The Dhofar Governorate is one of the few places on Earth where the frankincense tree (Boswellia sacra) thrives naturally. This is thanks to the southwest monsoon –a climatic phenomenon that brings moisture-laden winds, clouds and a rain shadow to the region each summer. Boswellia sacra once grew only in isolated groves beyond the Dhofar mountains. Today their distribution extends from Jabal Samhan – which produces the best grades of frankincense – into the eastern highlands of Yemen.
Long-distance trade in frankincense was ongoing by the 3rd millennium BCE and included links to Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley Civilisation and ancient Egypt. In recognition of the importance of the frankincense trade across the ages, four sites have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list: al-Baleed, Khor Rori (Sumhuram), Shisr (Ubar) and Wadi Dawkah.