Oman, placed on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, might not be the primary vicinity that springs to mind when planning a holiday, but in step with the World Travel & Tourism Council, it turned into the fastest developing tourism destination within the Middle East. James Clark heads to the Persian Gulf to look if the hype holds up…
Flying south from Muscat with Gulf Air confirmed my suspicions that Oman is indeed a barren region nation. All I ought to see beneath me became a sizable panorama of mountains and rocks with little proof of lifestyles until I approached Salalah.
The terrain is distinct here due to the every year monsoon season. A coastal paradise, Salalah has shrubs, timber, and wildlife. It’s a combination of quality sandy beaches that stretch for nearly a hundred miles, archaeology, cultural records, herbal range and Omani meals that attract site visitors from throughout Europe and past.
Salalah is surrounded via a half of-circle of mountains and the wasteland of the great Empty Quarter. Both have acted as a citadel for lots of years, defensive the humans of the frankincense lands.
SALALAH: THE FRANKINCENSE LANDS
In the yr 2000, the United Nations declared the location a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the precise historical legacy of its frankincense, the heady dressmaker scent of Salalah, to be had for buy in many grades. The lighter the coloration, the higher the fine.
There’s nowhere better to pattern frankincense than the Haffah Souk subsequent to the Palace of His Majesty Sultan. The souk is a touch rundown and looking forward to demolition, but this seems to add to its charms. There’s no glitz and glamour of a number of Oman’s Middle Eastern competitors, but that would be approximately to alternate, as the point of interest modifications to tourism.
Another aspect that struck me, became the gentle manner that Omani dealers approached us from the sidelines. No pressure is given, simply nice men seeking to earn a residing and train us a touch bit about the lifestyle that they may be very pleased with.’
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN SALALAH
After touring the Haffah Souk within the morning, we hopped again inside the van with our informed, humorous and passionate manual, Ali al Shahri from Salalah Safari Tourism, and headed for the beach.
When we arrived, in place of bounce out of the van we drove over the white sands for 20 mins before stopping for a fast dip and the vital Instagram pictures.
Now I’ve seen a few beaches in my life, however none so stunning and peaceful as Salalah. We didn’t see some other man or woman and the seaside appears to go on forever.
After the short downtime, it became time to power into the Western border Dhofar mountain range for Omani food at Al Madiyaf, devouring an array of salads, hummus, halwa, chili dip and kebabs at the out of doors terrace. The provider became exceptional and we left feeling like we’d made some new buddies.
I fantasized approximately pitching a tent and spending more than one days simply looking at on the mountainous, rocky landscape, but Ali had different ideas.
We drove similarly into the hills to peer Prophet Job‘s tomb, An Nabi Ayyub. He needs to have cut an implementing figure as his resting place is 3 meters in duration. Admittedly, the building that his tomb resides in is a bit underwhelming, but it’s a popular Muslim pilgrimage destination.
Our power again to the Salalah Rotana Resort took a bit longer than expected – it would seem that camels rule the roads and the geographical region without a care within the global, not cars.
The subsequent morning we determined to discover the Eastern a part of Salalah. It became a scorching warm day, so we didn’t spend as lengthy in Taqah Castle – once domestic to a tribal chief, Sheikh Ali bin Taman Al Ma’shani, inside the nineteenth century – as we’d have appreciated too.
We drove similarly east to discover the fortified ruins of Samahram, marveling at the frankincense bushes sprinkled randomly throughout the rugged panorama.
The town of Samahram dates back for lots of years. It changed into formerly one of Southern Arabia’s essential important ports for the worldwide frankincense trade.
There are conflicting theories approximately the origins of the city, based totally at the inscription observed on the gateway. It becomes both based in the 3rd century BC by a nearby ruler named Sumhuram, or by King Il’ad Yalut I of the Hadhramaut (now Yemen) around 20 AD.
‘The ruins of Sumhuram have been very well excavated and the herbal putting of the metropolis among coast and hills provides to its sense of magical beauty’
The town began heading in the direction of abandonment in the fifth century AD, due to the formation of the sand bar across the mouth of the Khor Rori, which closed the creek.
The ruins of Sumhuram have been very well excavated and the natural putting of the city between coast and hills provides to its feel of magical beauty.
Our ride ended with a guided walk alongside part of the Frankincense path amongst mountains and valleys and perspectives of the image perfect sea and seashores.