Salalah’s khareef season will have a new experience this year — balloon carnival. Organised by Sabeen and Hemity along with Dhofar Municipality, the Office of Dhofar’s Governor and Public Authority for Civil Aviation, the carnival will be held at Ain Sahnout, Salalah, covering a total area of 110,000 m2. While preparations for the balloon carnival have been on for a year, Sabeen and Hemity are now at the stage of the international campaign. The organising team is expecting around 650,000 to one million visitors to the carnival, in addition to regular visitors to Dhofar during the period. The carnival will host 15 hot air balloons and people will be able to see Salalah from the sky for the first time.
Keeping in mind the climatic condition of Salalah during the season, hot air balloons of 2,600 m3 will be taking the riders up to 100 metres to fly over the landscapes of the popular summer destination, and flow gently alongside the spring while providing an aerial view of the surroundings. “Salalah during the monsoon season last year received around 920,000 visitors as per statistics. We are looking at another million visitors to arrive for the carnival and to the festival this year. That is why we are on a GCC campaign to promote the festival and carnival,” said Khalid al Nabhani, CEO, Sabeen. Speaking to the Observer, Ibtisam al Jashmi, activity manager of Hemity, said that this is the first of a series of events to be held in many parts of Oman.
“We will be working closely with SMEs. There will be direct and indirect benefits to the economy of the country. We are managing the concept of the carnival, but we have involvement of many international professional companies and national SMEs. Small industries have lot of opportunities in marketing and in increasing their production quality,” added Al Jashmi. To be set at the scenic Ain Sahnout, the carnival site includes balloon area, Balloon Mall, Hologram, Classic Car Booth, Paramotor, food trucks, playground, kiosks, 15 glass domes, seating zones and concert stage open air cinema. The Carnival Mall will encourage and promote Omani products.
The youth have been in focus while planning out the activities, said Al Nabhani. “There will be events specifically for children and family as a whole. For the youth we have arranged the rink for car racing so that they do not have to race on roads and especially grasslands. The Challenge Racetrack has an arena designed for four-wheel bicycles and cars designed for race tracks.” Around 65 restaurants are expected to be at the carnival site offering local and international cuisines. Lunar Cinema will be showcasing a film each night. Another area of interest is the 8,000 sq metres dedicated to children play area. In addition to concerts there will also be daily events from morning till night.
According to the organisers, the glass domes will give the visitors the pleasure to enjoy their food even if it is raining, which is one of the major attractions of khareef Salalah. The organisers have also promised innovative laser shows that will be made incorporating the balloons, music and lights. For the first time, the hologram based light shows will be introduced at khareef Salalah.