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First ‘olive harvest festival’ underway at Jabal Akhdar

12 Sep 2022 olive festival By SHADDAD AL MUSALMY

The first ‘Olive harvest festival’ is currently underway at Jabal Akhdar and Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort is promoting it in a big way offering guests an experience to cherish

Are you a festival buff, a tradition lover, or someone who loves to stay abreast of what’s happening in the country?

If you are any of these, you might be delighted to know that Jabal Akhdar is now the place to be, not just for its pleasing high altitude and cool climes, but because the olive harvest season is currently underway there.

A decade ago, farmers around the most fertile land of Jabal Akhdar thought of planting olives which turned out to be a successful harvest every year. And now, Anantara is here to make it exciting and explicit with traditional activity, partnering with the local community in a fabulous wrap up where you can experience the wonders of home grown olives and explore different ways of its uses.

Saleh Issa Auladthani, a knowledgeable olive guru who knows the storyline of the olive plantations in Jabal Akhdar, said when King of Spain, Albert I, visited Jabal Akhdar, he marvelled over the fertility of the land which was most suitable for olive plantations.

“He recommended planting of olives and donated almost ten thousand plants, and this is how the olives became famous in Jabal Akhdar – now having one of the best quality for both, olive oil and the fruit itself,” Auladthani said.

“Even though the olives need between 14 to 18 degrees Celsius climate, in Jabal Akhdar, they have adapted to the warm climate which sometimes goes beyond 18º C,” he added.

For hundreds of years, the mountains of Jabal Akhdar bloomed with roses, pomegranates and apricots. One of Oman’s most fertile areas, with its distinctive terraced farms and falaj irrigation system, it is for this reason that it is colloquially known as the Green Mountain.

To make the harvest more exciting, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort celebrates the rich harvest with its inaugural olive festival (September 11-17) where guests of the resort enjoy a full daily schedule of olive-inspired activities such as fun harvesting competitions and an olive souk.

Welcoming all guests from around the world, Anantara provides an experience of the fascinating history and unique culture while connecting visitors with the ‘must be’ places in Oman.

The first annual olive harvest festival is a unique experience at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdhar resort. Participating guests are each given a beautiful local basket to fill up with olives plucked from trees. Whoever picks more, is declared the winner of the harvest.

There are almost twenty five types of olives. Red, black, green, with different sizes and shapes.

Nasser Sulaiman al Sibani from Pension Fund of the Ministry of Defence, who is a fan of olive harvesting, said the olive harvest festival shows how this resort cherishes and supports the olive picking season.

“This will improve tourism in Jabal Akhdar,” he said, adding that it will promote the importance of olive trees. “Taking good care of olive trees is good for the economy as well as for the health of the fruits,” he said.

Sibani commended the resort, which is located on the great canyon in Jabal Akhdar, for doing a great job in conserving olive plantations.

During this season, guests can book the festival package of accommodation and experience ‘all in one’ fun with their rooms or villas. During the day, an array of guest chefs will host cooking demonstrations and hands-on cooking classes.

Chef Gabriele Kurz, from Bavaria, a celebrated author of wellness cookbooks and the force behind the Middle East’s first healthy fine dining restaurant, shows how easy it is to create nutritious, vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Chef Gabriele Kurz

Evenings are dedicated to tasting and feasting, with olive-inspired menus by sister brand NH Hotels’ leading executive chefs, Jesualdo Bermejo and Martin Aristondo. Chef Jesualdo is the executive chef at NH Nacional Hotel in Madrid and all the award-winning Tablafina restaurants in Spain, while Chef Martin works as executive chef of the NH Collection Aranzazu hotel in San Sebastian. (Tablafina is a gastronomic initiative that seeks to connect with the world of traditional bars and local cuisine).

The harvest season lasts through September, and the resort offers a special four-course tasting menu at its restaurant Bella Vista. Guests can enjoy delicacies such as ricotta-stuffed olives, seared cod with an olive tapenade, and a rich olive oil cheesecake.

A special spa journey is also on offer at Anantara Spa with a full-body olive scrub high in antioxidants and Vitamin E followed by a massage. Guests staying during this period can book the festival package of accommodation, tasting menu and spa treatment, with the room or villa of their choice.

Cooking demonstration conducted during the olive harvest festival by chefs show how you can use both olives and olive oil in different ways. You will be surprised by how many dishes and desserts you can make with olive oil, including a healthy cheesecake.

“At Anantara, we believe in immersing guests in the real destination while partnering with the communities we operate in”, says Maren Kuehl, general manager of the resort. “Jabal Al Akhdar has such a fascinating history, as well as a unique culture, and we are proud to showcase this to guests from around the world,” she said.

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