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Ibra

Distance from Muscat - 150 km
Average drive time- 1 1/2 hours
How to get there - By buses / coaches belonging to the Oman National tourist Corporation (ONTC). Cars can be hired from Car rental agencies.

The Gateway to the Eastern region of Oman, Ibra, in the past, was famous for its fine horses and horsemen. A unique feature of Ibra is the "Wednesday Souq" run entirely by women. On the far side of Ibra lies Al Mansfah village, a community of mansions once owned by prosperous merchants of the 19th century during the reign of Said the Great. With the decline of Said's commercial empire these once stately mansions fell into ruin.

Ibra is the second largest city in the Ash Sharqiyah Region of Oman. It is located about 170 km (2 hours) from Muscat and has a population estimated at 55,000 people. Ibra is one of the oldest cities in Oman and was once a centre of trade, religion, education and art. The city acquired its importance as an important meeting point at the base of the Ash Sharqiya. Ibra is home of the huge Al-Harthy tribe, one of the biggest and most powerful tribes in Oman. The Al-Maskary tribe and the Al-Riyamy tribe are also both very prevalent in Ibra.

Etymology

Historian do not agree on the origins of the name of the city. Some suggest it is derived from the Arabic verb (Arabic: ابراء للذنب‎‎) which means a purification of guilt.

History

Ibra predates the Prophet Muhammed's calling. The city contains many castles and old mosques. Ibra has become a more modern city since 1970 under the reign of Sultan Qaboos. Improvements include connections to Muscat via a two-lane highway, which has increased tourism. Communications have been improved to include broadband access, and there is now a substantial hospital. Ibra provides three choices of higher education: Ibra College of Technology, Ibra Nursing Institute, and beginning in the fall of 2010, A’Sharqiyah University. There are now two hotels in Ibra, and tourism is promoted in the area.

Geography and climate

Mountains surround Ibra on every side, and there is some outstanding mountain scenery close by. From November to March, the climate is relatively cool, with temperatures dropping as low as 10 C in December. In the summer, the climate is hot and dry, with temperatures reaching 50 C in July. Precipitation is very low and occurs mostly in the winter, when masses of low pressure air cause rain to fall.


Ibra College of Technology

Ibra College of Technology (ICT) is one of the seven Colleges of Technology under the Ministry of Manpower (MoMP). The college is fully funded by the government to cater to the higher educational needs of Omani nationals as full-time students. It has been established to provide technological education for post secondary students leading to Certificate, Diploma and Higher Diploma in the fields of Business, Information Technology, and Engineering. To date, ICT plays a leading role in the educational, cultural and social development of the region.

Attractions

The main tourist attractions in the city are its many beautiful watchtowers, the traditional Souq, and Falaj AlAfrit. The design of the souq compliments the fort in every way. The Bait al Kabir was built in 1650 during the Ya'riba Dynasty. It once stood as a centre of Government in Ibra.

Ibra Souq

The city, famous for its handicrafts and agricultural products, has an expansive souq showcasing an array of products. It is one of the most important in the country besides Muttrah. The souq bustles with vendors selling everything from meat, fish, fruits and vegetables to spices, dates, gold and silverware. Ibra is renowned for its silver jewelry which is considered to be the best in the country. Halwa (a traditional Omani dessert) is also sold in the souq. Halwa is a sticky dessert made from sugar and spices and flavoured with sesame seeds or almonds. Ibra souq is the only souq in the country to have a whole day just for women.

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