As we write this piece Dhofar is just beginning to see a trickle of tourists but the country's southern region will be at its peak at the end of July till the beginning of September. But since Ramadan is on, tourists are likely to converge on this picturesque region only after Eid Al Fitr. Adding charm to the Khareef, the government organises the Salalah Tourism Festival which has evolved to become the largest consumer festival in the region.
Speaking to Thursday, Abdulla Ali Muqaddam, director of Salalah Tourism Festival, said, 'The Salalah Tourism Festival will be kicked off on second day of Eid until September 6 and will be open for festivities from 4pm until 1am (midnight). Considering the Eid holidays we are certain that the number of visitors will surpass that of last year. The theme for this year's festival is, 'Oman – Generosity and Loyalty'.
Last Khareef the region saw a total of 351,195 visitors, out of which 211,042 were from Oman while the next big chunk came from the neighbouring United Arab Emirates - 70,766. 13,843 people from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia visited Dhofar during the Khareef, which literally means, 'the time of ample rain'. Asian countries also added 38,898 visitors to Dhofar last Khareef.
It may be recalled that His Majesty Sultan Qaboos had recently issued Royal Orders to allocate OMR15 million to raise efficiency and improve services at tourist sites in the Governorate of Dhofar, serving primarily visitors to the Governorate of Dhofar during the Khareef season and to be executed in a schedule that begins in 2013. And thus one can expect better facilities and amenities for the 2013 season.
The Dhofar region with Salalah as its capital, once a major source of ancient world's most-priced commodities — frankincense, turns into a Swiss-like landscape to the delight of thousands of tourists from the Gulf who throng the pace to relish the scenery and the weather while at home it is a baking 45° C.
The idyllic Mugsayl beach, about 35km from Salalah, contoured by sculpted cliffs with blowholes (natural sprays from the earth) formed in the limestone rock, where plumes of seawater gush upwards like a fountain and which can reach a height of 30 metres or more is a very popular sight.
Very near to Mugsayl beach is a slight diversion where you can find some frankincense trees. The whiff of frankincense has been permeating Oman since time immemorial. Locally known as 'luban' the scent of its smoke is everywhere, rich but not cloying, honeyed yet slightly astringent. You can buy good frankincense in Salalah.
If you are adventure-inclined, you may drive beyond Mugasyl towards the Yemen border – the drive is punctuated by amazing scenery.
Another most visited spot is Prophet Ayub (Job) tomb. Nestling on one of the many verdant summits of the Jebel Qara mountains the Prophet Ayub mausoleum draws a steady stream of visitors. Walking around the environs of the site gives an overwhelming experience and visitors consume the solitude that perhaps drew Prophet Ayub to these parts many centuries ago. You can also enjoy the view down below from this summit. The place is teeming with visitors resting on the natural green carpets on roadsides on the way up to the mountains where the shrine is located.
Yet another tomb is tomb of Prophet Omran located right in the heart of Salalah city. Amidst the bountiful settings of a leafy canopy on the outskirts of Salalah thrives an abundance of coconut palms, banana, papaya, sugarcane, custard apple, sapota trees. But what tourists relish is the tender coconut (locally called mishli) which is available in abundance unlike other parts of Oman.
A visit to Salalah's Dahariz area which abou
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