Sohar is often claimed to be the birthplace of the legendary Sindbad (or Sinbad), hero of the “Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor”, one of the most famous tales in the One Thousand and One Nights, subsequently recycled into countless films, cartoons and books. It’s a nice story, given Oman’s historic seafaring prowess, and one you’ll probably see recycled a few times in local tourist literature, although sadly it has little basis in fact – attempts to claim the legendary sailor as a local Sohari appear to be simply an attempt to acquire prestige by association, rather as the English have adopted St George (who was actually a Roman soldier from Palestine).
Sindbad himself is clearly a mythical figure, a composite hero whose legendary adventures derive from centuries of seafaring folklore and assorted travellers’ tales derived from a wide variety of sources. According to the One Thousand and One Nights, Sindbad was a merchant from Baghdad, who set sail from Basra, although the stories of his seven voyages most likely derive from Persian sources, or perhaps from the famous collection of Sanskrit fables known as the Panchatantra. The name Sindbad itself is Persian rather than Arab, and may even be derived from Sindh (now a province in Pakistan), from which the names of both the Indus River and, ultimately, India, derive.