The Salalah Tourism Festival kicked-off on June 30, opening an exciting line-up of cultural and entertainment fiesta of events
From June 30 to August 31, Salalah will don its annual festive garb to present its celebratory offering on a platform of culture, heritage, entertainment and shopping. The new edition of the festival will herald a series of new activities and programmes, featuring folklore and traditional handicrafts.
Announcing the Tourism Festival, early this month, Dhofar Municipality emphasised that the addition of new features would make it all the more attractive for domestic visitors as well as regional tourists, who are expected to include Salalah in their summer itinerary during the month – as always. Pointing out that the preparations for the festival were in place, H.E. Sheikh Salim bin Aufit al Shanfari, Head of Dhofar Municipality and chairman of the organising committee, noted that the two months of festivities would showcase cultural splendours from 15 different countries, who would be participating in this festival. And, with road works expected to be complete before the official opening of the khareef season on June 21, there will be better traffic movement and visitors will have convenient options to move around and check out the touristy places in the region. The Municipality has assured that it is ready for the expected rush of tourists during the season.
With summer temperatures in other parts of Oman and the region making the cool climes of Dhofar a prime summer destination, visitors have a lot to look forward to, in addition to the festival activities and programmes that will occupy the main festival grounds. The large Dhofar Governorate stretches over an area of one-third of southern Oman, and includes the wilayats of Salalah, Taqah, Mirbat, Sadah, Shalim and Halyaniyat Islands, Dalkoot, Rakhyut, Thamrit, Mokshin and Al Mazuna. The Governorate’s distinction lies in its exciting natural diversity with the long coastal line blending with the mountains and the desert in a symphony orchestrated by the monsoon. All wilayats boast their share of tourist attractions, making the entire Governorate a tourism hotpot, especially during the long summer season everywhere else in the country.
To make the most of the Salalah Tourism Festival, it is best to chalk out an itinerary that includes visits to its popular beaches and mountains. Here are a few attractions to explore, with the focus on Khawrs (lagoons) of the Salalah Coast Reserve:
This is the largest reserve in the Governorate of Dhofar. According to Oman’s Tourism Ministry website, it is one of the most attractive tourist spots, comprising Khawr Ruri port, famously known as Samharam. History buffs have a lot to look forward to, as the area around this place is home to important ruins that date back to prehistoric times. This Khawr is it is not only a nature reserve, but an important heritage reserve as well, and has been included in the World Heritage List.
Khawr Al Baleed
The Al Baleed Khawr, which hems the Al Baleed city, is important for a variety of reasons. For one, the region is on the World Heritage List, making the Khawr a protected zone, and, for another, the place boasts a combination of archaeology, history and nature. The archaeological park, which is considered to be the first of its kind in the country, seals it as a prime tourist attraction. The park serves to protect natural resources as well as attract tourists.
Khawr Al Maghsayl
This Khawr is on the eastern end of Jabal Al Qamar, or the moon mountain, stretching for about half a square kilometer. It is deemed highly important, as it preserves main species of indigenous and migratory birds that inhabit the lagoon due to the abundance of food all through the year.
Taking its name from the ancient city of Awqad, this lagoon is stretched over 40 acres; it is one of the sites frequented by birds (egrets, herons, Abu Mahgl) nesting throughout the year.
Khawr Ad Dahareez
Similar to Khawr Awqad in its importance, this lagoon is located at the eastern entrance of Salalah city. Its importance can also be attributed to the biodiversity; it is frequented by migratory birds.
Located at the western entrance of Taqah City, the Khawr Taqah lagoon occupies about two square kilometres and has spots in which freshwater varieties of plants grow alongside other plant types that need a high level of salinity. Visitors can look forward to an abundance of marine life, as well as many types of birds.
The Khawr Sawli in the Wilayat Taqah is important for the plant life and animals that inhabit it.
Khawr Al Qurm Al Sagheer and Al Qurm Al Kabeer
Dense mangrove trees cover these two lagoons and obscure the waters from the main road, thereby encouraging several birds to build their nests here. The lagoons are considered to be perfect destinations for the bio-cycles of some micro-organisms and plants.