During the 6th century, Sur was an established center for trade with East Africa. In the 16th century, it was under Portuguese rule but was liberated by the Omani imam Nassir ibn Murshid and underwent an economic revival, as a trade center with India and East Africa. This continued until the mid-19th century, when the British outlawed the slave trade. Sur was an important hub for sailors who arrived aboard freight-bearing ships seeking to establish commercial ties linking Oman, East Africa and India. The city was further ruined by the opening of the Suez Canal, which saw it lose trade with India.
Sur is the capital city of Ash Sharqiyyah Region, northeastern Oman, on the coast of the Gulf of Oman. Historically the city is known for being an important destination point for sailors. Today the sea still plays an important part of life in Sur.
The city’s multiple folklores, seafaring tales, and myths have played a major role in shaping its culture and heritage. Apart from its enchanting marine history, Sur is also home to tourist attractions such as wadis, springs, farmlands, mountains, turtle reserves, castles, forts, Falaj and marvelous beaches. That’s not all – Sur’s people are known for their love of ship-building as well as other traditional industries such as: weaving, metal-working (goldsmiths), and making the Omani Halwa. Here are 6 activities that you can indulge in.
Explore the ancient city of Qalhat:
Qalhat Port is Oman’s oldest port and has seen the anchorage of ships from all over the ancient world. The city of Qalhat has witnessed major historical events including having some of the world’s most famous historic travelers such as Ibn Batuta and Marco Polo visit. When in Qalhat – a visit to the “Bibi Maryam tomb” is a must, as it is a beautiful piece of ancient architecture. This Mausoleum was built for Baha al-Din Ayaz, successor Mahmud Ahmad al-Qusi al-Qalhati the founder of the Hormuz empire which flourished in the 8th/14th century. The mausoluem was built by the wife of Baha al-Din, Maryam, and is thus call the Bibi Maryam mausoleum.
Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve:
Thousands of sea turtles migrate annually from their shores to lay their eggs on Ras Al Jinz beach. Ras Al Jinz is world renowned for being home to the endangered green turtle, Chelonia mydas, and is probably the most important nesting concentration on the Indian Ocean. Visitors can enjoy a complete turtle-watching program organized by the Scientific Center at Ras Al Jinz. The centre conducts guided excursions every night to view the turtles and witness the nesting process.
Swim at Wadi Shab:
Wadi Shab is a very popular outdoor attraction for both locals and expats, and people come here for the nature, to swim in the fresh water pools or just to have a barbecue. Any trip to Wadi Shab is a fun-filled adventure, as some parts of the wadi can only be accessed by boat, and others can only be reached by trekking through the mountain.
Stroll down Mibam village:
The village of Mibam, lies amongst Tiwi’s scenic beauty, and can only be reached by a four-wheel vehicle. Mibam is a quiet and serene village that makes one feel at home almost immediately and has a soothing vibe. One can see the old castle overlooking the village while walking between the village’s rich farmlands, Aflaj and waterfalls. The people of Mibam are extremely friendly and happy to help visitors and residents alike.
Visit the Marine Museum:
The Marine Museum is located in the Oruba Cultural, Sports, and Social Club that was established in 1987. The museum houses a number of different Omani ships, marine tools, maps and pictures of the most famous ship-builders, sailors, sea-farers and captains in ancient times. The museum is the perfect destination for those interested in Oman’s rich maritime history.
The fort of Al Sunaysilah Fort overlooks Sur and was built to protect the city, by serving as an observatory along the coastline. It was built more than 300 years ago and has watch-towers that have been built in a clever manner to ensure protection during the era of the Portuguese occupation. The Omani government as well as the Ministry of Tourism is working hard to maintain the fort to ensure that it continues to be a major tourism attraction in the area.
Sur is about 200 kilometers from the capital city Muscat. The easiest way is to take the scenic coastal highway passing through Al Amerat and Quriyat. Some of the above attractions are on this highway.
4WD would be needed for this journey.
Have a safe journey and do share your experiences.
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