Arabian Fjords – Oman’s Musandam Peninsula

Sometimes called the ‘Norway of Arabia’, Oman’s Musandam peninsula is known for its spectacular fjord-like sunken valleys(khwars) and is one of the finest scenic attractions in the Sultanate of Oman.  

Khwar Najd
Khwar Najd

Musandam is separated from the rest of Oman by a swathe of U.A.E territory, and until 1970 was closed to visitors.  Musandam’s dramatic landscape of deep inlets, craggy peaks, and bays hemmed in by sheer cliffs was formed approximately 20,000 years ago. At this time vast amounts of water were locked up in the polar ice caps  and much of the Persian Gulf was dry land. The melting of the ice caps caused Musandam’s valleys to drown.

A dhow cruise (on a private or shared basis) is the perfect way to discover Musandam’s fjords and their unspoilt scenic beauty. This relaxing full day experience will take you into the ‘fjord’ of Khwar Ash Sham where the beautiful, calm, turquoise waters contrast with the creamy white limestone cliffs. Here you will be able to swim and snorkel in the crystal clear waters, look out for dolphins, visit a traditional fishing village, and explore Telegraph Island – the remote location of a telegraph relay station built in 1864 connecting the underwater cable from India to Basra, with onward communication to London. It is said that laying the cable round the bend of the Persian Gulf gave rise to the expression, as living on Telegraph Island must have literally made the inhabitants lose their senses!

Jebel Harim
Jebel Harim

Another memorable Musandam experience to visit the desolate interior on a full or half day 4WD mountain safari. A mountain safari will take you through scorched valleys up the slopes of the ‘Mountain of Women’ – Jebel Harim (2087 metres). Along the way, you will visit a Bedouin  village and enjoy the spectacular views looking over the narrow inlet of Khwar Nadj. High on the mountain are richly cultivated ‘hidden’ oasis’ which are almost Eden-like when compared with the desolation below. This land was once the sole preserve of the isolated Shihuh people – a tribe that commanded a reputation for their ferocity.

Khasab, the tiny capital of Musandam Province, is a further attraction and the location of an award-winning Portuguese-built fort dating from 1624.

Khasab is a three-hour drive from Dubai or an hour’s flight from Muscat. Two or three days is the optimal amount of time to discover Musandam. Corinthian Travel can tailor-make both Dubai and Oman holidays that include the Musandam peninsula.