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'City of jinn': magical myths haunt ancient Omani oasis

Bahla is a remote settlement nestled between Oman's deserts and Hajar mountains
— Bahlā' (Oman) (AFP)

Deep in Oman's parched interior, the ancient oasis town of Bahla abounds with myths of camel-eating, fire-mouthed hyenas and men turning into donkeys -- a reputation for magic and mystery that persists to this day.

Some superstitious Omanis still shun the isolated desert settlement because of its stories of "jinn", the spirits that have been part of Arab folklore since before the dawn of Islam.

Bahla, a quiet town of palm groves and eerie, abandoned mud-brick homes, lies about 200 kilometres (125 miles) southwest of the capital Muscat in Al-Dakiliya governorate, with an imposing double-archway at its entrance.

Here, in one of Oman's oldest inhabited settlements, belief is firm in jinn, which are described as supernatural beings distinct from humans and angels that live alongside mankind.

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