The monsoon affects Dhofar Governorate and Al Mahrah respectively from about June to early September. An annual Khareef festival is annually held in Salalah to celebrate the monsoon and attract tourists. The event has been introduced late in the nineties after the development in infrastructure and more exposure to the outside world. A long neglected and remote Southern part has become haven to fun-seekers and long relaxation.
Khareef is a colloquial Arabic term used in Southern Oman, South Eastern Yemen and Sudan for the South-East Monsoon. It starts at the contradictory period when the whole of Arabia experiences a blistering Inferno and people resort to a more welcoming place. Khareef means Autumn in Arabic, that accidentally ends in Salalah in September when the rest of the world begins theirs. Unlike the Autumn in Europe when the falling of leaves from trees occur, Salalah on the contrary undergoes a major transformation of greenery, pleasant showers and total bliss of serenity.
Wadi Dawkah is a natural park of famous Frankincense trees and UNESCO inscribed as the World Heritage Site. This is a habitat for Boswellia sacra type of Frankincense trees. Sadah was the most important place for Frankincense trade in the past 100 years; 60kms East of Mirbat, the centre being the far-east of the region, it played a major role of being a watchman. The purest of frankincense is colourless or with a slight green tinge whereas the best is white-silver and brittle and the cheapest is brownish-yellow.
Frankincense has been Salalah’s most famous and highly prized natural product since antiquity, its enchanting aroma sensed from homes, mosques, souqs and hotel lobbies; even in churches.
‘Luban’ as it is known in Arabic is even popular as an ingredient in perfumes, spa treatments, foods, sweets and as for medicinal purposes.
Our beautiful Salalah is now well known and frequently visited all year round for the ancient Historical Sites such as the tomb of Prophet Ayoub son of Amoz and descendant of Sayyida Ishaq bin Ibrahim. Another burial shrine is of Prophet Imran in Salalah, the father of Sayyidat Maryam – mother of Lord EISA. The recent place of rest is at Taqa, where the late Queen Mother has been buried and laid to rest. The famous daughter of Chief of the Al Maashani Tribe and Grand-daughter of the Al Hikail Dynasty Leader.
Waterfalls is one of the main attractions that tourists look for that are only in the Khareef Season and depends on the amount of rain. To name a few, Ayn Tabouk and Ayun Athum are located on the road to Nashib and the latter is the most beautiful of all and easily accessible.
Gone are the days of isolation and non-recognition, like the central Al Baleed archaeological park, now declared a UNESCO World Heritage, and the region’s past experiences in seafaring and frankincense trade. Since 2010, additional important tourism projects have been announced in and around Salalah.
The Khareef Festival is held in Salalah each year with the attractions and entertainment such as music and dance performances from different regions of Oman as well as singers from the outside. In addition, there is an exhibition and sale of Omani handicrafts, sports and events. Zanooj dance, which involves a cast of thousands is a spectacular sight that is sinful to miss. The 40 days of festivals is broadcast and can be viewed live worldwide; where tourists are interviewed, picnickers stretch-out on the lush carpet of grass, shoppers bargain at vendor stands, and the natives elegantly dressed in their ancestral outfits.