The Sultanate of Oman has a secret. A secret that is as wondrous as it is unexpected. And a secret that visitors are now discovering for themselves. Monsoon rains from the East bringing to the Governorate of Dhofar cooler temperatures and a carpet of lush greenery emerges, wadis and waterfalls begin to flow and both livestock and tourists enjoy the surroundings.
Wadi Darbat in Salalah
Known as ‘Khareef’, this phenomenon typically lasts from July until September. With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on international travel, as well as the launch of the advanced digital VisitOman.om platform to serve the regional and international B2B travel and tourism sector, Oman is poised to welcome visitors back in droves.
With tourism identified as a key sector in the Oman Vision 2040, it continues to have a ripple effect on the growth of infrastructure, employment, service industries and opportunities for local suppliers to expand into new markets. Oman has enjoyed steady growth in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in recent years from the tourism industry and is now looking to leveraging its unique tourism offering to attract further investment.
Historically, Salalah has been known as the ‘Land of Frankincense’ and is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the ruins of Al Baleed Port and Khor Ruri which still bear the signs of trade during ancient times. Modern day Dhofar is more famous for its white sandy beaches and the selection of four- and five-star beachfront hotels springing up in Integrated Tourism Complexes (ITC), a growing trend in Oman’s tourist industry.
Hawana Salalah, the largest ITC in the country, is situated in Dhofar. Built and operated by internationally acclaimed builder of fully-integrated towns, Muriya, a joint venture between Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN) and Orascom Development Holding (ODH), Hawana Salalah currently features 1,200 hotel rooms spread across luxurious four- and five-star beachfront hotels. This is in addition to a marina surrounded by cafes, shops and restaurants, Oman’s first aqua park, as well as freehold residential properties available to own by all nationalities, and hotels ready to welcome visitors for the Khareef season. In collaboration with Muriya, local and international tour operators have been able to add year-round flights into Salalah Airport from France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as part of package holidays. With tourism once more picking up pace, in the first six months of 2022 alone, Hawana Salalah welcomed 30,532 visitors.