KABEER YOUSUF –
While the rest of the country is reeling under rising mercury, a relatively small area in the Sharqiya region, some 300 kilometres away from Muscat, is calling those who love to bask in 20 degree temperatures and to take a dip in its vast seashore.
Everyone is familiar of the misty Salalah, the scenic, breathtaking Jabal Al Akhar and Jabal Ali Shams. Over the years, these were people’s go to place to beat the summer heat.
But one of Oman’s best kept secret is Al Ashkharah, a land that probably hold the country’s largest seashore. From Sur, Al Ashkharah is located in the Eastern province, a perfect escapade from the maddening daily routines and mundane activities.
Ashkharah which is not known to many, is one of the most visited tourist attractions by the Omanis during summer, when the monsoon that touches the Dhofar governorate mixes a gentle breeze. Its Virgin coast, fine golden sand, are attended by numerous colonies of birds.
Geographically lying at some 80km from Ras al-Hadd and 90km from Ras al-Jinz, Al Ashkharah is part of the J’alan area and majority of people depend upon fishing for their livelihood.
Inhabited by a few local families who were outnumbered by many expatriates, the elderly residents of Al Ashkharah said the village is named after a poisonous desert plant. It is also said that it owes its name to the abundance of “Acacias trispinose” (al ashkhar) that grow in the area.
This area offers a round the clock coo breeze, pristine beaches, calm and quite surroundings and Ministry of Tourism-approved, reasonably-priced lodging. All the elements and offerings and its unique location can certainly make this area high in demand for those who wants to run away from the toxicity of city life.
Much of the area still cry for attention and needed to be developed. Its long stretches of roads miss basic amenities and there are also no streetlights.
“Given due attention by the authorities and if substantial investments in infrastructure are made, Al Ashkharah can be the most wanted beach property in the region,” Khalid, owner of Al Ashkharah Beach Resort, the only privately owned beach resort in the area, said.
There used to be another public lodging facility but due to lack of maintenance, tourists turned their back to the facility. For the past four years, only one beach resort provides temporary lodging to visitors of the area.
“We receive people from almost all countries of the world as our guests but lack of development initiatives are really hampering tourism industry in the region,” Khalid said.
“Substantial efforts are needed to put this area on the tourism map. What this place offers is that if you drive down south towards Dhofar, you will see the splendid treasure of Ashkharah,” Khalid added.
“Once you take the drive, you will love it for its unique weather and the 30 kilometres stretch of pristine beaches. These unique characteristics are the reason why it is slowly but steadily becoming known to tourists,” he said.