In addition to its shiny cities, the United Arab Emirates has a wealth of outdoor activities. Head to the desert – particularly the corner of the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) dune fields that brushes up against Liwa Oasis – for 4WD safaris and the Hajar Mountains for hiking and mountain biking.
Road Tripping through the United Arab Emirates
Driving in the UAE means a fair amount on multi-lane highways rimmed by monotonous grey plains – but some routes offer a lot better scenery. All the routes below are along main arteries that can be driven in a normal 2WD.
Abu Dhabi to Hameem (mostly Hwy E65) When heading to Liwa Oasis, take the road to Hameem instead of the main route via Madinat Zayed; the turnoff is about 20km out of Abu Dhabi on the Mussafah–Tarif road. Once in the oasis, rolling dunes backdrop the date palms.
Liwa Oasis to Moreeb Dune (Tal Moreeb) From the old Liwa Resthouse to Moreeb Dune, both sides of the road are edged by the Empty Quarter's enormous rippling waves of dunes.
Sharjah to Hatta (Hwy E102) Count the camels, if you can! After you pass Maleha, the flat, beige plains fade away, replaced by orange dunes speckled with camels and then the craggy rust-coloured peaks of the Hajar Mountains.
Dubai to Al Ain (Hwy E66) Be amazed by the big tangerine dunes on the approach to Al Ain around Shabat. To truly appreciate them you’ll have to pull over to get a look through the roadside greenery.
Sharjah to Dibba (Hwy E88 then Hwy E89) If heading to the East Coast, turn off Hwy E88 at Masafi and continue north on the E89 to drive through the jagged Hajar Mountains.