Salalah, Oman

Salalah is the largest city in the Sultanate of Oman, and its the birthplace of the Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Beyond the unique atmosphere the khareef provides, there is much more to see and experience.

As well as its lush green pastures, Salalah is renowned for its stunning collection of beaches, which feel almost Caribbean with their coconut trees and relaxed vibe. Try Al Mughsail Beach, a quiet and wild-feeling stretch of sand, full of caves and blowholes.

For a taste of Salalah’s history, head to the Museum of the Frankincense Land. This ancient set of ruins actually belong to the trading port of Zafar, and from here frankincense was shipped to India, in return for spices. The on-site museum documents the history of the port as well as the area’s settlement since 2000 BC. It not only demonstrates the maritime strength of Oman, but also the modern rejuvenation of Salalah as a commercial and leisure port. 186 miles of walkways and beautiful lights at night ensure this is an unforgettable visit.

During your Salalah cruise, make sure you visit one of the many markets and bazaars if possible. Al-Husn Souq is one of the best, and where the local Dhofari people come to shop. Take your pick from cotton headdresses, jewelry and heady incense.

Another famous feature of Salalah is its plantations. Papayas, coconuts and small bananas all grow here and are an important part of both Salalah’s past and its future. You can walk along the plantation roads, which are just over a mile from the center of the main town. There are plenty of fruit stands selling refreshments if you get tired.

If you find yourself peckish in Salalah, there are plenty of places to pick up some traditional Omani cuisine. It is also worth keeping in mind that special dishes are cooked for two main religious festivals: Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha.

Discovering the khareef on your Salalah cruise

Khareef is a colloquial term used for the period of time between June and September when an unusual weather phenomenon occurs in Salalah: a monsoon, caused by surface wind, rages on and causes the landscape to explode into lush green vegetation. Salalah depends on the khareef each year for its water supply, and an annual festival is held to celebrate it, which attracts tourists and locals alike every single year.

The water from the monsoon transforms the landscape into a verdant and subtropical wonderland, the likes of which cannot be seen anywhere else in Oman. It also makes the ground incredibly fertile, and is the reason why this region is able to grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables such as coconuts and bananas.

The city has a large expatriate community of people from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The majority of the population in Salalah is Muslim, and Arabic is the official language spoken here.

Apart from the khareef, the climate here is fairly stable and consistently hot.