By Ali al Matani — Believe it or not; Oman is in the height of summer, though, temperature is 15°C! It is not a Shakespearean summer “day’s” dream, rather; it is the reality of Jabal Shams’ uniqueness. In the Sultanate of Oman, not to mention the neighbouring Gulf countries, there is no place, with average summer temperature that makes visitors put on heavy clothes in the early morning and midnight, more near or fabulous than Jabal Shams which is one of the pristine tourist destinations in the Sultanate. To spend your vacation at Jabal Shams, Al Jabal al Akhdhar, Dhofar Governorate or the south part of Al Sharqiyah Governorate
Promising domestic tourism
“Domestic tourism is the base on which tourism in general is built in any country all over the world; thus, we support this attitude by all possible means, either in the winter tourist season from October to April or in the summer tourist season from May to September,” CEO of Jabal Shams Spa, one of the pioneer projects at Jabal Shams, Naser bin Braik al Khattri said. He also stressed on offering Omani visitors and tourists special rates and charges, both in summer season and winter season; with hotel rooms for Omanis at 50 per cent less cost than foreigners. In addition to that, according to Al Khattri, families have very special offers.
“There is a space for everyone to enjoy, and this is our philosophy,” he said.
He is of the opinion that more attention should be attached to the domestic tourism, using oil revenues to support tourism sector with more facilities and services that provide the appropriate climate for reviving tourism. He described the natural, environmental and cultural aspects and potentials of the Sultanate as being very good and special.
Speaking about the unique characteristics and potentials of Jabal Shams that make it a summer nights dream turned into reality, he said that the place is the highest in the Gulf region — 3,150 metres above sea level — and its climate is cold in summer and very cold in winter; with natural environment and breathtaking views.
After his chances to join higher education turned to be low, Al Khattri joined a training course with Intelaqah Programme. There, the real chance was waiting for him. He proposed a tourism project that was praised by all and ranked first among many other projects. Thus his Jabal Shams Spa Project got easily the support of Tourism Ministry.
The beginning was humble; six hotel rooms, though, the extension gained unrivalled success.
“Today, we have 14 hotel rooms, 15 tourist tents and a restaurant. Moving forward to make this project one of the most well-known and prestigious spas in the Sultanate is an obsession with me; I have plans to add 15 more chalets, hotel rooms, villas for families that prefer group visits and stay and a swimming pool,” Al Khattri explained.
No way is paved with flowers. The project needs a hand from the government. Al Khattri can’t do everything alone. “The tourism sector here is in need of more facilities such as good road to Jabal Shams — seven kilometres of road is paved till to date; and providing the sufficient lighting along the road, in addition to some can’t-do-without services such as public comfort stations,” he said.
Expressing his concerns on the exploitation and greed of some tourism companies, he said that some inappropriate behaviours from a number of tourism companies operating in the Sultanate endanger the reputation of tourism industry in Oman. When some companies exaggerate and hike rates and charges, with no accepted reason and without providing extra services or products, visitors and tourists form bad impressions about the way tourism functions in the Sultanate. Thus, tourism industry loses free promotion and propaganda, as anyone who falls in the trap of these companies has every reason not to come again.
Al Khattri highlighted the economic feasibility of tourism projects, if tourism potentials of the Sultanate are employed well, saying that he could get the required approval from the competent authorities to extend more projects to keep pace with future development in the Sultanate.
Thanks to the big efforts done and the reputation Jabal Shams Spa occupancy rate goes up to 95 per cent from October to April; on Fridays it reaches 100 per cent. “Most of non-Omani visitors are Europeans. Thanks to efficient marketing, the spa is well known all over the world,” he explained.
Al Khattri attaches very important part to the local communities as they are an essential part of the project. “Local community is seen as the best friend of our project, the project sustains people living around its site by every possible way; through promoting handicrafts made by them, buying locally cultivated foodstuff, vegetables and meat from them, employing young people as tourist guides. Good relation with local communities is a long-term investment,” he added.
From walking through history as it follows ancient paths and tracks used by people in olden times to skiing, visiting mountain villages or watching fascinating sunrise and sunset or folklore shows, the visitors to Jabal Shams Spa enjoy their time in an experience unmatched by any other tourism facilities in the region.
means having a pleasant, comfortable and low-cost experiment.