Step outside and enjoy the great outdoors in Dubai
Time Out Dubai staff
Make the most of the cooler months and discover your natural surroundings around the country.
Camping There are no shortage of great camping spots in the UAE and neighbouring Oman. No matter if you just have one night or a couple of days, there are plenty of good options. Close to Dubai, check out the Hajar foothills. Heading north on the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, take the Al Dhaid Road (E88) towards Masafi. To the west of Masafi you’ll find a maze of wadis and tracks to explore.
For beach camping, a good option is Umm Al Quwain, which can be reached by travelling north on the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road towards Ajman, turning off when you see the signs for Dreamland Waterpark and heading for Al Rafaah.
Desert camping can be enjoyed in Ras Al Khaimah; go north on the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road before taking the J119. You can pitch your tent either in the sand dunes or near the farms (but not too close – you don’t want to disturb the locals).
Across the border in Oman, Jebel Shams is perfect for mountain camping. At around 2,999m, Jebel Shams is the highest mountain in Oman and can be reached by taking the E66 into the centre of Al Ain before switching to Highway 21 and passing through Ibri and Bahla in Oman. At 2,000m is a base camp known as Jebel Shams Heights where you either use your own camping gear or rent basic huts with bathroom facilities at very reasonable rates.
There are also no shortage of places to pick up camping gear in Dubai. Adventure HQ is a dedicated store for all things outdoor, while Dragon Mart offers an extensive range of affordable kit.
Climbing The climbing scene in the UAE has grown significantly over the last few years, especially when it comes to indoor venues. Adventure HQ at Times Square Centre has a decent climbing wall, with lessons offered in conjunction with Arabia Outdoors, a company that offers numerous climbing experiences.
As for outdoor climbing, the UAE and neighbouring Oman have plenty to offer, from 1,000m routes on Jebel Misht to 15m sports routes at dozens of locations. Travelling into Musandam via Dibba offers the chance to try Deep Water Soloing (a form of rock climbing practised on sea cliffs at high tide), while Khab Al Shamis gives great access to sport climbing, bouldering, hiking and camping.
Hiking For those with the relevant skills, fitness and willingness to endure the relentless heat, the wadis, mountains and desert offer endless adventures. Travel a little further into the wilderness, especially in northern Ras Al Khaimah and Oman, and you can find tribes living today as they did 100 years ago, moving between villages on ancient trails. But you don’t need to get too far off the beaten track or paved road to find exciting hiking routes for all abilities.
A popular hike is Wadi Taybah, which used to form the main route between Dibba and Masafi, also known as the East Coast Road. Remains of the old tarmac remain in places, but the wadi is quite rough. On this hike, you can see natural pools and traditional falaj irrigation systems. You’ll also come across the village of Taybah and the Taybah Museum, which offers a glimpse into the old way of life.
A tougher hike can be found in the Ras Al Khaimah foothills, with a trail that leads into and over the Hajar Mountains foothills, through small villages and goat farms, with plenty of stunning views along the way.
For experienced and fit hikers, Jebel Hafeet boasts serious mountain terrain and some of the UAE’s most stunning scenery.
Hiking in the summer is not advisable due to the extreme temperatures. A first aid kit is essential and all group members should have at least a basic knowledge of first aid. It’s also important to take rehydration drinks (not just water) and a little high-energy food. Sun protection is mandatory; this includes clothing, headwear, sunglasses and creams. For more information on hiking, contact Arabia Outdoors, www.arabiaoutdoors.com (055 955 6209).