A lot of us are a bit short on cash these days, but fuel’s still cheap, so why not try a road trip?
There’s so much fancy stuff to do in Dubai, it’s easy to forget about the simple things, so fill the car up with petrol, grab a map, and have yourself a road trip…
Ain Al Madhab Gardens:
Head for Fujairah and look out for signs for the National Park and you’re well on your way to a pretty dandy little day trip. You can even stay over, if you’re feeling flash with chalets in the area coming in at Dhs200 a night. If not, just spend the day mooching around, take a dip in the pool, or stop for a picnic. Ain al Madhab Gardens, which is sometimes referred to as the National Park, is a mineral spa on the western edge of the town. The area is made up of a big park with a playground and a heritage village around the ruins of an old fort where traditional costumes, pottery and other pretty bits and bobs are on display for the public. Call the Breeze Motel on 09 277 8877 for details on prices and availability.
Umm al-Qaiwain museum & majlis: Drive beyond Sharjah, on the way to Ras Al Khaimah, and you’ll stumble across this teeny emirate. If you like a fort, who doesn’t? This is the place for you. The town boasts no less than seven of them, one of which, its main gate flanked by defensive cannons, has been renovated. There is also a pretty stretch of coastline, with long clean beaches to up by for a leg stretch, as well as a museum, if mind-expansion is on the cards. Once UAQ police headquarters, the Umm al-Qaiwain Fort and Museum has kitchens and storerooms downstairs and majlis and bathrooms upstairs. The majlis room is very attractive with carved wooden balconies and high ceilings – ideal for a bit of DIY inspiration.Umm al-Qaiwain Fort and Museum (06 7650888)
Abu Dhabi mangroves: If city-life is more your bag, hop in the car and make the short drive to Abu Dhabi. The giant newly-built mosque on the way into the city is mind-blowing, while the corniche makes for a pretty spot to stop. Or head out for a spot of kayaking in the mangroves if you’re feeling outdoorsy. For more information on what to do, get in touch with The Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation on 02 6215300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ajman harbour: The best thing about Ajman is its natural harbour and coastline, so follow the signs from Dubai and head to the sea to start your day in style. Pack a picnic or stop at one of the pretty cafes lining the shore. After a morning at the beach, head to the Dhow Yard on the north side of the Creek. This might not sound like much of a treat, but it’s one of the most active in the UAE building-wise and it’s well worth a look. If you have time, follow this with a trip to Ajman museum. It was opened in 1981 in a lovely old eighteenth century fort which served as the Ruler’s palace and office until 1970, when it became the main police station. Located in the town centre, the museum houses an interesting collection of archaeological artefacts, manuscripts, old weapons and reconstructions of traditional life. Ajman Museum (06 7423824)
Sharjah Arts area
Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Dubai is Sharjah so if you’ve only half a day to spare, this is a good shout for a mini roadtrip. Just off the Corniche and on the north side of Burj Avenue (Bank Road), is Sharjah Arts Area. The arts area comprises five architecturally acclaimed heritage buildings and a mosque dating back to the end of the eighteenth century. Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah Art Centre, Sharjah Art Galleries, Emirates Fine Arts Society and the Very Special Art Centre. The Sharjah Art Centre is housed in the beautifully renovated three-storey Bait Al Sarkal that used to be the house of the British Commissioner for the coast of Oman and was later turned into the missionary hospital, where many prominent Sharjah residents were born. There are even classes available if you fancy getting involved. On the opposite side of the square is the Sharjah Art Museum (06 5688222), which was opened in 1997 and is the largest art museum in the Gulf. It has a total of 32 exhibition halls, of which eight are dedicated to the private collection of the Ruler who has donated them to the museum.
Fujairah Fort: You haven’t been to Fujairah? Well, you haven’t lived. What are you waiting for? There’s a rugged coastline ripe to explore, with snorkelling opportunities a plenty, not to mention a host of inland fun. Start, with Fujairah Fort. This reputedly 360-year-old fort lies on a hill at the edge of the date gardens, surrounded by the remains of the old town houses. The fort was severely damaged in the early twentieth century by a British bombardment but has been recently restored. Next, try Fujairah Heritage Village. Near Fujairah Fort, this heritage village has a good selection of traditional houses (‘arish) and fishing boats (shasha) made from palm fronds, providing an interesting backdrop to its living reconstruction of traditional life on the East Coast. And finally, try Fujairah Museum (09 2229085). Situated just south of the fort and opposite the Ruler’s Palace, Fujairah Museum is a small modern building where many of the artifacts found in archaeological digs at Qidfa, Bithnah and other places are on display.
Al Ain: Take a trip to the greenest emirate of the all, known as the Oasis city, Al Ain. Pootle down Al Ain round, and stop for a shop at Dubai Outlet Mall en route if you’re feeling game, before exploring one of our prettiest neighbouring emirates. Park up in the town centre and take a walk about, before heading to Al Ain museum for a picnic in the grounds and a nosey around. Located in Sultan bin Zayed St, this museum has an extensive archaeological and ethnographical collection, including some spectacular second millennium gold pendants and an important coin collection. Great for kids, especially. Al Ain Museum (03 7641595 www.aam.gov.ae).
Wadi Wurayyah Waterfall
This Hatta gem is well worth an explore and can be covered in half a day if you plan properly. It’s better done in a 4 x 4 but this is one of the area’s roadtrips that can be done in a normal car. Located deep within the Hajar Mountains, near the East Coast, the scenic route is fairly straightforward and the cool waterfall and pools at the end of the drive will reward your efforts so take a picnic and explore. If you can go midweek, you’ll have a quieter day, but it’s just as fun on weekends. For more details on this route and others in the area log onto www.offroaduae.com.
If you’re keen on a proper weekend break, try the six-hour drive to Muscat in Oman. You get another stamp on your passport and you can visit the beautiful souk at Mutrah, take a drive along the coast, and generally get away from it all for a couple of days. Pick up a copy of Time Out’s guide to Oman or log onto www.destinationoman.com for more ideas on what to do and where to stay. There’s a great range of accommodation from budget to luxury to suit all tastes.
One of the UAE’s prettiest towns, and a very pleasant day trip away from Dubai in two-hours or so. A trip to Dibba has to include Oman’s amazing Musandam. While your there, try a cruise, or some snorkelling or diving, for the perfect roadtrip, with a bit of boat thrown in. Click Here