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Jebel Akhdar

Jebel Akhdar in Arabic means "Green Mountains" and this region of the most verdant outside of Salalah and the Batinah Coast. To go there requires a 4-wheel drive ( and a road permit because of military installations in the area). One of the most scenic areas in Oman, coupled with the friendly local inhabitants, this region is a natural spot for tourism. Points of interest include the towns of Wadi Bani Habib, Saiq and Al Ayn, where local farmers raise grapes, pomegranates, apricots and walnuts. The climate is moderate year round as the mean altitude is about 1800 metres. Also of interest is the lookout over the canyon recently named Diana's Point, for the late Princess of Wales who spent time here in the late 80s.

The Jebel Akhdar is part of the Al Hajar Mountains range in Oman, which extends about 300 km (186 mi) northwest to southeast, between 50–100 km (31–62 mi) inland from the Gulf of Oman coast. It is one of Oman’s most spectacular areas. The highest point, Jabal Shams (Mountain of the Sun), is around 3,000 metres (around 9,800 feet) high. It is the highest point in Oman and the whole of eastern Arabia. It comprises the central section of the Al Hajar Mountains range, and is located around 150 km (93 mi) from Muscat.

The range is mostly desert, but at higher altitudes it receives around 300 mm (12 in) of precipitation annually, moist enough to allow the growth of shrubs and trees and support agriculture. It is this that gives the mountains their 'green' name. Cool summers provide the visitor with fresh air surrounded by breathtaking stones.

The area is about a 45 minute drive from Nizwa and is famous for its traditional rose water extraction and agricultural products including pomegranate, apricot, peach and walnut. The Jebel is mostly inhabited by the ancient Arab tribe Bani Riyam (al Riyamy). Most descendants of the tribe are now in nearby towns such as Nizwa and Izki; some inhabit Ibra. Between 1957 and 1959, the area became a site of the Jebel Akhdar War, a conflict between Omani forces loyal to the sultan of Oman (aided by British soldiers, including the Special Air Service) and Saudi Arabian-backed rebel forces of the inland Imamate of Oman.

In August 2011, Sultan Qaboos designated Jebel Akhdar a nature reserve in a bid to conserve its unique yet fragile biodiversity. A decree issued by the Royal Court established the ‘Jebel Akhdar Sanctuary for Natural Sceneries’.

Since 2011, the mountain has featured as the principal climb in the Tour of Oman road bicycle race. In the area several important rock art sites, whose oldest figures date back to 6000 years ago, have been discovered and studied.

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