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Omani regions enjoys visitor growth

Omani regions enjoys visitor growth
September 14, 2014

Tourism through the (northern hemisphere) summer in Oman has grown this year with the southern city of Salalah and the mountain region of Jabal Al Akhdar each reporting rising visitor numbers.

The total number of Khareef Salalah visitors increased to 423,662 by 7th September this year when compared with 421,835 visitors during the same period in 2013, reflecting an increase of 0.4%, according to the report of the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

Omanis represented 76.1% of the total visitors, while other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) citizens represented 16.1% of the total visitor count.

Breaking down the visitor figures by geographic origin, the NCSI statistics shows that the total number of GCC visitors (including Omanis) increased over the stated period this year by 0.3% standing at 390,592 visitors, compared with 389,360 visitors over the same period in 2013. The total number of visitors from other Arab non-GCC countries recorded an increase of 57.6%, standing at 7,410 visitors compared with 4,702 visitors recorded last year.

Meanwhile, reports inform that 42,173 tourists from the Sultanate, Gulf and other nationalities visited Jabal Al Akhdar in the first half of the year, including 15,756 Omani tourists, 3,165 of the GCC countries 1,530 from other Arab states and 21,722 foreigners.

About 10,447 tourists visited Jabal Al Akhdar in June of this year, a popular month for tourists to enjoy the region’s moderate summer temperatures.

The Sultanate of Oman Tourism agency has also been highlighting the tourism significance of Oman’s four UNESCO recognised sites, explained “the Sultanate of Oman has taken great care in their preservation, with even limitations to tourist visits to maintain its conservation.

“Each site will make you feel transported back in time, marvelling at the engineering ingenuity, trade know-how while shivering at the level of mysticism present even in modern day Oman.”

1. Nizwa Falaj Daris - Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman 
The Falaj Daris is the biggest falaj in Oman, and one of the five collectively listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2006. Nizwa’s former prosperity was due to its plethora of water supplies, with over 134 aflaj (plural for falaj) in the Nizwa wilayat (village). One hundred of these are still in use today, while also providing for a great picnic location for both visitors and locals.

Falaj Daris includes five aflaj irrigation systems and is representative of some 3,000 such systems still in use in Oman. 

The origins of this system of irrigation may date back to AD 500, but archaeological evidence suggests that irrigation systems existed in this extremely arid area as early as 2500 BC. Using gravity, water is channelled from underground sources or springs to support agriculture and domestic use. 

The fair and effective management and sharing of water in villages and towns is still underpinned by mutual dependence and communal values and guided by astronomical observations. Numerous watchtowers built to defend the water systems form part of the site reflecting the historic dependence of communities on the aflaj system. Threatened by falling level of the underground water table, the aflaj represent an exceptionally well-preserved form of land use.

2. The Land of Frankincense: Shisr, Sumhuram, Al-Balid, Wadi Dawkah.
This group of archaeological sites in Oman represents the production and distribution of frankincense, one of the most important luxury items of trade in antiquity from the Mediterranean and Red Sea regions to Mesopotamia, India and China. They constitute outstanding testimony to the civilization that from the Neolithic to the late Islamic period flourished in southern Arabia. The Oasis of Shishr and the entrepôts of Khor Rori and Al-Bal─źd are excellent examples of medieval fortified settlements in the Arabian Gulf region
3. Archaeological sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn (pictured top)
The zone encompassing the settlement and necropolises of Bat is the most complete and best-known site of the 3rd millennium BC. In a restricted, coherent space, the necropolis of Bat bears characteristic and unique witness to the evolution of funeral practices during the first Bronze Age in the Oman peninsula. This predates the ancient burial rites of the Ancient Egyptians.

Historical sources recount that the country of Magan was the principal extraction centre for copper, which was exported even to far-away Mesopotamia, as early as about 3000 BC. The appearance of a more strictly hierarchical social organization (as attested to both in the settlements, where circular defensive structures contrast with rectangular houses, and in the necropolises, where the arrangement of funerary space is more complex) goes hand in hand with higher living standards and social changes linked to a trade economy.

4. Bahla Fort (pictured above)
The immense, ruined Bahla Fort, with its walls and towers of mud brick on stone foundations and the adjacent Friday Mosque with its decoratively sculpted prayer niche (mihrab) dominate the surrounding mud brick settlement and palm grove. The fort and settlement, a mud-walled oasis in the Omani desert, owed its prosperity to the Banu Nebhan tribe (Nabahina), who dominated the central Omani region and made Bahla their capital from the 12th to the end of the 15th century. From there they established relationships with other tribal groups of the interior. Bahla was the centre of Ibadism (a branch of Islam), on which the ancient Omani Imamates were based and whose influence can be traced across Arabia, Africa and beyond. Bahla Fort can be visited daily on any itinerary in and around Nizwa.

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