UAE & Oman Trip: Day 7 – Musandam – Khasab Town, Khasab Castle/Museum and Road to Dubai

Today we had to leave Musandam to go to a city that is 180 deg. contrast to Khasab: Dubai. However, we opted to spend the remaining precious morning in Khasab by driving around the town and visited Khasab Castle and Museum.

Early in the morning, I had driven few kilometers up Khasab road to take some snapshots of nearby villages. A boat wreck, small fishing port, a handful of houses underneath the cliff, and excellent road route are among the photo objects.

After back to hotel for a quick breakfast, my family and Marden’s started driving further few miles winding down the Khasab Road to Khasab town. 300m down the road from Golden Tulip Hotel is a spacious public beach cum playgrounds. Beach shelters are abundant, providing protection from scorching heat and as a good place for barbecuing. A clean and good toilet is also provided. We spent a dinner in this public beach last night; brought our own dinner, with some food ingredients were bought in local grocery store. To my surprise, the grocery collections are quite wide-ranging ones with prices not differ from ones in Doha. Don’t worry Omani riyals or UAE dirhams are accepted.

Khsab Public Beach. Seen from the top of cliff near Golden Tulip Resort
Khsab Public Beach. Seen from the top of cliff near Golden Tulip Resort

Khasab Beach coordinate: 26 12’42.31″N 56 14’09.13″E

Khasab Town

Khasab (means “fertility” in Arabic) is a picturesque fishing village, moves on its own pace, and seems doesn’t bother with rapid modernization in nearby cities just 1-3 hours driving away. The town is short stretched from Khasab Port to the south for 5-6 km and to the west-east side for 2-3 km. Population concentrated in an area of 2×2 km near port and where the greenery is. Small airport occupies the majority of remaining southern area.

A quiet Khasab street
A quiet Khasab street

We drove around this peaceful town, impressed with its clean streets bordered with an attractive yet humble Arab architecture. The neighboring area is fertile and many vegetable and fruits crops are grown on the sporadic flat outcrops that have been terraced for agriculture. To trap surface run-off, low walls are built round the planted areas.

Khasab town with its datepalm plantation as seen from the roof of Khasab Castle
Khasab town with its datepalm plantation as seen from the roof of Khasab Castle

Khasab Castle and Museum

Coordinate: 26 11’53.18″N 56 14’57.06″E

This beautifully stationed castle, for more than four centuries, has cast its strong shadow over the sands of the khawr. There is evidence to suggest that the castle was built on the ruins of an earlier Omani fortification. The Portuguese constructed the present fortress at the beginning of the 17th century with ambitious plans for dominion over the Strait of Hormuz. However, their hopes were dashed when, in 1624, they failed to recapture Hormuz. A quarter of a century later the Portuguese were expelled from Oman and the Castle was modified by Omani forces to suit their own military needs. This castle, which housed the Wali and his family in recent centuries and which once held prisoners, has been restored and transformed into a regional museum.

Inside Khasab Castle. On the courtyard two of three traditional boats from Kumzar: Mashuwah and Battil
Inside Khasab Castle. On the courtyard two of three traditional boats from Kumzar: Mashuwah and Battil

Among the museum collections are three traditional boats from Kumzar, the most northerly part of Musandam, named Zaruqah, Mashuwah, and Battil). Beyond the boat, still on the courtyard is a summer house made of palm fronds (arsh) and elevated on pillars of stone catches breezes from sea. Arsh houses were occupied by mountain dwellers and inhabitants of remote coastal settlements who came to Khasab in the summers to fish and harvest dates.

Arsh House
Arsh House

Nearby Arsh House is a reconstructed bait al qufl or ‘house of the lock’. Built of heavy stone and extending partially below ground, the bait al qufl evolved as a means of safeguarding vital supplies during periods of seasonal migration.

Bait al Qufl (House of the Lock) a means of safeguarding vital supplies during periods of seasonal migration
Bait al Qufl (House of the Lock) a means of safeguarding vital supplies during periods of seasonal migration

On the upper level of the castle are room tableaus featuring traditional medicine, costume, and jewelry together with a women’s amjlis, a wedding room and a Qur’an school. Museum-style exhibits in the central tower provide in-depth information on rock art, geology, wildlife, architecture and other aspect of Musandam culture. Documentary film footage and a treasury of artifacts accompany the exhibits.

One of the museum exhibits in the central tower
One of the museum exhibits in the central tower

Really, a visit to Khasab Castle and Museum brought us back to time when Musandam has been a silent observer of important journeys of history – from the passage of boat to the passage of oil tankers nowadays.

Opening Times: Saturday to Thursday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and Friday 8:00 am to 11:00 am

Ticket: 500 Baisas = 0.5 OR (or about 5 Qatar Rials) Children 200 Baisas

Road to Dubai

From Khasab to Dubai, it takes 3 to 4 hours of trip including border processing time and reasonable photo stops along the trip. You might use several photo stops (all are on the right road shoulder) for your memory to Musandam i.e. a parking spot near villages, an unofficial parking spot at the top of ascending road overlooking Golden Tulip Resort, a small parking garden near a road bend overlooking Arabian Gulf, and several beaches.

Not far from Khasab, my view struck a big billboard advertising construction of new hotel villas: Alila Villa Musandam. This is a residential and resort development set on the towering cliff of the Musandam Peninsula. Hmmmm…..sound intriguing to try for stay when I am back to Musandam. I love Alila for its simplicity, minimalist design and surprisingly different concept it’s anchored like what I have experienced in Alila Jakarta.

Seems that Musandam is getting more and more attractive for hospitality industry and luxury resort development. I believe that in the future a resort development in Jabal Ash Sayh, in one of the island in fjords areas or in the middle of Musandam Peninsula craggy mountain, are possibilities.

A trip to Dubai passes four of seven emirates in UAE: Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman and Sharjah. We did not make any stops along the way except one stop before entering Dubai for purchasing a Salik tag in one petrol station. Having said that, I could not share any point of interests in any of those emirates. I might consider checking those four emirates when I am back to Musandam, don’t-know-when in the future.

A typical road E11 to Dubai. You might also be able to use Road E311 to Dubai
A typical road E11 to Dubai. You might also be able to use Road E311 to Dubai

Surprising Dubai

This is a tag line for Dubai Summer Surprises 2009. Nonetheless, this tag line might be true or might be more suitable to articulate the surprises Dubai has given to us: road diversions. It was not one or two, but many, lost we got due to road diversions, despite use of GPS. There were many circumstances where we couldn’t turn left/right we’re supposed to, due to diversion. Consequentially, we needed to take a longer route or simply being lost. You’ve never been to Dubai if you never got lost!

Thanks Dubai for your surprises!

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