With the vast areas of virtually untouched wilderness in the UAE, wadi and dune bashing are very popular pastimes. Every other vehicle on the road in Dubai seems to be a four-wheel drive, but unlike in many countries, in the UAE there's ample opportunity to truly put them to the test in an off-road environment. Dune bashing, or desert driving, is one of the toughest challenges for both car and driver, but once you have mastered it, it's also the most fun. Driving in the wadis is a bit more straightforward. Wadis are (usually) dry gullies, carved through the rock by rushing floodwaters, following the course of seasonal rivers.

The UAE's top off-roading spots are categorised by area on the menu on the left. For full itineraries, including extensive maps with GPS coordinates and tips on driving off-road, pick up your copy of UAE Off-Road Explorer or Oman Off-Road Explorer from the e-shop or from bookstores across the UAE.

September 2012 Update: It has been reported that off-roaders/campers/hikers are no longer able to easily cross into Oman from Dibba due to authorities enforcing stricter border rules. According to local news reports, Sharjah officials at the Dibba crossing - an unofficial border station - have been demanding UAE residents offer proof of a hotel stay or a booking with a dhow operator in order to go into Oman.

Several tourism operators and sports' clubs have revealed that residents are now required to send a copy of their passport and their residency visa to the hotel where they will stay 48 hours in advance. As a result, it is advisable you plan ahead when deciding to enter Oman for a weekend away.

June 2013 Update: Female UAE residents from outside the GCC can no longer travel to Dibba without the permission of a male relative or their employer.

The emirate of Sharjah – which is home to the Dibba border crossing with Oman – introduced the new requirement in late May, meaning that non-GCC females living in the UAE would require a no objection letter (NOL) from their sponsor, typically their place of work or husband. For more information, read Restrictions for females to Dibba.


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