Celebrating 42nd National Day and Muscat as the Arab Tourism Capital
Felicitations to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on the occasion of the 42nd National Day of Oman
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Foreword Oman, centuries before 1970 was considered the ‘hermit’ or otherwise the Middle East’s best kept secret. Today we see a different Oman emerging from its shell at an intense pace. We see how the government concentrates on the development of the citizens and infrastructure with uncompromised efforts and how greater importance is given to tourism at a cautious and controlled rate. Oman earns its name as a must see destination in 2012 by Lonely Planet and National Geographic. It is also Arabia’s Tourism Capital. Given that, the current estimates of tourist arriving in Oman are over 50,000 per year. In many ways however, Oman remains one of the most traditional countries in the Gulf. The country’s modest yet dramatic stretch of mountains, untouched beaches, well preserved architecture and without a doubt friendly and hospitable residents make it a pleasant nation to live in. This book is in honour of the natural beauty, culture and diversity of the Sultanate of Oman. The Majestic orchestrates her beauty with vivid and scenic pictures from immaculate beaches, spectacular forts, thriving villages, her unique heritage and so on. More importantly, the book celebrates and salutes the architect of modern Oman; His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, on 42 years of unparalleled progress and prosperity.
Royal Opera House 14
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque 18
Taimur Mosque 22
Zawawi Mosque 22
Bahla Fort 24
Jabreen Castle 26
Nakhal Fort 30
Nizwa Fort 34
Rustaq Fort 38
As Sunaysilah Castle 40
Dhows and boats 42
Traditional souqs 50
Tomb of Prophet Bin Ali
Tomb of Bibi Maryam 54
Al Hamra Village 56
Bhala, Nizwa 60
Bilad Sayt (Wadi Bani Awf)
Al Abreen, Misfat 66
Lake Hatta 68
Wadi Bani Khalid 72
Wadi Fanja 76
Wadi Shab 78
Dhofar Mountains 86
Hajar Mountains 86
Empty Quarter Desert 96
The Wahiba Sands 100
We ex�end our cong�at�lations to the leader who stood st�ong for the prog�ess of his people and the nation, HIS MAJESTY SULTAN QABOOS BIN SAID on the occasion of Oman’s 42nd National Day
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Alluring beauty of Oman Oman, approximately 300,000 sq kms in area is skirted with 1,700 sq kms of coastline. In the north is the strategically situated rocky and previously isolated Musandam peninsula, extending into the Straits of Hormuz. Much of the population of Oman is concentrated in the northern flat, fertile and relatively well watered strip of land, along the coast of the Gulf of Oman. Called the Batinah region, literally meaning stomach, it is seen as a contrast to its backbone, the Hajar Mountains. The Hajar mountain range contains Oman’s highest peaks and its main area is known as the Jabal Akhdar meaning Green mountains, as it was once the most heavily cultivated area of the country. It contains the highest peak in Oman at 2980 metres namely, Jabal Shams. The region known as the ‘Sharqiya’, is situated south of the eastern Hajar Mountains and contains the major coastal town of Sur, as well as the nearby coastal terminal of the huge new liquefied gas project at Qalhat. Dividing the Eastern Hajar Mountains from the Western Hajars is the Sumail Gap, which is the major traditional and modern route into the interior of the country. One route turns west and then north, and links Nizwa to Bahla and Ibri, and then on to Al Buraimi and the UAE. The other route is the long barren road through the central area of Oman, which is desert or semi-desert and contains the oil and gas producing areas. The lush green plains of Dhofar, with its lower greener mountain ranges, and Salalah, is Oman’s second city and is the birthplace of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on the southern coastal plain. It is the only part of the Arabian Peninsula to be affected by the monsoon.
Muttrah corniche city lights
The largest desert in the country is the vast area in the west extending into Saudi Arabia called the ‘Rub Al Khali’ or Empty Quarter. This was one of the last unexplored regions in the world, and was only crossed for the first time by Westerners in the 1930’s. The largest area of pure sand is the Wahiba Sands which is located in the ‘Sharqiya’, to the south of Sur. South of the Wahiba Sands is Oman’s most important island, Massirah. The coastal part is called Barr Al Hikman, and is a bird watcher’s paradise and during winter, several hundred thousand birds such as Flamingoes, Waders, Gulls, and Terns pit stop here. With regard to flora and fauna, Oman has over 56 types of mammals, the majority of which require conservation in protected areas. With a long coastline, Oman is also famous for her underwater scenery and sea life. The Frankincense trees grow in the wadis and Drier Mountain slopes in Dhofar. Despite the modern appearance of the main cities, much of the country remains intensely traditional with a deep-rooted traditional lifestyle. There is a strong desire to preserve as much as possible of Omani traditional character in its architecture, and even in its modern buildings. The day to day life of the average Omani in a town in the interior or a fishing village on the coast is in quite a lot of ways close to what it would have been centuries ago. Most Omanis seem to be assimilating what they want or need of modern life, and enjoying its benefits without letting the new technology adversely affect their own lives, values and heritage.
Camels sauntering through the Empty Quarter desert
Royal Opera House With the official opening in October 2011, The Royal Opera House Muscat located in Shatti Al-Qurm has become not only a major tourist attraction but also one of Omanâ€™s significant landmarks. Built on the royal orders of Sultan Qaboos, the Royal Opera House reflects on the contemporary Omani architecture integrating the very best of Arab, Western and eastern cultures. The theatre, which can be configured as either a classic proscenium theater or a concert hall with an imposing pipe organ is glorious by itself. The Royal Opera House is a testimony to the fact that a building can be produced, not only of outstanding elegance and beauty, but one which is a living environment to the cultural activities in Oman.
Royal Opera House
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Close to the road leading to the heart of Muscat stands the majestic Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in the Wilayat district, Bawshar. This mosque plays a role of both scientific and intellectual source of knowledge across the Islamic. Taking six years to complete, the Grand Mosque was inaugurated by His Majesty the Sultan in May 2001. It can accommodate up to 20,000 worshippers and consists of a main prayer hall, ladies prayer hall, covered passages, meeting hall and a library. A major feature of the main prayer hall is the hand-made Persian carpet weighing 21 tonnes that took four years to complete.
A view of the main tower of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Gateway of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Taimur Mosque The Said Bin Taimur mosque is located in Al Khuwair and extremely popular among the locals. Its distinct look is due to inspiration drawn from Turkish architecture and the Taimur mosques is said to be the only Turkish-style mosque. It is named after the father of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said and was constructed in his honour.
Zawawi Mosque Zawawi Mosque, built by Sheik Zawawi, is one of Omanâ€™s finest Mosques. This beautiful mosque, one of many in the Capital Area, was donated to the Omani people by the Zawawi family and graces the main route into Muscat from the west in Al Khuwair. The dome is shaped like an inverted lotus and is made of pink marble covered in 22-carat gold leaf. This majestic mosque when lit up against the night sky is a photographers dream.
Inner dome of the Said Bin Taimur mosque
Zawawi Mosque, built by Sheik Zawawi at sunset
Bahla Fort Situated at the foot of the Jebel Akhdar Mountains, in the heart of wilayat Bahla, lies Bahla Fort, which is one of the oldest and most famous ancient historic fortresses in the Sultanate of Oman. It was built in the 13th century when the oasis of Bahla prospered under the sway of the Banu Nebhan tribe. Exemplary as the characteristic military architecture of Oman and a major defensive complex, the fort enclosed and protected the entire oasis settlement of the Bahala town that surrounded it. The adobe walls of the fort were partly ruined after each rainy season. It was put on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1988. Restoration works began in the 1990s. Nearly USD9m was spent by the Omani government between 1993 and 1999.
13th century Bahla Fort at the foot of the Jebel Akhdar Mountains
Jabreen Castle The complexity of fortifications in Omani castles speaks of architectural expertise of this country and Jabreen Castle in Aâ€™Dakhiliyah region is a pointer in that direction. Built in the 16th century, the castle is a unique blend of defensive architecture and a refined artistry. Al Immam Bil Arab bin Sultan Al Y`aribi and his family resided in this palace which was not only their living quarter but also a stronghold during wartime. The palace is a large rectangular building consisting of five floors with 55 rooms, adorned by inscriptions and frescoes, an authentic expression of Omani craftsmanship. The palace was also a beacon of education at that time and contained many study rooms.
A view of Date palm trees from Jabreen Castle, Aâ€™Dakhiliyah region
A part of the Jabreen Castle
A veranda in the Jabreen castle
Nakhal Fort One of the most prominent historical monuments in the Sultanate, the Nakhal Fort has a formidable presence in this region. Sitting one hundred feet high on a rocky cliff, it enjoys a commanding view of its surroundings. Nakhal Fort is located at the entrance of Wilayt Nakhal in the Al Batinah South Governorate. Till 1980, the Fort remained the residence-cum-office (barza) of the Wali. The winter session of barza still continues, but the Wali no longer resides here. Though this fortâ€™s architecture does not follow any specific pattern, what makes it special is its strategic use of topographical features for defence and its flawless adaptation to the local environment in its design and engineering. Today Nakhal Fort welcomes visitors to explore the fort and its museums, but in the old days enemies could not make an easy entry.
Nakhl Fort in the Al Batinah region
Antique canon on top of the Nakhl Fort, surrounded by the Hajar Mountains
Nizwa Fort Built in the 1650s, Nizwa fort is a major tourist attraction in the country. The fort was the administrative seat of authority for the presiding Imams and Walis. Prosperous Nizwa then enjoyed a strategic location at the crossroads of vital trade routes. This colossal fort stood as a defensive stronghold against raiding forces. The fortâ€™s design strongly reflects Omani architectural ingenuity in military fortification of the period, catering to the needs of mortar-based warfare common in those days. The design of the enormous tower which is the main part of the fort is complete with battlements, turret, secret shafts, false doors and wells. The fort was perched above a stream that ensured a permanent supply of water during a long-lasting siege.
Entrance of the Nizwa Fort
Courtyard of Nizwa Fort
Rustaq Fort Once the capital of Oman, Rustaq is now known for Al Rustaq Fort, built in 1711 AD. The fort was originally called Qalat Al Kisra after the Persian ruler who held sway over the land between Sohar and Al Rustaq in the 7th century. It has been reconstructed myriad times over the passing years. The first Yaâ€™aba ruler - Nasir bin Murshid rebuilt it when he shifted the capital from Bahla to Al Rustaq. This is the building with four towers that stands magnificently today and has become a cultural landmark for Oman. The fort lies adjacent to a typical Omani oasis and is encircled by the Western Hajar mountain range. It is a grand structure constructed on three levels, consisting of separate houses, an armoury, a mosque and four towers.
Wall of the Rustaq Fort
Rustaq Fort is one of the oldest and tallest fortifications in Oman
As Sunaysilah Castle Built on a knoll overlooking As Sunaysilah village in Aâ€™Sharqiyah South Governorate, the raison dâ€™tre of As Sunaysilah Castle was to defend the village. The fort was probably built three centuries ago. As the principal fort in the wilayat of Sur, what attracts visitors to this fort today is its location, close to the heart of the Sur City, which offers a panoramic view of the coastline and the seafaring and boat-building town of Sur. The square design of the fort is quite simplistic, with four circular towers at each corner, three of which have cannons, the fourth being a watch tower. The fort stretches up to 35 metres in length and 30 metres in width with adobe wall fortification. The watch tower of Sunaysilah Castle in Sur
Courtyard of Sunaysilah Castle in Sur
Dhows and boats Oman has been a seafaring nation for many centuries and the traditional dhows were a major source of transportation for the locals. They were also used popularly in trading at to reach ports in Iran, india, South-East Asia and further down the African coast in Zanzibar. There are 12 different types of Dhow made in Oman, for various purposes like transport, carrying heavy loads or people, some for fishing or pearl diving. Each has its own unique design. Even today, these traditional dhows dot Omanâ€™s coastline. Lately these Dhows also attract tourists for many short cruises and sightseeing. A Dhow cruising the seas of Muttrah
An abandoned dhow near Musandam
An old dhow at low tide
Frankincense Frankincense is the aromatic resin that is obtained from the trees of the genus Boswellia. Some trees that could grow up to seven feet tall could also be as old as thousands of years. Most of these trees are found towards the Empty Quarters. The traditional home of frankincense is Dhofar, the southernmost region of the sultanate. Just like rubber harvest, the tree is slit with a special knife called the mingaf collecting the milky white sap which is then crystalised. The romans were the greatest consumers of frankincense. In addition to its aromatic fragrance, it can also be used as a therapeutic ingredient
An Omani woman holding a pot of frankincense
A frankincese tree growing along the Dhofar hills
Pottery The art of pottery is exceptionally famous throughout the Sultanate. The potters of Bahla, Nizwa are gifted with a natural talent along with being born on land that has very special clay. Displays of this craft are seen in museums, souqs and handicraft stores across the country. The potter works on his wheel using long strokes and you slowly see the damp clay emerging with shapes and form. Electric wheels are now widely used but it is possible to find a few traditional potters clinging to their kick wheel. Bahla has hundreds of potters and the region has always been considered a market front-runner when it comes to cottage industry.
Bahla pottery on display in a souq
Traditional souqs Traditional marketplaces are called a souqs and are found throughout Oman. It includes the Sinaw souq, Ibra souq and many more. The oldest and most popular souq is in Muttrah along Corniche in old Muscat. Numerous handicrafts including wooden carvings, pottery, ornaments and spices are found at good prices. Walking into the Muttrah souq is like stepping into a labyrinth, one pathway leads to another. Good buys at the souq include antique Khanjars that is the traditional Omani dagger worn by men, incense burners and silver ornaments. Another such souq is at Nizwa that hosts a cattle market on Friday and otherwise an abundance of handicrafts and a range of pottery from the region.
A traditional souq in Nizwa
Tomb of Prophet Mohammed bin Ali al Alawi Mohammed bin Ali al Alawi is a descendant of the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), who set up a madrassa (religious school) in Mirbat and died there in 1135 AD. The twin onion dome shaped mausoleum stands in the middle of a large Islamic cemetery, just outside Mirbat on the road to Salalah. Mirbat was the ancient capital of Dhofar and was an important town in the early 9th century. The stone tomb inside the air-conditioned mausoleum is massive, which has given rise to the legend that he was a giant. The tomb is a fine example of medieval architecture.
Tomb stones at Mirbat
Tomb of Mohammed bin Ali al Alawi, son-in-law of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)
Tomb of Bibi Maryam The famous tomb of Bibi Miryam is situated in Qalhat. Qalhat was an important trading city in the 14th and 15th century. The tomb is the only thriving remains of the once famous city. The tomb of BibI Maryam also called as The Mausoleum of Lady Maryam. The tomb was build for Baha-al-Din and his wife Maryam. Even today visitors light candles and leave offerings for them. According to Ibn Battuta, a famous arab taveller, she also built a splendid mosque overlooking the sea and harbor, Bibi Maryam is believed to be a pious lady of high standing and reputation who was even respected by the Portugese.
Tomb of Bibi Maryam in Qalhat
Bibi Maryamâ€™s tomb, a holy woman in Qalahat, north of Sur
Al Hamra Village Al Hamra is a 400-year-old town in the region Ad Dakhiliyah, situated in north eastern Oman. The village is also called Hamra Al Abryeen, as Al Abri tribe live there. Al Hamra boasts of some of the oldest preserved houses in Oman. Many of them have two stories, with ceilings made of palm beams and fronds topped by mud and straw. Doors have intricate carvings along with fine Omani metal work. As is evident from the construction of ceilings, the village has date palm groves and is well irrigated with a falaj. Some dilapidated mud houses were replaced by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said in the 80â€™s with modern white houses which are equipped with modern amenities. The people in the village are very welcoming here. You can go to a souq nearby to buy local stuff and find a halwa makers as well.
Village of Al Hamra, a 400-year-old town, North-Eastern Oman
Bahla, Nizwa Bahla is situated in the old capital of Oman, Nizwa, famous for its silver souq and a big round fort. Bahla is on the UNESCO list of heritage monuments because of its cultural value. Nizwa is also famous for its ancient fort and its pottery. Being 40km away from Nizwa and 200km from the Muscat capital, Bahla has a lot to offer. Bahla fort with its 12km wall, is the oldest fort in Oman. The oasis of Bahla owes its prosperity to the Banu Nebhan, the dominant tribe in the area from the 12th to the end of the 15th century. Bahla is an outstanding example of a fortified oasis settlement of the medieval Islamic period, exhibiting the water engineering skill of the early inhabitants for agricultural and domestic purposes.
Bilad Sayt Set in the serene green of Oman’s countryside is the village Bilad Sayt with its traditional allure, very typical of this part of the world. Nestled in Al Rustaq’s rocky hills, this Omani communal-style settlement is a tightly held cluster of stone-and-mud dwellings laid out in steps along the slopes of rugged hills. Narrow meandering pathways connect these dwellings, some of which are even two or three storeys high. Local and foreign tourists are marvelled by the pristine beauty of its natural setting which is a combination of date palms and a patchwork of terraced fields set against stark brown mountains that provide a formidable perspective to the setting. Bilad Sayt’s location makes its summer enjoyable with moderate temperature. Tourists get a glimpse of Oman’s rural life here. The village’s two main falajs are fed by streams of water from these mountains, nurturing the area’s farms below. The overflow joins the spectacular Wadi Bani Auf downstream.
Bilad Sayt, a village nestled in Al Rustaq hills
Al Abreen, Misfat The picturesque terraced village of Misfah is one of the important tourist destinations in the Sultanate because of the large number of visitors it brings all year around. Lying at the foot of Jabal Shams, the view of Misfat is breath taking with the well-lit Hamra below and the star-it sky above. Misfat is a home of palm trees and old high-rising buildings that goes up to four floors. Misfat not only offers a serene landscape but also mountain tracks for those looking for adventure and exploration. The people of the village keep to their customs and ancient traditions and respect visitors to the village. Al Abreyeen, Misfah
Lake Hatta Lake Hatta is set in the Al Hajar Mountains. The dam that was built to capture flash floods and protect people around has created a picturesque lake that can be called a retreat for inhabitants and tourists alike. Several wadis converge here at Lake Hatta which eventually flows into the Sea of Oman. A cluster of ponds and lakes, fig groves and mosque towers enhance the surrounding of the lake and run east of the old citadel in the area. Divided into small settlements, the Hatta village is situated south of the Dubai-Muscat Highway. Historically, Hatta was a significant Omani border post, thereby controlling an important gateway for trade through Omanâ€™s mountain chain.
Wadi Bani Khalid A popular tourist destination, the Wadi Bani Khalid is perhaps the best-known wadi of the Sharqiyah Governorate, located 203 kilometres from Muscat. Nestled in the eastern Al Hajar Mountains, the wadi offers a breath taking view of lush green valley with abundant natural pools of water. Large boulders strewn along the course of the wadi enhance the natural beauty of the location and offer vantage points for enjoying the calm ambience. A road cuts through the valley to reach Muqal town, well known for its cave. Exploring the cave may be a daunting task for many but not impossible altogether. Springs that are common here are refreshing in this hot climate. Camping is a popular activity in the wadi.
Wadi Bani Khalid
Wadi Fanja Wadi Fanja delights its visitors with scenic beauty that has a picturesque blend of palm trees, mountains and wadi water wells in its landscape. The wadi, which contains running water that is widely used for irrigation, is the lifeline of Bidbid (Ad-Dakhliyah region). Perched on top of a hill is a tower that gives a spectacular view of the surrounding scenery and the wadi below which happens to be an attractive spot for picnic locally. Located near the extensive palm grove alongside Wadi Fanja is the Fanja village. The village is renowned for its pottery and mats that are handcrafted locally, the latter being woven from the fronds and branches of the palm tree.
Wadi Shab What makes Oman out of the ordinary is its scenic beauty and some of them are breath taking. About two hoursâ€™ drive from Muscat, Wadi Shab located just next to Wadi Tiwi in Sur, is one such destination that is simply stunning. With its natural aquamarine pools, waterfalls and terraced plantations, it is a visual treat. This apart, the wadi has an adventurous trait also. A visit to a partially submerged cavetakes a half hour hike up the wadi beddotted with date palm trees along the stark rocky mountains. As you enter the cave entrance by swimming through a key hole, you emerge in a waterfall inside. Visitors can go for rock climbing as well. Diving is also an option, if that is what they long for.
Salalah beach Along with the popular season of Khareef, Salalah is also famous for its beautiful and untouched beaches. The Fazayeh Beach is a seven kilometre stretch of coast that has at least six different beaches. Salalah is also home to the spectacular Mughsayl beach that allows a great experience for tourists. The drive down to the beach is ordinary with desert on both sides. However, once you reach, you are met with a fantastic view of the sea, the rugged mountains and cliffs, blow holes and white sandy beach.
Tiwi On the Muscat-Sur Highway, between Quriyat and Sur, is the most popular white-sand beach in Oman that is just five kilometres past Fins. This beach is along the famous village of Tiwi and it is also very close to Wadi Shab that is considered one of the most beautiful wadis in Oman.The snorkelling here is said to be incredible due to its aquamarine waters. Tiwi beach is the best place to trek, explore and swim. The scenery is spectacular as Tiwi is also home to the Bama Sink Hole.
Mughsayl Beach popular during the Khareef season in Salalah
Coastline of Mirbat
Tranquil water of Oman
Dhofar Mountains In the south of Oman, the mountains of Dhofar region extend from east to west, off the Al Hillaniyat Islands. In this region, the Samhan Mountains include an Arabian Leopard Reserve in the east and Jabal Al Qamar in the west is the most prominent mountain range in the region, rising to an altitude of 2,500 metres. Samhan Mountain is one of the most important mountain ranges in the Governorate of Dhofar, with a maximum height of 2,100 metres. Samhan Mountain includes many plateaus punctuated by narrow and deep gorges, some of which are about 1,000 metres deep. Various plants grow in the plain of Jabal Samhan, such as acacia, gum trees and Frankincense trees.
Hajar Mountains Known to be the highest mountain range in the eastern Arabian Peninsula, the Hajar Mountains are positioned in north-eastern Oman and eastern United Arab Emirates. Hajar, literally meaning ‘stone mountains’ in Arabic, has abundant rocky crests and plunging canyons. Its highest point is in the north, that is the Musandam Peninsula and reaches a height of 2,000 metres. The area is locally known as Ru’us Al Jibal, meaning the ‘heads of the mountains’. These mountains draw tremendous interest from geologists. They are an important eco region as the climate is cool and wet from December to March. Although it gets warmer during the summer, it occasionally rains in April to September.
A view of Al Hajar Mountains
Khasab Khasab, is the local capital of the Musandam peninsula and is considered an exclave of Oman. Located 500 kilometres from Muscat it is popularly known as the ‘Norway of Arabia’. The city of Khasab was built by the Portuguese in the beginning of the 17th century at the peak of the Naval presence in the region. Khasab’s natural harbour gave shelter to boats and Dhows from rough seas. Khasab was designed as a supply point of dates and water to the Portuguese ships sailing through the straight. Today, Khasab is protected against floods my three large dams. This land was inaccessible until the modern coast roads were built and today, Khasab is a popular weekend destination.
Scenic mountains against the cloudy skies
Empty Quarter Desert Encompassing a major part of Saudi Arabia and areas of Oman, the UAE and Yemen, the Rubâ€™ al Khali or Empty Quarter is the largest sand desert in the world, covering 650,000 square kilometres. Its surface elevation varies from 800 metres in the southwest to around sea level in the northeast. The terrain is covered with reddish-orange sand dunes underneath which vast oil reserves have been discovered. Until about AD 300, frankincense trade caravans crossed the desert. In recent times, tribal populations were present in certain parts of the Empty Quarter. As a result of a scientific exploration organised by the Saudi Geological Survey, various types of fossilised creatures, meteorites, 31 new plant species and plant varieties, 24 species of birds that inhabit the region were discovered.
The red-orange sand dunes of Empty Quarter
A panoramic view of the valley after the rains
The Wahiba Sands The Wahiba Sands or Ramlat al-Wahiba is a desert region in Oman and named after the Wahiba tribe who inhabit the region. The desert sprawls across an area of 12,500 square kilometers. The desert is divided into upper and low Wahiba based on the types of dunes formed in the area. The dunes of the north are 100 meters high. The north and west boundaries of the desert are marked by the fluvial systems Wadi Batha and Wadi Andam. The desert has sparked scientific interest since a 1986 expedition by the Royal Geographical Society documented the diversity of the terrain, the flora and fauna, recording 16,000 invertebrates as well as 200 species of other wildlife, including fauna. They also documented 150 species of native flora. Apart from al-Wahiba, mention is made of tribes like al-Amr, al-Bu-Isa, the Hikman, Hishm and Janaba inhabiting the region.
A birds eye view of the village in Wahiba sands
Single humped camel in the Omani desert
Thorn trees casting shadows for travellers and animals, Wahiba
Wildlife Turtle The city of Sur is a tourist magnet for its Greenback Turtles. The pleasant long beaches of Sur are egg laying beds for these endangered species. The turtles come from the ocean in the midnight, dig a trench, lay their eggs, cover them with sand and go back to the ocean. Although this is a very slow process, over 20,000 female turtles make their way to Raz Al Jinz every yearly to make their nesting. These turtles can grow up to 1.5 metres weighing up to 68-190kilograms. The turtles are herbivorous, though the newly emerged hatchlings are carnivorous in nature.
Greenback turtle on the beautiful coral reefs of Oman
Greenback turtle closing its nest after laying eggs
Underwater diversity Oman is skirted my scenic coastlines and pristine beaches. In the shallow waters, the coral reefs of are largely uncharted territory. The diversity and charm is yet to be fully discovered and appreciated by locals and tourists alike. The seas of Oman orchestrate a paradise of underwater creatures. Some of the reef areas containing rare coral communities are faced with a threat of being endangered. However, the implementation of National Coral Reef Management Plan in 1996 started gaining momentum in in new millennium. Coral reef watchers and enthusiasts have a vast wealth of marine wildlife to explore along the beaches of Oman.
Dolphins Oman accommodates its coastlines for around 11 species of dolphins and whales, Muscat and Musandam being the most famous for its dolphins throughout the year. The most commonly encountered species of dolphins are the spinner dolphins, which delight the viewers with their spinning leaps. They are also joined by the common dolphins and the bottlenose in mixed groups. The Risso Dolphins are also spotted occasionally on the watch. The best time for dolphin watching are early morning or towards sunset. Months through October to March offers the most number of dolphins on the coast.
A Tessellate Moray amongst the corals of Oman
Bottle-nosed dolphins leaping through Muscat waters
Desert Fox The desert fox as it is commonly known is the fennec fox is a small nocturnal fox found in the deserts of Oman. Its most distinctive feature is its unusually large ears, which serve to dissipate heat. Its name comes from the Arabic word fanak, which means fox. Its coat, ears, and body functions have adapted to high-temperature, low-water and desert environments. In addition, its hearing is sensitive enough to hear prey moving underground. It mainly eats insects, small mammals, and birds. The fennecâ€™s fur is prized by the indigenous peoples of North Africa, and in some parts of the world, the animal is considered an exotic pet.
Camels Camels are synonymous with the Bedouin way of life. While some are specialised in carrying heaving loads, used from milk, meat and the others are bred for camel racing. Camel breeding and rearing is a traditional activity practised all over Oman and it dates back to references in the Holy Quran. Omani camels are of medium size and known for their strength and speed. The colours however, vary from region to region, for instance; Dhofar camels tend to be black. Camel-breeding has become more profitable in recent years due to its encouragement by the government.
Bottle-nosed dolphins leaping through Muscat waters
Congratulations to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on the 42nd National Day
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