The Dhofar (Arabic ظفار Ẓufār) region lies in Southern Oman, on the eastern border of Yemen. Its mountainous area covers 99,300 km² and has the population of 215,960 as of census 2003. The largest town in the region is Salalah. Historically, it was the chief source of frankincense in the world. However, its frankincense is now mostly used locally. (Somalia is now the leading exporter.)
While Arabic speakers from the dominant Omani culture have come to live in the province, especially the larger cities and towns, Dhofar has been the traditional homeland of many tribespeople speaking a variety of South Arabian Semitic languages. One of the largest - spoken by the Qara (Ehkelô), Shahra, Barahama, Bait Ash-Shaik and Bathira mountain tribes - is called Shehri - popularly referred to as "SHAHRI people" or "mountain talk". It is closely related to Mehri in Yemen. Other indigenous groups speaking smaller languages such as Bathari live in the coastal towns of Shuwaymiya and Sharbithat. The Harasis, speaking Harsusi, number 1-2,000 and live in Jiddat al-Harasis.
Al-Mahara in Yemen and Dhofar in Oman are the only parts of south Arabia directly exposed to the South East monsoon from mid August to late September or early October; this is known as the khareef. As a result, it has a lush green climate during the monsoon season and for sometime after until the vegetation loses its moisture. Dhofar's temporarily wet climate contrasts sharply with the neighboring barren Empty Quarter Desert. The Salalah plain was once a well cultivated area with a sophisticated irrigation system. During World War I it was fertile enough to produce food and grain to supply a large proportion of the requirement of the British Army fighting in Mesopotamia. (...) more…
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