|Location:||On the Selma Plateau.|
not yet open.
not yet open.
|Classification:||Karst cave Tertiary limestones, Hadhramaut Group|
|Dimension:||Big Chamber: L=320m, W=225m, H=120m. A=1,400m asl.|
W. Don Davison Jr (1985):
Majlis Al Jinn Cave,
Sultanate of Oman Public Authority for Water Resources, Report PAWR-20,
Don Davison (1990): Meeting Place of the Spirits, Saudi Aramco World, Volume 41, number 5.
S. Hanna, M. Al Belushi (1996): Introduction to the Caves of Oman, Sultan Qaboos University, International Printing Press, Ruwi, Sultanate of Oman.
G. Crouch (2003): Caves of Oman, National Geographic, April 2003 issue.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1983||discovered by caver Cheryl Jones and hydrogeologist Don Davison.|
|APR-2003||published in the National Geographic Magazine.|
|2008||students of the University of Innsbruck, Austria, develop a management plan for the cave.|
|2008||Ministry of Tourism issues the plan to develop the cave as a show cave.|
Majlis Al-Jin, the meeting place of the Jinns, is a single huge chamber which is listed on the top ten list of the biggest cave chambers on Earth. However, this list changes frequently, so have a look yourself on the official list of the Geology and Geography Section of the National Speleological Society (The Largest Underground Chambers by Surface Area)
The cave has three natural entrances, potholes leading directly down into the huge chamber, ending in the ceiling. First Drop is the biggest entrance and up to 20m wide. It is also the one commonly used to enter the cave. The Asterisk is the second entrance and a little smaller, probably up to 15m wide. The third entrance, Cheryl's Drop, is much smaller. All three are clearly visible on Google Earth satellite images, and that is actually how Don Davison discovered the cave after he detected swallow holes and black spots on a satellite image.
At the first glimpse the potholes do not reveal the existance of the huge chamber below, it opens like a bell after some 40m. The First Drop has a total vertical drop of 158 meters from the surface to the floor of the chamber. The huge chamber is 120 meters high at the center, and 310m long and 225m wide at the floor, which equals a floor area of 58,000m². Below the entrance holes goat and other bird bones were found, obviously from animals which have fallen in. The cave consists only of this single chamber, there are no notable side passages.
The entrances were discovered in 1983 by the couple Cheryl Jones and W. Don Davison, Jr.. Don Davison was a hydrogeologist studying water resources for the government of the Sultanate at this time. The couple explored the cave and made the first survey. The discovery was described in a government report and later published in Aramco World magazine.
In 2002 the cave was visited by American cavers, and this visit was featured by the National Geographic Magazine in the April 2003 issue. This is the first time the cave became known to a wider public. The pictures show the natural entrance in the ceiling allowing a beam of sunlight to enter the cave. The rest of the cavern is filled with ambient light during daylight hours.
A visit to this cave is difficult and demanding, even for cavers. There is the long abseil, and even for fit cavers the 160m single rope ascend is difficult and strenuous. But the National Geographic article sparked interest in the cave. There have been no known fatalities nor serious injuries so far, possibly because until recently there was no road there and cavers had to be serious enough about their sport to hike their equipment in or rent donkeys from a village 1.5 hour's walk from the cave entrance. Now there is a rough single lane road going up from near Tiwi on the coast to the Selma Plateau and the vicinity of the cave. And lately base jumping into the cave became popular, for example as part of corporate promotions. This seems to have increased the number of visitors dramatically, and as a result the possibility of accidents.
In 2008 the Ministry of Tourism issued the plan to develop the cave as a show cave. However, the press releases gave no clues how they plan to solve the technical problems. To access the floor either a steep tunnel or an elevator shaft is necessary. A train to the cavern instead of a road could make the cave development kind of environmentally friendly. Subsequently the cave was closed, newspapers guessed because of the increasing numbers of base jumpers. Probably it was just a security measure for the on-going development. As we understand the developers are not against base jumping as they plan to reserve one of the entrances for base jumping. If the tour would include a live base jump as a show bit, this would be unique! At the moment students of an Austrian university design an management plan, which may be used by the Omani government for their further development decisions.