Al Batinah Region

Al-Batinah Region accommodates the fertile coastal plain of Al-Batinah, which nestles between the Western Hajar Mountains in the West and Gulf of Oman in the East, extending for 270 Km long and 25 Km wide.

Al-Batinah has witnessed a glorious past and proud history, and once was home to two early capitals of Oman; Ar-Rustaq and Sohar. A vast array of strongholds still in existence to date telling chapters of this renowned saga, such as Rustaq, Nakhl and Sohar castles and the forts of Al-Hazm, Jibrin, Barka and Bait An-Nuaman to name a few.

Al-Batinah is home to approximately 660 thousand inhabitants; the second most densely populated area in the nation after the Governorate of Muscat, and comprises 12 Wilayats.

Nature is one of Al-Batinah's most astounding assets. Aflaj and springs spread out all over the Region, with springs of Al-Kasfah and Al-Thuwara being the most popular. Plam tree groves extend virtually everywhere, alongside some rare trees, like Al-Masuwa and Ad-Debaj. The Region is also noted for its juicy wadis, such as Al-Jizzi, Bani Awf and Al-Hoqain.

Al-Batinah has been cultivated for many years with a variety of food crops. It is also famous for its traditional crafts, including Khanjar and swords forging, pottery and ceramics, hide tanning, Omani Halwa and boat building.

Al-Batinah is well-known for horse and camel racing, and bull fighting.

Sohar was the main city of trade in Oman centuries ago. The Wilayat is famous for its copper deposits, and archaeological evidence points to copper extraction being carried out 5,000 years ago. Three copper mines are still in operation today.

One of the first references to Sohar is in the work of historian Yaqut Al-Hamawi who implies that the city possessed its name in the 6th century AH from a descendent of Noah: Sohar bin Adam bin Sam bin Noah.

As one of the largest and most modern cities of the Sultanate, Sohar is complete with top class amenities and services. Modern residentail blocks and commercial centres are everywhere, parks outspread throughout the city and a fine collection of artistic monuments adorn roundaouts.

With its plethora of natural and cultural sites, Sohar has become a distinctive tourist destination. Clean safe beaches, wadis with running waters, such as Wadi Hibi, Wadi Ahin and Wadi Al-Jizzi, and the impressive Castle of Sohar that houses a museum within, are some examples.

Sohar is under constant development, and has incorporated heavy-weight industrial projects, including Sohar Refinery (one of the largest worldwide), a multi-national Industrial Port along with its industrial zone and an Airport.

Barka is one of the historic cities on the coast of Oman which flourished during Al-Ya'aribah and Al Bu-Said dynasties. It was an area of export and received produce from the neighbouring Wilayats for shipment to India, Basra and East Africa. The prosperity of those days is obvious in Bait An-Nuaman and the Fort of Barka, which was the seat of the government.

The Wilayat boasts the magnificent Sawadi area, with its Island and Beach. The Island, famous for its tower, lies 2 Km off the coast. The Beach houses As-Sawadi Beach Resort, which provides a number of recreational and water sports activities, such as diving, water skiing and cruises.

Within close proximity lies the captivating Natural Reserve of Al-Dimaniyyat Islands. During the weekend evenings the sound of Manjoor, a traditional equipment used in the past to pump water, can be clearly heard.

Today, Barka's appeal is growing fast and is set to become a major contender in the residential, commercial and tourism business. With the onset of the famed Blue City project in the charming As-Sawadi area, Barka will soon become a massive centre of attraction for local and international visitors and tourists alike.

The Wilayat lies to the North of Nakhal, 130 Km from Muscat, and is home to a number of castles, forts and towers, the most prominent of which is As-Safalah Castle in the town of Afi.

More than 22 aflaj are found here, such as Al-Washehi and Al-Hadeeth in addition to the spring of Al-Shelli in Afi.

The Wilayat is also recognised for its pottery and dates, processing, locally knowon as "Tabseel" which is exported to Indian sub continental.

The Wilayat is also a home for a rare kind of tree known the "Alfans", which was brought from East Affrica, this tree is consider to be the first of its kind in Sultante.

At 109 Km from Muscat, Nakhl rests in the South of Al-Batinah at the foot of Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar; Western Hajar Mountains.

The Wilayat was named after the vast extended farms of plam tree (Nakhl in Arabic) that virtually cover entire Wilayat.

Upon entry to Nakhl, the most prominent feature is its majestic Castle, which is built on a 200m high craggy outcrop and outlooks the widespread palm tree farms. The Castle was extended over the centuries, prior to its restoration in 1990.

As one would expect, Nakhl is rich with its water resources, out of which the spring of Ath-Thuwarah is the most polpular. Situated close to the Castle, Ath-Thuwarah irrigates around 90% of Nakhl land, in addition to Wadi Mistel and its villages which lie on the northern footage of the Green Mountain such as Wakran Village, with its spectacular scenery and temperate weather.

Another notable source is Wadi Al-Abyad, which contains deep warm 'blue pools', due to mineral deposits in the water.

Al-Awabi is situated approximately 150 Km from Muscat, at the foot of Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar, southwest of Nakhl.

The Wilayat is scenically stunning, with areas such as Al-Aliya with its striking landscapes, tall trees and towering mountains.

Another noted area is Al-Ojah, dotted with caves and secret passageways through the rocks, where ancient inscriptions are carved into the walls.

Al-Awabi is characterised by its pottery and palm-frond ware. Precious metals are still worked into exquisite designs here, as gold and silver jewellery are yet crafted in the traditional way.

Wilayat Ar-Rustaq rests in the South of Al-Batinah at the foot of Western Hajar Mountains, around 160 Km from Muscat.

Ar-Rustaq was once the capital of Oman during the era of Imam Nasir bin Murshid Al-Ya'arubi, thus, it is rich with a bounty of archaeological evidence bearing witness to this glorious past.

Among said sites are its imposing Castle with its enclosed Al-Bayadah Mosque, from which several Omani scholars have graduated, and Al-Hazm Fort, built in 1711 and sets an outstanding example of Omani Islamic architecture, as well as some 22 watching towers.

The Wilayat is an area of healing and warm springs, the most famous being Al-Kasfah spring. Its water runs at 45 C° and is regarded as a cure for rheumatism and skin diseases due to its sulphur content.

Other pertinent natural locations to visit include the wadis of Bani Awf, Bani Ghafer, As-Sahtan and Al-Hoqain, home to Al-Khobbah blue spring and waterfalls that cascade up to 10 m high then glide into crystal clear pools.

More than 200 aflaj populate Ar-Rustaq, with As-Saighi, Al-Hamam, Al-Kamel and At-Tayyar being the most popular. in addition, the mountains are pitted with caves such as As-Sanqahah Cave with its own subterranean springs.

A major occupation in Ar-Rustaq is beekeeping. Its pure Omani honey is a most sought-after commodity and is of the highest quality.

Ar-Rustaq is famous for its distictive style of Omani khanjar, and its dates are among the best in Oman, such as Sebg Al-Aroos, Al-Khalas, Az-Zabad, and Al-Hilali. On top of that, the Wilayat is market to the fruits grow on the nearby foothills of Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar.

The Wilayat of Al-Musan'ah is located on the rich fertile plain of Al-Batinah Coast, 112 Km from Muscat.

It was once a popular market town and supplied many of the neighbouring Wilayats with various commodities. The Wilayat encompasses a number of walls and strongholds, such as Al-Musan'ah and Al-Malddeh Forts.

Void of springs and aflaj, the people of Al-Musan'ah learnt to depend on their hands, practicing an assortment of crafts (san'ah), hence its name. Such crafts include cloth dying using indigo plant, extracting brown sugar, Shash boat building and sword forging.

The Wilayat of As-Suwaiq lies on the fertile plain of Al-Batinah Coast, approximately 136 Km from Muscat.

Unlike its closest neighbour, Al-Musan'ah, As-Suwaiq possesses many aflaj and springs. It is not surprising though to find the Wilayat recognised by its widespread agriculture, as most of its inhabitants profess agriculture and fishing. Vast plantations stretch across As-Suwaiq where palm trees, herbs, bananas, mangoes and citrus fruits are grown.

The Wilayat boasts a number of forts, the most noted of which is As-Suwaiq Fort, and it is well-known for its horse and camel races, along with bull fighting.

Situated 322 Km from Muscat, the mountainous Wilayat of Al-Khabourah is honeycombed with caves, too numerous to name.

An intermingling of the coast and mountains conceives a captivating blend that sets Al-Khabourah apart, supported by a number of towers and forts, the most imposing being Qasbiyat Al-Bu Said Fort.

Thanks to the 150 aflaj the Wilayat boasts including An-Nabaan and Al-Qasf, people of Al-Khabourah rely greatly on agriculture to earn their livelihood, cultivating dates, sugar cane, wheat and cotton.

Other occupations in practice include leather tanning, weaving, fishing, boat building, Khanjar forging and Halwa making.

Saham nestles between the coast and Western Hajr Mountains, 205 Km from Muscat.

The Wilayat has a plentiful supply of fresh running water and features a breathtaking mountain scenery, turning it to be one of the greenest coastal areas in the Sultanate.

Its plethora of aflaj and wadis still constitutes the basis of irrigation and cultivation, such as the wadis of Ahin, Al-Mahmoum, As-Sarmi, Shafan and Khour Milh, and the aflaj of Bani Omar, Felaij, Rawdha, Mahab and Sheidah to name a few.

The Souq Castle is the core attraction in Saham and used to be the headquarter of the Wali and the Qadi (Judge).

The Wilayat of Liwa lies north of Sohar, approximately 284 Km from Muscat and has a lively market place where local produce and fresh fish are traded.

Liwa boasts a number of rural features such as springs, afalaj and caves, including the spring and cave of Al-Azam adjacent to Khowr Al-Bahr and surrounded by Mangrove trees, and Jabal Abu Kahif, home to some of the largest caves in the Wilayat.

The fortress of Awlad Ya'rab, built of white clay, is located on the beach in the Harmul area.

The Wilayat is known for palm-frond weaving, especially mats as well as production of traditional herbal medicines.

Shinas is the most northerly situated Wilayat of Al-Batinah Region and lies 322 Km from Muscat, bordering UAE.

Nature lovers will have much to see in Shinas, home of Wadi Al-Ghalilah and Wadi Al-Aswad, along with the renowned tourist landmark of Shinas Park, famous for its forest of Mangrove (Qurum) trees. Many fruits and vegetables are grown here, such as bananas, mangoes, tomatoes and lemons.

Archaeologically, the Wilayat hosts a number of sites, the most noted of which are Shinas Fort and Ras Al-Mallah Castle.

Shinas people practice fishing, agriculture and cattle grazing. They are also highly skilled in making fishing nets and palm-frond products.