The proximity of Oman makes it a popular driving destination for both Emiratis and expatriates in the UAE.
The southern city of Salalah is a favourite destination for Gulf nationals to escape the summer heat on a “Khareef” holiday, as it is known for its mild temperatures and lush green landscapes.
According to official statistics, Salalah attracts about 630,000 visitors on average every summer, and UAE visitors form the majority of all people holidaying in the southern coastal resort.
About 35 per cent of them are from the UAE, 30 per cent are domestic tourists, 25 per cent are from the other GCC states and 10 per cent from elsewhere.
Short flights are possible but many opt to go by road. The stretch from Muscat to Salalah is about 1,100km long and about 40 per cent of it is single carriageway.
Police statistics show that the stretch to Salalah kills an average of 105 people every year - about a quarter of all road deaths in the Sultanate. More deaths are recorded in the summer, due to it being peak holiday season.
Road traffic experts say a combination of carelessness and road conditions contribute to accidents on the Muscat-Salalah road.
“Despite the warnings of the need to drive carefully, drivers still travel too fast. The deaths on this road can be avoided if people abide by the traffic rules,” Shamis Al Nabhani, a retired police officer formerly in charge of road traffic in the southern region of Oman told The National.
“However, the road conditions also need attention. Single carriageways must be expanded to dual carriageways. Most of the accidents occur due to overtaking on single roads. When it rains, roads become flooded. Better drainage must be built to drain away water in rainy seasons. Clear road signs are also needed to reduce fatalities.”