Al Batinah North & South
Batinah divided administratively into two
Al Batinah North Governorate.
The affiliated wilayats are Sohar, Shinas, Liwa, Saham, Al Khabourah and
Al Suwaiq. The centre of the governorate is the Wilayat of Sohar.
Al Batinah South Governorate. The affiliated wilayats are Al
Rostaq, Al Awabi, Nakhl, Wadi al Maawil, Barka and Musannah. The centre
of the governorate is the Wilayat of Rostaq.
With its geographical location, economic resources and high population
density, the Batinah Governorate has played an important part in Oman's history.
It has always been the country's maritime and commercial outlet to the Gulf
and the Indian Ocean and its mineral resources have provided the basis for
several important heavy industries. Today the port of Mina Sohar is one of
the Sultanate's economic mega-projects.
Most of the Batinah's wilayats and villages are on a plain and the
most distinctive feature is its fertile coast with its acres of farmland and
wide variety of crops. It has been famous for its agriculture since ancient
times and its people have traditionally been farmers and fishermen - a fact
reflected in the harmony between the blue sea and the green countryside.
The inland edge of the Batinah at the foot of the Western Hajar mountains is
a land of wadis and aflaj flowing with sweet water. Ten groundwater storage
dams have been constructed to conserve the precious water resources and
enable agricultural projects to flourish.
When he visited Sohar, al Maqdisi described it as "the
gateway to the east a prosperous, beautiful city and a pleasant place to live
with a large number of inhabitants." He noted that its residential areas were
strung out along the shore and that its mosque, which overlooked the sea, had a
tall minaret and a mihrab that changed colour because it was plated with copper.
In his book Mu'jam al Buldan (Geographical Dictionary) Yaqut al Hamawi refers to
Sohar as "the kasbah of Oman", while al Farisi, author of Hudud al 'Alam
(Boundaries of the World) describes it as "the market-place of the whole world."
In his book Al Masalik wa'1 Mamalik (The Roads and Countries) al Istakhri says
it is rich and beautiful - a description which indicates that even at that time
it was economically prosperous and a haven for the ships that plied the Arabian
Sea. Amr bin al `As - the Companion of the Prophet who brought the Prophet's
message to Abd and Jaifar, the sons of al Julanda and kings of Oman, inviting
them to embrace Islam - visited Sohar in the 3rd year of the Hijrah/624AD.
In later years, Sohar was one of the richest ports in the Islamic world and
ships sailed to it from China and India and unloaded cargoes to be sold in its
souqs. Historians admired the fine buildings along its seafront and described
the town in the most glowing terms.
The Wilayat of Sohar is 240 Kilometres from Muscat and borders on the Wilayat of
Liwa to the north, the Wilayat of Saham to the south, the Wilayat of Buraimi to
the west and the Gulf of Oman to the east. It has a 45-Kilometre-long coastline
and an area of around 1,728 square Kilometres. Its mountains extend for over 70
A traveller approaching the wilayat from the south will enter it through Majz al
Kubra and drive through it until he departs through Majis in the north.
Recognizing Sohar's historical and economic importance and potential, the
government has transformed it into one of the most beautiful cities in Oman. The
past has left its mark on every part of Sohar, but a tour of this wilayat would
not be complete without a visit to Sohar Fort - an imposing white building near
the sea which has witnessed the twists and turns of Sohar's history over the
ages. The Sultan Qaboos Mosque, which stands beside the fort, occupies an area
of 16,992 square metres and its 1,394 square metre main prayer hall can hold
over 2,090 worshippers. The mosque has a well-stocked library. To celebrate
Sohar's glorious seafaring history, the ship "Sohar" sailed from Muscat for the
Chinese port of Guangzhou at the command of His Majesty the Sultan in 1980. The
return voyage ended in 1981. The vessel was an identical copy of the ships of
the Middle Ages and navigated with the aid of the sun and the stars.
Sohar also used to be an important commercial centre for overland caravans
travelling to other regions of the Sultanate laden with goods from faraway
Anyone entering Sohar will be amazed at the sight of its gigantic gates, like
the Sohar Gate at the wilayat's eastern entrance at its border with the Wilayat
of Saham. These entrance gates are shaped like a line of boats with their sails
raised, symbolising the ships berthed in Mina Sohar harbour and their importance
to the local economy. The city's roundabouts and open areas have been
embellished with lawns, flower-beds with seasonal flowers, fountains and ponds,
with models depicting aspects of the region's history, civilization and
environment, including a terrestrial globe in the Omani Islamic architectural
style and a date-palm to represent economic activity. The Sallan Roundabout has
an Islamic-style dome above a giant incenseburner, symbolising the country's
attachment to its traditional values. Other roundabouts display aspects of
Oman's environment and heritage.
Other tourist attractions :
Nestling beneath the soaring peaks of the Western Hajar mountains,
the Wilayat of Rustaq borders on the Wilayat of al Awabi the the east, Ibri is
to the west, al Musana'ah to the north and the slopes of al Jabal al Akhdhar to
the south. It is 150 Kilometres from the Governorate of Muscat and its
population of 67,641 lives in Rustaq itself and its 170 villages. It has two
niyabats - al Hawqain and Wadi Bani Hinai - and numerous enchanting wadis where
the visitor can stroll among springs and lush palm groves. Among the best known
of these wadis are Wadi Sahtan, Wadi Bani Ghafir, Wadi Bani Awf, Wadi al Haimli
and Wadi Hajir Bani Umar. The wilayat has 200 aflaj including Falaj al Maisar
-the oldest - Falaj al Sayighi, and Falaj al Kamil, which is a truly brilliant
feat of engineering.
The Ya'ariba understood the importance of obtaining good drinking water from
their wadis and underground springs, just as they recognized the dangers of
salinity on the Batinah plain. In tackling the problem they looked to the future
and realised that the solution lay in digging a falaj to carry water from Rustaq
to the village of al Turaif in the Wilayat of al Musana'ah. The project was
begun during the reign of Imam Saif bin Sultan al Ya'rubi, when a channel was
dug through the rocks and mountains to the village of al Misfah near the village
of al Hazm. The project came to a halt with the death of the Imam and, though
its roofs and wooden supports remain to this day, the.falaj itself is not even a
distant memory. Although Rustaq is a very ancient city with origins that date
from Oman's earliest history, Rustaq Fort is one of only a few visible traces of
its past that can be seen today.
The hot springs of Ain al Kasfah with an average water temperature of 45C are
among the Sultanate's most ancient springs and are the Wilayat of Rustaq's
best-known feature. Welling up from the depths of the earth, Ain al Kasfah
attracts visitors from far and wide who come to bathe in the hot water or
benefit from its therapeutic qualities; it offers an effective cure for a wide
range of muscular diseases and rheumatism. Others just come to watch the water
bubbling endlessly out of the ground.
The Niyabat of al Hawqain with its springs and flowing water is one of the
Wilayat of Rustaq's other major tourist attractions. It can be reached either by
road from the village of al Hazm (a 23-Kilometre stretch of this road has been
upgraded) or via a 23Kilometre-long road from the Wilayat of al Suwaiq. The two
roads meet at a roundabout from which it is possible to drive to Wadi at Haimli
and Hajir Bani Umar as well as al Hawqain, al Suwaiq and al Hazm.
The Niyabat of Al Hawqain is a lush district with many trees. It is popular with
visitors during holidays and weekends and has an old fort on the top of a high
rocky hill overlooking the entrance to al Hawqain village. The niyabat's main
features are its numerous aflaj, which include Falaj al Bilad, Falaj al Damtha
wa'l Huwail, Falaj al Bid'ah wa'l Sa'idi and Falaj Tawi'l Bedu. Its springs
include al Khabbah al Zarqa and Ain at Khor.
The Wilayat of Rustaq's fertile wadis have water in abundance. The Niyabat of
Wadi Bani Hinai, which is in the Western Hajar mountains about 27 Kilometres
from the centre of the wilayat, has a wadi running through the middle of it with
datepalms along either side and its 37 villages have numerous fresh water
springs such as Ain Sharjah, Ain Aqd al Nuzuh and Ain Hamham. The villages of
Wadi Bani Hinai are fed by several aflaj including Falaj al Sawader, Falaj al
Tawiyah, Falaj at Hail, Falaj Nab'an, Falajal Aqr wa'l Muhaidith and Falaj at
Huwail. A groundwater recharge dam with a 600,000 cubic metre capacity has been
built in Wadi al Far'I and supplies the wilayat's aflaj.
A trip through Wadi Bani Awf will take the traveller to the spring of Ain al
Huwait, after which he will be able to visit a string of green villages along
the wadi's edge like al Fara', at Riddah, at War and at Zamah. Finally, after
crossing numerous smaller wadis and obstacles, he will arrive at the wonderfully
photogenic village of Balad Sect where the houses cling to the mountain side in
tiers like terraced plots, Balad Sect is 36 Kilometres from the city of Rustaq
and the same distance from the Wilayat of al Hamra in the Dakhiliyah Governorate.
These days there is a mountain road between the two wilayats, so that the people
of Balad Seet now have a link with their neighbours and kinsfolk in the Wilayat
of al Hamra. The village enjoys a full range of government services including
electricity and a school, and it is linked to the mobile phone network.
Every prospect pleases in Wadi Sahtan - which in the old days was called Mandoos
Oman (the treasure chest of Oman). The road to it begins from the roundabout in
the village of al Ghashab. Then after ten Kilometres it drops steeply down
towards Wadi Sahtan, which indeed appears as a treasure chest overflowing with
beautiful gems, with its terraced villages and fields planted with every type of
fruit. In al Khadhra, its most beautiful village, you can stand and watch the
water gushing out from a spring between the rocks - one of the most copious
springs in the Wilayat of Rustaq which never runs dry - whence it flows along
irrigation channels and waters the terraced plots. The traveller can then climb
to the pretty village of al Wajmah which, with its terraced plots, looks like
one of the villages of the Jabal al Akhdhar.
The route to it has been changed and the new road is now safer. Other attractive
villages in Wadi Sahtan include al Huwaijer, al Hajir, al Mazra' and Amq. The
wadi is famous for its fruit and its date palms. Wadi Bani Ghafir is one of the
longest wadis in the Wilayat of Rustaq. It begins from the mountain slopes near
the Wilayat of Ibri and runs along a 60-Kilometre course to the village of
Khafdi near Rustaq. Wadi Sadaq, one of Wadi Bani Ghafir's main tributaries, has
numerous fertile villages including Yaqa, al Sumaisam, al Dafa' and al Marji.
The wadi flows down to Wadi Bani Hinai and al Hawqain, from where it descends to
the Batinah plain before flowing into the sea at al Suwaiq beach.
Wadi Hajir Bani Umar is another well-known wadi in the Wilayat of Rustaq and is
75 Kilometres from the centre of the wilayat at its furthest point. Its eight
villages are al Sawdi, Fajra, al Mahduth, Hajir Bani Umar, Sulh, Daisli, al
Dhuwaiher and al Gharwah. It offers fine views and has several forts and towers.
With its fertile soil and plentiful water supplies it is a major farming area.
Bee-keeping is a popular occupation in these fertile wadis, where the bees sip
the nectar from the wild flowers and flowering trees. The bee-keepers receive
support and encouragement from the state.
Other tourist attractions :
Although the Wilayat of Shinas is right up at the far end of the Batinah
North Governorate on the
Sultanate's northern border, it has enjoyed just as many of the benefits of
modern development as
the rest of Oman's wilayats. It has numerous tourist attractions, a lively
commercial scene and a thriving agricultural sector and, thanks to its
seaside location, it also has an important commercial sea-port. Its land is
fertile and watered by flowing aflaj and it produces a wide variety of fruit
Shinas is the "bottle-neck" of the Batinah North Governorate and it is through this wilayat that much of the overland traffic and trade passes between the
Sultanate and the other Arab Gulf Co-operation Council states. It borders on
the Gulf of Oman to the east and the Wilayat of Mahdhah to the west and the
south. It is 300 Kilometres from the Governorate of Muscat and its beautiful
coast extends from Khatmat Malahah in the north to al Dawaneej in the south.
The wilayat's history is reflected in old buildings like Shinas Fort near
the souq. The fort's
rectangular keep is surrounded by a perimeter wall with a tower at each of
its four corners and it has a rectangular tower on the north-eastern side.
The fort has now been restored to its former glory. Other buildings of
interest include the forts of Rassat al Milh, Khadhrawain and Ajeeb and the
dilapidated but historic fort of al Asrar. There are also over thirty
towers, the most important one being the seaside tower of al Marir.
The Wilayat of Shinas's seafaring history is reflected in the fact that in
2001 its old fishing harbour was converted into a commercial port to handle
local trade in the north Batinah - particularly the trade in fish,
livestock, consumer goods, vegetables and fruit.
Shinas is also an agricultural area and the falaj-irrigated land around its
outlying villages produces Omani limes, tomatoes (the tomato is the
wilayat's emblem) and a large number of other varieties of fruit and
vegetables. There are two agriculture and fisheries advice centres - one in
Shinas itself and the other in the north of the wilayat.
The wilayat's 36 wadis include Wadi Ajeeb, which flows as far as al Wajajah,
and Wadi Tumait, in addition to several wadis that flow from the mountains.
One of these is Wadi Faidh, which is about fifteen Kilometres from the
centre of Shinas.
Shinas's charms are greatly enhanced by the many mangrove trees that grow
along its coast and provide a refuge and nesting-place for resident and
migrant birds. Khor al Qurm ("Mangrove Creek") - one of the wilayat's
popular tourist spots - extends for a distance of five Kilometres from north
to south, from al Wadayat to al Farfarah.
When our thoughts turn to the Wilayat of
Liwa, we think of the smallest and lightest of unsinkable ships, or the
Baobab tree with its pain-killing powers, or the wilayat's tourist
attractions like the mountain village of Qazah.
With its 58 villages, Liwa is 270 Kilometres from the Governorate of Muscat,
just beyond the Wilayat of Sohar and on the strip of coast that ends at the
Wilayat of Shinas. It has numerous castles, forts and towers including Liwa
Fort with its three towers, the recently-restored Qazah Fort - a fine
three-storey citadel 15 metres high and 14 metres wide with four rooms on
each floor - and Awlad Ya'rub Fort - an architectural gem in the village of
Harmul. Liwa's white coral limestone mosques are an unusual feature of this
area with their ventilation holes like small windows high up in their walls.
Some of these mosques have attractive minarets; the prettiest is the minaret
of al Bahlul mosque in Hillat al Husn.
The mosque of al Rabi' bin Habib in the village of Ghadhfan is named after
one of the Hadith narrators of the early part of the 2nd century AH/8th
century AD, who lived in this village before leaving it for Basra in search
of knowledge. He then settled in Basra, though in the autumn of his life he
returned to Ghadhfan, where he spent the rest of his days. Harmul Park,
which the Municipality has laid out along the shore, is popular with
visitors. Ain al Qurm, beside the lagoon at Harmul village, is another
delightfully green and fertile spot and a resting place for migrating birds.
In the mountain areas there are numerous beautiful villages with abundant
water and temperate climates like Qazah, al Zuhaimi, Rahab, Bat and Dha'bain,
which many people visit in the summer months. In al Zuhaimi you will find
the Baobab tree - the only one in the north of Oman. People believe that
this unique tree will kill pain if you insert a grain of sand in its massive
trunk. Because of this, any local person with a toothache rushes immediately
to this tree and inserts a grain of sand into it, after which the pain is
either significantly reduced or disappears altogether. Attempts have been
made to grow other Baobab trees from its cuttings, but they have not been
There is nothing odd about the fact that the Wilayat
of Saham has adopted the lime tree as its emblem, because, despite its seafaring
tradition, it has also been renowned throughout its history as a centre of
citrus fruit cultivation.
The Wilayat of Saham extends from Qasabat Breik in the south to Majaz al Sughra
in the north. It borders on the Wilayat of al Musana'ah to the south and the
Wilayat of Sohar to the north, and it is 200 Kilometres from the Governorate of
Muscat. With its 66 villages it has a high population density.
Saham occupies a central geographical position half way along the Batinah coast
and links the north and south of the Sultanate as well as the Batinah North Governorate
with the wilayats of Yanqul and Ibri in the Dhahirah
Governorate. It has numerous
sites of historical interest including the recently-restored Souq Fort. Much of
the wilayat is under cultivation, the main farm land being around the villages
of Wadi Bani Umar, al Fulaij and al Rawdhah, and in the rural areas beside the
mountains. Saham's 23 aflaj are fed by the wadis of Wadi Ahen, Wadi al Mahmoom,
Wadi al Sarmi, Wadi al Shafan and Khor al Milh, and provide the main source of
water for the wilayat's farms and lime orchards.
Wilayat Al Khaboura
The Wilayat of al Khabourah is 178 Kilometres from the
Governorate of Muscat and borders on the Wilayat of al Suwaiq to the east, the
Wilayat of Sohar to the west, the Wilayat of Ibri to the south and the blue seas
of the Gulf of Oman to the north. It has 76 villages.
Al Khabourah has seven castles (the best-known of these is the castle of Bani
Said), as well as twenty-one forts including al Khabourah Fort - a square
building beside the sea with a round tower and a heavy wooden gate, which was
restored in the year 2000. Date-palms, limes and fruit trees can be found in
abundance in the wilayat's well-watered wadis and around the small villages that
lie halfhidden among the mountains. Traces of the past may be seen in Wadi al
Hawasinah and Wadi al Sarmi, famed for their fresh water springs and aflaj.
Wadi al Hawasinah is one of al Khabourah's best-known and most fertile wadis and
its mountain setting makes it a magnet for visitors. Among the most attractive
of its thirty villages are Hijjah, al Rafi'ah, al Badi'ah (with its old dam,
which is 200 metres long, four metres high and three metres wide), al Washihi,
al Hamimi, al Rak and Saddain. The wadi's numerous springs include Ain Saddain,
Ain al Ma'abela and Ain al Owainah, while its pools include Hawdh al Khajour,
Hawdh Hammad, Hawdh al Buwaidhah and Hawdh al Hamimi.
The wilayat's high mountains with their caves, cliffs and tree-studded slopes
are home to wild animals such as the lynx, gazelles, foxes, wolves and desert
hares. A 26-Kilometre drive from al Khabourah roundabout will take you to the
turning to the villages of Wadi al Sarmi, which is also a popular spot with
visitors in search of the beauties of nature. Strung out like beads on a
necklace for a distance of 70 Kilometres along the streams and rock formations
of the wadi lie al Dhwaihir, al Rakkah, al Sahirah and several other villages
and hamlets. Wadi al Qunut and Wadi Halhal are also - enchanting wadis and well
worth a visit.
Visitors never realise that the Wilayat of al Suwaiq
is one of the biggest commercial markets in the Batinah North
Governorate, that it is known
locally for its numerous souqs and that the town is full of modem shops.
They are also generally unaware of the fact that the emblem of this coastal
wilayat is a four-legged desert-browsing ship - in other words, a camel. These
are two of the anomalies about this place. Firstly, the name of the wilayat - al
Suwaiq - is a diminutive of ,souq, despite the fact that there have
always been numerous souqs in the town and its surrounding villages. Secondly,
despite the fact that sea-going vessels anchor off its beautiful shore, the
wilayat's emblem is a ship of the desert.
However, the visitor will find that these anomalies evaporate once he sees this
beautiful wilayat and its prosperous town or bathes in its clear blue water and
he will forget his cares if he goes out into the countryside and visits places
like the sprawling ancient village of al Hailain, nestling between high
mountains and bisected by a wadi of date groves and junipers.
With one hundred villages, Al Suwaiq is the biggest wilayat in the Batinah North
Governorate. It has the highest population density of any wilayat and the third
largest number of inhabitants after the Wilayat of Seeb in the Governorate of
Muscat and the Wilayat of Salalah in the Governorate of Dhofar. It borders on al
Musana'ah to the east, al Khabourah to the west and the Niyabat of al Hawqain in
the Wilayat of Rustaq to the south. Most of its population live along the
70-Kilometre coastline which forms its northern boundary.
Al Suwaiq's long history is reflected in its numerous forts and castles - which
include al Suwaiq Fort, al Tharmad Fort, Al Hilal Fort and al Maghabishah Fort -
and the old mud walls around its old residential quarters.
Where is the camel? This proud and beautiful animal that roams the sands is the
emblem of the wilayat and camels can be seen in Suwaiq's desert tracts, either
out in the open, or sheltering in the shade of a sumr or ghaf tree, or
travelling over the bare terrain in small groups like the romantic caravans of
Suwaiq's other attractions include its lush green wadis, mountains and wild
life, the village of al Jahour in Wadi al Jahawar and the fresh water springs
which bubble up among the rocks in the village of Dhayyan. The land is watered
by 31 flowing aflaj including the aflaj of Baldat Mashayeq, Mabrah and al
The Wilayat of Nakhl is famed for Ain al Thuwwarah - a
fresh water spring that bubbles up through the rocks below the surface of the
earth. There are numerous other springs nearby, all of which flow into one wadi.
The wilayat gets its name - Nakhl - from the fact that the ground on which it
stands "filters" the water. Ain al Thuwwarah, Nakhl's main attraction, receives
visitors from far and wide at weekends and on holidays. They come to sit for
hours, watching the water welling up from beneath the ground and flowing along
the wadi and through the date palms.
The Wilayat of Nakhl is 120 Kilometres from the Governorate of Muscat. To get
there, you turn south at the Barka Roundabout towards the villages of Wadi'l
Ma'awil and drive straight on until you see Nakhl's imposing old 200-foot-high
fort in the distance in front of you. The fort, which is built on a rocky hill,
is easily accessible since the asphalt road leads right up to its gate. There is
a splendid view from its balconies, from where it is possible to see several of
the wilayat's 74 villages scattered over the hills and plains, as well as the
fertile wadis of Wadi'l Abyadh and Wadi Mistal, the high mountains including
Jabal Nakhl and other features of this beautiful area.
The borders on the Wilayat of Wadi'l Ma'awil to the north, al Awabi to the west
and the slopes of al Jabal al Akhdhar to the south.
A visitor to Nakhl will be particularly interested in seeing the two landmarks
that symbolise it - the fort and the spring. The fort is an example of human
ingenuity and architectural brilliance, while the spring demonstrates the
inimitable nature of the Divine creative genius.
Ain al Thuwwarah is one of the most famous springs in the Sultanate and flows
throughout the year. The municipality has made an attractive park there with
picnic shelters, a car park and other facilities. At weekends and on holidays it
is packed with visitors.
Of course, the Wilayat of Nakhl also has plenty of other things to offer apart
from the fort and the spring. There are wadis with lush greenery and water, like
Wadi'l Abyadh, which is 25 Kilometres from the centre of the wilayat and is a
popular spot for visitors. Fresh water springs are a common sight in the Wilayat
of Nakhl; Wadi'l Abyadh has a hot spring called Ain al Sukhna near the village
of al Sbaikha at the southern end of the wadi, which local people regard as an
effective remedy for skin diseases. Its many aflaj include Falaj al Abtari,
which flows throughout the year. The wadi, which can be reached by an asphalt
road, enjoys a wide range of government services including electricity.
Wadi Mistal is a fertile wadi renowned for its temperate climate, particularly
in its high mountain villages like Wakan, which - at an altitude of 4,950 feet
and on the northern slopes of al Jabal al Akhdhar overlooking the wilayats of
Nakhl and Rustaq - is 33 Kilometres from the centre of the wilayat. The village
produces excellent grapes, peaches and apricots and looks very similar to the
other villages of the Jabal al Akhdhar. It is popular with visitors, who enjoy
the local hospitality and are taken on tours of the area by the villagers.There
can be few greater pleasures than sitting under a pomegranate tree heavy with
ripe fruit and sipping a cup of coffee.
On his way back to the centre of the wilayat the visitor can make a detour to
the village of Hadash or call in at some of the other villages like al Hajar, al
Qawrah, al Khadhra, al Aqibah or al Khadad, all of which are renowned for their
agricultural produce, which includes grapes, sweet oranges, apricots, peaches
Wadi'l Mahalil is another area that is famous for its springs. The Wilayat of
Nakhl also has numerous tourist oases like Buwah, al Taw, al Hasnat, Halban and
other spots surrounded by mountains with lush date palms and flowing water.
Other tourist attractions :
Wilayat Wadi Al Ma'awal
Eight villages are strung out neatly along either
side of Wadi'l Ma'awil - Afiy (the centre of the wilayat), Habra, al Wasit, al
Tawiyah, Muslimat, at Maraighah, at Lajal and at Ghubrah. The Wilayat of Wadi'l
Ma'awil also comprises some of the Wadi Mistal villages - Amsa, al Hail, Jama,
at Jilah, Hasma, Qays, Miyaqa' Wardat Muwaizah, at Shabik, at Safa at Abyadh and
Wadi'l Ma'awil is 115 Kilometres from the Governorate of Muscat and borders on
the wilayats of Barka to the north, al Awabi to the south, Nakhl to the east and
Rustaq to the west. It has numerous sites of historical interest including the
forts of Hajarat at Sheikh, Bait at Matma', al Mitla', at Hajarah (in the
village of Muslimat), Habra, al Hail, Bani Sulaimah, at Sharjah, al `Aali, at
Sharqi, al Muhaidith, at Mahyul, Bait at Khandaq, and at Rowshan (in the old
quarter of the village of Muslimat). There are also fifteen towers in the
wilayat including the towers of at Hajarah, Shamis, al Muqairshiyah, at Souq, at
Hail, Sabah Raf'ah, at 'Uyunah, al Shamisi, Miftah and al Suwaifih. The mosques
of Al Safalah and at Hajarah are two of the oldest mosques in the wilayat and
were built several centuries ago.
The farms and orchards of Wadi'l Ma'awil are fed by some twenty-two aJlaj which
include - among others - the aflaj of at Washihi, al Malki, al Nabaa', al Ladghi,
al Ghubrah, al Sbaikhah, al Hail, Umtay, at Buwairid, al Mahiyul, al Wasit, Bu
Halfah, al Zawradi, al Marin wa'l Hadith, al Awainah, al Harf, al Safari and the
hot water falaj of al Saleel. There are also four springs - Ain at Shibli in the
village of Afiy (its waters are renowned for their effectiveness in treating
skin diseases), Ain Bani Naseer, Ain al Qishsh and Ain Qays.The most common
dates are khalas and mabseli; other fruits include bananas, papayas, limes and
In the village of Ally - the centre of the wilayat - you will find the jackfruit
tree, which was brought over from Zanzibar two centuries ago. This exotictree,
which is one of the wilayat's landmarks, is nineteen metres high and its trunk
is a metre and a half thick. Its leaves are similar to the leaves of the bidham
a (type of almond), but thicker. It begins to flower at the same time as the
date palm and its long fragrant blossoms are similar in appearance to the
narcissus. Its large fruit looks like a gourd, but it is prickly and its flesh
is similar to the flesh of the mango. It has a sweet taste and a single fruit
can weigh as much as ten Kilograms. The fruit begins to ripen in June - i.e.
during the mabseli harvest - and people recognize that it is ripe when it begins
to turn yellow. The ripe fruit has a pleasant aroma.
The Wilayat of al 'Awabi is very similar to its
neighbours, with its flowing wadis, mountain villages, fresh water springs and
ancient buildings. Its best-known wadi is Wadi Bani Kharus, which extends as far
as the beautiful village of al Aliya.
The Wilayat of al 'Awabi's emblem is a pen, an inkwell and a book. Over the
years it has produced numerous scholars, poets and imams - the imams of Bani
Kharus including al Warith bin Ka'b, al Salt bin Malik and Azzan bin Tamim, to
name but a few - as well as men of letters like the poet Salim bin Ghassan al
Lawah, and scholars like Abu Nabhan Ja'id bin Khamis al Kharusi who lived in the
village of al Aliya where his mosque, his house and his tomb can be seen to this
Al 'Awabi has many old buildings and mosques including al Ghamamah Mosque in at
Hajar village in Wadi Bani Kharus, forts like al Awabi Fort, al Rami Fort and al
Salut Fort, and a number of towers.
Al 'Awabi's most distinctive feature is the mountain range of the Western Hajar
which overshadows it, forming a gigantic wall beneath which the wilayat sleeps
safe and secure. The Wilayat of al Awabi is in the Batinah South
Bordering on the Wilayat of Rustaq to the north and west; the Wilayat of Nakhl
to the east and the slopes of the Western Hajar mountains to the south, it is
156 Kilometres from the Governorate of Muscat and has a population of 10,469. It
has eight schools with 6,096 male and female students and an eighteen-bed
hospital in Wadi Bani Kharus, as well as a health centre in al Awabi itself.
Some of its roads are surfaced; a 5.6 Kilometre stretch of road was paved
Wadi Bani Kharus, the best-known wadi in the Wilayat of al Awabi, begins at Stal
- one of the biggest villages in the wilayat, with houses and farms spread out
along the edge of the wadi, where there are many rock inscriptions recording
events in its history. From here the traveller heads up into the wadi past the
lime and date groves of al Hajar, al Misfah and other villages until he reaches
the village of al Aliya on its upper slopes. Here he can admire the view of lime
orchards, terraced plots and ancient houses clinging to the living rock. From a
distance the village looks like a forest of date palms.
The villages in this wadi which are of most interest to tourists are al Ijjah,
where passages and caves have been formed in the massive rocks and the rock
inscriptions and drawings look like an open-air art gallery. Then there is al
Sbaikha with its high mountains, lush green trees and glistening waters, and al
Sanee' with its neat little houses surrounded by groves of sweet oranges, dates,
limes and other fruits.
Wilayat Al Masn'a
The Wilayat of al Musana'ah has no
factories as Ithe root of its name (masaani), might appear to suggest. However,
it has something much more valuable - the riches of nature, and these can not be
produced by any factory.
In earlier times al Musana'ah was renowned for certain traditional industries
such as the production of indigo, which was used to dye women's garments. It was
also well-known for its sugarcane presses - a reflection of the fertility of its
soil and the abundance of its water. The belt of trees along the edge of the
desert - such as the evergreen rak (tooth brush tree) which the wilayat has
adopted as its emblem - provides further evidence of the blessings nature has
bestowed on al Musana'ah.
The Wilayat of al Musana'ah is 160 Kilometres from the Governorate of Muscat. It
borders on the Wilayat of Rustaq to the south, the Wilayat of Barka to the east,
the Wilayat of al Suwaiq to the west and the Gulf of Oman to the north. It has a
population of 56,659 and thirty villages. Despite the fact that it is beside the
sea and has a seafaring history, another aspect of its character and past can be
seen in its fifteen forts, castles and defensive walls. The main ones are al
Maladdah Fort and al Qirt Wall.
The wilayat has numerous tourist attractions including a beautiful beach with
fishing boats, including the traditional shasha, and flocks of seagulls. It has
several lovely lagoons and creeks including the nesting colony of Khor Quraim
with its mangrove thickets. Wadi al Ais is popular with visitors on account of
its abundant water and lush trees; one of its springs - Ain al Ghareezah - has a
particularly strong flow after the rains. Mawriyah is a favourite spot for local
With 75,501 inhabitants, the Wilayat of Barka is the
first of the beautiful havens along the Batinah's fertile coast. It borders on
the wilayats of Seeb to the south, al Musana'ah to the north and Wadi'al Ma'awil
to the south, and the Gulf of Oman to the east. It has 63 villages and 29
schools with 21,858 male and female students. The wilayat has 38 forts, towers
and other ancient buildings, including the forts of Barka, al Felaij and Bait al
Al Felaij Fort Theatre is in a pretty village and is one of the district's
tourist attractions. A few years ago it was just an abandoned fort, but today it
stages performances by leading Arab and international theatre companies.
Al Sawadi beach, in the Wilayat of Barka and about twenty Kilometres from Barka
itself, is one of the Sultanate's most popular and attractive beaches and its
three rocky offshore islands provide a refuge for migrant birds like herons,
black-headed gulls and waders which stop there in January and February every
year. Visitors to al Sawadi also have a chance to observe the crabs and other
marine life in its lagoon.
To reach al Sawadi beach you drive for about seventy Kilometres from the Clock
Tower Roundabout along the main Batinah road, then turn right and continue for
eight Kilometres towards the sea. The beach is just past al Sawadi village. The
three little islands, which lie just offshore in the blue waters and are usually
covered with seabirds, are among the beach's main attractions. Another reason
for al Sawadi's popularity is the fact that it is near the Governorate of Muscat
and at the end of the Batinah North Governorate. Although it attracts hundreds of
visitors, it never feels crowded and its soft sands, coconut palms and picnic
shelters make it a perfect place for a day out or a tranquil stroll along the
The people of Sohar are
employed in a wide range occupations and crafts, many of which are similar to
those found in other parts of the Sultanate. They include fishing,
ship-building, gold and silver jewellery, Omani halwa, metalwork, leatherwork
and palm-leaf wickerwork. Visitors to Sohar can visit the craft market to see
the craftsmen at work and learn more about local crafts and products.
Traditional local products include palm-leaf wickerwork,
leather work, silver and gold jewellery and foodstuffs.
Although agriculture and fishing are the predominant
occupations, there are also a number of tratitional crafts including palm
wickerwork, carpertry and metal work.
The most common occupations are fishing and agriculture, though a
number of the local people are craftsmen. Some are silversmiths, while others -
particularly the inhabitants of the mountain villages who keep goats- spin
woollen thread or weave cloth.
Saham's traditional craftsmen make khanjars, swords, ornamental
belts, silver jewellery, Omani halwa and palm wickerwork.
Local families can enjoy their leisure time with a trip to the
public park or the beach, which has now
been embellished with trees and picnic shelters. Other local crafts, apart from
khanjar-making, include shasha-building, making fish-traps, halwa and textiles,
palm-leaf work and leather work.
Wilayat Al Swaiq
Traditional products and occupations include fishing, halwa
making, silver jewellery, including necklaces and khanjars, weaving, animal
husbandry, carrpentry, palm wickerwork and leather work.
Some of the local people in the Wilayat of Nakhl make
traditional handicrafts like khanjars, swords and Omani halwa, though the
predominant occupation is farming.
Wilayat Wadi Al Ma'awal
Making pottery is one of the traditional industries of people in
wilayat togather with weaving handicrafts from leaves, the most outstanding
articles being fans. Also, the gold and silver jewellery and swords are made
Wilayat Al 'Awabi
There are craftsmen in the wilayat who make gold and silver
jewellery and hand-woven textiles.
Wilayat Al Masn'a
The traditional occupations are making textiles and Omani halwa,
ship and boat (Shash) building, weaving handicrafts, making doors, pasturage of
cattle and making embellishments of camels.
The Wilayat of Barka has various occupations and industries .
Its occupations are fishing, which is practiced by a large number of the
inhabitants and is the main source of income, agriculture producing dates,
lemons, vegetables and herbs, as well as animal husbandry and trade in goats,
cattle, camels and horses. The industries are weaving palm leaves, work in gold
and silver, sweet-making, textiles, rope-making, carpentry, blacksmithery, and