The Musandam Governorate (Arabic : مسندم) is a governorate of Oman. Geographically, the Musandam peninsula juts into the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow entry into the Persian Gulf, from the Arabian Peninsula. The Musandam peninsula is an exclave of Oman, separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates. Its location gives Oman partial control, shared with Iran, of the strategic strait. In the northern section of Musandam, around Kumzar, the language is Kumzari, which is one of the south-western Iranian languages and related to Luri and Persian. The Musandam Peninsula has an area of 1,800 square kilometers (695 sq mi) and a population of 31,425 people. Connectivity has traditionally been a problem for the region, but this has greatly improved since August 2008 with the world's fastest passenger ferry launching service between Muscat and Musandam.
The Musandam Governorate consists of four districts (wilayat): Khasab, Bukha, Dibba Al-Baya, Madha, itself an exclave, located half-way between the rest of Musandam and Oman proper Khasab town is the regional center of the Governorate. The area has great strategic importance owing to its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz. The administrative head of Governorate is called Muhafiz(محافظ)/Governor.
The rugged coastline resembles the glacier-carved coasts of polar regions, but in this case, the coast was shaped by the movement of Earth’s crust. The Arabian plate is slowly pushing under the Eurasian plate, creating the earthquake-prone mountains of Iran. On the leading edge of the Arabian plate, the Musandam Peninsula is sinking. The higher elevation mountains remain above the water, but the sea has rushed in to fill the valleys with fingers of water.
Musandam is on the Strait of Hormuz, separated from the rest of Oman by the east coastline of the United Arab Emirates. It also includes the exclave Madha which is completely enclosed by the United Arab Emirates, inside of which is a truly tiny exclave called Nahwa that is part of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
The mountains have housed extremely isolated communities for centuries and many coastal villages can only be reached by boat. The population of approximately 29,000 is concentrated in the capital Khasab in the north, and the small port town of Dibba on the east coast. Traditionally, there has been a lot of smuggling of contraband by Iranians in and out of Musandam.
Road access is possible from Ras Al Khaymah on the West coast of the United Arab Emirates, Fujairah (Limted to GCC Nationals), and Dibba, Sharjah on the East Coast. For none GCC Nationals it isn't possible to get between these border crossings within Musandam itself by vehicle.
Oman Airlines has regular flights from Muscat to Khasab. An entry visa is required if you are entering from the United Arab Emirates at Ras Al Khaymah. The emigration offices on both sides of the border are unorganized and slow. It can take up to 4 hours to get an exit and entry visa (during holiday season in United Arab Emirates). If you traveling by private vehicle, Omani insurance is a must.
Tarmac roads allow easy access up the west coast to Khasab, and 2 separate tarmac road networks exist on the east coast, one connecting with the United Arab Emirates at Dibba, and one isolated at Lima. Tracks link up the 3 border points connecting to the United Arab Emirates. However a military base in Wadi Bih, in the centre of Musandam prevents none GCC nationals from passing in any direction. The base sits on a T-junction with routes going in each direction, to the 3 border points.
On the West Coast passports are stamped, however on the east coast they are not. Therefore if this Militry base is avoided, when travelling on foot in the mountains (challenging), then an exit stamp is either missing in your passport (Entering west coast; exiting east coast), or not given because of no entry stamp (Entering east coast; exiting west coast), and you will be turned around. To add to this, additional problems can occur if the West Coast route is crossed on a passport, with United Arab Emirate residential visa applications in process and they will be cancelled. Therefore the majority of the arid mountainous country can be visited from the Khasab side, but will involve a turning back. A smaller arid mountainous area, although more popular, is accessed from the east coast. There are no fuel stations off the tarmac roads, therefore monitoring fuel levels, among other things, is vital.
Barren mountains that rise up to 2,000 metres or 6,500 feet above sea level jut out like fingers into the sea, creating countless fjord-like inlets and yield spectacular views. Mountains. Starting from the principal town of Khasab, a graded road straddles a ridge, high above valleys on either side. This is near Jabal Harim (Mt. Harim), the highest point in Musandam. It's used for military purposes, so the road doesn't go over the top, but veers off about 1/4 mile from the summit. Seacoasts. Out on the water is where to get a closer look at the fjords of Musandam. Huge chunks of rocks towering over the serene waters and little villages that are only accessible by boat.One of the striking geological features of these mountains is all the twisting and turning they've gone through over the years. It is possible to catch many of these boat trips through agencies in Dubai. The drive from the UAE, especially after passing the Omani borders, is great, as it goes through breathtaking landscapes. Dhow cruises take you out to the Hormuz Strait.
Musandam offers both spectacular sea and mountain views. Due to the sparse population of the Musandam Peninsula coast, wildlife is abundant in the waters along the coast. Scuba diving is one of the main and most popular tourist activities in this region, with a very competent dive center based at the Golden Tulip Hotel located immediately to the west of Khasab. Dolphin watching on a traditional Omani Dhow - This is a wonderful experience - the Dolphins respond to the sound of the Dhow Captains' whisles, and they come soaring along side the Dhow, putting on a show. They are incredibly agile and love to perform.