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Lost City

Duration: Half Day

lost city

A holiday in the fascinating desert country of Oman will reward you with ancient history, legends and culture, and a host of Middle Eastern treasures to discover.

This exciting day tour will take you to the ancient Lost City of Ubar, also known as Iram or Erum, in southern Oman's Dhofar province. Believed to have been one of the most important Frankincense trading centres along the Frankincense Trail, and possibly the earliest known shipping centre for frankincense, the city flourished for over 5,000 years. In ancient times, Frankincense was more valuable than gold, so the Frankincense Trail was considered to be the most important commercial route in southern Arabia. Camels and caravans once travelled through the Rub Al Khali Desert on this ancient trade route in search of the precious fragrant resin, found in the indigenous Boswellia sacra trees (Frankincense Trees), which was then harvested and traded in Europe. There are many species of Boswellia trees, but Boswellia sacra produces the best quality resin. Despite being grown and harvested in several regions throughout Arabia, Omani frankincense is believed to be the best in the world. The Frankincense Trail turned Oman into an extremely wealthy region. Merchants would come from far and wide to buy this sought-after incense, which was also used in perfumes and aromatic oils. The trail was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Named as Atlantis of the Sands by T.E Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia"), the Lost City of Ubar (Iram) was mentioned in ancient records, believed to have been only a mythical tale of a wealthy city buried into the sands by Allah because of the corruption of its people. However, discoveries in the early 1990s brought Iram out of this mythical realm and into history when the remains of the city were actually discovered under the desert sands near Shisr by archeologists using satellite technology. Excavations have revealed the thick, octagon-shaped stone walls of a large fortress, including eight mud-brick towers, which once protected the caravan routes. Items such as pottery, frankincense burners and artefacts dating back thousands of years were also found. Ubar is believed to have been populated from about 2800 B.C. to about 100 A.D. Evidence indicates that this “lost” city fell into a sinkhole, which was formed when an underground limestone cavern collapsed. Debate continues as to whether Ubar is actually a city or a region, as Arab historians suggest. Nevertheless, this important desert settlement is a fascinating discovery.

Before you return to you hotel, enjoy the exhilarating experience of dune driving in the Rub Al Khali, which translates to “The Empty Quarter” in English. One of the largest deserts in the world, the Rub-Al Khali envelops most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula, fanning from Saudi Arabia into western Oman, the United Arab Emirates and eastern Yemen.

Let your imagination come alive on this exciting Middle Eastern adventure, which will transport you back in time to mysterious ancient lands, frankincense trails and sweeping deserts.

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