The long swathe of fertile coastline between Barka and Sohar shows the Batinah at its most untouched, with interminable date plantations meandering along the coast, interspersed with sleepy villages, the occasional fort and endless swathes of beach littered with boats – if you’re lucky you may spot examples of the traditional shasha, an antique style of reed-boat made from bundles of dried palm fronds, which was once common throughout the Gulf. It’s around 150km from Barka to Sohar, a ninety-minute drive along the busy coastal highway (which doesn’t actually run within sight of the sea), although it’s much more enjoyable to get off onto the small roads which run alongside the coast here and there.

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