You can embark on a Musandam tour to enjoy in the breathtaking scenery as you travel around the Fjords and take in the beauty of the Sea Cliffs and Goat Island. As you make your way to Kumzar Village, the journey is an incredible opportunity to take in the breathtaking scenery of the sea and the islands along the route.
The only way to get to Kumzar from Khasab, the closest city, is by either a speedboat, which takes an hour and a half or a sailing dhow that takes two and a half hours. Because the community is so far away from other places, it has its language and culture.
The geography of Kumzar is a big reason it has a unique character. The town is on the Musandam Peninsula, a small piece of Oman's coast separated from the rest of the country by about 100 kilometers of rocky desert in the United Arab Emirates.
Musandam was called "the Norway of Arabia" because its coast is rough and full of khors resembling small fjords. But unlike their counterparts in Scandinavia, these rocky inlets were not made by the slow movement of glaciers.
Instead, they were made when tectonic plates crashed into each other, cracking the crust of the Earth like scary monsters trying to get out of an egg.
After going through the fjord of Kumzar, you will reach the Strait of Hormuz and then Iran. Around 700 years ago, the Strait, which had been a hub for international trade, cultural exchange, and political intrigue for a very long time, started to have many effects on the villagers.
The Kumzari language is completely different from any other language. Makeyya Al Kumzari, a local person who studies the Kumzari language and culture, said, "Kumzari is a mix of old Persian, Arabic, and other languages like Akkadian, Assyrian, Turkish, English, and Hindi."
People are very proud of how they use the language. Moyath Al Kumzari, who leads dhow trips across Musandam, told me, "Kumzari is our native language, and when we're together, we don't talk about anything else." "We all know Arabic, but the only language we speak is Kumzari."
Some Kumzari words sound familiar to people who speak English. For example, the word for "star" is "strg," "lotion" is "lan," and "door" is "dar." The word for necklace in Niglis is "niglis," but the word for "pling" sounds much better: "plank."
Several Arabic and Persian words that Kumzari borrowed sound more as they did in the Middle Ages than they do now.
The fact that the language has endured in a region where Arabic is the primary language has long piqued the curiosity of linguists like Christina van der Wal Anonby and Erik Anonby, who spent a whole year living and working in Kumzar.
Erik doesn't think of Kumzar as "isolated," even though the only way to get there is by boat. "For generations, Kumzar has been the center of a socially and historically rich region's ecosystem," he said. "Kumzar was one of the few places with a well that provided a lot of fresh water and was located between the major trading centers of Basra, Muscat, Zanzibar, India, and other countries,"
The Anonbys were asked to move into the community and live there permanently. They were also asked to join the Kumzaris in their daily activities and research the local language.
Christina talked about spending her mornings chatting with local women over tiny cups of cardamom-flavored coffee and her afternoons cooking dates and fish or weaving palm leaves. She thinks that Kumzar's famously warm welcome is because of where it is in the world.
She said,I think they are so friendly because they used to take in sailors who had survived shipwrecks in the Strait, hide ships from pirates in the fjords, or fill the freshwater tanks of passing ships from the well in Kumzar." They are so friendly because they used to take in sailors who had survived shipwrecks in the Strait.
Nine months out of the year, Kumzaris live off the fish they catch in the khors. Then, in July, when it's so hot that the fish can't stay in the water, the Kumzaris move to Khasab to pick dates.
The sea gives life to Kumzar, and Erik said that because of this, Kumzari is a language that the sea has shaped. He told me, "We've found 200 different names for different kinds of fish in Kumzari," He added, "Many of these words aren't related to fish names in any other language in the world."
The geography of Kumzar, which is made up of steep mountain walls on three sides and the ocean on the fourth, has helped shape its language and how its people think about the world around them.
"Instead of north, south, east, and west, as we do in English and Arabic, Erik said, "their world is based on 'up,' which is toward the mountains, and 'down,' which is toward the sea." "These instructions are used in both English and Arabic."
Concerns about the sea are also always a part of social life: Kumzaris say, "I kawl?" which means "what wind is it?" as a way to greet each other." People say that even the goats here like fish because they eat sardines when they have nothing to eat on dry land.
The sea is an important part of the folklore of the area. Cowrie shells are often hung from the back of dhows because they are thought to keep away evil spirits that could cause the sailors to sink with the ship.
Kumzari folk tales are often about the sea and the unique location of Kumzar as the setting for the stories. After a long day of fishing, it's time to take it easy and does something fun. Makeyya said that hamlet has a big need for stories and people who can tell them.
"The environment has a big effect on stories. Most of them are about marine life and the creatures that live there. There are more stories about the well that is said to have made Kumzar a popular place for travelers to stop and refill their water supplies.
Erik said, "Kumzaris have their whole collection of traditional music and folk tales that they tell orally." "Kumzaris have their own complete set of stories to tell." “Aliko Shobubo was one of the best storytellers in the Kumzari culture. He died not too long ago, which is sad.
He could remember a whole set of folktales that were just as rich and full of detail as those in One Thousand and One Nights. But he always put his spin on them by setting them in Kumzar and giving the characters real-life traits. So he kept this book of folktales to remember him. "Many parts of Kumzari culture are just as alive as each other.
Erik said that the Kumzari people are known all over Arabia for their amazing wedding celebrations that last a week and are full of dancing, traditional music, and lavish feasts where the whole community comes together.
Even though Kumzar is in the middle of nowhere, it is not a small, unimportant town. On the contrary, the town has everything it needs, like its desalination plant, hospital, and school.
The Kumzar Football Club, which won Oman's regional cup in 2016 despite being up against teams with much more money and people, is the best example of the strong local pride seen anywhere in this city.
Moyath said, "It was a great win for our club, and everyone in Kumzari is happy about it." "It made us feel like we were a part of this area and belonged there."
So, it's hard to say what will happen to Kumzar. But, Moyath said, "Kumzar is changing." Younger people put a lot of value on their education, and many move to Muscat to finish their schooling there.
People used only to speak Kumzari and never even thought about learning Arabic. But those days are long gone. After school, many young people look for jobs on the mainland or in the UAE.
Erik was worried that Kumzari fishing crews might be unable to make a living because commercial fishing had caused fish stocks to drop. However, "Arabic is a part of the Kumzaris' lives all the time, thanks to the wide availability of media like television and, more recently, the internet.
In the last ten years, there has been a big change. Now, most families teach their children Arabic as their first language. Kids can understand Kumzari, but they don't speak it very well, and the language is losing its ability to be passed down at an alarming rate."
Even so, there are reasons to keep looking on the bright side. For example, a group of local experts and enthusiasts are working with academics like Christina and Erik to build a Kumzari writing system and help keep the language and culture of the Kumzari people alive.
Erik said, "Thank goodness, there is a group of dedicated Kumzari people who don't want to lose their history, cultural knowledge, ability to survive and thrive in harsh environments, and unique Kumzari identity, which is kept alive by their language." "They don't want any of it to go away."
By keeping the Kumzari language alive, they are adding to the cultural history of the whole world. Kumzari is a unique language that any other language can't replace.
Also, even if many young people leave Kumzara to go to college somewhere else, the high birth rate means there will always be new Kumzaris to keep the language alive. Moyath said that the number of people living there is growing and that new homes are being built in the mountains above Kumzar.
The Kumzaris' strong sense of community pride will help them in the future just as much as it does now. Moyath says that the Kumzari usually say, "Kumzari maafi couf," which means "Kumzaris never fear," because it is part of their culture to fight, whether with nature or other people.
"We are all very happy to live in Kumzar. We have to change to meet the needs of modern life, but our culture and language will never go away."