Making Oman a hub for global surfing

DO you know that Joe’s Point at Aseelah (about 40 minutes south of Ras al Hadd) is often referred to in ‘list of the best unknown waves’ in the world. A general view is that there are no waves in Oman. However, being blessed with a long coast line facing the Indian Ocean, and widely regarded as the best wave generating ocean in the world, the Sultanate receives a great deal of waves all throughout the summer.

These long range swells can be powerful and produce world-class waves as they shoal onto the reefs and beaches of Oman. Gee Sutton, a surf instructor and photographer, says most summer weekends one can find a surf-able wave to suit all levels of ability somewhere along the coast line.
Moving into the winter season, September to April, the waves move to the north east facing coastline from Sur all the way up to Suhar and beyond. Although not so powerful, and a lot less consistent than the summer swells to the south, it does give the wave starved surfer something to hope for through the winter months.
Gee mentions that due to the topography of the sea floor, a number of spots along the coast from Sur to Sifa produce amazingly good waves given the right conditions. While the sandy beaches from Muscat and up to the north produces some kind of wave, although often not of great quality.
The local surfers are upbeat after holding Oman’s maiden surfing competition in Ras al Hadd recently. The event was organised by Oman Surf School and Sur Swimming and Diving Center.
Nasser al Ghadani, Surf School’s founder, who organised the competition, dreams of placing Oman on the international surfing arena and says he does his best to involve locals in the sport and indulge them in beach cleaning activity too.
It was Nasser’s idea for the ‘Sultanate of the Groms Competition’ (Grommet is surf lingo for a young surfer) and a beach clean-up event. Nasser invited Gee (who works with him in the Surf School) and Mohamed al Alawi from Sur Swimming and Dive School, to get involved with Conall Doyal, Pat and Thomas Kleefeld from the Oman Surfers Group to help in organising the event and donating prizes.
The surfers themselves were mostly locals from Ras al Hadd and Sur who were introduced to surfing by the Oman Surfers recently. Some have been gifted boards, paddle by the local crew, the rest use the boards they take with them every weekend.
Olivia, a German expat living in Muscat, and a new member of the Surfers Group admits she and her kids enjoys it so much that they always keep coming back and strongly recommend the place.
Nasser’s Oman Surf School which has been active since June, offers surf lessons and coaching to those willing to learn. So far they have had a lot of interest and clients from all over the GCC as Oman offers the best waves throughout the area. Nasser requested Gee to get involved as somebody who worked with Surf Schools in Spain for 8 years before moving over here. They offer one-day lessons, or weekend excursions including accommodation.
Thought out the summer they operate in the south along with the waves, but plan to move up to the beaches around Muscat soon.
Very often in the afternoon after a day of onshore wind there will be sufficient, albeit poor quality waves along the beaches of Al Athaiba or Qurum which allows children to learn the basics of surfing.
The Oman Surfers is group of surfers and wave riders, from all around the world who find themselves living and working in Oman.
Formed in 2013 by Qais Azr (Oman) and Maynard Ringor (Philippines) it is predominantly a WhatsApp and Facebook group, where they share details of when and where to find waves in the Sultanate.
Members include surfers from Oman, the Philippines, Ireland, UK, USA, South Africa, Fiji, Italy, France and Germany among others. Although most are males they also have a few female surfers, including Anisa al Raisi, the first Omani woman to trek to the North Pole.
In the WhatsApp group they share details of where and
when to go to find surf, while
the Facebook page is used to showcase surf photos and stories.
Through the summer they spread out along the southern coastline to find a less crowded spot to surf, while during winter they often find themselves condensed down to a limited number of spots that will individually work better given a slightly different incoming wave direction.
Kalbouh in Muttrah for example will often be filled with all the surfers free to surf a particular swell for the relatively short time the waves are breaking.
For the future, the Oman Surfers and the Oman Surf School are planning another beach cleaning event soon in Muscat.
“We are generally an environmentally aware group and wish to spread the idea of keeping the beaches litter free as possible. We hope to gain more publicity by doing it on Al Athaiba beach, as this is one of the recognised surf spots during the winter months.”
They are also trying to form the Oman Surf Association, and to be recognised nationally and globally as a surfing nation and have prepared documents to present to the Ministry of Sports Affairs soon.
Next year, they will be holding another grommet contest in Ras al Hadd.
It seems every week they get more people asking to be included in the WhatsApp group so they know where and when to be to find a wave.