Oman is divided into eleven governorates (muhafazah). These governorets are subdivided into provinces (wilayat). The governorates are:

Masqat (Muscat)
Dhofar
Musandam
Al Buraymi
Ad Dakhiliyah
Al Batinah(North And South)
Al Wusta
Ash Sharqiyah(North and South)
Az Zahirah (Ad Dhahirah)

Muscat Governorate

Muscat Governorate is considered the pulsating heart of Oman. It is linked to Port Sultan Qaboos by Muttrah Corniche where the visitor to Muscat can view the wonderful variety of nature: golden beaches, mountainous heights, and golden sand dunes (Bawshar Sands).

Perhaps what is striking about Muscat Governorate and its states is the breathtaking intermingling of ancient cultural heritage and modern style. You will see houses, gates, old markets, small shops, and winding roads redolent of authentic history, side by side with modern markets, shops, buildings, and streets stamped with modern architecture. This allows Oman to preserve its historic character, and at the same time enjoying its contemporary spirit. Muscat is renowned as one of the cleanest Arab capitals, and has gained the honour of winning the Cleanest Arab City Contest several consecutive times.

Muscat as a city has played a prominent historical role due to its strategic location.

Dhofar Governorate

Dhofar Governorate is famous for its seasonal weather, locally known as monsoon or “Khareef” , when it witnesses its best period, clothed in lush greenery and its hills surrounded by white fog. Light rains drizzle to cool the air. During this time, it is frequented by many visitors, especially from within Oman and the neighbouring countries. Salalah Tourism Festival takes place from 15 July to 31 August every year. The festival is part of Khareef(monsoon) that extends from the end of July until the beginning of September.

Dhofar Governorate stretches over an area of one third of Oman and forms the Sultanate’s southern part. Dhofar includes a distinctive natural diversity where the coast blends with the mountains and the desert in wonderful harmony so that the mountains look like a fertile crescent, rising to a height of 1,500 metres and then descending into a flat plain that embraces sandy beaches stretching for hundreds of kilometres.

One can imagine the magnificence of this province when most parts of the Arabian Peninsula witness a rise in temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius in summer. But, in Salalah, the capital of Dhofar that lies 1,040 kilometres away from Muscat, temperatures never rise above 27 degrees Celsius. There are daily flights between Muscat and Salalah, as well as other Arab Gulf states.

Dhofar Governorate is famous for its seasonal weather, locally known as monsoon or “Khareef” , when it witnesses its best period, clothed in lush greenery and its hills surrounded by white fog. Light rains drizzle to cool the air. During this time, it is frequented by many visitors, especially from within Oman and the neighbouring countries. Salalah Tourism Festival takes place from 15 July to 31 August every year. The festival is part of Khareef(monsoon) that extends from the end of July until the beginning of September.

Dhofar Governorate stretches over an area of one third of Oman and forms the Sultanate’s southern part. Dhofar includes a distinctive natural diversity where the coast blends with the mountains and the desert in wonderful harmony so that the mountains look like a fertile crescent, rising to a height of 1,500 metres and then descending into a flat plain that embraces sandy beaches stretching for hundreds of kilometres.

One can imagine the magnificence of this province when most parts of the Arabian Peninsula witness a rise in temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius in summer. But, in Salalah, the capital of Dhofar that lies 1,040 kilometres away from Muscat, temperatures never rise above 27 degrees Celsius. There are daily flights between Muscat and Salalah, as well as other Arab Gulf states.

Musandam Governorate

The Musandam Peninsula is located on the northern border of the Sultanate of Oman. The high mountains in this region rise for more than two thousand metres above sea level. The mountains spread out in a naturally geometrical way. This area also contains the most important waterway, The Strait of Hormuz.

The juxtaposition of sea and mountains is considered one of the exclusive features of this area. Excursions in boats and traditional ships give the visitor unforgettable enjoyment, while diving fans at the beautiful coral reefs can plunge to their hearts’ content. Archaeological sites also abound in this area.

Khasab is the Governorate of Musandam’s regional centre and is located 570 kilometres from Muscat. Khasab, home to Khasab Port, it is located in the far north of the governorate and takes its name from its fertile soil. Khasab Governorate is famous for its magnificent villages and the thrilling roads that lead its mountain tops. Khasab can be reached by daily flights from Muscat, by sea in fast ferries and by car through a road that cuts through the United Arab Emirates.

A’Sharqiyah Sands (north and south)

A’Sharqiyah Sands are considered among the most beautiful camping areas in the Sultanate and extend over an area of up to about 10 thousand square kilometres.

The Sand colours range from red to brown as far as the eye can see. It is the original homeland of the Bedouins. This area attracts many desert adventure fans, and is preferred by visitors owing to its ease of accessibility and availability of nearby services, which make it a first class tourist attraction. Also, tourist camps that make the sands their home base offer a variety of services in this sea of golden sand and have played an important role in promoting A’Sharqiyah Sands.

Wilayat Badiyah is a beautiful oasis locatedat the entrance of A’Sharqiyah Sands. It is considered a starting point to explore the depths of the sand and enter into a world full of excitement and vitality, away from the bustle of the city and a change from daily routines. These sands embrace many oases. For example, Al Raka Oasis, which is surrounded by sand dunes on three sides and forms a spectacular landscape, as well as  Shahik Oasis and Al Hawiyah Oasis, the largest oasis, which contains a number of trees and is surrounded by sand dunes that form a splendid scene. Al Hawiyah Oasis is considered a vivid example of this unique mixture, for it is embraced by the golden sands to form a peninsula of greenery, putting it on a pedestal of its own compared with other oases in the Sultanate. The sharp sandy slopes in the southern part of this oasis are one of the most beautiful sites for sand skiing.

Al Aidan Oasis is so called from the shady leafy trees and the presence of a water well on this site. Accessing this oasis requires the help of a guide.

Many tourist activities take place on these sands, such as sand-duning in four-wheel drive dune buggies, as well as horse and camel racing.

Al Batinah Governorate (north and south)

Omanis compare Al Hajar Mountains to the human backbone, so they call the Governorate which lies on the Sea of Oman North and South Al Batinah, and the Governorate that lies west of the heights A’Dhahirah.

North and South Al Batinah Governorate is the beach formed by the valleys descending from the mountains, whose width varies between 15 and 80 kilometres. This is the main two agricultural Governorate in Oman, not to mention the nearby mountains and glittering beaches. North and South Al Batinah Governorate is distinguished by the presence of some rare trees like Al Mashut in Wilayt Liwa and Ad Dibaj in Wilayt As Suwayq.

ArRustaq is the provincial centre of the South Al Batinah Governorate and Sohar city is the provincial centre of the North Al Batinah Governorate and lies about 230 kilometres from the capital, Muscat. Sohar was the capital of Oman before the advent of Islam, and was known by the name of Majan. Sohar is one of the most important Wilayat in North Al Batinah Governorateand has been famous for producing and exporting copper for a long time.

In the fourth century AH (tenth AD), Al Makdessi described Sohar as “a thriving city with a large population and a beautiful city providing comfortable living. Its impressive residential districts spread along the beach, and its towering buildings are built with baked brick and teak wood.” Al Makdessi also goes on to describe “Sohar’s mosque overlooking the sea and its towering minaret,” adding that what distinguishes the city is “its prosperous markets that attract shoppers’ attention and admiration.”

A’Dakhiliyah Governorate

A’Dakhiliyah Governorate occupies a distinctive location on the western slopes of Al Hajar Mountains (the slopes of Al Jabal Al Akhdhar) towards the desert in the south.

A’Dakhiliyah Governorate has played a role of great significance in Oman’s history, particularly with regard to the spread of Islam in Oman. Nizwa, the capital of Oman in the early days of Islam, was the cradle of ardent intellectual activity and produced generations of Omani scientists, scholars and historians. That’s why it has been called “the egg of Islam”. Its towering historic castle still stands today as well as many forts, castles, ancient mosques and other beautiful tourist sites. Nizwa District is also famous for its many old houses.

A’Dakhiliyah Governorate has played a significant role in linking the coast to the interior of Oman, as it was the main trade route and the meeting place of caravans for many centuries.

A’Dhahirah Governorate

A’Dhahirah Governorate descends from the southern slopes of the western Al Hajar Mountains. It forms a bridge to the caravan trade routes between Oman and the neighbouring countries, which is why the region is called Wilayt Ibri (from “crossing”). A’Dhahirah includes Bat Tombs, which are on the World Heritage List.

Wilayt Ibri is one of the regional centres in west Oman. It is lies 279 kilometres from the capital city Muscat. The two cities are linked by two roads: one runs directly from Muscat and the other cuts through Wilayat Ar Rustaq. This city has a unique location connecting the Sultanate with the other regions in the Arabian Peninsula.

Al Buraymi Governorate

Al Buraymi Governorate is located in the north-western part of Oman. In ancient times it was known by the name of Twam and Al Jaw. Al Buraymi Governorate is a semi-desert plain descending from the southern slopes of the western Al Hajar Mountains. Ruins discovered in this governorate indicate the existence of trade routes dating back to ancient times. The presence of pottery and the remains of copper and other ruins in Al Buraymi indicate the existence of an ancient civilisation.

Wilayt Al Buraymi lies 370 kilometres from Muscat. Visitors coming to Al Buraymi from Muscat Governorate can reach it via two main routes: A’Dhahirah Road (Abri – Hafit) and Al Batinah Road (Sohar-Wadi Al Jizi).

Al Wusta Governorate

Al Wusta Governorate is located to the south of the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah and A’Dhahirah Governorate. It is flanked on the east by the Arabian Sea, on the west by The Empty Quarter, and by Dhofar Governorate to the South. It occupies a large area in the middle of the Sultanate.

Its beaches stretch for vast distances along the Arabian Sea. These beaches are famous for their cleanliness and the purity of their waters. This has resulted in an increase of marine plants which give the water its green colour. You can also find other types of plants swaying in the shallow waters of Barr Al Hikman (Al Hikman Peninsula). Many birds pass this area during their annual migration. On land, the moderate climate, influenced by the annual autumn season in Dhofar, helps the growth of a variety of plants and rare mammals such as the Arabian oryx and the Nubian ibex. In addition to all this natural wealth, the area abounds in a large number of oil and gas fields, making it rich on every score.