Pomegranate and Cheese – Farming in the mountains of Oman and Switzerland

Press release, 06.01.2021

Oman and Switzerland share many similarities, one of them is their impressive mountain ranges. On the occasion of the International Mountain Day on 11 December, we celebrate this landmark element connecting our two countries. 

International Mountaind Day © FDFA

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 has mentioned to us, to farm successfully in the mountains, you have 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.”Both farmers see it as an important task to cultivate and maintain an intact environment. With their work, they make an invaluable contribution to the biodiversity of the mountains. Biodiversity is the topic the United Nations have selected for this year’s celebration of the International Mountain Day. For Ambassador Balz Abplanalp, who himself grew up in the heart of the Swiss Alps, this is an affair of the heart: “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”. On this year’s focus on mountain biodiversity, he stresses that “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.”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 meter 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.

Video on Instagram