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Al Batinah

The Batinah Coast region runs from Khatma al Malaha in the north, to Ras al Hamra in the Governorate of Muscat. The coastal plain is approximately 25km wide and lies at the foot of the Western Hajar Mountains. After Muscat, it is the most densely inhabited area in Oman. The Batinah has been cultivated for many years with a variety of food crops. The area has a history of maritime and industrial activity. Sohar, the main city of trade centuries ago, has a new port under construction, being built at a cost of RO120million.  The city is renowned for its copper deposits, and archaeological evidence points to copper extraction being carried out 5000 years ago. There are still three copper mines in operation in Sohar with over 18 million tons of copper deposits. It is an attractive region for tourists due to its clean, safe beaches and the plethora of archaeological features.

One of the first references to 'Sohar' is in the work of historian, Yaqut al Hamawi who implies that the city took its name in the 6th century AH from a descendent of Noah: Sohar bin Adam bin Sam bin Noah. When the Palestinian Arab scholar Muqadisi visited the city in 10th century AH he described it as a "flourishing city with a large number of people living there. It is a beautiful city with a comfortable life, …and its mosque overlooks the sea…the Mihrab (indicator of the direction for prayers) changes colour because it is covered in copper…".

[Sohar]The Sohar Fort is one of the most prominent features in the city and was built between the 13th and 14th century AD by the 'Emirs of Hormuz'. An escape tunnel runs from inside the fort to the wilayat of Buraimi, 10km to the west. It was used as a route to obtain reinforcements and supplies during sieges. Sohar has many wadis with running water, such as Wadi Hibi, Wadi Ahin and Wadi al Jizzi, and beautiful public parks. It is an area that is under tourist development and a number of deluxe hotels have now been built.

The wilayat of Rustaq is in the Western Hajar, at the south of the Batinah. Rustaq was once the capital of Oman, during the era of Imam Nasir bin Murshid al Ya'arubi. Rustaq fort, built four centuries prior to the dawn of Islam in Oman, is an imposing structure built on three levels, containing separate houses, an armoury, a mosque and four towers. The tallest tower stands over 18.5m high and has a diameter of 6m. Hazm Fort is an outstanding example of Omani Islamic architecture and was built in 1711AD. The fort's roof is built on columns, and contains no wooden supports. Its walls can withstand great impact, being no less than 3m thick.

{Rustaq River]Rustaq is an area of healing, warm springs, the most notable being Ain al Kasafa. Its water runs at 45degC and is regarded as a cure for rheumatism and skin diseases due to its sulphur content. There are three popular wadis to visit: Wadi Bani Ghafar; Wadi al Sahtan and Wadi Bani Auf. In addition, the mountains are pitted with caves such as Al Sanaqha Cave with its own subterranean springs. One of the main occupations in Rustaq is beekeeping. Pure Omani honey is a most sought-after commodity and is of the highest quality. Fruits such as pomegranates, apricots, plums and grapes are grown on the foothills of Jebel al Akhdar and brought to Rustaq for sale.

Wilayat Shinas is the town furthest north in the Batinah region. It has a number of castles and forts, such as Shinas fort and Rasa al Malah castle. Shinas Park is notable for its forest of mangrove (qurum) trees and the wadis of al Ghaliliya and al Aswad have been developed into tourist locations. Many fruits and vegetables are grown in Shinas, such as bananas, mangoes, tomatoes and lemons.

Wilayat Liwa lies north of Sohar and has a lively market place where local produce and fresh fish are sold. The fortress of Awla Ya'rab, built of white clay, is located on the beach in the Harmul area. The area also has a number of rural features such as springs, falaj and caves: Ain al Azam cave faces the creek and is surrounded by mangrove trees, while Jebel Abu Kahif is home to some of the largest caves in the wilayat.

Saham is located between the coast and the Hajar Mountains and the wilayat has plenty of fresh running water and spectacular mountain scenery. It is perhaps most famous for the area known as Seih al Taybat, which is where His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos holds one of his royal camps whilst on his annual inspection of the regions. The camps provide an opportunity for the residents of the region to discuss their concerns for their towns and villages with the Sultan and listen to his advice and directives. Saham is also famous for camel and horse racing, which are popular holiday and weekend sports.

Wilayat al Khaboura is a mountainous region, which is honeycombed with caves, too numerous to name. It has a number of towers, forts and castles, the most imposing being Bu Said castle. Sugar cane, wheat, dates and cotton are grown in the wilayat and the main occupations of the inhabitants include leather tanning, weaving and boat building.

The wilayat of Suwaiq is characterised by its widespread agriculture. There are numerous plantations across the area where herbs, bananas, mangoes and citrus fruits are grown. It is an area famous for bull fighting. Suwaiq has its own forts and castles and four springs, the most scenic being located in the area of Wadi al Jahawar.

[Nakhl]Nakhl is located in the south of the Batinah, at the foot of Jebel al Akhdar in the Western Hajar Mountains. Upon entry to Nakhl, the most prominent feature is the fort, which is built on a 200m high craggy outcrop. The fort has been extended over the centuries and in 1990, was restored by Sultan Qaboos. There are a number of hot springs in Nakhl, one of which is situated close to the fort: Thuara spring is a very popular location with locals and visitors alike. It is a highly important source of water to the residents of Nakhl, as it irrigates around 90% of the land. Wadi Abyad is in the wilayat and contains deep, warm 'blue pools', so coloured due to the mineral deposits in the water.

The main industry in the wilayat of Wadi Ma'awal is pottery, which is still handcrafted. Safala fort is located in the town of Afi and the wilayat has used it as its emblem. Other handicrafts in the area include palm weaving, the most notable items made being fans.

Wilayat Awabi is a place of eminent learning and has been home to many Omani scholars, poets and the literati. The Aliya region has stunning natural scenery with towering mountains and deep valleys. The Aja region is dotted with caves and secret passageways through the rocks, where ancient rock art and writing is carved into the walls. Precious metals are still worked into exquisite designs in Awabi; gold and silver jewellery is made in the traditional way, which is popular with locals and tourists alike.

The wilayat of Masn'a is located on the rich fertile plain of the Batinah Coast. It was once a popular market town and supplied many of the neighbouring wilayats with various commodities. Due to its many sana (industries), Masn'a received its name. Today, one of the main industries is cloth dying, using the indigo plant. Other industries include making red sugar, ship and boat building and sword making. Masn'a is one of the few wilayats which does not have any springs or afalaj - except the remains of an ancient one which was dug in the era of Imam Sultan bin Saif al Yar'ubi.

Barka is one of the historic cities on the coast of Oman which flourished during the Ya'aruba and the Bu Said dynasties. It was an area of export and received produce from the neighbouring wilayats to ship to India, Basra and East Africa. Reminders of the prosperity of these times include Al Na'man Fort, built by the Imam Saif bin Sultan al Ya'rubi (Qid al Ard), who planted 30,000 palm and coconut trees around its walls. Al Sayid Sultan bin Ahmad built the garrison headquarters of Bait al Falaj in the 19th century AD which is now the Armed Forces Museum.

[Dimaaniyat]The Sawadi region is home to some of the most beautiful long, white beaches in the north of the Sultanate and off this peninsula are the Dimaaniyat and Jun Islands, which host many migratory birds and breeding turtles. In breeding seasons, the islands are prohibited to the public to avoid disturbing the creatures.

Naseem Park is located on the outskirts of the wilayat and is adored by children for its playground, theme gardens, privet maze and model railway.

Regions:- Overview Muscat Gov Dhofar Gov Musandam Gov Al Buraimi Gov Al Dakhiliyah Gov Al Batinah N & S Al Sharqiyah N & S Al Dhahirah Gov Al Wusta Gov

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