Strait of Hormuz
As relations between Iran and the United States begin to thaw, the strategically important Strait of Hormuz remains a constant concern for countries around the world. The narrow strait, which sees about 1/3 of the world’s oil pass through it on its way to the Indian Ocean, has endured decades of drama. For years, American warships have been patrolling the waters while Iran periodically threatens to close the strait or seizes a ship like the recent apprehended Mærsk Tigris. And while the theatre plays on, Iranian smugglers race across the strait under a blanket of darkness towards Khasab – the small Omani town in the rocky outcropping of the Musandam Governorate.
With the shipping lanes out of sight and an economy that more endures than thrives, Khasab has the feeling of a frontier town a million miles from anywhere. It is primarily a fishing village, though considers tourism to be its most important industry – that is until the scorching hot summer months keep holiday-makers away and the town reverts to fish and dust.
Further out in the jagged cliffs sits Kumzar, an even smaller fishing village accessible only by boat. The language of Kumzar is unlike that of Oman or of anywhere else– rather it’s thought to be a blend of Portuguese, Farsi, Arabic and Balochi with some unique local words mixed in. It’s a linguist’s dream but also hides some of Musandam’s best diving spots.
Though Oman is active behind-the-scenes in many negotiations involving Iran – notably their part in helping to free the American hikers Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal from Evin prison – they were not invited to the negotiating table for the recent talks concerning Iranian nuclear limits. The loosening of the embargos will have dramatic effect through trade on the villages living along the Strait of Hormuz, but for now they carry on day by day like they have done for hundreds of years as the drama ebbs and flows