Khasab is the administrative hub of Musandam and is the most northerly wilayat, 480 km from Muscat. It overlooks the Arabian Gulf in the north-west and the Sea of Oman in the east. The landscape is dramatic, with towering, craggy cliffs and a fjord-like coastline. The City of Khasab at the heart of the Wilayat has been modernised with essential amenities such as roads, squares, parks and hotels.
The wilayat comprises a number of attractions, with Khasab Fort, dating back to the era of Al Bu-Said, being the most prominent. There are also a number of towers: Al-Siba; Kabas Al-Kasr; and the tower of Said Bin Ahmad Al-Malik which is the remains of what was once a colossal fort.
In the Harat Al-Kumzari, around the back of Khasab Fort to the east, are the plantations and seasonal homes of the Kumzari tribe. Further east is the souq, with busy shops selling many items found elsewhere in Oman together with local pottery and Musandam's distinctive axe or Jirz.
The bustling port of Khasab is vibrant with commercial activity, including a number of tourist cruise operators. The principal occupation in Khasab is fishing, followed by animal husbandry and agriculture. The area is fertile and many fruit and vegetable crops are grown here. Khasab is rapidly evolving into a tourist hotspot. Scuba Diving in the area is well known for its challenges. Mountain safaris are popular, as are the dhow cruises to the nearby fjords.
Undoubtedly the best way to experience the full splendor of Musandam is by sea, and no visit to the region would be complete without a ferry ride.
The striking juxtaposition of long fjords and barren mountains is epitomized by khawr sham, a spectacular sheltered 20 kilometer-long fjord. Its calm, clear waters are flanked by high cliffs that drop precipitously into the sea. The glassy water mirrors images of the mountains and white beaches are invitingly empty.
Qanaha is one of a number of small villages along the fjord. It blends into the cliffs, making its stone houses seemingly part of the cliffs themselves. Sun-bleached boats, drawn up on the beach, glow in the sun. The villagers are fishermen and access to the village is by sea.
Jazirat Al Ghanam
Jazirat Al Ghanam (Goat Island) sits in the Strait of Hormuz. Its name is derived from the past practice of leaving goats on the island to graze when pastures on the mainland were exhausted in times of drought. The island now is an important base of Omans’ naval forces.
Kumzar is the northernmost town in Oman. Although geographically isolated, it is home to sizeable community of approximately 3,000 people. Iran lies about 55 kilometers across the water and there is a long history of contact between the two. By sea from Khasab it takes 2 hours to reach Kumzar by dhow.
Bait al Qufl
The bait al-Qufl or 'house of the lock' is a form of architecture unique to Musandam. It is a miniature stronghold built of local stone used for storing supplies of grain, dates and other items crucial to the survival of the household. The roof is made from timbers of acacia, covered with a mixture of earth and gravel with an edging of stone blocks. Inside, the floor is about one meter below ground and there are raised slabs for storing goods. Entry is difficult as the heavy door extends to the sunken floor, opens inwards and is deeply recessed. It is secured by an elaborate locking system which gives the structure its name.
Khasab Fort is a picturesque stronghold situated on the inner cove of Khasab Bay in Wilayat Khasab, Musandam Governorate. The fort was built in the 17th century by Portuguese seeking control over regional maritime trade. Within its low crenellated walls it boasts a colossal central tower, thought to pre-date the fort itself. It was restored in 1989.
At 2,087m, Jabal Harim is the highest peak in Musandam. Along the ridges are breathtaking views down into the wadis and foothills. Small settlements balance precariously on the mountain sides where every possible piece of land has been utilized. Farms are enclosed by stone walls, protecting crops from livestock and trapping the precious water that runs off the rocky surfaces. Mountain people grow their crops in the rainy season, usually from December to March. In spring the range of wild flowers is surprising for such a seemingly barren area. Gladioli and tiny irises can be seen along with many other native varieties.
Khasab telephone numbers:
Phone: +968 2673 1802
Fax: +968 2673 1803