Known as the gateway to Oman’s Sharqiya region, the city of Ibra is one of Oman’s oldest cities, well known for its impressive horsemen and camel-racing celebrations. Ibra sits 87 miles (140 km) south of Muscat on the ancient caravan route through the Omani interior and is surrounded by hills dotted with watchtowers. Ibra is also famous for its wadis and old trading links with Zanzibar, which made the city rich. In Ibra’s old quarter, you can still see the grand houses of the wealthy merchants who built their mansions on East African riches, and in the remarkably green city, you’ll find banana trees and date palms.
With a population of about 55,000, Ibra is home to an especially lively souk. In a modern building in the heart of the town, you can buy everything from carpets to traditional daggers to the silver Ibra is known for. Female travelers should also make time to visit Ibra’s women-only souk on Wednesday mornings. The only one of its kind in Oman, the market’s female merchants sell powders, creams and lotions, as well as fruit and vegetables.
Ibra sits a 90-minute drive away from the Omani capital. The Muscat-Sur Highway passes through Ibra, as does the regular Muscat-Sur bus, which costs OMR 3.700 to Ibra from Muscat. The women’s-only souk is open from 7:30 to 11 a.m., and photography is not allowed.