Lying on plains between the mountains, Masfoot has beautiful views and lots of fresh, clean air!
Head towards Masfoot Fort and most of the places mentioned here are on that side of town. (That’s the Hatta side so it’s an easy stopover if you’re going to or from there). The fort itself stands atop a hill and although it’s not currently open to go inside, it’s worth going for the great view over the valley. On the hill opposite is a watchtower.
The town is an enclave of Ajman and a farming area. There are plans to turn it into a tourist resort but for now, it’s lovely and quiet. During the winter, visit the lake at Masfoot Dam.
Masfoot Walk is a paved walkway from the dam through the lower part of the town and ends near the fort. A waterway has been created which is partly lake and partly stream. There are lots of benches along the walkway to enjoy the view. One area is sheltered. The upper part of the Walk is lit with street lamps whilst the lower half is lit with lamp garlands.
Halfway down the Walk (and road to the Fort), you’ll see a watchtower on a mound and a cafe called Prestige. Its a great place to sit and relax, take in the view, listen to the sounds of the birds and enjoy a fresh juice. They also have lots of desserts and fresh drinks and some savoury options too like ‘Salt Crepe” which is very tasty and burgers. They are also very reasonably priced.
Much harder to find is the Bin Sultan Mosque, built in 1815. It is in the farming area at the foot of the mountains on the opposite side of the fort. It was built using gypsum, clay and palm fronds as so many buildings were. It has been restored and is still in use today.
Both Al Warqa Park (Monday and Wednesday for ladies only) and Al Muzeera Ladies Park are well kept and have play areas and facilities.
If you have a interest in rock formations like me, you can see many interesting ones. Drive along the main road in the direction of the Oman border and Madam for some limestone formations which are completely different to the main Hajar mountains behind. The last photo shows the contrast between the two. Other rocks like the ones in the middle below are dotted around. The first one is at the entrance to Masfoot from the main road from Hatta side.
If you want to sit somewhere remote for a picnic, there are wide open plains at the foot of the mountains near the Oman border (not the border crossing, further south.)
To get to Masfoot, GCC nationals can take the road from Al Madam to Masfoot, but other passport holders need to take the Maleha/Kalba Rd. It is signposted from there.
If you’re looking for a place that offers tranquility rather than organised activities, this is the place for you.
The number of places to walk and exercise outdoors is increasing all the time. There are many with great views too. This is not a complete list but there’s plenty choice to get you started. Other places and photos will most likely be added at later points.
Wasit Wetlands – Round the lake with hides along the way. Requires signing of a disclaimer in the visitor centre and a visit first thing. (No guarantees, depends on weather conditions and how busy it is.) 6-7km Surface – firm sand, view – trees, bushes, lake, birds, gazelles. (Update – Outdoors currently closed)
Wasit – jogging track along the side of Wasit Wetlands – 1600m with public gym (outdoor exercise equipment) halfway. Surface – rubber with narrow parallel paved track, view trees, residential area.
Al Majaz Waterfront jogging track 400m, surface rubber with parallel paved track, view – park
Hamriyah Beach, long, beach sand or firm sand higher up. Barbecues, a few shades, no other facilities. View – beach/sea
Al Qarayen Walking/cycling tracks, rubberised walking track and paved cycling track, four public gym areas, behind Sharjah National Park, 2.2km, view – lanscaped verges, residential area.
Sharjah National Park, paved walkways, view – landscaped gardens, entrance 2dhs, facilities – toilets, mosques, shades, play area, kiosks. No cycling allowed on paths.
Heart of Sharjah – a gentle stroll through the old buildings of Sharjah which house museums and souqs, through quiet gardens and through to the Arts Area. Paved. On Sharjah Corniche.
Sharjah Corniche – paved walkway, view of the port, dhows and traditional buildings.
Buhairah Corniche – paved surface, goes right round the lake starting from near Crystal Plaza. Walk along the paved walkway or on the grass through palm groves to Noor Mosque, continue round through Majaz Waterfront along the waterside or through the gardens, continue further to the walkway left under the bridge to Al Qasba or continue straight around the lake to Al Khan Government Building Area or turn off before to Flag Island. If you take the Qasba, you can also continue on under the bridge turning left towards Mamzar or right towards Al Khan and up to Sharjah Aquarium. For walking probably want to choose a stretch but you could cycle the longer route. View – Buhairah Lagoon, palm gardens, landscaped gardens, Noor Island, Arabic architecture, beach, Flag Island.
Al Khan Beach
University City – walk on the paved sidewalks or cycle on the road through University City. View – Arabic architecture, landscaped gardens.
Noor Island for a gentle stroll through different habitats. Entrance Adults 35 , children 20, under 2 free. View – Foliage, design elements, Buhairah Lagoon,
Green Belt Ladies Park, paved walkway, entrance with membership card which can be obtained with EID. View – landscaped gardens. Facilities – toilets, play areas.
Various neighbourhood parks around Sharjah
Al Qurm Walk, jogging track 4.5km, surface: rubber, two narrow parallel paved tracks, firm sand either side and beach part of the way. Solar lighting currently being installed. View – creek, mangroves, variety of birds. See Al Zorah
Al Safiya Walk, Safiya Park – rubber jogging track with parallel paved cycling track, circles park, 1600m, small public gym at far end. View – creek, park. Connects to Qurm Walk above. Cycles available for rent and play area in park for small children. (See photos above.)
Al Zorah, paved walkway starting at Al Zorah Marina and continuing until around 100m before the roundabout on Ittihad rd (ca 6km?) View – mangroves, creek, birds, golf course, landscaped gardens.
Ajman Sports Park, rubber jogging track and parallel cycling track (bushes between) , 400m, large public gym, open 24hrs. Facilities – toilets, mosque, children’s play areas, five aside football, basketball and badminton grounds, cafes. View – park, landscaped gardens
Ajman Corniche paved, beach, cafes. View – sea.
Zorah Beach, Ajman – short walk, can walk round creek side also, beach sand and firm sand, fishing permitted with licence, no facilities. View – sea, creek. Bicycles can be hired at Quest for Adventure.
Al Tallah Camel Race Track – paved road circling the race track with a detour round the pavilion and sandy plain along the side. You can walk on the sandy part. There is also a paved road on the inside of the track. Obviously you can’t use the camel track itself as this is also used for daily training, but the options are outside road with occasional cars, inside road with cars during races only, sandy area on the other side of the road, or inside green, sandy area. If you zoom in, you can see all these. Avoid Thursday mornings as camel races are held every other Thursday (not sure about weekend mornings). View – camel race track, camels, sandy plains, residential area on one side.
Masfoot – jogging and cycling track from dam to near fort. View – mountains, forts, gardens, stream in latter winter. Walk around lake near the dam.
Umm al Quwain
Khor al Baida – Mangrove Forest – firm sand suitable for waking, running or cycling, probably not for scooters. No facilities. View – mangrove forests, salt flats, birds, sea, small beach, mangrove islands, (creek, port at southern end) The full length is around 6km so you could do up to 12 km end to end. (Update – this area has recently turned into a paid camping area near the beaches)
UAQ Beach – long stretch of beach and corniche (could possibly walk all the way to Sharjah Waterfront, Hamriyah on the beach but I’ve not tested that) View – sea. Public gym on Kite Beach. There is a cafe at Kite Beach Centre if you’re peckish after your walk and they have a variety of water sports.
UAQ Coast – between the mangrove forest and Ras al Khaimah, there are lots of areas to walk between the roads and the sea which are pretty green at the moment (March 2020). Looks like a great place if you have a dog. Some parts have low grassy sand dunes.
Wadi Shees – climb up I’m guessing around 100 steps but you can also start at the other end with fewer steps then a gentle incline) to and walk through Old Residential Village. View – trees, farms, mountains, old houses
Al Rabi Tower Hike, Khor Fakkan, hike from the tower to the highest mountain in the town of Khor Fakkan. Requires sensible shoes, water, etc.
Al Rufaisah– The Walk, a relatively gentle incline down to Wadi Shie. You can continue into Wadi Shie and Al Miqsar Village. View – mountains, foliage, old village and fort.
Dibba al Hisn, round the long Corniche of Hisn Island. View – sea, mountains, Dibba (Oman) bay.
Dibba al Hisn Canal – jogging track and parallel paved way along the canal, small public gym at either end of the Corniche. (Can continue along to Dibba al Hisn beach.) View – sea, mountains, canal, gardens.
Kalba Corniche Walk, along Kalba Lake, paved. View – lake, mangroves, mountains, gardens. (This is further south than Kalba beach)
Jebel Buhais, near Madam, is an archaeological site with findings several ages back to the Stone Age. Climb the hill and also visit the tombs, etc nearby. If you prefer, you can book a guided tour with Discover Mleiha.
Some parents have been asking for ideas for what to do with their children during the upcoming school break and so I have compiled a list and sorted it into categories and a lot of them are educational. Some are repeated as they fit in more than one category. Those that I have written blog posts about include a link. Please remember I don’t cover anywhere in Dubai or Abu Dhabi as they tend to get enough coverage already. Also as this is a general list, there are some busier places you may want to avoid at this current time.
(The prices and information were correct at my last visit. If you find them to be different, please let me know. )
Al Zorah is located on the coast on the old road to Umm al Quwain and Ras al Khaimah. The million square foot mangrove forest and nature reserve is home to many species of birds and temporary home to many more during the migratory season. If bird-watching is your thing, this is the place for you.
A 12km-long waterfront goes along one side of the mangrove forest whilst the sea lies on the other. The waterfront leads to Al Zorah Marina where you can dine, drink coffee, take a boat ride, enjoy water sports and your children can play in the play park, Funtastico.
On the opposite side of the road to Marina 1 is Quest for Adventure where you can take a kayak through the mangroves, go wake boarding, try your hand at stand up paddle boarding, get soaked on an inflatable ringo ride, pedal a pedalo, hire a bike, practise your archery skills or invite your friends for archery tag. (Photo credit: Quest for Adventure)
Zorah Beach is right at the end of the peninsula and looks out to a beautiful light blue sea in the daytime. Later it becomes darker as the sun gets lower before turning a lovely silvery blue as the sun starts to go down. It is a popular spot for caravans and for fishing in the daytime and campfires and barbecues in the evening.
There are also private areas further down the beach such as the new Bianky Beach Camp where you can stay overnight in their chalets, bungalows and tents or buy a day pass. They have a pool, bar, restaurant, sheltered seating areas along the beach, barbecue areas. More activities are planned soon.
Between Bianky Beach and the public beach is Caravana which rents out camper-vans each with a private beach! The caravans come in three different sizes and have a/c, TV, cooking facilities and shower. In the beach area they have garden seating, a swing, small volleyball net, small barbecue. You can also pitch tents on your beach and invite visitors over to your beach too. There is a small mini-mart but the marina is nearby if you want to eat or order out. Activities include horse riding and water sports.
For those who like more luxury, on the coastal side of the waterfront is the Oberoi Hotel. (Photo credit: Oberoi Hotels)
And on the other side is an 18-hole golf course. What a great place to play, along the mangroves spotting flamingos, herons, egrets and Arabian bee-eaters while you wait your turn.
Back on the main road, there are various dining options from Shakespeare’s and The Grove in the Zorah Pavilion to Spot food trucks and the relaxed Litchy Sushi Lounge with its palette seating and comfy cushions. All of these overlook the mangroves.
There are also two walks in Zorah. The first is a paved walkway and starts at the Marina, goes round by Quest for Adventure and alongside the mangroves towards the golf club and is several kilometres long going almost the full length from the marina to the roundabout on Ittihad road. The other is just under 5km, starts in Safiya Park car park and has a jogging track with paved sides for cycling. It takes a circular route with the lagoon on one side and the mangrove forest on the other. There is a shore along the lagoon where you can stop off for a rest and once you reach the thicker mangrove forest, look out for birds of prey circling around. (At the time of writing, solar lighting was being installed so it can be used at night too.) There are normally a lot of flamingos, cormorants, etc in this part of the lagoon. This winter there aren’t many flamingos and the cormorants have just moved further up the shore, but hopefully they will return once work has been completed on the path. There are still lots of herons, egrets, curlews and other birds around though.
If you choose to buy one of the new villas at Al Zorah, you could enjoy all of these things every day!
Ajman has recently been in several newspapers as a great new tourist destination and whether you’re flying in from overseas or planning a staycation, there’s certainly something for everyone at Al Zorah.
Ajman Museum is often overlooked but it is well worth a visit. The fort which is home to the museum was built in the 18th century and was the sheikh’s residence for most of that time and for some time the police station before taking on its current role.
The fort was built in the traditional courtyard style and so most of the exhibits are in individual rooms with different themes such as traditional medicine, weapons, farming, Ajman Police, Ajman’s first radio station, traditional games, documents and manuscripts and even pottery and funerary jewellery found at the archeological site in Moweihat which dates back to 3000 BC (see also the cemetery at the fort entrance). At the back of the fort is the souq depicting traders and artisans at work.
Be sure to go into the barjeel, the windtower, and feel the effect of the natural conditioning. You can also take time to relax sitting in the courtyard imagining what took place there many years ago or sit in the gardens in front of the fort. Look out for the parrots around the fort too.
Opening times: Sat-Thurs 8am-8pm, Fri 2:30pm-8pm
Entrance fee: 5dhs
(At the time of writing, the front entrance was closed. Go round the back, the entrance is next to Shk Humaid Hall, there is no sign.)
In 2017 The Ajman Murals Project was launched by Ajman Municipality and Planning Department. They can be found at various locations around Ajman, but all in close proximity.
By French artist Shuck2.
Location – above Choithram’s supermarket, Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid St.
By French Tunisian artist El Saeed.
This mural includes a quote of the Founding Father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan – “Our fathers and grandfathers have lived on this land and co-existed with its environment in land and sea, and realised, through nature and by delicate senses, the need to preserve and to take only as much as they needed, and to leave what future generations will find as a source of good and a fountain of giving.”
Location – junction of Ittihad St and Badr St
By Egyptian Dubai-born artist Ramy Elzaghawy.
Skip, one of the most famous horses of Ajman Stud.
Location – Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid St., near the junction with Al Zaher St
By Egyptian Dubai-born artist Diaa Allam.
This mural contains words form the poem Positive Energy written by the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Location – Mohammed Salem bu Khamis St.
By Sweden-based Julia Rio.
Location – Ajman Corniche.
By Emirati artist Fatima Al Ali.
Location – Ajman Municipality Building next to Lulu Hypermarket.
Ajman is the smallest of the seven emirates at just 260 km sq and has a population of nearly a quarter of a million. Imagine that in 1980, the population numbered only 36,000.
The town was first settled by the Nuaim tribe around 1775 and is still ruled by the al Nuaimi family. It became a British protectorate in 1820 until it attained independence and became part of the new federation of the UAE in 1971. The main part lies between Sharjah and Umm al Quwain, however, it also has two enclaves inland, al Manama and Masfoot.
Al Manama is in the central mountainous area of the north. It was gifted in the early 20th century to Ajman as dowry when a Sheikha from Ajman married the ruler of Fujairah, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad al Sharqi.
There are two forts, the Red Fort and the White Fort, in the main town of Manama which were royal residences. Further down the road in the village of Naseem, Hassa Castle, a watchtower built in 1976, stands upon a small hill.
The Red Fort, Manama
Manama played a major role in saving the people of Ajman after the sudden collapse of the pearling industry in 1928. It has rich agricultural land which was already farmed at the time but then Shaikh Rashid, the ruler at the time, supported the farmers enabling them to make full use of the land and provide both food for Ajmanis and an income for the shaikhdom. The main crops were papaya and citrus fruits such as qumqat and limes. The Rohida tree also provided an income with its bark being sold to make medicine, its leaves and fruits sold as fodder and the rest sold as timber. Moreover, the area was rich in naturally produced honey.
The Trucial Scouts had a base in Manama. It is still standing and is now a training camp for the UAE army. Many of the young men do the first three months of their national service there.
Although just a small town, it has its own police, civil defence, health centre, etc. It is growing steadily as apartment blocks are being built, and new businesses such as burger and pizza cafes, gyms are opening.
The village of Naseem is part of Manama but is on the other side of the road from the main town. Originally a handful of houses, there are lots of new houses there now. It is surrounded by plains.
The weather there is hotter than coastal towns in the summer, but dry and much colder in the winter.
The other enclave, Masfoot, is also in a mountainous and richly agricultural area not far from Hatta. It has a population of around 6000, 90% of whom are UAE nationals originally from Bedu tribes. The area includes two villages, Muzaira and Subaigha and originally belonged to the al Nuaim tribe of Buraimi, however, it was seized by the Nuaims of Ajman in 1948 and has belonged to them ever since.
The Ajman Government has plans to develop Masfoot as a tourist destination. Its location in the mountains makes it a great place for those who love walking and exploring the great outdoors. As in many inland locations, there are archaeological sites going back around 5000 years.
Two structures of interest there are Masfoot Fort, dating back to the 19th century and Masfoot Gate built in 1961.
Back in Ajman, Ajman Museum is found within an original 18th century fort and is well worth a visit. Take a look at some photos here. Look out for a separate blog coming up on Ajman Museum.