“Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: “The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure.” The WILD Foundation
Oman has wilderness in abundance, which is why we love living here so much, and another reason why it is the perfect home for Connecting Cultures. With a population of only 3.2 million, and a land area of 312,000 square kilometres, there are approximately 9.8 people per square km (compare this to UK which has a population of 63 million, a land area of 243,610 square kilometres and a population density of 255 people per square km) in Oman. With most of those found on the northern coast, the interior of Oman is genuine wilderness, where mobile phones don’t work, and where it is possible to go for days without seeing anyone.
Our Connecting Cultures journeys take place in the Sharqiya Sands, a large expanse of sand desert some two hours drive south of the capital city, Muscat.
Whilst placing an environmental responsibility on us to leave it as we found it, by going to such places where there are no distractions, the young people on Connecting Cultures are able to engage in focused, uninterrupted and extensive dialogue over five days, a much more powerful learning environment than any hotel based conference or workshop can ever produce. The wilderness experience is far removed from the cultural influences of our daily lives, and strips participants of the normal social basis for personal identity. In the absence of masks, peer pressure and doors to hide behind, participants must confront themselves; defence mechanisms and facades are gradually eased as trust grows. The desert is socially ambiguous, status differences dissolve and candid interactions and sharing occur. Stories are told, secrets revealed and pains are shared, encouraged by the trust developed through the cooperation required on a shared journey.