Madha Oman collage

Madha Oman

First published Feb 2021, updated on 1 Apr 2024. Last visited 1 Apr 2024.

A trip to Madha Oman always makes me feel like I’m going back in time. Between the narrow, winding streets, the goats roaming everywhere, the old coral walls and the colourful designs on the traditional gates, I feel I’ve entered another world. So a trip to this little bit of Oman in UAE is always a welcome escape. Read on to find things to do in Madha Oman and places to visit.

Omani enclave of Madha

So what is this magical place called Madha? It’s an Omani enclave surrounded by the UAE, so it doesn’t need any border control in either direction. You can get to Madha easily through Wadi Shees or Mirbeh, Fujairah.

What may seem even more bizarre is an Emirati enclave inside this Omani enclave! In other words, there’s a little bit of the UAE inside Oman inside the UAE. You can read more about the Sharjah enclave of Al Nahwa here. If you look at a map of Oman and the UAE, you’ll find quite another enclave of Musandam and Madha falls under the governance. (See more of Musandam here.)

Madha Oman - traditonal coral wall

As soon as you enter from the Mirbeh side, you can tell straight away that you are in Oman. Oman is just different. Goats wander the streets, Omani architectural designs embellish mosques and government buildings and the houses all have traditional elements in their design too.

If you come from Mirbeh, you pass through the main town and head into the hills through narrow winding streets. Further up, you can take different roads to Sajah Dam and beyond or pass through Al Nahwa.

History of Madha Oman

This doesn’t cover all history but the most asked questions are Is Madha part of Oman? and Why is Nahwa in UAE? In brief, several decades before the formation of the UAE, the people of Madha and Al Nahwa were asked who they wished to declare allegiance to.

This was very much a tribal society and the rulers protected the people and their rights. The people of Madha declared allegiance to the Sultan of Oman while the people of Al Nahwa declared their allegiance to the chief of the Al Qasimi tribe, who ruled Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah.

You can see many old houses and hillforts around and there is evidence of people living in the area in the Bronze Age.

Parks in Madha and picnic spots

There are several parks throughout the enclave. At the State Park in New Madha is an artificial waterfall, restaurant and toilets. There are temporary kiosks set up in the park for cultural and heritage events that take place.

artificial waterfall madha oman

Sadah picnic area. Whether there is water at any of the Madha dams depends on whether there has been rainfall. However, there is a nice little park and also a picnic area overlooking the dam. Further down the hill is a picnic/camping/heritage area. See more below in camping.

sahna dam madha oman

Other small parks and play areas include two small parks just outside Al Nahwa UAE (on the eastern side) and near Al Sajah Dam (below.)

park near sahna dam madha oman

Below are photos of the picnic area just before Al Nahwa. You can picnic, barbeque there. In the last photo, you can see a picnic shelter on the mountain and the stream near the bottom. Toilets are available here but I’m not sure how well they’re maintained as I’ve never used them. A mosque is just up the road in Al Nahwa.

Wadis in Madha make great spots for off-roading and stopping for a picnic. This one is near Sahna Dam and leads to the waterfall hike. (See below.)

Madha Oman offroad

Camping in Madha

There are many places for camping in Madha enclave. If you take the right turn after coming down Wadi Shees and go straight to Hijer Bani Humayd, there’s a small valley at the end. (This is less accessible now unless you have a 4WD.)

Another good spot for camping in Madha is at the end of the main road, which stops abruptly but continues off-road. 

You can go further or find somewhere near the road if your car can’t handle the dirt track.

With a 4WD, you’ll always have more options. Fortunately, you can’t really get lost here even without a phone signal, as you’ll end up in Madha, Fujairah or Wadi Shees before long. Be careful taking a road to the left in the valley as last time I went on it, it went over the brow of a hill and abruptly ended.

madha valley area oman Madha offroad

The heritage area and camping site at Sadah Dam is an excellent spot to set up camp. (Turn off from the main road and continue past the park overlooking the dam.). The Sadah river pool is below it in the wadi but it is safer to reach along the wadi from where you see the water crossing the road. The pool at Sadah can get very deep though so be careful if you have people in your group who don’t know how to swim.

Hiking at Wadi Al Hora/Wadi Mahda

There is a great hiking trail at Wadi Madha (aka Wadi Al Hora) with pools and a waterfall. It starts not far from the farming area and is around 7km if you can reach the beginning of the trail off road. Otherwise, it’s several kilometres more. Below is a photo of the offroad trail. It narrows further down and I was glad I didn’t meet any other vehicles coming the opposite direction.

offroad to wadi al hora wadi madha hiking trail

The hike is one-way and beginner to moderate level. You can my trail for Wadi Madha waterfall hike starting from the wadi off-road track here on Wikiloc. You can also find several trails to follow but make sure you download them before leaving UAE territory.

There are several small waterfalls and pools along the way and a metal bridge across a pool. Only one person can cross this at once. Huge white marble rocks lie along the wadi bed. Wadi Al Hora hiking trail is easy most of the way but there are lots of large pebbles, some gravelly paths and occasional rocks to clamber over that may not suit everyone. However, if you don’t have any mobility issues, it’s fine.

If you don’t have an offroad vehicle, pass Sahna Dam on your left, then when the asphalt road ends, park, go down into the wadi, turn right and follow the track. It’s not a particularly interesting route. The route can also be accessed by going off-road near Sahna Dam and driving up through the wadi from there.

Madha Farms

The Madha farm area is just after the town on the right. Although you can’t (or shouldn’t) go inside the farms, it’s lovely to walk through them and enjoy the lushness of the area. If you come across irrigation pools, stop and look out for wildlife.

Apart from the tiny fish, there are all sorts of dragonflies of different colours. Look out for frogs too near the water and beautiful butterflies and birds in the greenery.

Pool at Madha farm area Madha Oman

Madha Banyan Trees

The centrepiece of the area has to be the majestic old Banyan trees in Madha Oman.

Hijer Bani Humayd

Hijer Bani Humayd is near the border with the Shees area. If you’re coming from Shees and take a right turn at the bottom, you’re in Hijer Bani Humayd. It’s mainly a farming area. If you continue straight, there’s a valley at the end and before that, if you walk up to the left, there are some old houses. It can get quite green there if there’s been lots of rain. These photos were taken in February 2023.

Sultan Al Qaboos Mosque, Madha

There are several small mosques in the enclave but this is the main mosque built in traditional Omani style. It has a ladies’ section.

Sultan Qaboos Mosque Madha

Madha Museum

Madha Museum consists of a private collection of Mohammed bin Salem al Mad’hani and includes ancient pottery, rock art, handicrafts, etc. Although it was a private museum, it received funding from the Omani government a few years ago.

I haven’t managed to go in yet so can’t comment on its current status from personal experience. Hopefully I can update this at some point soon!

Food truck area

There’s a new food area right next to the border on the Fujairah side. There are lots of outlets and many have outside seating areas. However, most of them sell the same items, so there’s not a lot of variety.

dining at food truck area at madha oman enclave

They mainly had kebabs, rice, etc. There’s a fishmonger on site where they get the fresh fish, so that might be a good choice.

Other places to eat in Al Madha

At the top of the small hill where Madha Hill Fort stands is a restaurant named Hilltop Cafe. I haven’t been in for a few years, so can’t comment further. This is near the entrance from Fujairah. It’s worth going up for the view over new Madha town at least.

fort at madha oman near hilltop cafe madha
view from Madha hill fort

As mentioned above, at the park next to the artificial waterfall is a grill restaurant. In new Madha are a few smakk shops selling samosas, etc and in one of the villages just before Sajah Dam is a roadside stall selling hot street food.

Otherwise, you might decide to pack a picnic or barbeque kit as there are plenty of places to spend the day or evening.

How to get to Madha

If you still need help on getting to Madha Oman, there are two options. The first option is to take the Khorfakkan Rd and the exit to Wadi Shees. (In the winter, the road is closed off if the area near Shees Park gets too busy. See more on Wadi Shees here.)

Next, drive through the village, continue off-road through the wadi until the road splits into three directions and you see a signboard for Sungate Resort. You are now in the Oman enclave of Madha.

The left turn goes up a steep hill, is single-track all the way and the road can get rough. Continue down this road to Al Nahwa and out the other side.

road to nahwa from wadi shees

The right turn takes you through a farming area, then when you get to the asphalt road, turn left onto it. Keep going until you reach the main road. Then, either turn left towards Madha town or right towards a valley and plains. This is the easier route if you feel nervous off road or going up mountains.

farming area madha oman near wadi shees

Don’t be fooled by the sign for the Oman and UAE border. You won’t see any border and off-road routes are closed.

If you go straight where you see the Sungate Resort sign, you continue down the wadi and come to a road that takes you to a holiday rental. There’s also a nice wadi past the rental that I’ve made a mental note to go back to for a walk.

wadi near Hijer Bani Humayd Madha Oman

The second option is to go from Khorfakkan towards Fujairah. After the big fountain roundabout (Khorfakkan Square), you pass Khorfakkan Expo on your right. Look out for the sign for Madha, and make sure you don’t end up on the new flyover.

If you’re coming from Fujairah, head towards Khorfakkan and once you get to Mirbeh, look out for the signs. If you miss them, turn back at the fountain roundabout in Khorfakkan.

If using online maps, remember to get your Madha directions before leaving the UAE. They’ll continue to work as long as you don’t disconnect the phone from the carplay. (Tip: Don’t connect to carplay if you also use your phone to take photos.)

Although the roads on the Wadi Shees side were badly damaged from rain and floods in 2023, these have all being cleared. The offroad track from Shees has been cleared of rubble and the broken asphalt roads have mostly been repaired. Be careful though as some in the Oman area are still broken and fenced off. Keep an eye on the road! (I last visited on 26 Jan 2024.)

Madha Oman Location – take me to the map

What you need to know about going to Madha

There is no passport control at either Oman border crossing at Madha, but it is Omani territory; therefore, you should have car insurance cover for Oman. You can’t buy it at the border as you can at other manned borders of Oman, so you need to have an orange card in advance. (Hint: If you’re looking for it, it’s not actually orange any more, it’s plain white now!)

oman orange card

If you need to know if you’re covered, check with your insurance provider and, if you’re covered, ask them to send you a copy. A PDF is fine.

Whilst this wasn’t an issue in the past, I’ve heard a few reports recently of spot checks and people getting fines. while in the Oman exclave Plus, you never know what can happen on your journey, so best to be prepared.

madha oman narrow road

As you’re now in Omani territory, the signal will switch to the Omani telecom network, either Omantel or Oredoo. Unless you’re paying for roaming, which is expensive these days, check your route beforehand. Alternatively, just see where the road takes you. You’ll eventually come back out as long as you don’t go off the main roads.

Places to stay in Madha

Skape to Nature sits next to the farming area and amongst lots of greenery. Mirbeh and Khor Fakkan are the closest locations to stay but you could also combine your road trip to Madha with a stay in Fujairah City or Dibba.

Search Accommodation near Madha and Nahwa

At the other side near Wadi Shees is a new rental Sungate Resort that sits atop a plateau overlooking the wadi. It looks nice and a great place for a family to stay. It seems to have an outdoor pool too. You can find them on Instagram under @sungate_resort.

Madha and Nahwa

The enclave of Al Nahwa sits inside the Omani enclave. See more on Al Nahwa UAE here and combine it with your trip. Visit Al Nahwa Old Hamlet, heritage trail, mountain trail, Nahwa Cave, archaeological museum, wadi trail.

If you know Arabic, here’s a CNN Arabia new article that I contributed to.

With so many places to visit in Madha and things to do, you can easily spend a day here. We often combine it with Al Nahwa, Wadi Shees or sometimes Khorfakkan. (See suggestions below.) It’s a great spot to get away and relax and very affordable as you can easily not spend anything other than petrol money and have a lovely day trip or weekend. With a varied terrain of mountains, wadis, plains and oases and vast open areas, you can find your own private spot to set up camp and enjoy the fresh air and pleasant views.

What’s near Madha?

Interesting facts about Madha

  • The Oman exclave has a population of around 3200 (according to census of 2020)
  • 65% of the Madha Oman population of are aged 15-64 (according to census of 2020)
  • 76% of the population of Madha are Omani nationals and 24% non-Nationals (according to census of 2020)
  • It covers an area of 3,272 km² (1263.326 ft²)
  • It is governed by the Wilayat of Musandam
  • It is an enclave completely surrounded by the UAE.
  • It has a UAE enclave inside it
  • It has an airport although its more of an airstrip
  • It has a fabulous new dual carriageway which starts after the villages, passes through nothing but mountains and ends abruptly before a valley. The road sign says Oman-UAE border but you’d need a very sturdy vehicle to get there.
  • You don’t need Omani money there, you cab pay with dirhams. Take cash though.
  • UAE citizens and residents often cross the border at Madha to buy Omani petrol as its cheaper

Also of interest

Short videos:

News article on Madha


  • Do I need visa to enter Madha? No, you don’t. There is no border control. Madha is surrounded by UAE borders making border control unnecessary.
  • Why is Madha in Oman? Several declared before the formation of the UAE, the people of Madha declared allegiance to the Sultan of Oman while the people of Al Nahwa declared their allegiance to the chief of the Al Qasimi tribe, who ruled Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah.
  • Is Madha part of Oman? Yes, it is.
  • Why is Nahwa in UAE? This was a result of a decision made by the local people nearly a century ago. The people of Al Nahwa pledged allegiance to Al Qasimis of Sharjah.
  • Why is Madha in UAE? See points above.

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