My Pre-Blog Travels – Enchanting, Exotic Salalah, Oman, Part I

Never have I traveled anywhere as exotic, as conservative, as steeped in traditional Islamic culture as Salalah, Oman. My first trip to Salalah (pronounced Sah LAH lah) was in 2009, before I had a blog, and I traveled there once again the following year. Now that I’ve brought a blog into being, I can share this journey as well as other my early, formative travels in a series called My Pre-Blog Travels. My first two posts in this series focused on my first journey into the Arab world when I traveled to Muscat, Oman. It was after a few days in this amazing city on the Persian Gulf that I flew one hour south and discovered unbelievably amazing Salalah.

Hundreds of camels being herded down the road in a remote area outside of Salalah, Oman

Salalah, Oman is located a couple hours by car north of Yemen and several hours east of Saudi Arabia and is situated on the Arabian Sea, which has the most sparkling turquoise waters I’ve ever seen.

The Arabian Sea near Salalah, as seen from a clifftop

I purposefully took both of my trips to Salalah immediately after their khareef, or monsoon season. During the months of June to September each year, light rains falls on Salalah almost constantly, turning the arid desert into emerald green. I don’t know of anywhere else in the Middle East that experiences this.

Salalah, Oman after its annual khareef season

Can you believe it? This is desert.

Salalah, Oman as seen from the air

Have you ever seen desert that looks like this?

Unlike most places I travel, which I explore independently, I took a guided tour through Salalah for two days, as this was my first journey into the Arab world and this little town is so off the beaten tourist trail that I thought getting around alone would be too much trouble, due to the language barrier. It turned out to be the right decision, and I highly recommend hiring a tour guide if you’re traveling to Salalah for the first time. My hotel, Haffa House, called a tour guide named Ali for me, and we hit it off immediately, so much so that we keep in touch to this day. Exploring Salalah with Ali was an excellent way to discover this deeply exotic piece of the world.

Me and a woman wearing a hijab in Salalah, Oman

The first place we headed was at the top of my lists of sights I wanted to see on my trip to Salalah – the grave of the biblical character named Job. Like many biblical figures, Job is considered a prophet in Islam, so his gravesite is frequently visited not only by Christians but Muslims. An entire chapter of the Bible is dedicated to this man whom God turned over to Satan for a while, telling him he could do anything to Job he wished except take his life. Satan destroyed all of his possessions and killed everyone in his family, then afflicted Job with disease, littering his body with sores. Never once during the years of Job’s suffering did he turn his back on God. When I saw his grave I realized that part of Job’s physical trouble might have stemmed from his size. The grave was over twice as long as I am tall, causing me to think he might have had gigantism. No, Ali said, many people in those days were very, very tall. Sure enough, when Ali took me to other graves, they were also extremely long.

The grave of the Biblical Job in Salalah, Oman

Outside the building is a mark in a flat rock, which Ali said is believed to be a footprint of Job. He poured some water on it to make it more visible for me.

What is believed to be a footprint of Job, outside the building where his grave is

After Job’s grave we stopped to eat lunch at one of the many little roadside stands in Salalah. This particular stand sold a meat I’d never before come across – camel! Camels are so plentiful in Salalah that their meat is a dietary staple. It’s hung to dry, then wrapped in foil and cooked over coals. The meat is rather soft, tangy and delectable.

Camel meat hanging to dry in Salalah, Oman

Camel meat cooking on charcoal in Salalah, Oman

One of Salalah’s main tourist attractions are its blow holes, which are holes in the rocks which run along the shoreline which waves come shooting through, forcing their way up through the holes and into the air. Ali said the waters can shoot several meters high, although they didn’t get more than a meter high for me.

A blow hole in Salalah, Oman with water shooting out of it

By far the most amazing sight I saw in Salalah on my first day was a mind-blowing anti-gravity area. Here on a remote road surrounded by a once-brown desert turned green by the recent rains, Ali and I sat on a hill in his car, with it first in neutral and then turned off, while I watched in amazement as we didn’t stand stationary or begin sliding downhill but instead, were pulled uphill!

Salalah is far too rich and exciting to cover in just one post. Please stay tuned for more Salalah articles soon!

14 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Great post on one of the lesser-traveled regions in the world! Loved it!

  2. Sabina says:

    Thank you! I loved Salalah :)

  3. Andrea says:

    This is sort of the mental picture I have when I think of Oman, having not been there. Lots of pretty beaches and coastal areas. Hope we get to go there someday.

  4. Sabina says:

    Andrea, thanks for commenting. I hope you get there too. I think you will love it. There is nowhere else in the world like Salalah, Oman.

  5. Your pictures are amazing! They give a nice look into life in Oman

  6. I experienced a similar ‘car going against gravity up a hill’ phenomenon in northern Portugal – the spot is really close to a church on a mountain so it was naturally attributed to miracles/saints and such by the locals.

    But it was a pretty strange experience…we did it a couple of times, and on the seocnd run I got out and filmed it from side-on – I’ve got the footage somewhere, I’ll have to try and dig it up

  7. Sabina says:

    Hi Brock, Thanks a lot. There will be more soon :)

  8. Sabina says:

    Hi! It was indeed such a weird experience. I was told by a friend back home that the car must not have been being pulled uphill – it just appeared so due to the geographic perspective. But I don’t think so.

  9. Steve says:

    I had no idea that you could visit Job’s grave. For some reason I just imagined that his final resting spot would be unknown. Hmm, I learned something new today.

    That anti-gravity area looks really cool. There is a place like that in San Antonio. The local story say that ghosts will come and push you uphill across train tracks to keep you safe. I was going to find it so I could do it while I was traveling there, but I didn’t get a chance to.

  10. Gray says:

    Great post, Sabina. No, I’ve never seen a desert that green before. In the southwest US desert in the spring, it will sometimes (if not always) take on a spring green color, but nothing this rich green. Love it!

  11. Sabina says:

    Hi Steve – Job’s grave was one of my favorite sights in Salalah. If you ever travel there (which you most certainly should) you have got to see it. And yours is the second comment to tell me about another anti-gravity spot in the world. I am so glad I got to experience that! This is another thing you must do, Steve.

  12. Sabina says:

    Thanks, Gray! You should travel to Salalah some day and see it for yourself :)

  13. My mouth dropped at the sight of the green desert! Also, how interesting that people used to be so tall back then.

  14. Sabina says:

    Ayelet, I know! I can hardly imagine what Salalah must look like when it’s brown. And the tall people are just wild. Why did we shrink? :)

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge