Oman to market its mountains to geologists

The Sultanate of Oman is planning to market its mountains as a tourist attraction.

With the nation having discovered that its mountain-tourism programme was a huge success with local tourists, it is now planning to market them as geo-tourism. The mountains will be promoted as a destination for hiking, camping, bird watching, sightseeing, and for simply enjoying their natural beauty. The area will also be promoted as a geologist’s haven. Already Omani mountain ranges, including the Jabal al Shams and Jabal al Akhdhar, are popular summer holiday destinations for tourists, but in addition, the mountain ranges are also an attraction for their geological importance.

Many students already visit the mountains to study them, and the Samayil Ophiolite, the Arabian basement, Jabal al Akhdhar and the Sand desert are other attractions that are valued by the nation’s geologists. Many consider the Samayil Oman Ophiolite to be the largest, best preserved, best exposed and best-studied ophiolite in the world, and it is widely recognised as a ‘world-class’ example of its type. Students also consider Oman to be the best place to study the oceanic lithosphere. Since the nation is located at the margin of the Arabian Plate, it is considered to be a good location to study the complicated plate tectonic history of the Middle East.

The government is now planning to capitalise on this status and develop more such sites to attract tourists. It also wants to mix tourism with sustainable activities to ensure that the nation receives the credit it deserves in geo tourism. Authorities believe that geo-tourism could offer a whole new range of economic development potential if included within sustainable tourism schemes. As a result, two tourism streams are being encouraged in the nation, scientific geo-tourism and cultural/scenic geo-tourism.

To cater for the potential increase in the number of tourists, the nation is completing the construction of the Jabal Akhdar Hotel by December 2013. The five-star resort includes an all day restaurant, a lobby lounge, fitness centre, spa, swimming pool, business centre, and meeting facilities.