopark in the Sultanate of Oman soon.
“We have yet to define the area where the geopark will come up but once decided, it will be a big boost to eco-tourism in the Sultanate of Oman.”
Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
Khaled, who has been exploring Oman’s amazing landscape for the past 27 years, has already published two books – ‘In Search of the Sublime, a journey through Oman,’ in 2008 and ‘Canyoning in Oman – 12 Exceptional Wadis’, in 2014.
An oral surgeon for many years, Khaled has now devoted himself totally to promote the geological wonders of the Sultanate of Oman across the world through his books and talk shows.
Khaled said: “There are two exceptional things I found in Oman. First the Ophiolites [large slab of oceanic crust, made of volcanic rocks and ultramafic rocks from the Earth’s upper mantle, that was over thrust onto continental crust] and second the cave system.
“I have spoken a lot about caves in Oman at international symposiums and have always found huge interest and curiosity among people to know more about the caves.”
Majlis Al Jinn:
Oman’s Mt Everest, is of one of the best cave wonders in the world, Khaled said.
The experienced cave explorer said: “I always say Majlis Al Jinn is the Mt Everest of Oman. We need to protect this geological wonder. I am against moves to make the site open for mass tourism. It may do more harm than good for this amazing site.”
Majlis Al Jinn, literally translated as ‘the meeting place of the genies’, is one of a kind of geological wonder located at the Selman plateau near Fins village in Wilayat of Quraiyat. This is situated at a staggering height and consists of caves and caverns connected by underground tunnels. Visitors need to descend the cave through ropes to explore the stunning features of the cave.
Khaled during the talk show on Monday was emphatic in putting his point that Majlis Al Jinn, which is considered to be one of the largest underground caves in the world, should be protected and was against the development of tourism sites near the cave.
The area of this enormous cave is 58,000 square metres and its capacity is 4 million cubic metres. The length of Majlis Al Jinn Cave is 310 metres and its width is 225 metres. A dome-shaped ceiling tops the cave at a height of 120 metres.
Khaled expressed his gratitude and thanks to the Ministry of Information and in particular, former Minister of Information, Dr Abdul Munim bin Mansoor Al Hassani.
Dr Hassani was in attendance along with other guests at the talk show on Monday.
Khalid thanked his mentors, French climbers – Patrick Cabiro and Nathalie Henriot – who whetted his appetite for climbing and inspired him since his first meeting in Oman in 2000.
On Monday, Khaled also presented a series of photographs depicting the beauty of Oman and a short video film on his various trips.
In his first book, ‘In Search of the Sublime, a journey through Oman,’ he featured caves, mountains, canyons and beaches.
The second book, ‘Canyoning in Oman – 12 Exceptional Wadis’, was produced with the help of the Ministry of Information and he also came out with a fascinating film on Oman’s nature – ‘Adventure has an address – Oman’.
The preface of the second book reads as: “Since the Sultanate of Oman boasts a large number of wadis (valley), the overall theme of this book is to take the readers on an exploratory tour around the twelve famous wadis which are located in different parts of the country.”
Khaled said: “The book is a rare manual and a graphic evidence of the beauty of Oman wadis and their unique features.”
Khaled has been a regular contributor of features of his explorations to a local English daily and has written several articles for a British publication called The Arab Weekly. He also made a documentary with the BBC on canyoning in Oman.
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