Ash-Sharqiah Region

The surface features of AL Sharqiyah region vary in nature, and are made up of sandy plains and Wadis flowing from the inner side of the eastern Hajr mountains chain which, runs for 200 Kms. from the peripheral zone of the Wilayat of Sumail in the interior to Jabal Khamis in the east.

The Region has the longest coastline in Oman that extends from Qurayyat on the south of the Governorate of Muscat on the gulf of Oman to the Wusta region on the Arabian Sea passing through the easternmost part of the Arabian peninsula before it diverts to the south in the renowned area known as Ras Al Had.

Al Sharqiyah Region offers visitors a series of excursions into a rich and diverse past. Historical and cultural attractions are found across the region, most notably the tombs of Al Gielah and AL Munzafah, the town of Qalaht plus a varied set of castles, forts and towers. It also has lots of natural features including the Sharqyiah sands, Wadi Shab, Wadi Tiwi, Wadi Dayqah and Wadi Beni Khalid.The region accounts for 13.2% of the total population of the country and comprises 11 Wilayat, namely: Sur , Ibra, Bidiyah, AI Qabil, Al Mudhaybi, Dima Wa At Taiyyin, Al Kamil Wa Al Wafi, Jaalan Bani Bu Ali, Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan, Wadi Bani Khalid and Masirah.

The Wilayat of Bidiyah comprises 15 towns and villages. A great portion of pleasures can be derived from the mere beauties of nature in Bidiyah on the edge of the Al Sharqiyah sands. With dunes more than fifty meters high overlooking various oases, Bidiyah provides a unique setting for discovering the desert. Walking in the sand and sightseeing in the desert require stamina, but can be an enjoyable experience specially for children. Visiting the area in a four wheel drive vehicle can add more falvour to the trip.

The Wilayat is famous for organizing Arabian horse and camel racing events usually held at the weekends. It incorporates AI-Mintrib castle and the Wasil fort which is surrounded by four watchtowers and three castles : Al Shariq, Al Hoyah and Al Ghabi.

The Wilayat of Dima and Taaiyin comprises 51 villages and several historical places including forts, towers and old mosques. The forts are found in Al Hamaam, Khabah and Al Husun. There are also 87 towers scattered in various parts of the Wilayat.

A falaj and caves in the Wilayat of Dima and Taaiyin provide outstanding tourist attractions, including Wadi Daiqah, Wadi Dima and the magnificent Wadi Tayeen which extends 80 Kms on the foot of Al Hajr AL Sharqi mountains over gravel plains rich in acacia trees. After a 17 Km stretch there are ruins of an old tower at the first part of the inhabited area with thick palm plantations and some ruins of an ancient fort.

Sur is an ancient port and seafaring town located on the east coast of Oman 327 Km from Muscat at the easternmost point of the Arabian peninsula, thus the sun rises here first in the Arab world. The harbour of Sur, one of the oldest in the world, played a major part in the formation of cultural and commercial ties between Oman, East Africa, and India. Sur has always been famous for shipbuilding of trans-ocean vessels like al baghala and al ghanja.

It boasts several historical sites, notably the forts of Bilad Sur, .AL Senaislah and Ras Al Had, in addition to spectacular natural features including 102 aflaj, springs, Wadis such as Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi. Of particular touristic interest is the Niyabat of Ras Al Had, where the Turtle Sanctuary is the most significant nesting ground in the Indian Ocean for green turtles, as well as the stunning Ras ALjinz beach. Sur has the first port in Oman for exporting LNG and fertilizers.

It is 203 Km away from Muscat. A road that branches from the main Muscat-Sur road leads to Wadi Bani Khalid, then to the higher Eastern Hajar mountain before it reaches Budhah village in the heart of the mountains with sudden, swift vista of peaks and valley, running water and greenery.

Scrambling up the Wadi bed is a plateau flanked by the mountains where water cascading down the gorgerin waterfalls forming a turquoise green, good for swimming, pool on the way to Moqel village and its famous cave which, one will have to crawl and creep to explore the cave, so discretion is advised.

It boasts a number of historical sites, including Husn AI Muwalik in the village of Al 'Awina, which dates back to the 4th century A.H., the biggest fort in the Wilayat and in the past was the base of the Wali and the Judge, and also the fort of Al 'Adafin in the village of Qaswah, and the fort of Al Raziqiyeen in the village of Al Husun.

Al Qabil is surrounded by the Wilayat of Ibra in the north, the Wilayat of Badiya in the south, the Wilayat of Dima and Al Taaiyin in the north east, the Wilayat of Wadi Bani Khalid in the south east and the Wilayat of Al Mudaibi in the west. It encompasses about 21 villages and 69 heritage sites, most eminent of which are the two forts of Al Qabil and Al Mudirab.

The Wilayat has about 50 Falaj including the widely known aflaj of: Al Mudirab, Al Qabil, Al Direez and Al Nabaa. It is also famous for a number of villages which are located between the high, golden sand dunes. The most important of these villages are Al Sakaa, Al 'Aqida, Al Kharis and Al Jufaa. There are also a number of springs in the Wilayat, most notably, 'Ain Marzuk, famous for its mineral water, 'Ain Wadi Barka and 'Ain Al Washal.

The Afalaj, springs and villages located on the desert among several sand dunes as well as Beit Al Turath (The heritage home) at the village of AL mudhireb and the relics of Kabib in the village of Shanah at Wadi Nam district make notable tourist attractions.

The people of the Wilayat engage in the practice of a number of vocations including traditional manual industries and handicrafts, but farming remains the mainstay of most people in the Wilayat. The most important produce include: dates, seasonal crops and citrus. Spinning, weaving, knitting, palm fond and metal workings are also widely practiced. Bildat Al Mongara'd, in Wadi Naam, is particularly famous for the work of silversmith such as Khanjar and ornaments, pottery, Halwa preparation and making gypsum products.

Al Kamel Wa Al-Wafi is located approximately … Km away from Muscat on the way to Sur. It comprises 40 villages and around 80 castles. It is also home to famous mosques, distinctly Al Jam'aa Mosque, in the village of Al Waafi, and Al Sharia’h Mosque in Al Kamil, in addition to the mosques in the village of Saiq.

Al Kamil and Al Waafi encompasse a picturesque landscape with running waters, Wadis, sand dunes and mountains that constitute important tourism attraction.

Al Mudhabi is the largest Wilayat in AL Sharqiya region and is about 80Km from Ibra. It comprises about 80 villages and several historical sites such as the castle of Al Jawabir in the town of Al Rawdha, the two forts Kabeeb and Khazam in Samad Al Shaan, the fort of Al 'Aqir in the town of Al Akhdar.

It also has a number of tourist attractions including , natural springs, falaj, caves and modern parks in addition to the renowned Mudhaybi wall and Wadi Andam.

Ibra is the gateway to Sharqiya region and lies 147 Km from Muscat on the main Muscat-Sur road.

It has 70 towns and villages and a number of historical sites including Al Dhahir castle, five forts and Al 'Aqaba Mosque with its mihrab looking towards Jerusalem. Perhaps the most prominent historical site in the Wilayat is Al Manzafah village in the southern part of Ibra. The village still maintains its old identity and stands as a witness to a glorious past with its fancy decorations, embossed ornamentations and edifices built of Omani gypsum and traditional Omani cement.

The Wilayat is endowed with a host of tourism attractions, including springs, Aflaj and caves. Of particular touristic interest are the fresh water springs of Abu Saleh, Al Dhayan and Shbehat. The salt spring of Ain Al Maleeh is renowned for its pharmaceutical properties in curing skin diseases. Other attractions comprise cave Rajeeb and the scenic spots in Faj Magazah in Al Haimah, Al Hadmah in Al Yahmadi and Qasiba to the south of Qafifah.

The Wilayat comprises 137 villages and clusters of settlements along a coastal line that stretches 170 Kms from Al Dafah in the north to Ras Al Ruwais in the south. With the cool breeze blowing inward from the Arabian sea and the Indian Ocean bringing clouds and drizzle, the weather is fine almost all the year around. The Al Kawus winds blowing in from the sea, particularly, towards the beachfront town of Al Ashkhara is in itself a touristic attraction.

Other tourism attractions include lushly green Wadis such as: Wadi Saal, Wadi Al Rawidha, Wadi Abu Fashigha, Wadi Al Labida and Wadi Jarif. Moreover, there are several monuments including forts, castles, towers and vintage mosques. Al Hamoodah fort and Al Hamoodah mosque, both built in the 11th century, are the most prominent landmarks in the Wilayat in addition to the most eye-catching fort built about 260 years ago in Al Badi'ya and named ."Husn Al Badi'ya”.

The Wilayat encompasses 160 villages and several historical sites, prominently the castle of Awlaad Murshid, the castle of Faleej, the fort of Al Mahiyul which, was once the seat of rule and of course the fort of Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan with its four towers, the most obtrusive monument in the Wilayat. The Wilayat also incorporates 40 ancient mosques and 60 towers .

Other attractions in the Wilayat include Afalj, caves and some fifteen springs.

The serenity and the beauty of the sandy shores of Masirah, where sea turtles can be viewed breeding in their natural habitat, are in themselves irresistible attractions to any visitor. There are also a number of natural springs, notably : Al Qatara and other springs near Jabal Al Hulm in the south of the Wilayat.

The island has no Afalaj, but there are a number of ancient forts, mainly Marsis and Dafiyat forts, in addition to an old cemetery believed to date back to 3000 B.C.