Best known to Westerners through the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, Irem is a piece of Arabian folklore that Lovecraft borrowed. Irem (also spelled Iram, or Irām) is mentioned in the Koran, the Arabian Nights; and in Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat. These accounts describe Irem as a city of the tribe of Ad, destroyed ages before for its sins and lying buried somewhere in the desert sand.
Recent discoveries have brought Irem out of the realm of myth into history. The first came when tablets found in the archives of Ebla were found to mention Irem by name. A more recent discovery came when archaeologists examined photographs taken of the Arabian Gulf Coast from the space shuttle Challenger in 1984. These photos revealed a number of buried cities along the ancient frankincense trade route between 2800 BC and 100 BC. One, located on the eastern edge of Oman in the Dhofar Province, proved to be a city known as Ubar, which is usually identified with Irem.