17-Dec-2001 -- After the first successful Confluence in United Arab Emirates (25N 56E), due to the level of difficulty of other confluences in UAE, we decided to visit the closest and relatively easiest one, which falls within the borders of the Sultanate of Oman.
Taking the advantage of the religious holiday, which follows the Holy Month of Ramaḍān, on 17th December 2001, our team set out for the confluence 24N 56E. The team was made of Alex, Martina, Stefan Beck and Ahmet Aksayli.
From our home in Dubayy (United Arab Emirates) we drove south towards al-`Ayn near the border of Oman. al-`Ayn is located where the sand desert gives way to large gravel plains. al-`Ayn used to be a remote oasis, which thrived on agriculture. Today it is a modern city and one of the major cities in the United Arab Emirates. There are two major universities and a considerably big zoo. It is greener and less humid than the other cities of UAE.
After passing through al-`Ayn, we reached the border checkpoint. The border formalities were a bit painful as various forms were to be filled in and stamped, in order to get visas.
As soon as we were in Oman, we knew that our target was very close and we started observing the GPS. We drove towards south on the road, which leads to Nizwā in about 250 km. After 3–4 km, our GPS pointed that our target was eastward. We were lucky to find a road leading to the east, which took us around 5 km close to the Confluence. Our GPS located the destination on the east-southeast and we took a dirt track, which led through the hills to the actual Confluence, which is less than 100 m away from this track. Thus, finding the Confluence was very easy.
The area of the Confluence is uninhabited. It is on a large plateau between the 'Rocky Mountain' (Jabal Ḥajar) on the east and Ḥafīt Mountain (Jabal Ḥafīt) on the west. The area is covered by large gravel plains and low foothills. Loose stones of various sizes cover most of the ground. The climate in the area is very dry, as it is in most of Oman. There are only a few low trees and bushes.
After we took our photographs and enjoyed our success, we headed east and had a picnic under one of the very rare small trees. The nice surprise of the day came later. On our way back, we discovered an old castle in the village of Ḥafīt, which is on the foot of Ḥafīt Mountain. The castle is build from mud only and is very old. The locals in the village told us that it was older than a thousand years (this needs to be confirmed).
Thanks to the Degree Confluence Project, as we drove to remote areas, which we would not visit otherwise and we would have missed many photographic opportunities, and the chance to meet local people.