Governorate of Dhofar

The Governorate of Dhofar lies at the farthest southern part of the Sultanate and is bounded by the Wusta Region in the East, the Empty Quarter in the North, the Arabian Sea in the South and the Republic of Yemen in the South West.

The Governorate occupies one third of the Sultanate’s area and accommodate about 9.4% of the sultanate population. It consists of 10 Wilayats with Salalah being the administrative capital, some 1040 Km from the City of Muscat.

Dhofar climate dramatically differs from the Gulf region due to the effects of the monsoon winds which arrive in summer, forming rains and dropping temperature to around 25 C° in the plains and below that on the hights, which turns the area lush and green, with waterfalls and floods feeding surrounding pastures and springs.

Dhofar has long been characterised by its significant location and prosperous commercial activities throughout the ages, being the chief source of Frankincense, Incense and Myrrh.

For about 4,000 years, the frankincense trade was Oman's economic backbone, affecting directly or indirectly, the lives of all the inhabitants of the South. It was exported in huge quantities to Egypt, Greece and Rome in ancient times either by sea or by camel caravan.

Along the ancient overland route, kingdoms and cultures grew up relying for their very existence on the taxes and trade brought by the frankincense caravans. Aknowledging the role it played in mankind history, UNESCO added the Frankincense Route commencing from Dhofar to its World Heritage List.

Dhofar is currently undergoing tremendous development, aimimg to strengthen its economical role in the country and future significance as both a Free Trade Zone and a major Tourism Attraction. In addition to the natural and cultural opulence on offer, Religious Tourism is ordinary in Dhofar, as it hosts Al-Ahqaf area, tombs and religious shrines.

The Wilayat of Salalah, the administrative capital of Dhofar, lies on the Arabian Sea, around 1,040 Km from Muscat.

In the heart of the Wilayat settles the City of Salalah, which has been subject to many historical and archaeological studies over the years. Evidence in the form of writing and inscriptions indicated that a number of civilisations have succeeded each other in the area, such as the ruins of Al-Blaid and Samhuram ancient cities.

The City also encompasses Nabi Ayoub (Jacob) Tomb, housed in a small distinctive doomed building surrounded by green hills as well as the Tomb of Prophet Omran.

Not all the sights in Salalah belong to the past, however. Salalah boasts truly captivating natural beauties; with its picturesque extended white sandy beaches, as seen in Khandaq, Qurum, Dahariz and Al-Mughsayl, and the springs of Razzat, Hamran, Sahnout and Jarziz.

Salalah is rapidly developing as an extraordinary tourist destination, with an integral internal and external link to the remainder of the country and abroad, through its extensive road networks, its Airport and its Seaport, supported by a vast array of tourist facilities and a number of international hotel chains.

The City of Taqah, is an important historical city, Wilayat centre, and it falls between the cities of Salalah and Mirbat, approximately 28 Km from Salalah.

Beautiful sandy beaches are the backdrop to this captivating city, where tourist may indulge themselves in the mystical allures on offer; from the marvellous Wadi Darbat, to the gushing springs of Darbat and Athoum, to numerous caves and the reserved khurs (bays) of Soli, and Taqah.

Taqah was once a prosperous port and has been a significant trading centre of the ancient world for Frankincense export. It also contains remains of stone sculptures and carvings, pre-Islamic tombs and a citadel, thought to be part of the ancient city of Taqah. Taqah’s distinctive Fort rests in the heart of the city, whilst the historical castle of Al-Manjwi neighbours Samharam; an ancient city which is thought to date back to 3000 BC.

The Wilayat of Marbat located to the east of Salalah, the capital of the willayat is Marbat City, an important historical city on Dhofari coast, roughly 74 Km East of Salalah.

Its name is believed to have originated from Marbat Al-Khail (Stalls), as it was once famed for breeding Arabian horses which were exported, along with frankincense, to India and East Africa. Mirbat was also noted as the departure point for caravans heading to Syria and Iraq, via Yemen.

Mirbat was mentioned in the writings of early Arab explorers and was referred to as Capital City of Dhofar.

The Wilayat comprises a number of historical sites, the most prominent is its Citadel, which was built as per the traditional Omani style of defensive architecture. Other sites include Tomb of Bin Ali and traditional houses established according to early architecture designs.

Mirbat features a spectacular landscape, from its coastline to the impressive peaks of Jabal Samhan. It is also rich in natural springs, caves and grottos.

Today, The Wilayat is better known for the production of Majmars, Dhofari-style incense burners, which are decorated in yellow, green, blue and red geometric patterns.

Agriculture is a seasonal activity in Mirbat, mainly confined to the Tawi A'teer region. Beans, mangoes, cucumbers and corn are the main crops.

The Wilayat is situated 135 Km from Salalah and was a thriving trading port for frankincense export through Sadah and Hasik harbours. Sadah has an impressive fort and the Niyabat of Hasek has the remains of the ancient city of Al-Mahallah, and the Tomb of Prophet Saleh bin Hud, on Jabal Nous.

Sadah boasts long stretches of clean sandy beaches, charming scenery, dramatic cliffs and rocky protrusions intertwined with the sea, promoting it a desirable port of call for tourists and rock climbers alike. The mountains contain caves and grottos and the spring of Laja is the main source of drinking supply.

As with other cities along the coast of Dhofar, the sea plays an integral role in the life of Sadah and its inhabitants. For the most part, locals make their living from the extraction, collection and exportation of Frankincense. However, many chose to practice the tradition of diving for Sfeileh (a species of oysters). Honey production is popular in Sadah, as well as livestock breeding and herding.

The Wilayat occupies the Eastern part of Dhofar, some 310 Km from Salalah. Past exports from this area included dried fish, charcoal and frankincense which were traded with Africa and India. In addition to mainland, the Wilayat houses the 5 islands of Hallaniyat, 50 Km off the coast of Hasek in the Wilayat of Sadah.

The only inhabited island and the largest among the group is Al-Hallaniya. It has an area of 25 Km2, with the islands of Al-Qabaliya and Shanas lying to its East and Al-Sawda and Al-Hasikiya to its West.

Wilayat topography greatly varies between deserts, peaks, secluded bays and beautiful beaches.

Hallaniyat Islets are considered an enticing tourist destination, particularly in winter months. They are a safe haven for migratory birds and marine life from the surrounding waters. Many turtles breed on the Islands and a large dolphin population call this area home.

The Wilayat of Rakhyut lies in the South Eastern corner of Dhofar, some 135 Km from the city of Salalah. In ancient times, Rakhyut was a seaport station on the sea caravan routes to East Africa and India, exporting frankincense and other local products.

The Wilayat is a fine blend of mountains, convoluted coastline and placid bays. It boasts a number of natural springs including Manhal, Iroub and Inhart as well as several caves such as Sharout, Akhart and Hartoum.

Several relics can be viewed in Al-Hota and Thitniti including Bin Othman shrine and some towers and graves.

Pearl diving is still carried out by the locals, who also practice grazing, fishing, crafting potteries and tanning animal skin.

The city of Thumrait the capital of the Willayat, some 80 KM from the Willayat of Salalah. In the past, it was a forwarding post on the overland caravan routes to the ports on the Arabian Sea. Much of Dhofar's frankincense is grown in this area.

One of the most distinctive aspects of The Wilayat is its archaeological spots. The lost city of Ubar was discovered in the Niyabat of Shasr; an important centre for collecting and trading Frankincense.

Another rated ancient Frankincense trade locale was the Oasis of Hanoon. Islamic remnants also adorn this Wilayat with their domes and ancient tombs in the Niyabat of Madhi, which is also home to the natural spring of Meshdeed, noted for its depth and amazing curves.

Traditional caravan routes are still maintained in Thumrait and the local inhabitants harvest the frankincense each April. Crafts include spinning and weaving wool, tent-making and palm-frond weaving.

Muqshin is adjacent to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the West, 344 Km from Salalah.

In bygone days, it was an important caravan centre of Ar-Rub'a Al-Khali (Empty Quarter) and a base camp for desert explorers. The Wilayat is known for its date plantations and abundant ground water supplies.

Archaeological exploration has revealed tools and inscriptions dating back to the Stone Age. Its inhabitants mainly breed camels or cultivate date plantations.

The Wilyat of Dhalkut is located on the far West of Dhofar, some 136 Km from Salalah, bordering the Republic of Yemen.

Dhalkut enjoyed its own merchant sea trade with the ports of the Gulf and Yemen, exporting animal's hide, honey, figs and frankincense.

The Wilyat combines green mountains and pure sandy beaches.

A number of natural springs burst forth from the wadis of Jabal Al-Qamar can be seen here, such as Khadrafi, Sarfeet and Kharfoot. The caves and grottos in the area have provided shepherds and flocks with safe refuge from adverse weather conditions for centuries. Certain caves, such as Mashloul and Asbir contain ancient wall inscriptions.

Local residents make their living through fishing, grazing and breeding livestock, and extracting Frankincense, harvested each April.

Mazyouna lies on the western south part of Wilayat Salah and it is 260 KM away from Salalah City.

The Wilayat of Mazyouna is home to the Sultanate's Free Trade Zone; a hugely enterprising endeavour, set to greatly strengthen the country’s commercial and economical role.