Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Salalah: Unspoiled Arabian Peninsula Paradise

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Salalah: Unspoiled Arabian Peninsula Paradise

Article excerpt

Salalah: Unspoiled Arabian Peninsula Paradise

The rest of the Sultanate of Oman had only three schools before 1970, no hotels until 1972, and few tourists until very recently. These things came still later to that picturesque country's southernmost Dhofar province.

Dhofar's borders with neighboring Yemen were not finally demarcated until recently. Now, with security restored and a modern infrastructure in place, the gracious Dhofaris are welcoming charter tours directly from Switzerland and vacationers from all parts of the Arabian peninsula to Salalah, their seaside capital. Visitors find a tropical paradise where the inhabitants display typical Arab hospitality and the climate reminds Americans of Caribbean resorts. Warm Indian Ocean surf breaks along nearly deserted white-sand beaches, flanked by banana trees and palms laden with coconuts instead of dates. Moist monsoon winds bring a constant cool, light rainfall to Dhofar province for three months, from July through September, creating green pastures for another two months on the coastal side of the mountain range that separates it from an interior desert bordering Saudi Arabia's "Empty Quarter."

It was the monsoon winds that South Arabian sailors from the Hadramaut rode to transport goods and people from Africa to India over five millenia. They were "present at the creation" of Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago, and founded Arab dynasties in the islands of Indonesia within the past 500 years.

The now ruined city of Sumburam, near present-day Salalah, was known to the Greeks as Moscha. It was founded in the first century B. …

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