Last Stop in the Middle East: Oman

Salalah,  Oman

April 25, 2023

Our last stop in the Middle East was Salalah, Oman. Salalah is the 3rd largest city in Oman, which is officially known as the Sultanate of Oman. It is one of the only two Sultanates in the world, the other being Brunei.  Salalah (pop about 200,000) is the capital city of the province of Dhofar. 

Oman is located on the southeast coast of the Arabian Penninsula and spans the mouth of the Persian Gulf. It shares land borders with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Yemen. It shares maritime borders with Iran and Pakistan. It has the Strait of Hormuz as a coastal border. So Oman, is in a pretty rough neighborhood.

But it, and Salalah, its 3rd largest city, are peaceful. Unlike the rest of Oman which is always hot and dry, Salalah has a monsoon season that lasts from June through September. Consequently, by regional standards there is a good deal of vegetation. There is also a good deal of tourism, especially during the monsoon season. 

A photo of an Oasis in Oman

Governance in Oman is by absolute monarchy; the current sultan is Haitham bin Tariq Al Said who is said to be a benevolent monarch. The country runs on revenue generated by its mineral resources (Oil and Gas) and all menial work is performed by Asian migrants. The population is about 99% muslim.

When Mary Anne and I visited there we went to see an archeological dig. 

Salalah, Oman — April 21, 2023. A wide angle photo at an archeological dig in Oman being visited by tourists.

We also saw some spectacular landscapes and believe it or not, lots and lots of camels who pretty much roam about freely. 

Oman Landscape
Camels walk across a field

Salalah was an interesting place, very modern and well maintained. The sultan to all outward appearances is benevolent as monarchs go. But benevolent monarchs are benevolent until they aren’t and then things can get pretty ugly pretty quickly. We’ll see how things develop.