Farming sows seeds for stronger ties between Oman, Switzerland

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Omani and Swiss farmers’ capabilities to make crops thrive on mountainous terrain, a key feature of both countries, brings the two countries closer, according to the ambassador of Switzerland to Oman.

On the occasion of International Mountain Day, which falls on December 11, Balz Abplanalp, the ambassador of Switzerland to Oman, paying tribute to shared practices of the two countries, said, “Mountains are not just a décor, their powerful presence shape the minds and aspirations of the people living there. And their sometimes harsh environment requires – as nature in general – due respect.”

With this year’s focus centering on mountain biodiversity, he stressed, “The particularly dense biodiversity of mountains – in Switzerland it stretches from the edelweiss to the wolf – is further enhanced by human made cultural landscapes and has to be thoroughly protected.”

For this occasion, the Embassy of Switzerland has produced a short film to illustrate this connection. The film shows Al Azhari Zaif Mohammed Al Zakwani on Jebel Akhdar as well as Ueli and Christine Erb in Switzerland, mountain farmers that have shared with us their experience on living and making a living in the mountains.

While they have a different cultural background, their experiences and their views on farming in the mountains are surprisingly similar. They both have a strong attachment to the mountain environment that has been passed along through generations.

Their surroundings pose additional challenges to their work. As Ueli mentioned, to farm successfully in the mountains, it is important to have a deep understanding of the environment.

“You need to listen to what the mountains tell you and can’t just get going with your work without taking into consideration the constantly changing requirements of the setting,” he further added.

This link between natural and human made landscapes is an important element in the artwork ‘Constructed Yearning’ by Swiss Artist Aline Stalder. When she moved from the mountains to the plains in 2017, she painted a 16 metre long mountain panorama to bring the beloved mountains with her.

This panorama has now been cut into seven fragments and sent to different Swiss embassies throughout the region, where mountains are a characteristic feature. One of them has arrived in Oman and is thus creating a link between this country, Switzerland and the wider region.

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