Over 170kms by road north of Salalah is Shisr, an unremarkable settlement on the edge of the Empty Quarter Rub’ Al Khali in southern Oman. It, however, gained fame as the site of Ubar Oman – (the Oman Government prefers the term Wabar which appears to be the name used locally).

Ubar Tower
Ubar Tower

The archaeological re-discovery achieved a front page position in the New York Times on the 5th February 1992, alongside news from Iraq. This re-discovery  was as a result of a search for it by Ranulph Fiennes and Nicholas Clapp and they settled on Shisr as being the location of Ubar.  This was a city described in the Quran  as Iram, a “many-columned city whose like has not been built in the entire land”.’ Bordered by Wadi Ghadun and the vast sand desert of the Rub’ Al Khali, Shisr was a key water source in a region renowned for its aridity.

Ubar Oman Sinkhole
Ubar Sinkhole

The two dominant features at the site is a collapsed cave, into which a substantial part of the fortress fell and a more modern whitewashed fort built in 1955 AD using stone from the older fort.

Ubar Oman 20th c Fort
Ubar 20th c Fort

Shisr is such a long way from Salalah that few people visit, but a stop can add interest to the journey if you are going farther into the main sands of the Empty Quarter.

The Land of Frankincense
The Land of Frankincense

You will get a more complete overview of the UNESCO sites in Dhofar with my book The Land of Frankincense which is available as an eBook here, and paperback through Amazon worldwide.

For a broader perspective of Dhofar and the rest of Oman use my 4th edition of the Bradt Guide to Oman available in eBook here and paperback through Amazon worldwide here.

Oman Guide Book by Tony Walsh
Bradt Guide to Oman

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman