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 this trip is always a welcome escape.
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. (Currently, in 2023, the roads on the Wadi Shees side are badly damaged from rain and floods.)
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.
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 Sahna Dam and beyond or pass through Nahwa.
There are also several parks with play areas and picnic areas dotted around the Omani part, such as Sadah picnic area. Whether there is water at the dams depends on whether there has been rainfall.
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.
Madha Banyan Trees
The centrepiece of the area has to be the majestic old Banyan trees in Madha.
Camping in Madha
There are many places for camping in Madha. If you take the right turn after coming down Wadi Shees and go straight, 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 Madha 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 get lost in Madha even without a phone signal, as you’ll end up in Madha, Fujairah or Wadi Shees before long.
The camping/barbecue area past Sahna Dam is an excellent spot for camping in Madha. (Turn off from the main road and continue past the park overlooking the dam.).
Hiking in Madha
There is a hiking trail in Wadi Hora. I still need to do this, so I don’t have any photos to share. There are several recorded trails on Wikiloc ranging between three and nine miles and varying levels from beginner upwards.
The trail takes you through greenery and freshwater pools, and you even pass an abandoned car!
From Madha through Al Nahwa to Wadi Shees
On the Nahwa route, you pass through a lush green oasis before entering a wadi and, later, a valley. If you follow the sign that says UAE-Oman border, there is a new road which takes you through the valley and stops abruptly, but it takes you to a lovely spot for camping and picnics.
Several parks and picnic areas are dotted around the Omani part and a few farming areas.
Before the end of this main road, there is a left turn that takes you down to a junction. After that, you can turn left to another smaller valley or right through the farms and up to Shees.
At the junction, turn left to Shees or park and walk through the rocky path on your right. Going up the steep hill on the right takes you back to Al Nahwa.
You can also access Wadi Shees by this route via Nahwa but it’s best to have a 4WD/AWD for this.
Here are a couple of photos on the road. One part, near Shees, is quite steep, going up and down. (The road is even more damaged now in Feb’23)
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Food truck area in Madha
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.
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.
There’s a cafe at the top of the small hill near the entrance from Fujairah, a grill at the park further up and a roadside stall selling hot food in one of the villages.
That’s about it, so you might decide to pack a picnic or barbeque kit.
How to get to Madha
If you still need help getting to Madha, there are two options. First, do the above route in reverse, taking the Khor Fakkan 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.)
Drive through the village, continue off-road through the wadi until the road ends and you can only go left or right.
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.
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.
Don’t be fooled by the sign for the Oman-UAE border. You won’t see any border and off-road routes are closed.
The second option is to go from Khor Fakkan towards Fujairah. After the big fountain roundabout (Khor Fakkan Square), you pass Khor Fakkan 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 Khor Fakkan and once you get to Mirbeh, look out for the signs. If you miss them, turn back at the fountain roundabout in Khor Fakkan.
What you need to know about going to Madha
There is no border control at Madha, but it is Omani territory; therefore, you should have car insurance covering you for Oman. You can’t buy it at the border as you can at other manned borders, so you need to have an orange card in advance.
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. Plus, you never know what can happen on your journey.
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.
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(This post was first published February 2021 and updated on 17 February 2023)
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What’s near Madha?
- Khor Fakkan
- Wadi Shees
- Rafisa Dam
- Rabi Tower
- Suhub Rest Area
- Miqsar Village
- Al Nahwa, enclave in an exclave
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