Muscat – Tucked away in a mountain, the serene hamlet of Al Suwgra is accessible only by hiking up a steep stone staircase. While similar cliffside settlements are scattered throughout Jabal Akhdar, Al Sogara stands alone in its continued habitation, with a living history of over 450 years etched into its mountainside homes.
Despite Jabal Akhdar’s reputation as a tourism hotspot, Al Suwgra remains largely undiscovered and is often called the ‘Forgotten village’.
However, the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism (MHT) aims to change this by enhancing Al Sogara’s appeal through the development of its natural, cultural and heritage aspects.
Nestled some 40km from Seih Qatana, Al Suwgra is one of Oman’s most secluded settlements. Its picturesque charm, coupled with its rich history spanning 450 years, makes it a compelling tale of survival and resilience.
According to Sultan al Makhmari, head of Tourism Experience Development Department, MHT is exerting concerted efforts to boost Al Suwgra’s profile, including revitalising the village infrastructure with natural resources and improving access. Enhancing visitor experience with viewing platforms, rest areas and waste disposal facilities is also in focus. “The revitalisation project is complete,” Makhmari said.
He emphasised Al Suwgra’s uniqueness as a tourist destination embodying Oman’s ancient rural lifestyle. To further enrich visitor experience, the ministry, in collaboration with a local company, has labelled the native trees in the village, leveraging expertise from specialists at Oman Botanical Garden.
Future plans for Al Suwgra involve educational activities and workshops, including rock carving and traditional Omani coffee making sessions, and adventure tourism activities like mountain walking. Visitors can also look forward to exploring natural attractions like caves and ancient trails leading to other villages.
Abdullah bin Nasser al Shuraiqi, representative of National Company in Al Suwgra, shared that the village welcomed over 5,000 visitors last year, a testament to the fruitful collaboration between National Company and MHT. He informed that a project to improve access from parking lots to the village entrance has been completed.
The village revitalisation initiative is expected to fortify the tourism sector, attracting more visitors, bolstering the local economy, and creating job opportunities for the local population, MHT stated.