FAST 5: Ways to immerse yourself in frankincense in Oman
Imaginings of the classic Middle East so often include that swirl of exotic aroma that seems to permeate everything over there, from the markets to the hotels and beyond. Ever since time immemorial, Oman’s historic coastal town of Salalah has been known as the perfume capital of Arabia. Salalah is popular for its production of frankincense, a resin extracted from the Boswellia sacra tree, and now you can turn it into a one-of-a-kind, fabulously hedonistic travel spa experience.
Frankincense is the ‘Diamond of Oman’. Locally known as luban, it was worth more than gold in the old days (there’s a reason Jesus got some as a birth present), and the clear and silvery colours native to Salalah is the best quality you can get.
Not only is it an important part of Oman’s history, it also has several health and beauty benefits. Here are some of the more gorgeous ways you can enjoy frankincense season at Anantara’s Al Baleed Salalah Resort:
1) Tour Salalah
Frankincense season is at its peak between April till July, since that’s when the Boswellia sacra trees thrive across Salalah. Wadi Dawkah is one of the most significant sites to visit as it has thousands of these frankincense trees, and you can explore the ruins of ancient trading ports or follow the remains of old trails and rugged terrain which tell the story of frankincense in Salalah around this area.
Spring is also such a great time to stroll along empty white-sand beaches, trek through Oman’s breathtaking mountain landscapes, or stargaze in the desert - when the weather is at its most temperate and the crowds are non existent.
2) Burn it
The unmistakable sweet and woody aroma of burning frankincense brings an immediate calming effect. It is often used in religious ceremonies to symbolise prayer and purification or used to refresh local homes and ward off pesky mosquitoes. With its heady, otherworldly scent, frankincense is popular in this part of the world for aromatherapy in spas, where it has the bonus ability to relieve respiratory problems, frequent colds and allergies.
3) Get slathered in it
Frankincense your problems away by slathering yourself in oils, soaps, balms, lotions, and creams - or get others to do it for you, more to the point. You can get a frankincense oil massage which nourishes your skin and relieves anxiety while reducing pain and inflammation, such as Al Baleed Salalah Resort’s signature Frankincense Ritual at the hammam (above). This 90-minute treatment features two specialists performing four-hand synchronised massage techniques while harnessing the aromatic and topical healing benefits of frankincense. OH MY GOD YES.
4) Eat it
We’ve never tried it here and frankly, can’t really imagine it - but locals have chewed the resin for generations to improve their oral health and prevent infections; frankincense is a natural antiseptic. Some varieties of frankincense are actually edible and can be used to aid digestion and regulate gastrointestinal functions, we hear, but since other varieties and forms can be toxic, let’s leave it to the professionals over in Salalah to advise you on that one!
5) Shop it
You can stock up on frankincense products like skincare, oils, gum, toothpaste and mouthwash from local vendors as you wander those fragrant Omani markets. Here’s our tip: frankincense quality is based on purity, aroma, age, shape and colour. Depending on the products you find to buy, frankincense can be used to treat various skin conditions and the appearance of stretch marks, scars, wrinkles, and age spots; this handy natural wonder can also speed up the healing of cuts, acne, burns, rashes, and sores. For luscious Insta-worthy locks, frankincense shampoo can be used to strengthen your roots and aid in hair growth. And to help get all this from markets to suitcase, Anantara Resort offers private guided tours with their Salalah Guru.
For more information or to book, you can visit salalah.anantara.com