Lush, leafy, verdant – hardly words normally associated with the Arabian Peninsula. But in June rainclouds gather over Salalah, painting its plains and valleys emerald green. The temperature drops to a pleasant 27°C average, while mist wraps around blooming frankincense trees. In other words, khareef has come to town. This autumn monsoon season, which lasts until early September, isn’t exactly a secret: visitor figures surged 33 per cent from 2017 to 2018. There’s plenty of epic landscape to go around, though, and more than 360 natural springs to swim in, including remote Wadi Darbat with its dramatic waterfalls.
And it’s not only the landscape that’s especially vibrant during khareef – culturally, this time of year is a high point, too. Traditional music and dance performances, sports tournaments and handicraft stalls fill the streets for the Salalah Tourism Festival (15 July – 31 August).