Salalah derives its mass appeal from three months of the Monsoon Season, which is popular as Khareef among the locals and the GCC nationals. This is the time between July to September when Salalah receives annual rains, as summer monsoon touches the mountain slopes and the coastal areas with delicate drizzling fog. A tender green carpet of grass and plants
get decorated with flowers and cover the plateaus and flanks of Jabal Qara range of mountain.
For three months the dry wadis fill up with fresh water. Tourists from all over the Gulf region start their annual visit to Salalah to enjoy the mild foggy weather while picnicking on dew-covered fresh grass — it gives them happy escape from the heat of their home countries. Tropical fruits, coconut-trees and green plantations are typical features of Salalah.
This is the time also for the famous Salalah Tourism Festival. It attracts visitors with entertainment programmes lined up for all age groups and shopping opportunites for many. All through the festival, the Itin Festival ground turns into virtual museum
of life and time of Oman.
Salalah hardly has summer in comparison with the neighbouring countries and even other cities of Oman. Still the nature pampered residents of Salalah feel “hot” at a temperature of 33 to 34 degrees Celsius when almost all the other GCC cities feel the real heat amid temperatures running between 40 to 48 degrees. Between April and mid June is the time when there is literal summer in Salalah. But before it starts settling, there are signs of monsoon in Dhalkout and Rakhyout — the remote areas of Dhofar — and people of Salalah start rejoicing while waiting for the all favourite Khareef season, which starts officially from June 21 and continues up to September 30.
Those who are really into nature admit that “Salalah is something which cannot be covered in days. Even months are not enough due to its variety and charm which is spread everywhere and anywhere.”
“It gives you a feeling as if nature is an object, which has passion and compassion; you get used to its mood and start interacting with it. There are moments when you do not need a companion. You and Salalah are enough to interact for hours, months and years and I am sure it will not allow you to stop communication even if you are far away from Salalah…. for me Salalah is special, I have fallen in love with it!” said German tourist Uli Bruderlin, who claims to be a regular visitor to Salalah.
He began his Oman journey with Muscat and visited there twice and there he heard about the completely different nature of Salalah from his tour guide. “I came to Salalah last year and found that it is a place which should not be missed by any nature lover. I came this year again and planning to come next year as well.”
The surroundings of Salalah, according to him, are very different and natural from many other places. “Your accommodation hardly has any distance from the sea and the beaches are wonderful. At a drive of 50 kilometres you get mountains which are green; further down you get the rock deserts where you get only rocks; and then the vast desert of Empty Quarters.”
Travel is Bruderlin’s passion. He travels around the world and admits that he does not know a place where one travels some 150 kilometres and gets so much of nature except in Salalah.
There are many like Bruderlin who love to visit Salalah during the winter season. They come in groups — in cruise ships, charter flight or even as individual tourists every year.
This year’s outlook of tourists coming in charter flights is likely to cross 40,000. The season started on October 6 with the arrival of 189 tourists from Czech Republic, as 60 weekly charters are scheduled to operate on Prague — Salalah — Prague from October 6 to April 4, 2020.
Charter and individual tourists using different airlines also come from Slovakia, Italy, Germany, and France.
Similarly, the outlook for Salalah cruise season 2019-20 is bright with some 50 cruise liners lined up from October to May 2020. The movement this season is better than the previous season due to effective measures taken by the stakeholders like Ministry of Tourism, Port of Salalah and Asyad Group, which is one of the most comprehensive end-to-end logistics providers in the Middle East.
According to sources in the Ministry of Tourism, a total of 38,537 tourists arrived in Salalah in 28 cruises till mid of October, as about 50 big and small ships are expected in the current 2019-20 season.
The season creates many direct and indirect jobs for the local people and encourages them to look for possibilities in tourism sector.
SPRING or ASURB
As soon as monsoon loses its impact, Salalah slips into another festivity called Asurb or spring season. The city and its adjoining mountain villages are seen enjoying the serenity of the nature on the weekends by visiting some tourism spots which come out fresh in the impact of previous rains and subsequent sunny weather.
Jibjat is one such location, which is very popular among the locals for its perfect and natural picnic setting offered by trees which look like umbrellas and offer nice shade for long hours.
This location is so popular among the local people that sometimes it becomes difficult to get a place, as all the places under the trees get occupied by the early birds.