The Sumail Gap has always been the key strategic link between the interior of the country, dominated by the town of Nizwa, and the coastal plain, dominated by Muscat. It’s the only easily passable route through the Hajar Mountains and controlling it was vital to anyone with pretentions to rule. Although it is now graced by a sweeping modern highway, this historic importance is evident in the forts and watchtowers that litter the route. Towns like Fanja are ringed by walls and linked by bridges over rocky wadis that turn into racing torrents when rain falls. It’s a wonderful drive and a great way to introduce yourself to the interior of the country.