4 of the region's best driving roads
E89 to Hajar Mountains
Location: Sharjah and Fujairah
Not only will the journey be enjoyable on this route, but you’ll cross over two emirates and see plenty of both village and rural life along the road to the Hajar Mountains. For example, as well as the rocky landscape, you’ll also pass by green oases and orange dunes to marvel at. And as you drive through Fujairah town, you sneak a peek into local life. The wildlife consists of camels and goats you’ll spot by the sandy dunes. Unlike some of the other amazing drives in the region that consist of bumpy roads of highs and lows, this path boasts a smooth, flat road for your tyres to glide along. But this route is particularly popular with divers and snorkelers, as there are plenty of awe-inducing places to stop off along the way, such as Snoopy Island. Dive into the Indian Ocean and you won’t be hard pressed to spot colourful schools of fish, turtles and even sharks. Which is not a bad way to stretch your legs during a road trip.
Khasab coast road
While four wheel models are welcome thanks to the road-widening project of recent years, this beloved track is mostly favoured by those who prefer a two wheel mode of transport. As the name might give away, you’ll be in for coastal views along the way. With the calm of the steady waters to one side and the drama of the rocky cliff to the other, you can soak up the polarising landscape as you snake along the curving road. Stay alert, as every twist and turn delivers a new dose of breathtaking scenery. Spot the stunning street (cliff?) art draped across the rocky mountains and look out for the villas perched upon them where the locals live while you’re on the move. Located in Oman and just an hour or so away from Ras Al Khaimah, there are plenty of picnicking opportunities, too.
Location: Ras Al Khaimah
Not one to give up until you reach the top? Then here awaits the weekend getaway drive for you. Located in the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, this unmissable route winds along the UAE’s tallest mountain at nearly 2,000 metres above sea level, so those seeking a vertical route won’t find a better incline to rev up than this. Being so high up, the temperature is slightly cooler than ground level, making for an ideal outdoor escape during the warmer months. And for a rocky mountain top, the newly built 30 kilometre road heading towards the peak makes for a smooth drive. But don’t forget to charge you phone fully before setting off, because not only is the view quite incredible but there are interesting plant and animal habitators aplenty to spot along the way, from mangroves and desert plants to reptiles and wildcats sprawled across the mountain. While we always recommend packing snacks – nobody likes a hangry car companion – what we like about this route is that once you reach the viewing deck up top, there are plenty of food kiosks to (digestively) refuel at before declining.
Location: Abu Dhabi
Although this mountain might be the biggest in the capital emirate, it’s the second biggest in the region at over 1,200 metres high. But that doesn’t mean that those who get their kicks from getting high up should give it a miss. In fact, it’s often branded as one of the best driving routes in the world (let alone just the UAE) hence why the Oman-bordering route deserves to be graced by your motor. And that’s probably because the winding roads make it feel more like a Wacky Races track than an upwards battle. If you want to make a weekend away of it, there’s even a hotel up the top where you can rest for the night – the Mercure Grand - ready to get into gear for round two. Animal-lovers, don’t forget to count all the goats you spot on the way, and Instagram kings, look out for the many parking spots where you can capture the scenery on camera. Or the wild goats, it’s up to you.
James Burnett, managing director of automotive event consultants Drive Dynamics, on how to prepare for a road trip
Prepare your car
Always make sure your vehicle is prepared for the trip. Check your fluids and tyre pressures, pack your spare wheel and ensure your tool kit is in good order. Think of any equipment you might need for your journey, such as a tyre inflator, pressure gauge, shovel and snatch rope – and a phone charger if you’re going off road. Don’t neglect the first aid kit, too. Pack sun block, antiseptic insect creams, fire extinguisher and warning triangle.
Update your GPS
Ensure you have up to date maps or GPS units to help you navigate. Look for landmarks that will help you. If you get lost, sometimes it is better to return the way you came rather than continue deeper into trouble. Consider breakdown assistance cover or at least have the numbers of recovery companies in the area before you head off, and be prepared to help other drivers you see who may be in trouble. Make sure you have enough water with you in the car; the summers are very hot and if you are broken down your A/C might not work. Stay hydrated!
Check the weather
In cooler months when we like to explore, the weather can change dramatically. In the mornings you can have very dense fog which can occur very quickly. Don’t venture into wadis if rain is forecast.
Bring a friend
It’s safer to not travel alone, if it’s a friend with another vehicle, even better as they may be able to help you if you have mechanical trouble or get stuck. It’s never a good idea to drive in the desert without at least one other car with you. Also tell friends your plans so if for any reason you do get stuck and cannot contact anyone, they will know to alert authorities if you don’t return
Bring a rubbish bag
And take it home with you! We are very lucky to have some beautiful places to visit within
a couple of hours drive. Please don’t spoil them for others, whatever you take with you, you must take home.
Drive Dynamics, an automotive event consultancy focused on the driving and training element of vehicle launches and consumer events. www.drivedynamics.com.