The first full-fledged khareef season — after a hiatus of more than two years linked to the pandemic-induced lockdowns — has revived the hopes of local Omani businesses long dependent on the monsoon holiday to sustain their operations and earn decent livelihoods for their families.
Thousands of visitors — primarily from other parts of the Sultanate of Oman, but also from the wider Arabian peninsula and Middle East — have been thronging Salalah and its mist-shrouded jabals for the opportunity of a pleasant subtropical holiday in this corner of the country. Their presence translates into attractive incomes for numerous Omani-owned businesses — small and medium-sized — for the duration of the khareef holiday and beyond.
Mohammed al Shehri, a tour guide from Dhofar Governorate, told the 'Observer' that local residents are rejoicing now that the season has formally commenced. As visitors continue to pour in, they represent a new lease of life for owners of real estate, car rental offices and popular restaurants, whose businesses were disrupted by the pandemic over the past two years. Worse, with the majority of them still indebted to banks for their commercial investments, a busy khareef holiday season is in their vital business interests, he noted.
Indeed, all around Salalah there is a marked increase in the number of small and medium enterprises that contribute to the revitalisation of economic, social and tourism activities in the governorate. This revival is also playing a major role in creating new job opportunities for nationals.
Saeed al Barami, a resident of Salalah’s Ittin Plain — one of the most important tourist attractions during the khareef, agreed: “The tourist influx from other parts of the country and neighboring states as well is contributing to the recovery of the local market, thanks to the efforts of government agencies that have worked to address any challenges that may impede these inflows. Thus, from traffic congestion issues and bottlenecks to infrastructure shortcomings, and so on, all of these concerns have been tackled well ahead of the khareef, thereby assuring visitors that a hassle-free holiday awaits them.”
Other state agencies too have been doing their part to ensure that visitors and holidaymakers can look forward to a problem-free and memorable holiday in khareef-bound Dhofar.
Sulayem bin Ali bin Sulayem al Hakmani, Chairman of the Consumer Protection Authority (CPA), on Monday toured commercial districts around Salalah to signal his institution’s commitment to upholding the rights and interests of consumers, which in the current context, encompasses tourists, visitors and travelers as well.
In a statement, Al Hakmani said his visit, at the head of an official team, is designed to reassure tourists that their legitimate interests and concerns will be fully safeguarded. Salalah is fully prepared to welcome large numbers of visitors from different parts of the Sultanate of Oman as well as from brotherly and friendly countries, he noted.
The Authority, he said, works with various government and public sector entities in an integrated manner with the ultimate goal to ensure consumer satisfaction and the preservation of their rights.
“We decided to visit the governorate to urge staff in the Authority to do their work, discuss the difficulties they may face in the market and ensure the readiness of the administration to perform the tasks and responsibilities on which the Authority works'', he added.
Meanwhile, the Civil Defence and Ambulance Authority announced its readiness to provide all services to citizens, residents and visitors of Dhofar Governorate during the khareef season.
First Lieutenant Musallam al Amri said that the Authority has set up command centres at various points along the many carriageways leading into Dhofar Governorate.
“There are also field teams in various locations to raise awareness, guide and deliver the Authority's message of safety of life and property, and we hope that everyone will follow the Authority's media platforms to check out and benefit from our brochures and awareness messages'', he said.
The Civil Defence and Ambulance Authority has also called on visitors to follow safety guidelines during their holiday, prepare well for the trip, ensure their vehicle is well-maintained, prepare and keep a first aid bag in place, ensure the presence of an unexpired fire extinguisher in the vehicle, identify in advance rest sites and service centres along the itinerary, and choose the appropriate time for travel.
Additionally, the Authority has stressed the need for visitors to follow safety guidelines while staying in the governorate, avoid swimming in unallocated places, including the sea which is subject to high waves and water currents during the khareef, and carefully monitor children, ensuring they are not left behind in vehicles or generally left unsupervised.