Along with different wilayats and governorates of the Sultanate of Oman, Dhofar Governorate is also gearing up to celebrate the 52nd glorious National Day as it will host, this year, the military parade under the high patronage of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik. The parade will be held at Al Nasr Square in the Wilayat of Salalah in Dhofar on Friday, November 18.
Dhofar Governorate is known as the “Land of Frankincense” and constitutes one-third of the Sultanate of Oman’s area. It is located in the southern part of the country. This governorate acquires its importance from Omani history, where it was famous for exporting frankincense to the ancient civilisations of the world, such as the Pharaonic, Assyrian, Persian, Roman and Greek civilisations.
The history of Dhofar goes back to ancient times, as it was associated with the economic role it played through the ages. It has been known since the Prophet Sulaiman’s time. It is narrated that Balqees, the Queen of Sheba, made frankincense as a gift to King Sulaiman in the tenth century BC. The collapse of the Ma’rib Dam in the second century AD, the migration of Arab tribes from the south of the Arabian Peninsula to the Sultanate of Oman and the settlement of part of them in Dhofar had a prominent role in the emergence of states, including the apostolic, the Mangwei, and Kitheeri tribes. This had a significant contribution to expanding urban activity through the construction of cities and ports. The city of Al Baleed and the port of Samharam, for example, were built during the reign of the Mangwei.
Tourists from different countries, including neighbouring GCC, come to this governorate in July, August and September. Unlike in other parts of the country, some areas, especially Salalah, witness rain and drop in temperature. The autumn season (locally called khareef) is special for Salalah -- the most famous among tourists.
The Khareef season starts from mid-June to the end of September when the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula becomes tinted, and the monsoon rains arrive, which brings new life to the regions and parts of this Omani governorate. The city of Salalah, also known as the ‘Green City’, is a popular destination for tourists eager to seize moments in nature.
Al Nasr Square, where the military parade will be held, is located in Salalah, which has a long history that has drawn the cultural and natural features of this famous city in the Arabian Peninsula since ancient times. Archaeological studies indicated that the history of Salalah is as old as the inscriptions and archaeological writings shown on many touristic landmarks.
Studies reveal the footprints of successive civilisations on Salalah, the evidence of which is still present to this day. The historical eras of the various civilisations that have succeeded them have been identified. This appears clearly in the Al Baleed archaeological town, which dates back to the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. AD.
Al Baleed is one of the oldest and most important ancient commercial cities and ports on the coastal strip of Salalah. This site is one of the sites of the Land of Frankincense inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, in addition to being the largest and most important archaeological site in Oman.
The results of archaeological excavations revealed that the city’s history dates back to periods before BC, and it has represented a major population centre since about 2500 BC. It emerged during the late Iron Age as an active central city, while its port flourished during Islamic times.
The southern coasts of Dhofar are fertile, with abundant springs of water and regular seasonal rains in the fall season. Therefore, agriculture is found on a large scale in these areas. One of the most important crops is coconut palms, or as it is known locally as “nargil” and tropical fruits such as bananas.
Dhofar is also famous for its pomegranate, sugar cane, watermelon and cantaloupe. In the past, the country cultivated wheat, barley, cotton, sweet potatoes, sorghum, and maize (Mohindo), and some stories refer to the cultivation of rice in the past.
As for the frankincense tree, it grows naturally in many parts of the province, as it is neither planted nor watered. The frankincense is extracted through the wound of the bark of the tree in the stem. After days, the crop that gathers around the wound is harvested. Thus, the harvesting process is renewed several times in more than one season during the year. Frankincense has been the main source of the Dhofar trade for thousands of years.
Dhofar is also rich in the best types of fish required in the markets of the Sultanate of Oman and the neighbouring Gulf countries, not to mention molluscs such as shrimp. Given the vegetation cover and abundance of grass, the area is active in raising livestock, camels and sheep.
In addition, there is the historic port of Samharam in Dhofar, which was famous for the export of frankincense through Khor Rori. There are also the ruins of the city of Wubar, archaeological remnants in the Al Mughsail area and Hamran Castle in Salalah. There are rich sites that are preserved as historical evidence of great value, especially historical forts.
Among the most prominent places that constitute a tourist attraction are its beautiful natural landscapes and ancient archaeological and historical sites; “the Frankincense Land Museum”, which opened in July 2007. It provides visitors and researchers with a summary of Oman’s journey through its long history.
In the Governorate of Dhofar, there are about 260 water springs distributed on the mountainous strip and on the edges of the mountains adjacent to the coastal plain. Small numbers of them are spread in the Najd area, most of which are permanently flowing. The most famous springs of Dhofar are Ain Jarzir, Ain Arzat, Ain Sahalnoot, Ain Hamran and Ain Darbat.