Minerva Memories – Salalah


Dhofar the legendary land of frankincense “Arabia Felix” (Happy Arabia) where the sweet scent of frankincense resin continues to fill the air. Around Salalah, the capital of Dhofar, sandy beaches extend for miles, fringed by subtropical plantations. In the hinterland of Salalah, the impressive mountain backdrop of the Dhofar Mountains becomes apparent. When the rains fall during monsoon season, they wear an emerald green dress.


In the past, Salalah was an important trading port, where frankincense set out on its journey around the world. Still today, a trip to the old Salalah souks with their colorful fabrics, exotic spices and mysterious fragrances become a festival of the senses.


Frankincense, also known as olibanum, comes from the Boswellia genustrees, particularly Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carteri. The milky white sap is extracted from the tree bark, allowed to harden into a gum resin for several days, and then scraped off in tear-shaped droplets.


Boswellia trees grow in African and Arabian regions, including Yemen, Oman, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Oman is the best known and most ancient source of frankincense, where it’s been traded and shipped to other places like the Mediterranean, India, and China for thousands of years.


The highest-quality frankincense is clear and silvery, but with a slight green tinge. Brown-yellow varieties are the cheapest and most readily available. In Oman, the best frankincense is usually reserved for the sultan and is rarely shipped out of the country.


Frankincense is traditionally burned as incense, and was charred and ground into a powder to produce the heavy kohl eyeliner used by Egyptian women. Today, this resin is steam-distilled to produce an aromatic essential oil with many benefits.


Frankincense oil has a woody, earthy, spicy, and slightly fruity aroma, which is calming and relaxing. It’s said to be sweeter, fresher, and cleaner than frankincense resin.

Throughout the year, guests from around the world find the perfect setting for a relaxing, varied vacation in beautiful southern Oman. From June to September, Salalah is particularly popular among Arabs from the Gulf States, thanks to the monsoon rains. And then the southern Dhofar landscape greens, blossoms and sprouts wherever you look, and the temperatures are moderate – and it’s the perfect time to celebrate the annual Khareef Festival in Salalah.


Blowholes at Al Mughsayl are present on a long stretch of sandy beach that extends for 6 kilometers in length from Wadi Mudam almost to Wadi Aful, with Wadi Ashawq in the center. They lie next to Jabal al Qamar. The road from Salalah city, descends down towards Wadi Mudam on way to Al Mughsayl, and runs parallel to the beach between a mountain front on the north and the beach on the south. Eyes meet a broad coastal plain, which are a kilometer wide, and it continues westward until it is cut off by limestone cliffs that descend to the sea and towards the blowholes.


Just next to the blowholes is a huge olistolith rock (slip block) that forms an overhang known locally as the Marneef Caves. South side of these caves completely opens to the sea. These caves provides shelter to the tourist visiting the blowholes from the scorching summer heat. As you walk from car park to ground zero, you have to traverse your way through these caves.


These caves are similar to what Blowholes are made of.
These blowholes are one of the major tourist attractions in Salalah. Sea water blown out of the holes can reach upto heights of 30 meters if the weather conditions are right. The location offers spectacular scenery as you stand on top of the cliff and see the waves hitting the caves in the bottom and be ready to be blown by water and air under your feet.


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About Basia Zarzycka