in the Jabal*
Despite its remoteness and the heavily mountainous terrain,
Al Jabal al Akhdhar is undergoing a quiet transformation, perhaps
in preparation for the era when it will emerge as a new tourist
destination in northern Oman.
Stunning gorges and scenic mountain hamlets are part of
the Green Mountains tourist charms
Although this vision may seem far-fetched given the present difficult
road conditions to this unique locale, many believe the Green
Mountain has the potential to pull in tourists and nature buffs
in enough numbers to sustain a vibrant tourism industry here.
Salem bin Abdullah al Abdisalaam, Deputy Wali of Al Jabal al Akhdhar,
is quietly optimistic that the Green Mountain will eventually
figure on the tourist map of the Sultanate, and indeed that of
the Gulf region.
When the road project is completed in a couple of years,
we reckon tourists will come here to enjoy the unique characteristics
of these mountains.
There are so many interesting things to sample here: terraced
gardens, the unique architecture of old mountain hamlets, natural
heritage, the cool mountain springs, and of course, the stunning
gorges and peaks, he remarked.
The key to the realisation of this vision lies in the construction
of the road linking Birkat al Mauz on the main Muscat-Nizwa highway
to Saiq plateau in the heart of the Green Mountain. The 36-kilometre
road link is one of the most ambitious road projects of its kind
ever undertaken in the Sultanate, given the extreme ruggedness
of the mountain terrain.
Work on the first 15-km stretch of the road link, spanning a treacherous
expanse of deep wadis, vertiginous gradients, and sharp U-bends,
is due to be completed by the year-end.
The remainder 21 kilometres will be constructed in two subsequent
phases, with the new road cutting a swathe through mountains and
gorges, skirting the existing road.
With a new road in place, private investment in economic
and tourism infrastructure will not be far behind. The private
sector is quietly eyeing the regions potential in attracting
Gulf tourists during summer, when temperatures prevail at 20-24
degrees Celsius, while the rest of the Gulf sizzles at 45 degree
Juniper trees are a key element of the rich natural heritage
Pictures by Abdullah Ibrahim al Shuhi
It is envisaged that GCC tourists would break journey at Al Jabal
al Akhdhar en route to the Sultanates popular summer destination
Salalah. Despite the inaccessible terrain, government facilities
and civil amenities for the 6,000-odd inhabitants of the Green
Mountain have not been lacking. Over the years, the government
has established significant infrastructure to cater to the essential
needs of residents currently living in some 58 villages and remote
The government recognises the importance of developing Al
Jabal al Akdhar, said Salem al Abdisalaam, Deputy Wali.
A wide range of ministries and government departments have
set up offices here to meet all essential civic, social, healthcare,
educational and other needs of the people here.
Besides four schools for boys and girls, the Green Mountain also
boasts a 24-bed hospital, post office, Social Development Centre,
municipal services and offices of the Ministry of Agriculture
and Fisheries, and Ministry of Water Resources.
Electricity and telecom services cover roughly 70 per cent of
the population, while tankers supply drinking waters to all villages
free of charge. Significantly, a 42km internal road network has
been established, linking all key towns in the mountains.
Jabal al Akhdhar Hotel stylish and comfortable
Embodying the vision of the Green Mountain as a potential tourist
destination is the Al Jabal al Akhdhar Hotel, the regions
This charming establishment, built last June, is perfectly placed
for exploring the many wonders of these mountains, while enjoying
the amenities of a three-star facility.
Furnished in contemporary style with a high regard for comfort,
the hotel is a great favourite with visitors from the Muscat region
and a growing number of Gulf and international travellers as well.
Majority of our guests
are expatriate visitors, with a lot of tourists coming from the
UAE as well. Besides, we get some direct bookings from Germany,
Belgium and France as well, said Nadim M Zaarour, Administration
Al Jabal al Akhdhar Hotel conveniently placed for
exploring the Green Mountains charms
They come for the weekends, to enjoy a spot of camping in
the mountains, visiting quaint hamlets, trekking to Wadi al Muaydin,
and so on. While here, they make the most of what this hotel has
The hotel boasts 24 single
and double bedrooms, and two suites, all equipped with cold and
hot air-conditioning systems, satellite TV and a range of other
Coloured glass dome of the Al Jabal al Akhdhar Hotel
Two coloured glass domes, emblazoned with icons of the local natural
heritage, adorn the front of the hotel. A stylish coffee shop
serves a selection of cuisine, while buffet and BBQ services can
also be arranged.
In the next phase of its development, the hotel is planning to
add a temperature-controlled swimming pool with chalets, childrens
park, and fitness centre. The restaurant will be expanded to include
facilities for live entertainment.
The surroundings will be landscaped and a sampling of indigenous
trees, including the wild olive and juniper, planted in the courtyard.
Zaarour, a veteran of the local hospitality industry with
21 years of service, strongly believes Al Jabal al Akhdhar has
all the ingredients for a successful tourist destination.
The Green Mountain is unique considering the exotic fruits
grown here, the valuable rose water produced here, and its natural
and geological heritage.
Also, the warmth and hospitality of the local people are legendary,
to say the least, he remarked.
By promoting the Green Mountain through brochures and the Tourism
Departments regular marketing campaigns, Zaarour argues
that Al Jabal al Akhdhar can pull in tourists in significant numbers.
The hotel is already arranging road permits, courtesy of the Ministry
of Defence, for visitors to the mountain.
Adapted from Oman Observer.