Saturday, May 30, 2009

Who needs Hogwarts?

Dear Muggle (fellow blogger),
I could not believe it when you said you had never been to the South of Oman before (and you’re Omani!). I’ve been thinking about it all morning. Dhofar is such an amazing place. So, I decided to pretend I’ve joined a debate club, and my job is to convince someone that they MUST visit Salalah. How do I start? First of all, it is an obligation if you’re Omani, and no, the monsoon is not the only reason we’re famous, although it is quite attractive.

(1) First of all, Dhofar is the Land of Frankincense! Do a little research on the subject and you’ll realize how special this title is. The history of frankincense is amazing.

(2) Dhofar is a province of antiquity, boasting both the ruins of the fortified town Sumharam, an important port from 100 BC – AD 400 (supposedly used by the Queen of Sheba), and the buried cities of Al Baleed (yes, one city buried on top of the other). Both these sights are on the ocean. The new Land of Frankincense museum in Al Baleed is quite interesting.

(3) Mormons! To those of you who have never heard of the subject, look up Salalah and the Mormon Church online. In Mormon culture, Dhofar is the most popular traditional location of the Land of Bountiful, in the Book of Mormon. This theory has been discussed for many years; however, back in 2001, a Dhofari researcher who studies cave writings in Dhofar was in Colorado attending a conference and discovered that the 20 out of the 22 letters of the cave writing alphabet matched. (yup, the same language in Dhofar and in the USA), and this brought up the Land of Bountiful discussion again. Look up Dhofar, Mormons on YouTube and watch a couple of the documentaries made on the subject.

(4) Dhofar is also the alleged resting place of the Prophet Job (the tomb can be found in the mountains), and the Prophet Imran, father of the Virgin Mary (in the middle of Salalah).

(5) We got witches baby! Many people in Dhofar still practice witchcraft, black magic, and many forms of paganism. It’s a little unsettling but quite fascinating. Read my post on April 27, 2009. The Valley of Khorori is said to be a portal to another world/universe. Witches from all over the world (including Brazil and Egypt) claim to have visited Khor Rori while they were in a trance. The stories are fascinating. Who needs Hogwarts when we have Taqah?

(6)Basic Tourism: What do we have in Salalah that you don’t in Muscat? Miles and miles of white sandy beaches, thousands of palm trees, camels, coconuts, bananas, papayas, etc. In fact, the coconut stalls are so cute these days that they have their own little freezers and you can order a chilled coconut. It doesn’t get better than that We also have good weather.

(7) Another interesting topic: Ice Age. I’m serious here. About a year ago, a crew of scientists working for the BBC were supposed to come to Salalah to take cheek swabs from 50 older members of a mountain tribe in Dhofar. The Reason? DNA testing. Why? Because they believe that during the Ice Age, humans did exist and were living in the Dhofar caves!!!!! The BBC documentary on the subject is called ‘The Incredible Human Journey' or 'Human Traces', not quite sure. If they are able to prove this theory, humanity will be forever changed.

(8) Salalah is one of the most tribal cultures in the Gulf. We live in a very tight society. Yes, it has disadvantages, but I believe the advantages outweigh them.

(9) Have you ever heard Jebbali poetry, the local mountain dialect?

(10) It’s interesting to read about the Dhofar Rebellion.

Life in Salalah is more 'real'. I love going to Muscat, but can never stay longer than a couple of weeks. It overwhelms me. The higways, shopping malls, crowds, etc. Life in Salalah is quiet. We are proud of our one and only Pizza Hut and KFC. We don't have any shopping malls, and hope it stays that way. We have one tiny highway. I could write pages and pages, but then my post will become too long (like your last one, Muggle) and I don’t need readers to become cross-eyed halfway through.

Tell me what you think. These are just ‘some’ thoughts.
PS (the picture was taken at the entrance to Darbat Valley during the monsoon)


  1. Hey when will Khareef start?

  2. Officially, June 22nd. However, it depends every year. At the moment we have groups of monsoon clouds over town, so you never know...

  3. Would you see that.. a whole post dedicated to moi :D. Haha, first of all, thank you!
    Of course I'd love to visist Salalah! I don't need a whole list (even though that was kinda fascinating as I'm gonna be honest and say I didn't know a lot of those points). What I need is for my family to decide we're going lol. They've obviously been there before, and it was only one of my sisters and I who didn't go but even she was went there a short while ago for work, so yep, now it's only me :(.
    Like you said, I wanna go there for like 3-5 days and just relaaaax and escape from everything, but then I'd wanna go back as I'm not a nature-kinda girl :P..
    Oh and point number 7 has definitely caught my attention ;). How come they didn't come after all?

  4. Aaah...I really want to visit Salalah.

    Definitely give it a visit when I get back to Oman for good! ^^

    Great info. you provided! *interesting*

  5. I love Salalah. I won't be surprised if one day I move there for good, just for its monsoon season :p. It feels like it is blessed. Great people too, like all Oman ;)

  6. Oh yeah and I have to say I'm loving the title of the post and the photo you shared.. I should go there with my camera ^^.

  7. Ok, so move here! Blogger's Monsoon Reunion. Coconuts and camels.

    thanks for all the notes, guys..

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  9. Of course it's a blessed place :p

    I have my best childhood memories in Salalah, and I'm proud I was born there and I actually lived there.

    I might come early august before Ramadhan for a short visit. Would love to meet you there, Nadia. One day out in the "Garbeeb" would be aweosme ;)

  10. Faith: let me know if you decide to come! I'll be out of the country until July 20th then I'm back to chill in the monsoon. Garbeeb sounds great :-)

  11. I lived in Salalah for two years too .. in al dahareez :D and I love it.

    Last time I visisted was in 98 (dont scold me, I know I need to go again).. and I want to go soon, but dont know when .. maybe if I managed to get 2 weeks off from work. I need to visit my childhood friend, last time I met her was when I was 8 years old but we are still in touch through sms

  12. Happened upon your blog through another blogger...MashaAllah, I love it! ♥

    I also love the photo. Salalah looks gorgeous, MashaAllah.

    I dream of Salalah. I have trying to go there for years but getting my husband to actually take us there...hmmm, that's another story. We 'almost' went this past summer.

    Maybe next year, InshaAllah!

  13. Salalah is very beautiful. I agree. Everyone should go.

    My hometown has more witches though, lol. I won't say where it is though (publically).

  14. any ideas where can i find more about Jebbali poetry/singing? i visited Salalah last year and was fascinated by the language.

  15. that is a beautiful post!

    I'd LOVE to visit Salalah (during monsoon time preferably :P The pic you posted is unbelievably beautiful, so green mashallah! I hope I go to Oman (Muscat) this summer... Salalah is a little bit too far- but maybe I'll be lucky and we'll go there too.

    My husband's relatives go to Salalah once in a while when it's green and amazing

  16. If you haven't been to Salalah, then you haven't been to Oman.

    I am originally from Interior Oman (Nizwa) and I do really encourage everyone to visit Salalah during Khareef and After Khareef.

    Went to Salalah in 2008 and in 2009 I had the best trip ever to Salalah with my fellow photographers (I will post a link to our photo slide show from Salalah later)

    And inshallah going this year :)

    I also think is that Salalah is not getting the attention it deserves and it's only promoted in Khareef,

    I believe Salalah is beautiful and I love to be there after Khareef ...

  17. Hi DG, we have been in Oman for the past 3.1/2 years are are just back from our first trip to Salalah. Though I had been drawn earlier by people talking about the wonderful Khareef season, we had been put off by the idea of pushing crowds and jostling for space as it tends to happen to places which are purely seasonal attractions. However, though we found Salalah warmer than Muscat at ths time of the year, we were pleasantly surprised by the sheer natural beauty of the place and it's surroundings. We drove around and visited various spots and were particularly drawn to the empty white sand beeches of Moghsail and the steep cliff at Shaat (on the way to Yemen). I was also intrigued by the similarity in how the women folk cover their face which seems very similar to the Yemeni style of dressing. Wonder if there are more cultural and behavioral similarities between the two peoples.

    And, finally : keep up the good work- you write beautifully.