x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

'I have no fear. It's nice when the moon shines'

Saeed al Qishi, a sprightly, spirited man with short fingers and a gruff laugh who has lived in the mountains for more than 70 years enjoys a solitary life of contemplation.

DHAYA // Saeed al Qishi is one of the mountain's solitary goat-herds, a sprightly, spirited man with short fingers and a gruff laugh who has lived in the mountains for more than 70 years. In his retirement, Mr al Qishi is free to roam the mountains. He has a small concrete house with a fan and a light where he sleeps in the heat of summer.

He stays here for two or three days at a time, an hour and a half's walk from the main road. He goes alone and enjoys the isolation. "I have no fear, even now. It's very nice when the moon shines." There is a strong community amongst the solitary goatherds, who he believes number 50 or 60 in his area. "We all know each other. I like it and sometimes people will visit me and I give them bread, water and coffee."

In the past he traded goats and wood for luxuries such as fish, rice, dates and coffee. It was a one-day journey to the city. Mr al Qishi's main concerns today are air pollution from cement factories and the quarrying that has changed the shape of the mountain. "I feel very happy in the mountains," said Mr al Qishi. "I like the smell from the mountains. You see the goats, down here and up there, sometimes they go very far. If they see somebody else, they run away. If they see me, they are not afraid."

When rain comes, Mr al Qishi escorts his goats down from the mountain. "The goats are clever. They will hide when they see the rain," he said. Mr al Qishi knows the secret to his youthful energy is found on the craggy cliffs where he tends his goats. "If I feel tired I will take a rest but I will not stop going to the mountains." @Email:azacharias@thenational.ae