The rocky outcrop is home to five families from the Alshariqi tribe, a group that migrated from Jordan more than 1,000 years ago and settled throughout Oman.
MUSCAT: BBC has featured Oman’s Al Sogara: an isolated village carved into the mountainside where people have lived for more than 500 years, in its Travel section.
Located in Jebel Akdhar mountains, few travelers ever reach Al Sogara.
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Until 2005, foreigners were forbidden from entering the mountain range as the Omani government maintained a military presence in the area.
The only way in and out of the hamlet is to leave the vehicle at the end of a gravel road and hike 20 minutes up a steep stone staircase leading from the canyon floor.
And while similar villages are sprinkled throughout the region, Al Sogara is the only one that’s still inhabited.
Set some 40km from the main mountain city of Seih Qatana, Al Sogara is the most isolated village in the region, and among the most remote settlements in all of Oman.
Until 14 years ago, there was no electricity or phones in Al Sogara, and the nearest road was 15km away.
Traditionally, mules were used to haul goods to the village from the nearby towns of Nizwa and Birkat Al Mouz. But in 2005, crafty villagers strung two pulley cables above the valley to carry supplies from across the canyon where the gravel road ends.
Locals can’t remember a time when there were more than 45 people in Al Sogara, and because there were no schools, past generations learned to read and write at home.
Since the 1970s, however, students have been attending school 14km away in Sayq.
To get there, they hike down the village’s narrow staircase and back up the other side of the mountain where cars can pick them up at the road.
Today, this rocky outcrop is home to five families from the Alshariqi tribe, a group that migrated from Jordan more than 1,000 years ago and settled throughout Oman.
“There are only 25 villagers in Al Sogara,” said Salem Alshariqi, who was born and raised here. “It’s a small number because the village is small. It must fit us.”
According to Salem and other residents, the villagers descended from a common ancestor who arrived in Al Sogara more than 500 years ago, when the settlement was inhabited by members of different tribes.
Throughout the generations, the Alshariqi have continued the ancient practice of building their homes with stone and clay or carving them directly into the rock face – just as their ancestors have done over the centuries.