Looking for weird…
Much of the UAE is a familiar bubble. The scenery depicts rolling courses of towering skyscrapers, bright city lights and a pure cosmopolitan pulse that we can all feel.
It’s not every day you come across an abandoned town flooded with sand or a fossil formation dating back thousands of years. That’s why they’re different — different. But believe it or not, if you venture out of your comfort zone and venture out, you can discover these unusual places in the UAE. To kick off your curious exploration, we’ve rounded up some very unorthodox attractions across the country.
Here are 7 unusual sights in the UAE
Alvasba Fossil Dunes Reserve
For you, it’s a piece of natural history, and it’s spectacular. The Al Wathba Fossil Dunes Reserve, located 45 kilometers outside Abu Dhabi city, is home to more than 1,700 fossil dunes, which according to experts are dystopian stone structures created by wind and sediment deposition over four million years Forming. The structures are spread over an area of 7 kilometers, which, although small, means that the sanctuary has the highest concentration of such structures in the emirate. The sanctuary itself is visitor-friendly, with walking paths, benches, shade, light and sound shows, and an amphitheatre.
Al Wathba Fossil Dunes Reserve, Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, 8am-8pm daily, Tel: (0) 55 110 2124, ead.gov.ae
Al Madame Desert Village
This is perhaps even more curious than the story of Al Jazirah Al Hamrah (which we will dissect in more detail later). Al Madam desert village is just two rows of empty dilapidated buildings, an hour’s drive from Dubai. These are houses and a mosque that appear to have been hastily abandoned, with doors ajar and personal belongings strewn about. There’s no reason to speculate that spooky activity has driven off the residents, and the town’s eerie atmosphere only adds to the story. It is no exaggeration to say that the town is being replaced by the sands of time, as the desert dunes have now partially submerged the buildings. It’s not a tourist attraction yet, and it’s open to almost anyone to explore by car, but beyond the desert is an interesting sight. Some theorize that raging dust storms and poor construction may have caused residents to leave, but we’ll never know for sure.
Airplane wreckage in the Al Awir desert
The Al Awir Desert is not far from Dubai, and this plane wreck is one of the most interesting things to be found there. The origin of the mysterious site is elusive, and the site itself is a collection of debris and aircraft parts. Nobody knows for sure if the plane actually crashed there, it appears to be an old plane with old propellers and all. Sources say fuel has been moved to the site and debris has indeed been removed, but no specifics.
Located in the village of Al Bidya on the outskirts of Fujairah, this mosque is full of cultural significance. Considered to be one of the oldest mosques in the country, it is believed to have been built between the mid-15th and mid-17th centuries, making it around 600 years old. Nonetheless, despite being a tourist attraction, even today it remains an intact, standing structure and hosts daily prayers. The building itself was small, with few fenestrations in the walls, and was of a basic design, using materials that were available at the time. The mosque has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Al Bidya Mosque, Al Bidya, Fujairah
No list of quirky places would be complete without this place. The Qasr Al Qad Palace in Ras Al Khaimah has many legends and legends, most of which are related to the supernatural. The story goes that their brand new luxury residence reportedly cost Dh500 million to build, but one night, residents abandoned it, claiming to have witnessed horrific sightings and paranormal phenomena. It was built for the late Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Qasimi and is now commonly known as Al Qasimi Palace. In 2019, Al Qasimi Palace is open to the public After being vacant for over 35 years. The fee is AED 50.
Al Qasr Al Gamedh, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Road, Al Dhait North, Ras Al Khaimah, 9am-7pm daily, tickets from AED 50 per person, Tel: (o) 52 828 2222, Visit rasalkhaimah.com
Hatta’s Hive Tomb
Jebel Hafeet’s hive tombs date back to the Bronze Age, and there are hundreds of them at the foot of the second highest mountain in the UAE. Reflecting 5,000 years of history in the Al Ain region, they are built of stone and house the dead of that time. Made of rough, uncut rock, the tombs are dome-shaped, hence the name “beehives.” It is believed that there are between two and five graves each. Artifacts were also found in the tombs, including Mesopotamian pottery, beads, spears, daggers and vessels.
Beehive Tomb, Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain
Another contender for the UAE’s “Most Haunted Place” is Al Jazirah Al Hamrah, an abandoned village in the south of Ras Al Khaimah. There are many legends about the old town, which today is filled with old dilapidated buildings – shops, a school and a mosque – as well as homes that once housed some 2,500 people. For a long time, it was believed that the town’s residents left after experiencing some supernatural phenomenon, and the village is still haunted to this day. In fact, it was abandoned due to tribal disputes and the pursuit of a better life in Abu Dhabi, but the empty town still feels eerie. It has historical and cultural significance and is the only remaining pearl village in the entire Gulf since the advent of the oil boom. So while it’s not as exciting as a creepy website, it’s an interesting piece of history.
Hamra Jazira, Ras Al Khaimah
Image: Social and Getty Images