Khareef season puts Salalah on the map
August 1, 2018 | 6:55 PM
by Times News Service
A scenic drive to Salalah.-Photos Supplied, MMG

#ReadersResponse: With the Khareef season now fully underway in Salalah, the Dhofar Governorate has seen a sharp surge in the number of tourists in the months of July and August.

Visitors from Oman, the GCC, and even further beyond, have been flocking to Salalah and the surrounding areas to enjoy the cool breeze, refreshing drizzle, and very pleasant climate, with temperatures sliding to as low as 20 degrees Celsius at night.

Ramanuj Venkatesh recently travelled to the southern governorate from Sharjah to attend a friend’s wedding.

“I lived in Oman for more than 20 years and went to school here, and I’d never been to Salalah to enjoy the Khareef,” he shared. “It’s such a relief after the heat of the UAE and Muscat and you can just forget your troubles here. I think that’s the main draw.”

Ashok Kumar, another expat in Oman, loved travelling up the hills in a four-wheel drive.

Tourists enjoying a trek in Salalah.

“There is a town near Salalah called Ittin, and it is lovely,” he recounted. “There are many parks and gardens there and this is also the road that leads up to the mountains. My family and I went there for the Salalah Tourism Festival and they just loved it. It is so peaceful and relaxing, and I wish we had something like this in Muscat as well.”

“But I want to advise people who think that you can just go here and have a nice time without any care, because you need an experienced driver,” he added. “The mountains are foggy and it is not easy to drive there, so be careful, because there are also some areas where there is no mobile coverage.”

Mohammed Tabooq, a school supervisor who lives in Salalah, said there was simply no other place like it in the GCC.

“This time, we will see many people coming here for Salalah because this year’s Khareef also takes place over Eid, and they will all want to come here and enjoy the weather,” he said. “It’s just great. Where else in the Middle East will you find something like this? Arabs really like driving on the roads, so you will see many cars and four wheel drives with foreign number plates.”

“I have seen plates from areas such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, as well as Saudi Arabia and even places such as Bahrain and Qatar,” added Tabooq, an Omani national. “It’s nice to see so many people coming to Oman, because many people don’t know much about it and it’s good to see the country get some recognition.”

A senior manager for a high-end resort in Salalah also told Times of Oman why Salalah was getting increasingly popular.

Beautiful beaches in Salalah.

“It is so easy to get here from various areas in the GCC and the more the destination becomes known, the more people are coming and realising that this is a great place for a staycation because it is a completely different climate from anywhere else,” he said. “It just so happens that this Eid falls during Khareef so we should even have more business because of that.”

“Typically, in the Middle East, things are very last-minute, so it really depends,” he added. “We have a lot of walk-ins, a lot of last-minute inquiries, and we have bookings made just days in advance. I would say that it is of a later notice, but the bookings always come. Our guests during this time are a mixture. For Eid, it is mostly a time for families because this is the time of the Khareef and families are coming to get away, hang out with nature, but we have our share of couples as well, so it is a good mix.”

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