The UAE’s cities may not be ideal for walking but, for those who really want to stretch their legs, there are some great hiking options just a short drive from town.
To the north, for example, the Ru’us Al Jibal Mountains (the northernmost section of the Hajars) contain the highest peaks in the UAE, standing proud at over 2,000 metres. To the east, the impressive central section of the Hajars forms the border between the UAE and Oman, stretching from the Musandam peninsula to the Empty Quarter Desert, hundreds of kilometres to the south.
Most of the terrain is heavily eroded, due to the harsh climate, but there are still places where you can walk through shady palm plantations and lush oases. Routes range from short, easy walks to spectacular viewpoints, to all-day treks over difficult terrain, and can include some fairly major mountaineering. Some hikes follow centuries-old Bedouin and Shihuh mountain paths, a few of which are still being used.
Oman, the best kept secret of the Gulf region, has striking scenery and it's rugged mountainous areas have been left relatively untouched by travellers but there are several excellent hiking routes there for you to enjoy.
An easy introduction to Gulf hiking is the foothills of the Hajar Mountains just off the Hatta Road, near the Oman border. After the flat desert, rugged outcrops transform the landscape completely. Explore any turning you like, or take the road to Mahdah, along which you’ll find several options.
Other great areas for hiking and exploring include Al Ain and Buraimi, Wadi Bih, the mountains near the East Coast and much of northern Oman. The mountains in the region don’t generally disappoint and the further off the beaten track you get, the more likely you are to find interesting villages where residents live much the same way as they did centuries ago.
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