Jazan is a port city along the Red Sea to the south. In the early 20th century, the area was a major site for pearl fishing. As the industry waned after WWI, Jazan pivoted to agricultural development and naval industries. Today it is one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations for its natural wonders such as the nearby unspoiled Farasan Islands, a protected archipelago that is home to an abundance of wildlife and marine life. Wadi Lajab is also sought out for its serene oasis landscape that beckons hikers and picnickers. Inland, Jazan’s lush terraced slopes are as stunning as they are agriculturally significant, providing the country with high quality tropical fruits such as mango, figs, and papaya.
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This small group of coral islands sits approximately 25 miles off the coast of Jazan in the Red Sea. An unexpected destination to find in Saudi Arabia, the Farasan Islands offer 84 islands and 18 shoals with pristine beaches, crystal clear water and even mangrove forest. In 1996, the archipelago was declared “Farasan Island Marine Sanctuary”, protecting its inhabitants of fish, critically-endangered hawksbill turtles, dugongs, lobsters, Manta rays, dolphins, and even migratory whale sharks that come every April and May. Relatively raw and without infrastructure, corals are healthy and the majority of islands are desolate save for three which are permanently inhabited. There are government-run ferries twice a day from Jazan Port to the Faransan Islands.
The Faifa mountains are a part of the Sarawat range, a steep jagged rock formation that have been terraformed by local tribes into impressive agricultural terraces that grow coffee and maize. The lush slopes also grow a wide variety of plants, flowers, herbs, and honey. There are about 20 tribes that inhabit these mountains and are known to wear floral outfits, silver belts, and colorful hair bands. The terraced hillsides are also dotted with beautiful homes, many with the distinct local architectural style, as well as Jazan’s largest museum which houses a collection of weapons, ropes, bags, tools, and fire lanterns.
This cultural landmark in the southern Jazan corniche gives guests a glimpse into the province’s past with its models of traditional houses from a three-story mountain home, to a Jazan hut made of mud, to a home that is an embodiment of Farasan Island with its pearls and shell decor. At the center of the village is a traditional souk where archaeological artifacts, traditional pots, and plants are displayed alongside artisan crafts and goods. The Heritage Village also showcases cultural programs focused on traditional arts and folklore, special programs for kids, and poetry reading events. Also at the village center is a model of an ancient sesame oil press which was traditionally camel-powered.
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Oman is an Arabic country in the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, a historically strategic location – and not one that is commonly on the radar for many travelers. However, with increasing flight routes and its proximity to the UAE travel hub, travel to the peaceful coastal sultanate is easier than ever and worth a look.
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