Muscat: The southern region of Oman saw unprecedented rush last five days as a large number of holidaymakers — from rest of Oman as well as the UAE and other GCC countries — thronged the verdant hills to make the best of the Eid Al Fitr holidays.
All roads literally led to Salalah, impacting even petrol supply and demand. “We had to wait for over three hours at Haima for refuelling our cars,” Muscat-born businessman Pranav Mehta told Gulf News.
Mehta and 16 of his friends had taken off in three cars from Muscat to enjoy nine-day Eid holidays in Salalah. “There’s a stretch of over 350 kilometres where there are no filling stations at night so a lot of people arrive in Haima needing to refuel,” he explained.
He revealed that at 11:30pm they reached Haima and the queue was so long that they had to wait almost three hours before their turn came.
“I wouldn’t call it shortage but it was high demand that formed long queues,” he said.
Mohammed Al Sharji, who also travelled from Muscat to Salalah, concurred with Mehta: “There were long queues at the petrol stations but no shortage.”
Mehta, who has represented Oman cricket team, said that the experience in Salalah was awesome. “Slight drizzle throughout made our stay worth remembering for a long time,” he said, adding that a Salalah resident helped them go around Salalah. “We chanced upon this gentleman and he willingly showed us around Salalah for two days without any charges.”
Mehta also said that Salalah and surrounding areas were crowded. “Every other person from Muscat seems to be in Salalah,” he said.
However, he pointed out that there were a large number of cars with Dubai and Abu Dhabi number plates. “There were definitely more UAE cars in Salalah than any other outside vehicles,” he said.
Those going to Salalah without bookings were finding it difficult to get affordable place. “Apartment hotels had more than doubled their tariff as demand kept increasing,” revealed Mehta.
An UAE resident asked for help on Twitter to find accommodation in Salalah while another Tweet warned those heading to Salalah. His advice was to either return to UAE or go around Muscat as finding accommodation was very difficult in Salalah.
The autumn (Khareef season) is at its peak in the southern region of Oman. “The greenery and constant drizzle is an experience worth driving for 1000-plus kilometres distance for a week-long holidays,” Dr Jai Shukla, Senior Orthopedic Surgeon with the Sur Hospital in eastern Oman, told Gulf News over the telephone from Salalah.
He also pointed out that Salalah was jam-packed with tourists. However, Shukla added, that there were several places around Salalah where one could find solitude amidst large expanse of green mountains.
‘The drive, he added, through the foggy mountain was something everyone should enjoy early morning or late in the evening.”
Oman’s southern region — Dhofar — offers everything that you would want, to escape intense summer heat.
Dhofar has cool weather, intermittent drizzle, foggy mornings, gushing springs, breath-taking waterfalls, green valleys and lush verdant hills.
The Khareef Season continues till the end of August but this time due to Ramadan the number of visitors to Dhofar was much lower compared to previous years.
However, the long Eid vacation made up for that number.
From water sprouting jets (Mughsayl blow holes) to the world’s largest sink hole at Tawi Atayr, Dhofar has everything to offer for those looking to escape intense summer heat in the region.