Governorate of Musandam

Musandam is the smallest and most northerly region of Oman, covering an area of around 3,000 square Km. Its rocky headland juts out into the Straits of Hormuz, giving it strategic dominion over one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

The magnificent Hajar mountain range dominates Musandam landscape. It extends about 640 Km from R'as Al-Hadd in the south up to Khasab, and ends with Ru'us Al-Jebal plunging dramatically and dizzily into the sea creating long fjords and inlets. Jabal Harim is Musandam's highest mountain at 2,087m.

The entire interior is basicly mountainous, with a graded track stretching from Daba to Khasab that snakes through narrow gorges, up hairpin bends and down into wadi beds. The seas are rich with wildlife and breathtaking scenery readily overwhelms visitors.

Musandam has a population of approximately 30,000 largely concentrated in Khasab; the administrative centre. They earn their living mainly through fishing, boat building and crafting a number of traditional handicrafts, such as the axe of Jerz; the symbol of Musamdam that dates back to the Bronze Age.

The isolated and harsh environment of the region has instilled hardiness and resourcefulness in the people of Musandam, many of whom migrate to the coast in summer to fish and harvest dates.

Khasab is is the administrative hub of Musandam and is the most northerly situated Wilayat, 480 Km from Muscat. It overlooks the Arabian Gulf in the northwest and the Gulf of Oman in the east. The landscape is dramatic, with towering, craggy cliffs and a fjord-like coastline.

The City of Khasab at the heart of the Wilayat has been modernised with essential amenities such as roads, squares, parks and hotels.

The Wilayat comprises a number of attractions, with Khasab Fort dating back to the era of Al Bu-Said being the most prominent. There are also a number of towers: Al-Siba; Kabas Al-Kasr; and the tower of Said Bin Ahmad Al-Malik which is the remains of what was once a colossal fort.

Around the back of Khasab Fort to the east are the plantations and seasonal homes of Kumzari tribe, in the Harat Al-Kumzari. Further east is the souq, with busy shops selling most of usual items found elsewhere in Oman and imported goods, together with local pottery and Musandam's distinctive axe or Jerz.

The bustling port of Khasab is vibrant with commercial activity, including a fair number of cruise organisers.

The principal occupation of Khasab people is fishing, followed by animal husbandry and agriculture. The area is fertile and many fruit and vegetable crops are grown here.

Khasab is rapidly evolving into a tourist hotspot. Diving in the area is well known for its challenges. Mountain safaris are popular as are the Dhow cruises of the nearby fjords.

The Wilayat of Bukha lies 26 Km from Khasab City to the West, and borders the Emirate of R'as Al-Khaima in the southwest.

The sprawling town of Bukha is situated on a crescent shaped bay, which is overlooked by its majestic Fort. Like the other Wilayats of Musandam, Bukha has a mountainous terrain enclosing many caves.

At the summit of one such peak resides a watchtower marking the remains of another fortification: Al-Qala'a Fort. From this vantage point, the monument of Al-Masjid Al-Kabeer (The Big Mosque) can also be seen.

Bukha's main industries are silver minting, agriculture, date and citrus fruit cultivation, as well as building fishing boats.

The Wilayat of Daba is the gateway to Musandam. It is 112 Km from Khasab and occupies the South Eastern tip of the Peninsula, bordering the United Arab Emirates to the South and the Gulf of Oman to the East

The area is noted for its scores of vast wide fjords known as Al-Ghabayen, which fishing boats take refuge during storms, with Khawr Ma'la and Al-Meem being the most renowned.

The bustling town is a centrally situated port that caters both to fishing and trading vessels. On the opposite side are beautiful sandy beaches embellishing the vicinity, along which numerous residential and commercial establishments can be seen.

Ruins and various archaeological findings are also found here, including the Forts of Al-Seebah and Sabtan, and the graveyard of Amir Al-Geish. Other interesting villages to visit in the area are Karsha, Khab Al-Shamsi and Al-Tawiyah.

Fishing and agriculture provide Daba locals with their major occupations. Other industries however are also practiced here including ironmongery, weaving and boat building.

Some 175 Km to the South of Khasab, Madha lies between the UAE Emirates of Fujairah and Khoorfkan; Emirates of Sharjah.

Steeped in history, excavations have revealed remnants dating back to the Iron Age over 3,500 years ago, in the form of ancient houses and rock inscriptions, much of which are on display at Madha private museum; well worth a visit.

The lush oasis of Madha is irrigated by the only aflaj in Musandam and a number of natural springs, out of which Ein Samai is the most famous, with its sulphuric waters running cold in summer and hot in winter, and said to possess therapeutic properties and healing powers. The parklands of Al-Ghal and Valley also attract nature lovers to the Wilayat.