Oman is a land of magic, quite literally (read about Majlis Al-Jinn if you don’t believe me!). And while Muscat is perhaps the most quaint GCC capital city that I have ever been to, I have read and heard even more about Salalah before moving to the Gulf which is why as soon as the opportunity emerged to go, I immediately booked a flight and a hotel and headed there with a couple of friends.
For some background, Salalah is the second largest city in the Sultanate of Oman, the largest city in the Dhofar Province, and is the birthplace of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. If you’ve heard about Salalah before, it is probably because of its unique Khareef (autumn) season – from July to September — during which temperatures drop compared to other cities in the Gulf and the desert is completely transformed to lush greenery.
Think of Salalah as Mars meets Sri Lanka. For that reason, the short travel distance, and several other reasons which I will list below, Salalah makes an excellent and unique weekend trip from Dubai or any other GCC city really.
You can follow me on Instagram (@gmr83) for more pictures of Salalah and other places.
1. Breathtaking cliffs: A few minutes away from Salalah is Taqah — a coastal town that has a small castle and beautiful cliffs overlooking the ocean below. The drive is quite easy although a bit offroad.
Each year between June and September the coastal fringe of Dhofar and Salalah experiences the Khareef season, a colloquial Arabic term used to describe a unique weather pattern in the Middle East. The monsoon is caused by surface wind, which encourages an upwelling of waters in the Indian Ocean and, in turn, the cooling of the southern regions of Oman thanks to the moist air and rainwater created #whpmyoasis
2. Marneef cave and blowholes: These are the next best thing to geysers!
3. Mountains: Salalah is surrounded by beautiful mountains that turn into blinding green color in the Khareef season so take your pick and head up to one of the mountains!
4. Job’s Tomb: Job is a prophet in the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and his tomb is believed to be located in Salalah. You can read more about him in the picture caption below. The drive up to the tomb is scenic, and make sure to stop for a cup of delicious karak at the small cafeteria near the tomb.
A Omani man and his son leave the Tomb of Job in the mountains of Salalah. In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Job is considered a prophet who is beset with horrendous disasters that take away all that he holds dear, including his offspring, his health, and his property. He struggles to understand his situation and begins a search for the answers to his difficulties. God rewards Job's obedience and patience during his travails by restoring his health, doubling his original wealth and giving him seven new sons and three new daughters, which bore his great grandchildren before he died, 140 years later.
5. Camel meat barbecue: Yup, you heard me! Salalah has a ton of small eateries on the side of roads serving camel barbecue which is cooked live in front of you on… wait for it… hot gravel! It is super delicious and you might down 5 skewers before it hits you that you are actually eating camel meat!
6. People: Omanis in general are known to be the friendliest people in the GCC – sorry Emiratis, Qataris, Kuwaitis, Saudis, and Bahrainis, but you know it’s true!
7. Fresh fruits: Salalah’s tropical climate allows for the cultivation of fruits like mango, papaya, bananas, jack fruit, and others. To make it easier for you, there are dozens of street-side stalls that sell these fruits in cups or in bulk for you to enjoy as a snack while exploring.
One of my favorite things to do in Salalah is stopping by one of the many street fruit stalls and having a cup of semi-ripe locally grown mangoes that the vendor then drizzles with chilly pepper 🍋 thanks to a tip from my @anantarasalalah "Salalah Guru", I tried one today with added lime juice too which was delicious 🤤🇴🇲
Last but not least, here is a video on Salalah’s unique Khareef season so you’d know what to expect: