The Dakhiliyah Governorate
drive along the recently completed dual carriageway between the
Governorate of Muscat and the Dakhiliyah Governorate offers delightful views of
palm groves and desert trees against a backdrop of majestic, high mountains
with their peaks wrapped in cloud. Bordering on the Governorate of Muscat to
the north, the Wusta Governorate to the south, the Sharqiyah Governorate to the east
and the Dhahirah North ,and South Batinah Governorates to the west, the Dakhiliyah is the
Sultanate's strategic hinterland and links Muscat with the other governorates.
The Dakhiliyah Governorate has eight wilayats - Nizwa, Sumail, Bahla, al Hamra,
Manah, Adam, lzki and Bidbid. It is rich in economic and natural resources
and has numerous tourist attractions including forts, castles, towers, old
residential quarters and historic mosques. The Wilayat of Nizwa has a famous
and imposing fort, several old mosques and a traditional souq, while Bahla
Fort is one of the treasures of the human heritage. Misfah al Abriyeen in
the Wilayat of al Hamra is a splendid example of a "hanging village", while
the wilayats of Adam, Manah, Izki, Sumail and Bidbid offer the visitor a
range of interesting features, both ancient and modem.
To encourage tourism in the Dakhiliyah Governorate the government is developing
the al Hootah Cave in the Wilayat of al Hamra, which is truly one of the
wonders of nature. The old mountain passes on the slopes of al Jabal al
Akhdhar and Jabal Shams have been restored to provide opportunities for
trekking and adventure tourism and camps have been set up for tourists and
The Wilayat of Nizwa's ancient city streets and buildings
filled with the ghosts of the past contrast with the pretty terraced
mountain villages, thickets, orchards and aflaj of its niya-bat of the
Jabal al Akhdhar. Nizwa is the capital of the Dakhiliyah and its busy souq,
which serves people from all over the region, is both a tourist attraction
and a commercial centre.
The Wilayat of Nizwa borders on the wilayats of Adam, Manah and lzki to
the south and east and al Hamra and Bahla to the west. From the north it
is overlooked by the mountain peaks of the Jabal al Akhdhar. It is 170
Kilometres from the Governo ate of Muscat.Its main features are its huge
fort (known as al Shahba'}.
The design of the renovated old souq blends in harmoniously with the
Friday mosque and the fort. The wilayat has a large number of villages as
well as two niyabats - Birkat al Mawz and the Jabal al Akhdhar. The
Niyabat of Birkat al Mawz is renowned for its fine old buildings and the
village is typical of an Omani village at its prettiest and most charming.
The recently restored two-storied fort of Bait al Radaidah, which dates
from the 17th century AD, is in Birkat al Mawz. There are turrets set
within its thick mud outer walls, while its interior contains numerous
arches and its walls and ceilings are coated with elegantly patterned
gypsum. The old mosque near the fort, which dates from the same period,
was also restored recently.
Visitors to the Niyabat of Birkat al Mawz can enjoy a stroll through the
alleyways of its old residential quarter with its mud and gypsum houses.
The fast-flowing Falaj al Khatmain is a falaj of the ghaili type (i.e. a
mainly seasonal falaj which draws its water from the wadi channels or
mountains) which has its source on the slopes of the Jabal al Akhdhar,
then flows through irrigation channels around the village before ending up
again very near its source.
The stunningly beautiful Niyabat of the Jabal al Akhdhar is at its best
when its roses,myrtles, saffron, narcissi and other fragrant trees and
plants are in flower and when the trees in its orchards are heavy with
ripe apricots, peaches, pomegranates, walnuts, almonds, figs, pears,
plums, sweet oranges and other fruits.Bait Sulait in the city of Nizwa is
a fort of major historical importance near Falaj Daris. Originally a
three-storied building with a solid defensive wall and two towers, it is
surrounded on all sides by palm groves, though little remains of it today
apart from a few ruins Afhe gardens, orchards and fertile villages are fed
by numerous aflaj including Falaj Daris - one of the biggest aflaj in the
Dakhiliyah Governorate. A delightful park has been established at the head of
the falaj. Some of the other aflaj include al Ghantaq, Dhawt, Tanuf - a
popular picnic spot during the rainy season when the water from its
channels becomes a waterfall - Sa'al, al Ain and Riddat Albusaid.
The Wilayat of Nizwa is criss-crossed by scenic wadis, including Wadi
Tanuf, which skirts the old town of Tanuf; a groundwater recharge dam was
built across its course in 1989. Another dam was built across Wadi al
Mu'aidin in 2002. Other wadis that feed the wilayat's aflaj include Wadi
al Abyadh and Wadi Kalbuh.
The Wilayat of Sumail is a
natural paradise, a fragrant, shady garden with a lush wadi with cultivated
plots along its banks that flows like a river through the middle of it
dividing it in two. Wherever the visitor looks he will see date palms. The
wilayat is famous for its dates and it has adopted the fardh date palm as
The Wilayat of Sumail is almost half way between the Wilayat of
Nizwa (75 Kilometres) and the Governorate of Muscat (85 Kilometres). It
borders on the Wilayat of Bidbid to the north, the Western Hajar mountain
range to the west, the Wilayat of Izki to the south and some outlying
villages of the Wilayat of Dima wa'l Ta'een to the east. It has a large
number of historic buildings including forts, castles and towers.
Some of the wilayat's better-known wadis - such as Wadi Bani Rawahah and
Wadi Mahram, or Wadi al Sijani with its orchards of sweet oranges - are
relatively densely populated with fertile villages. There are around 73
villages in the wilayat including Falaj al Maraghah, Suroor, Seeja, Hail, al
Hoob, Luzugh, al Swaireej, al Jeelah, al Khubar and al Madrah. For the
irrigation of their crops they depend on water from aflaj like the aflaj of
al Samadi, al Muraifa', al Farsakhi, Abu Ghoul and al Husayyin. The basin of
Wadi Sumail, which f~Some of the wilayat's better-known wadis - such as
Wadi Bani Rawahah and Wadi Mahram, or Wadi al Sijani with its orchards of
sweet oranges - are relatively densely populated with fertile villages.
There are around 73 villages in the wilayat including Falaj al Maraghah,
Suroor, Seeja, Hail, al Hoob, Luzugh, al Swaireej, al Jeelah, al Khubar and
al Madrah. For the irrigation of their crops they depend on water from aflaj
like the aflaj of al Samadi, al Muraifa', al Farsakhi, Abu Ghoul and al
Husayyin. The basin of Wadi Sumail, which has its source on the
slopes of al Jabal al Akhdhar, is famous for its springs. Some 26 springs
have been recorded, including nineteen cold springs (the best-known of these
is Ain Ward) and seven hot springs (the best-known of these being Ain
Manabik). In the village of Seeja there is a spring which rises at the foot
of the mountain and is one of the area's tourist attractions.
Bahla is one of the oldest towns in the Sultanate. Archaeologists working on
an excavation programme in Bisya and al Ghubrah discovered sites dating from
the third millennium BC, while an old falaj found at al Ghubrah - in Wadi
Bahla - is also believed to date from the third millennium BC.
The Wilayat of Bahla is 200 Kilometres from the Governorate of Muscat. It
borders on the wilayats of Nizwa to the east, Ibri to the west, Adam to the
south and al Hamra to the north. With a population of 51,278 and, a variety
of natural features including wadis, springs and mountains, its villages
include Bilad Sait, al Ghafat, Bisya, Seefam, al Habbi, al Ma'mur and
numerous others. The best-known of its wadis are Wadi Quriyat, Wadi al A'la,
Wadi al Nakhr, Wadi al Shar' and Wadi Bahla, and its springs include
Wadhdhah, al Huwaidhar and Ain Seefam. The mountain of Jabal al Kawr
with its shrubs and fruit trees is one of the wilayat's most distinctive
mountains and lies on the border between the Dakhiliyah and Dhahirah Governorates. From a distance it looks like a huge dome. There are several
villages, caves,wadis and springs on its slopes including the villages of
Sint, Ma'wal, Sant and al Rahbah.
It is an attractive area for tourists because of its gentle climate, clear
air and fragrant trees, and visitors can enjoy the opportunity to marvel at
its amazing rock formations, particularly along the course of Wadi al Naht.
The Wilayat of Bahia has numerous aflaj, including the aflaj of Meetha, al
Mahdath, al Basyani, al Ghuwaif, al Ajrad, al Tufail and al Madra.
Bahla Fort is the most famous ancient monument in the wilayat and was the
first Omani site to be added to UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage in Danger
list in 1988.
Bahla Fort is almost triangular in shape and is surrounded by rocky outcrops
and trench-like gullies.
The Wilayat of Bahla's old souq, which has retained its original character,
is still a busy market today and sells Omani products as well as imported
goods. The tree in the middle of the souq is hundreds of years old.
Some ten Kilometres from the centre of the wilayat is the famous Jibrin
castle in the village of Jibrin.There are several ancient sites in the
Wilayat of Bahla. Salawt, near the village of Basya, has a very old history
and nearly every village has one or two towers.
The oldest mosque is the Kabir Mosque in the Fort quarter. The ornamentation of its fine, gypsum-patterned mihrab dates from 917AH/1511 AD.
The mosque itself is considerably older. It has been restored as part of the
Bahla Fort restoration project.
The Wilayat of Adam is in the
south of the Dakhiliyah Governorate and borders on the wilayats of Bahla, Manah
and lzki to the north, Mahawt and Haima to the south, al Mudhaibi to the
east and Ibri to the west. It is 234 Kilometres from the Governorate of
Muscat . It has a large number of villages and bedouin settlements, as well as green oases, orchards, farms, old mosques,
souqs, residential quarters and archaeological sites. Travellers bound for
the Wusta Governorate and the Governorate of Dhofar stop off in Adam.
The mountain of Jabal al Midhmar to the north of Adam and Jabal Salkh to the
west are among the most attractive tourist spots in the Wilayat of Adam with
their trees, grassy slopes, gazelles, hares, foxes and other wild animals.
In the summer months the bedouin of the Wusta Governorate migrate to the Wilayat
of Adam for the date harvest and build temporary palm-frond shelters to
protect themselves from the heat. At night the glow of their lamps and the
distant bleating of their sheep and goats impart an inimitable charm to the
scene. Over the years the bedouin have established small settlements which
they return to time and time again on their summer migrations and some have
opted to set up permanent villages like San'aa, al Samiti, Majazah, Wadi
Halfain, Ras al Jabal, al Ghabitah, al Hajir, al Ghaidhranah and Qam al Alam,
which receive government support and now have electricity services and
The Wilayat of Adam has always been a rest stop for trading caravans
travelling to and from the Governorate of Dhofar and it has therefore been
inhabited since ancient times. Stone Age sites discovered in at Hawshi
district, including traces of round stone buildings, are though to be the
oldest sites in the wilayat. The ruins of an old souq at al Natlah are
evidence of the wilayat's commercial prosperity in former times.
There are forts and towers throughout Adam including the forts of Falaj al
Ain on the northern edge of the wilayat and Falaj at Malih on its southern
side. There are numerous old villages and residential quarters - some three
hundred years old; their alleyways, arches and arcades create beautiful
combinations of light and shade, while their walls still emanate the aromas
of the past. The house where Imam Ahmed bin Said At Busaidi was born still
stands with its gateway, well and chambers, and many other houses still
retain their original beauty and elegance despite the passing of time. Large
sections of the alleyways are roofed over with arches which support small
overhead rooms known as sabatat. Possibly these were built to increase the
area of living space on the upper floors. Sometimes they were used as
kitchens or sitting rooms.
Adam's old residential quarters include al Jami', Harat Bani Sheeban, at
Rahbah, al Rawghah, al Ain and Harat Bani Wa'il. Its numerous ancient
mosques include the Harat al Jami' mosque, which was built at the end of the
first half of the tenth century AH (middle of the 16th century AD) and has a
fine decorated gypsum mihrab. It has been restored to its former glory. The
old mosque of al Rahbah
is the wilayat's emblem.
The wilayat is fed by four qflaj - the aflaj of al Malih, al Ain, al Shari'
and at Fulaij; it
also has two springs - the sulphur spring of Ain Namah, as well as Ain al
Rakhim - in addition to several artesian wells which irrigate extensive
areas of farmland, date groves and orchards of citrus and other fruits.
Some 120 Kilometres south of the Wilayat of Adam are two salt mines - Qarat
al Milh and Qarat al Kibrit. Both these areas have salt formations of great
geological antiquity and - quite apart from their commercial value - are of
considerable scientific importance. Table salt is cut in blocks from these
mines and sold in the local markets. In the past the raw salt from Qarat al
Milh provided a significant source of income for the people of the wilayat,
while Qarat al Kibrit also produced sulphur which was used to treat wounds.
Jabal Shams, the village of Misfah, al Hootah Cave, Hasat bin Salt, Bait al
Safa and Bait al Shari'ah are the main tourist attractions in the Wilayat of
al Hamra, which lies in the north-western part of the Jabal al Akhdhar
range. It borders on the Wilayat of Nizwa to the east and the Wilayat of
Bahla to the south. Its inhabitants live in the centre of the wilayat
and the villages of al Mensur, al Sahmah, al Qaryah, Dhat Khail, Tawi Saleem,
Dar al Khair and al 'Aridh, to name but a few. It is renowned for its wadis,
aflaj, gardens and orchards, while the mountain of Jabal Shams, which rises
to 12,000 feet above sea level, is its most significant natural feature. It
can be reached via the Wadi Ghul road, from which it is possible to see the
stone village of Sabt Bani Khamis perched on the edge of a cliff beneath a
huge overhanging rock. The slopes of the mountain are covered with buu and
nimt (Sageretia spiciflora) trees, junipers, wild olives, milkweed and other
plants, and the air is cool and
A resthouse with several rooms has been built on the mountain and is staffed
by Omanis. A visit to Jabal Shams provides an opportunity to see its rock
formations, dams, mountain villages and wadis. Near the summit there is a
breathtaking view into a chasm called Sharfat al Nakhr cut deep into the
heart of the mountain.
An old mountain pass between two and three Kilometres long has been marked
out on Jabal Shams between the villages of al Khutaim and Ghul. The rougher
stretches have been made easier for walking, internationally recognized
signs have been installed along the route and some spots have been marked
with phosphorous paint. Maps are available of all the mountain passes. The
government has also constructed fifteen surface storage dams to supply water
for the local inhabitants. Over 3,000 feet high, Misfah al Abriyeen is a
village built of stone and gypsum with green orchards and an ancient citadel
known as "Rowghan", which is believed to pre-date Islam. The name also
suggests this. Bait al Shari'ah is a large building which used to have forty
rooms. The mountain side at Misfah is planted with terraced plots of date
palms, limes, sweet oranges, grapes, figs and mulberries. The village
receives its water from a single spring on the wadi bed and anyone who
stands at the source and looks at the orchards will find that they look like
hanging gardens, because they are at a higher elevation than the flow from
Some of al Hamra's historic old residential quarter is still inhabited. Most
of the houses are two-storied. Al Qaryah, in the western part of the
wilayat, is in a superb setting and is surrounded on all sides by palm
groves and lime orchards.
The Wilayat of Manah has several old buildings including forts, towers,
mosques and attractive residential quarters. Particularly impressive is the
old quarter in the village of Harat al Bilad with its traditional houses,
mosques, wells, springs, perimeter wall and other features. Surrounded by
date palms, it has been chosen by the University of Liverpool in the United
Kingdom as a typical example of Omani architecture.
The Wilayat of Manah is 160 Kilometres from the Governorate of Muscat and
comprises eight villages:- Harat al Bilad, Mu'ammad, al Ma'arra, 'Izz, al
Faiqain, al Mahiyul, Abu Nakhilah and Mitan. It borders on the wilayats of
Adam to the south, Izki to the north and east, and Nizwa to the west.
The road to Manah branches off the Nizwa-Salalah highway, though it can also
be reached by the minor road which links the villages of al Mahiyul and
Zakeet in the Wilayat of lzki. As you approach Manah, you will be greeted by
the sight of its immense forts, including the recently-restored fort of al
Faiqain, and the now-ruined Harat al Bilad with its mud houses, and tangle
of arcades and alleyways. There are three imposing mosques in al Bilad with
patterned gypsum mihrabs dating from the 10th century AH/16th century AD and
engraved with Quranic verses. They are al 'Aali mosque (built in 909AH/1503
AD), which has recently been renovated with Omani sarooj (burnt clay) and
has retained its original mihrab, al Ain mosque (built in 911 AH/1505 AD
and al Sharah mosque built in 922 AH/1516 AD.
Harat al Bilad has over 300 houses, as well as a small souq and traditional
workshops including flour mills and sugarcane presses. It is surrounded by a
defensive wall. Near its northern gateway stands the five-storied Burj al
Juss, which is one of the tallest towers in the wilayat. With the passage of
time the fifth storey has collapsed, though the remaining four storeys are
still standing. When describing this tower, the explorer Wellstead wrote of
his amazement at its impressive height. There is also a cylindrical tower at
the southern end of al Bilad, as well as a partially ruined fort.
Outside Harat al Bilad's perimeter wall there is a renovated mosque which is
one of the oldest and largest mosques in the Dakhiliyah Governorate.
Al Fiqain Fort is a unique example of Omani architecture at its best. It is
over three storeys high and its position affords excellent views of the old
residential quarters, palm groves and farms of the village of al Fiqain.
In earlier times the Wilayat of Manah was renowned for its wheat, and the
area from al Figain, Harat al Bilad and Mu'ammad to the nearby mountain of
Jabal Saruj used to be covered in falaj-irrigated wheat fields so that it
looked like a vast green carpet. Evidence of the agricultural past can still
be seen. In those days people used a stone quern to grind their flour.
They also used to grow sugar cane and extracted the juice from their annual
crop in traditional cane presses. The rare matak - a tree with pliable green
branches and roots with valuable medicinal properties - also grows in the
wilayat and has been adopted as the wilayat's emblem. Manah has several
aflaj, including the aflaj of al Khatam, al Faiqain, al Musarraj, al
Asgharain (or al Sughrain), al Sulaib and al Mahiyul. Falaj Malik (or al
Malki) was one of the earliest aflaj to be dug in the wilayat and traces of
its saqiahs (channels) can still be seen in the village of al Fiqain.
The Wilayat of Manah is in a wide, open area of flat ground dotted with
trees and plants including sumr, ghaf, harmal and `ishriq. Several wild
animals live there including hares, foxes and hedgehogs. Flocks of livest ck
can be seen grazing among the trees.
The Wilayat of Izki has some of the oldest sit4s in
the Dakhiliyah Governorate. The remains of buildings and tombs from an ancient
civilization thousands of years old, which can be seen on the hilltops neighbouring the village of Zakeet, include a number of small round towers
similar to the towers of the Bat culture. The Wilayat of lzki - 130 Kilometres
from the Governorate of Muscat - lies beneath
the slopes of the mountain massif of the Jabal at Akhdhar, which forms its
western border. It borders on the wilayats of Manah and Nizwa to the west and
south, Sumail to the north and some villages of the Wilayat of al Mudhaibi to
the east. Some of the better-known of its 26 villages include Zakeet, al
Qaryatain, Seema, Muqazzah, Qala'at al Awamir, Habl al Hadid, Umtay and Qarut.
Apart from its ancient monuments, the wilayat's most distinctive features are
wadis and open desert. It has numerous forts, castles, towers and old
residential quarters, the most important of which is Izki Fort, which lies
between the villages of Nizar and al Yaman and is said to have been built during
the reign of Sultan Said bin bin Sultan Al Busaidi. Its most significant castle
is the citadel of Qala'at al Awamir, which was built three centuries ago and
stands on a rocky hillock. The wilayat's 142 small towers in the wilayat - most
villages have at least one - include the restored tower of Wadi al Hajar. In the
village of al Muqazzah there is an old Friday mosque dating from 1029AH/1619AD
with a gypsum-coated mihrab set with glazed earthenware ornamentation.
Nizar and al Yaman are farming villages and receive their water from a falaj
called Falaj al Malki, as well as from artesian wells. Their palm groves blend
in harmoniously with the slopes of al Jabal al Akhdhar, which lies on their
western side. The wilayat is bisected by Wadi Halfain - an impressive green wadi
with ghaf, sumr and sidr trees.
The old souqs and walled residential quarters include lzki's picturesque souq,
which sells foodstuffs and agricultural produce and bustles with life between
the midday and mid-afternoon prayer every day, though at no other time. The
district of Harat Bani Hassan has several old houses with wide entrance gates
and a deep spring called Ain al Maghabbah, which only runs dry during occasional
periods of extreme drought. The spring of Ain Sa'anah is a popular picnic spot
and enhances al Yaman's beauty and charn.
Bidbid's most striking feature is its
flyovers, which provide the only means of access to the main arterial roads
which transit the wilayat, and it has adopted them as its emblem. Travellers
will also be struck by the palm groves which grow along the banks of the wadi in
the village of Fanja and surround the more distant villages of al Amqat and
Hamim like puffs of green cloud. The Wilayat of Bidbid has been described as the
"smiling mouth" of the Dakhiliyah Governorate and the crossroads between the
Governorate of Muscat and the Sharqiyah, Dakhilyah, Dhahirah and Wusta Governorates
and the Governorate of Dhofar. Everyone travelling from any of these Governorates to
Muscat has to pass over the Fanja flyover, which is a reliable, fast road even
during the rainy season. Now that the main dual carriageway has been completed,
a second flyover has been built over Wadi Fanja, so that it now has two
Around 70 Kilometres from the city of Muscat, the Wilayat of Bidbid lies beneath
the Hajar mountain range where it divides into the Western Hajar and the Eastern
Hajar. It borders on the wilayats of Sumail to the south, Dima wa'l Ta'een to
the east and the Governorate of Muscat to the north.
Itt has 53 villages, the best-known of which is
Fanja; some of the other villages include Naf'a, al Khawbi, al Khatam, al
Qadha'iyah. Seih al Mu'aidin, Ghillat Awlad Hamad, al Burj, Mazraa' Bint Sa'ad,
Sa'al, al Amqat and Hamim. Most of them are farming villages which depend on the
aflaj which include Falaj al Raha and Falaj al Hammamiyat - for their
The wilayat's most famous spring - Ain al Awainah in the village of Naf'a - is a
popular picnic spot.
The wadi that divides the wilayat in two is a delightful place and many a
pleasant hour can be spent relaxing on its banks, particularly during the rainy
season when it becomes a fast-flowing river.
The date gardens add a gentle touch to the landscape with its rugged hills,
while Wadi Sa'al with its orange-flowering forfar trees is famous for its
The wilayat is also famous for its old forts and the towers perched upon its
hillsides. Bidbid Fort is thirty metres high and has two towers at its western
corners. Hamim has another impressive fort. Bidbid has around forty towers
including the towers of Fanja, Naf'a, al Manathirah and Amqat.
Agriculture is the most common occupation in the
Dakhiliyah Governorate, which is also renowned for its traditional handicrafts
such as Omani khanjars, gold and silver jewellery, spinning, weaving, copper
ware, palm leaf products, leather work, metalwork, rose water and other
There are various
occupations and industries . Weaving, textiles, pasturage
are the most important occupations, and tanning, weaving palm leaves, gold
and silver working,and sweet making are the most important industries.
There are a number of occupations, industries. Gold and silver working,
making swot, khanjars, blades, kohl jars and chains, copper working, making
woven and wooden handicrafts, and sweet making. There is also a pottery
Occupations and traditional
industries are gold and silver working, weaving palm leaves, weaving wool,
blacksmithery and making Omani sweets.
Wilayat Al Hamra
The traditional occupations are, agriculture, animal husbandry and folk
remedies, and the industries are extracting red sugar, making rose water and
lemon juice. They also make rope and textiles.
The traditional occupations are pasturage, agriculture, blacksmithery,
goldsmithery, carpentry, textiles, weaving and pottery.
The people of the Wilayat practice a number of
occupations, industries. The main industries are leather tanning, textiles and
weaving, and the main occupations are carpentry, agriculture and construction.
The Wilayat of Bidbid is famous for its traditional products, which include
seating mats called hasr, woven from the dried branches of the rusl plants that
grow in the wadis. These mats last for many years and are not affected by heat