Ibri and Bat, Oman

Ibri is located 300 km north of Muscat in Al Dhahirah region, nestled between the towering Hajar Mountains and the vast sands of Al Rub Al Khali (The Empty Quarter) desert, and was historically a caravan town due to its location between major population centers of Oman and the UAE. Today, trade fuels the captivating Ibri Souq, where daily auctions of livestock take place alongside stalls selling goods woven from the fronds of local date palms. Nearby, Ibri Castle provides yet another unique example of Omani architecture. This castle may have been built at the end of the 17th century and offers a fantastic range of rooms to explore, a large courtyard, and an old mosque.

East of Ibri lies Bat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of great archaeological significance. Here, the wonderfully preserved remnants of an ancient settlement provide a window into human life 5000 years ago. The ancient tombs of Bat, known as "beehive tombs" on account of their shape, rise defiantly from the tops of the surrounding hills, as in a bid for immortality. Not much is known about the tombs except that they were constructed between 2000 to 3000 BC, during the Hafit and the Umm An Nar cultures.

Further extensions of the site of Bat are represented by the monumental tower at nearby Al-Khutm and by the necropolis at Al-Ayn, 30 km away. Together, monumental towers, stone-walled tombs, fortifications, spring-fed irrigation systems for agriculture, and necropolises embedded in a fossilized Bronze Age landscape, form a unique example of cultural relics in an exceptional state of preservation, thus described by UNESCO as "the most complete collection of settlements and necropolises from the 3rd millennium BC in the World".