One year. Three sixty-five days. Ten people. And a commitment to preserve local communities inhabiting the majestic mountains- their way of life and their traditions. This is what it took to bring together the worlds of imagination, innocence and age-old tales to create Alila Jabal Akhdar’s first Children’s Book: “Tales from Jabal Akhdar: The Mountain That Touches The Stars”.
The book, written by Omani author Mrs. Azhaar Ahmed and illustrated by Omani artist and founder of Dahareez Art, Mrs. Ibtihaj Al Harthi, was launched this evening within the rustic interiors of the castle restaurant- Rozna and under the gracious presence of Ms. Jokha Al Harthi- the first Arabic author to win the Man Booker International prize for her novel “Celestial Bodies”.
Strongly committed to social and cultural responsibilities’, Alila Jabal Akhdar and Green Room Communications put this book together to immortalize ancient and modern stories imparted by senior men, families and children living in local villages. The five tales in the publication, unravel the secrets and the treasures of the ‘Green Mountain’ to children while capturing the genuine and authentic aspects of Jabal Akhdar- from the blossoming Damask roses, pomegranate, peach and walnut trees to the gliding starry skies over the rugged peaks of the Al Hajar mountains.
As the brightly-lit alcoves of the restaurant echoed with the serenading music of the Oud during the launch, each one present was transported into Oman’s rich past that unfurled from the pages of the book. A book that is an amalgamation of wondrous tales that have been passed on from generation to generation in the villages of Jabal Akhdar, namely Hail Al Yaman, Al Manakhir and Wadi Bani Habib among others.
Expressing his thoughts on the occasion, Mr. Julian Ayers- Regional Vice President, Middle East, Alila Hotels & Resorts and General Manager, Alila Jabal Akhdar said, “Today, with our first Children’s Book, we embark upon a journey to enrich young minds and manifest a world for them that unveils the magic of Jabal Al Akhdar. When we started this year-long journey, we did not begin with the very thought of a storybook. As a hotel, we wanted to find stories to gift at turndown, that parents could read to their children at bedtime- a pastime that seems to have been forgotten.
However, as our story research began to grow, the book began to come to life. Thus, we undertook this project, in our endeavour to safeguard the spirit of the mountains for our future generations, and promote Oman tourism and culture among our guests and beyond. While we believe that the rich and vivid Tales from Jabal Akhdar: The Mountain That Touches The Stars is sure to enrapture children, it will also encourage other institutions in the Sultanate to create art and literature that highlight Oman’s distinctive heritage across the world”.
The book is all set to roll out. It will first be made available to all guests at the hotel, followed by a phase-wise launch at bookstores and libraries, across the Sultanate.