The name Jebel Akhdar means “The Green Mountain”, a somewhat unlikely moniker, given the massif’s largely inhospitable terrain, with vast expanses of bare rock on which only the hardiest shrubs and ground plants are able to survive. The most convincing explanation for the unlikely name is that it refers to the days when the Saiq Plateau and other parts of the surrounding mountains were covered in a dense carpet of agricultural terracing, pieces of which can still be seen today below the villages of Al Ayn and Al Aqr. An alternative if slightly less convincing theory holds that the name derives from the colour of the limestone from which the mountains are formed, and which can take on a decidedly greenish coloration in certain lights – in complete contrast to the reddish ophiolite hills which surround the plateau to the east and south.

Further ambiguity surrounds the present use of the name. On maps, the name Jebel Akhdar is generally used to refer to the entire section of the Hajar mountains running west from the Sumail Gap as far as Jebel Shams. In practice, however, most locals (and local road signs) use the name to describe the area of mountains immediately north of Nizwa, around the Saiq Plateau (which is the sense used in this guide). The area further west, beyond Al Hamra, is usually described as Jebel Shams.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Oman features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Life at the edge: wild camping in Oman

Life at the edge: wild camping in Oman

It's legal to wild camp in Oman. And, done responsibly, it's one of the most rewarding ways to take in the country's varied terrain. Fiona McAuslan pitched her …

17 May 2017 local_activity Special feature
Oman: a first-timer’s guide

Oman: a first-timer’s guide

Poised between the glitzy excess of the Emirates and the rigid conservatism of Saudi Arabia, Oman provides a winning introduction to the Middle East. Politica…

13 Dec 2016 • Andy Turner insert_drive_file Article
12 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East

12 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East

The Middle East is a paradox. Located at the cultural crossroads between east and west, the region nowadays tends to make headlines for all the wrong reasons, b…

16 Nov 2016 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook