Published on : Friday, March 17, 2017
With the beginning of harvest season for Salalah’s renowned frankincense groves, the tourist season for the Dhofar region is also set to start, which witnesses close to 1,000 visitors to the city every March. The main areas of attraction for visitors are within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has been dubbed the ‘Land of Frankincense’. It consists of four different areas of interest: the ancient ports of Khor Rori and Al Baleed, which shipped the famed resin from the south of Oman to the rest of the ancient world, to places, such as Egypt, China and across Europe, the old trade depot of Shisr, and the frankincense trees of Wadi Dawka.
According to Ahmed Al Awaid, assistant manager for the UNESCO heritage site, “The harvest season began about a week ago, and we’re taking people to see the trees, which are in full bloom. The trees are harvested from March all the way up to the end of May, and then the Khareef season begins, so we don’t work then and that’s the high point of Salalah’s tourist season. We are expecting to see about 200 tourists a week during this month.”
According to Khalifa Al Shamsi, manager of the specialist directorate to the office of the Advisor to His Majesty for Cultural Affairs, “Frankincense put Oman on the map because it was used by many ancient civilisations, as medicine and for their religious ceremonies. A lot of people from different parts of the world come to Salalah to see the frankincense trees because they are really interested in this as you don’t find this anywhere else. It is still very popular around the world because it is now used as one of the main ingredients in perfumes.”
Although oil is now Oman’s main source of revenue, Omani frankincense is renowned throughout the world for its aromatic and medicinal properties. Even today, it forms a vital aspect of Oman’s economy and boosting its tourism portfolio. There are four different types of frankincense grown in Oman.