Wadi Tiwi and Adventures Beyond
Juma Al Nadhairi
Born in the gorgeous Wadi Tiwi in Sharqiyah region, I grew up between the green local farms and the ever-flowing wadis, but within eyesight of the turquoise waters of the Oman Sea. I, Juma Al Nadhairi, was one of many kids in our village who were raised with a great sense of pride of our beloved Oman, and our cosy little village. As Omanis, leaving a good first impression of our hospitality in our guests and visitors is second nature to us. So, with this kind of upbringing, the idea of guiding tourists around and proudly showing them the beautiful corners of my region was always fascinating to me.
I spent my childhood years exploring the mountains and pools around my village. I taught myself how to swim and climb and spent the rest of my time helping out with my parents’ farm, chasing goats and learning the peaks and valleys by heart. Oman’s renaissance in the 70s brought tarmac roads to rural areas and, for the first time, tourists visited my village from all over Oman and the rest of the globe. When I was 17 years old, I started getting involved in running tours for expats living in Oman and tourists from overseas. After graduating from high school and having more time to earn experience in this field, I developed a high sense of responsibility to help tourists see the real beauty of Oman and its people. Knowing that people would go back to their cities or countries and share their memories of Oman with their families, friends and colleagues, I was aware all the time of the importance of making every moment count, and not missing any opportunity to make their time in Oman unforgettable.
However, I was faced with a crucial problem. I had spent my childhood teaching myself to swim, climb, jump off cliffs into lagoons, and developing a deep sense of pride in my village, but I did not know how to speak English. Visitors were interested in where I came from and had so many questions for me, but I couldn’t answer them. I became determined to learn. Hospitality and generosity has been built into Omanis’ psyche for centuries, we always welcome people into our home, and I knew speaking English was a powerful way of extending our hospitality. I started speaking with people slowly slowly, shway shway, and using body language at the beginning. When I started sharing my stories of the places I took tourists to, I always made sure that I carefully listened to their stories as well. I have always been interested in other cultures, and it was a great joy for me to learn about them from people's mouths, rather than reading from a book. This sense of curiosity helped me to improve my ability to speak English; I made sure that at the end of everyday there would be at least one new word that I learned.
When I didn't go on tours, I spent a lot of my time in the outdoors going on hikes and adventures. This, in addition to my military background, helped me to develop the kind of physical fitness to confidently take tourists on long adventurous journeys on the mountains, deserts, wadis and seas of Oman. I didn’t have the financial ability to go to university or specialised schools and continue my education, so I had to help myself learn how to guide people.
The great feedback that I received from tourists throughout the years motivated me to follow my life-long dream of starting my own business. I knew of Omanisation goals and the Sultan’s vision to develop Oman and I wanted to contribute to this, being the CEO of an Omani company and sharing Oman’s culture and nature. So, I set up "Wadi Shab Adventures" to engage more young Omanis in the responsibility and honour of being ambassadors of Oman in the tourism business. At the beginning it was just me and I relied on word-of-mouth to grow my business, but then my business got a licensed and I learnt health and safety and started working with different companies like Outward Bound Oman. I improved my English and learnt how to lead people, having fun with them but also keeping them safe.
Now Wadi Shab Adventures has grown, and I am fulfilling my dreams of training others and spreading the love of Oman’s scenery. Our business values are not about getting profit from our clients, they are more about showing the world the rich civilisation, culture, heritage and nature of Oman, debunking any negative stereotypes, and taking a step towards achieving Oman Vision 2040. Adventure has always been my dream and my passion, so our tours are not just about taking people to places; but rather, completely immersing them into the depth of Oman. Whether through lighting Omani Luban, telling folktales, singing traditional songs, or playing the drums, we always make sure that the people who chose to come with us have something unique to remember.
Of course, running a small business is not easy. Different ages, nationalities and expectations come with different challenges, and coping now with the Covid19 situation is especially difficult. But I hope that soon we'll be able to come back strong. My aim for the future is to convince more Omanis of the importance of promoting Oman as a tourist destination because I truly believe in its potential. I hope that through keeping our values, we can see "Wadi Shab Adventures" as a renowned name in the tourism field, making sure that more and more tourists choose to come to Oman.
Trip Advisor: Wadi Shab Adventures