Get vaccinated, hop onto a flight and head to Salalah. Monsoon Salalah has become part of life for many local tourists consisting of nationals and residents. And a 24-hour or a partial lockdown is not going to stop them.
This year there will be no physical festival, but it is not going to deter them from not making the trip across the 1,000 km. Many prefer to go by road, but that will be tricky during lockdown in the evening hours.
There are no concerts to sit at the open theatre and enjoy gentle drizzle. During our live coverage from the Festival Ground while at Radio Oman 90.4 FM there could never be two evenings alike. From exhibitions to concerts to circus to theatre, the Salalah Tourism Festival was a platform for opportunities for artists and entrepreneurs. It has been for decades an annual event which brought together folk dancers, singers and musicians from many wilayats across the Sultanate. The time was spent in their own respective towns practicing the art forms, choosing the theme for the competition and representing age old traditions of their communities.
Unfortunately this is the second year the khareef season arrives during the pandemic where gatherings are considered harmful for us. But the travellers have already arrived to marvel at the spectacular scenery Dhofar’s picnic spots offer during the monsoon. When you miss the sun and dry weather all you have to do is drive to Thamrait or to the desert to enjoy the ambience of Ubar, the ancient caravan post.
The satellite images have shown the camel routes which were basically the land routes for the export of frankincense and other goods. It is amazing to see the archeological sites today which also show the empty water table underneath the structure which probably could be one of the reasons why the structures collapsed and the caravan post probably moved to another spot.
If you allow yourself to flow with imagination you would be able to visualise the setting of a bustling caravan post. The discovery announced in 1992 by British explorer Ranulph Fiennes along with a group of US researchers led by Nicholas Clapp was much celebrated because this was an ancient trade route, and at that point the search was on for the lost Arab city. Before I experienced Ubar, I was introduced to it by Amouage Perfume of Oman with a new range titled Ubar. The fragrance was one of the best.
Finally when I stood at Ubar, I could relate to the magic of desert at sunset. On our trip to Ubar it was intriguing to go through the mini museum and the exhibits.
The desert sand shifts directions with the wind and there must be so much more to be unravelled to take us back in time to know more about the merchants, camels and the caravans as well as the lands they reached with the precious frankincense.
We ought to increase our interest in Ubar which some historians felt they might have called it as Wubar as it relates to camel.
The mist, the fog, the drizzle, the springs, birds, the frankincense and the water falls all beckon one to Salalah to enjoy the nature’s treat.
While in Salalah do not forget to enjoy camel milk, after all if the best thing to do during the pandemic is to build one’s immunity, then camel milk might be exactly what the nature prescribed!
Most of all enjoy the walk in the drizzle!