Salalah is the capital of Dhofar province, which is the southern region of the Sultanate of Oman. Lovely parks and groves of banana, papaya, watermelon and vegetables give the city a tropical atmosphere and have earned it the name Garden City. Along the coast lie miles of uncrowded beaches, bordered by a brilliant blue sea. Other attractions include ancient forts, archaeological sites, fishing villages and the tombs of prophets. While it is mainly the rugged landscape and the beaches that appeal to visitors with a penchant for unspoiled locales, the modern and fast-growing city offers an interesting museum, architectural highlights such as the Al Husn Palace and colourful, bustling souks, where everything from frankincense and fragrant perfumes to gold and silver jewellery is sold. Most of all, Salalah has to be appreciated as an off-the-beaten-track location and for the uniqueness that marks the Dhofar region.
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Top things to do in Salalah
4x4 drive to the Empty Quarter
Drive north of Salalah by 4x4 vehicle into the desert region known as the 'Empty Quarter'. Visit Job's Tomb, regarded as one of the most important religious sites in Dhofar. The Rub'al Khali, the 'Empty Quarter', is an immense desert covering about 650,000 square kilometres that promises extraordinary views and the recently-excavated Shishar, fabled lost city of Ubar. According to legend, Ubar was a magnificent kingdom – it is described in the Qur’an as "the many-columned city whose like has not been built in the whole land." Researchers speculate that the city may have been the earliest known shipping centre for frankincense. Corrupted by riches, Ubar, like Sodom and Gomorrah, was said to have suffered the wrath of God and been buried by sand somewhere between the first and fourth centuries AD. Research has since revealed that the city was built over a limestone cavern that subsequently collapsed. Have lunch in a Bedouin tent on the edge of the desert and drive to the Fassad water holes, located on the Yemeni border.
The scenic Frankincense Trail
Frankincense from the southern province of Dhofar is considered to be the best in the world and was once a commodity more expensive than gold. Starting in Salalah, tour the Frankincense trail to gain scenic views of mountain landscapes with emerald green pastures. Stop at the prophet Job’s tomb high in the mountains, visit the ‘bow holes’ at Mughsail Beach, and navigate hairpin bends, passing the many Frankincense trees dotted along the landscape.
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