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The principal town of inland Sharqiya, IBRA grew rich thanks to its location on the major trade route between Muscat, Sur and Zanzibar – evidence of the wealth accumulated by the town’s former notables can be seen in the magnificent old mudbrick mansions of Al Munisifeh. The town is also the home of the redoubtable Al Harthy tribe, whose repeated rebellions against the sultans of Muscat were such a feature of early twentieth-century Omani history.

Modern Ibra may have lost some of its strategic importance (especially since the opening of the new coastal highway, which has further isolated the town) but it still has a lively mercantile buzz, centred on the colourful souk, as well as some of Sharqiya’s finest traditional mudbrick architecture in the nearby villages of Al Munisifeh and Al Kanatar. It also makes a good base for explorations of the nearby Wahiba Sands, as well as a possible starting point for the magnificent off-road drive to the coast via the tombs of Jaylah.