Tag Archives: Madha

Madha

Madha is an Omani enclave completely surrounded by the UAE, and so also has no border control either way. It can be easily accessed either via Wadi Shees or from Mirbeh, Fujairah.

As soon as you enter from the Mirbeh side, you can feel you are in Oman. Goats wander the streets, Omani architectural designs can be seen in the mosques and government buildings and the houses all have traditional elements in their design too.

If you come from Mirbeh, 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, which is an exclave of Sharjah within the enclave. You can see more on Nahwa here. There are also several parks and picnic areas dotted around in the Omani part, such as Sadah picnic area. Whether there is water at the dams depends on whether there has been rain.

Just after the town of Madha, on the right, is the farming area. Although, you can’t go in the farms themselves, it’s lovely just to walk through them and enjoy the lushness of the area. I f you come across irrigation pools, stop and look out for wildlife. Apart from the tiny fish, there are all sorts of dragonflies around of different colours. Look out for frogs too near the water and beautiful butterflies and birds in the greenery.

The centrepiece though has to be the old Banyan trees.

On the Nahwa route, you pass through a lush green oasis before coming out into 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. There are also several parks and picnic areas dotted around in the Omani part as well as a few farming areas.

Before the end of this main road, there is a left turn that takes you down to a junction where you can turn left to another smaller valley or right through the farms and up to Shees.

At the juction, turn left to Shees or you can take a walk through the rocky path on your right. Going up the steep hill takes you back to Nahwa. You can also access Wadi Shees this way 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.

To do this in reverse, take the Khor Fakkan Rd and the turn off 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.

As it is Omani territory, the signal will switch to the Omani telecom network but you can turn on roaming if necessary. Otherwise, check your route before you go, or just see where the road takes you. You’ll eventually come back out as long as you don’t go off the main roads.

(I haven’t finished exploring Madha yet so I hope to come back with some more to add later.)

An enclave in an exclave

If you have driven around the northern parts of the UAE, you will no doubt have noticed that you pass from one emirate into another and then suddenly back again or you may find yourself in an emirate you thought you were nowhere near.

UAE geography is clearly not straightforward. This goes back to territories owned by different ruling families before the birth of the UAE as well as gifts of land between the families and change of allegiance to rulers. And as in so many countries, there was also a British political officer involved in drafting territorial maps.

Ras al Khaimah has a northern and a southern region separated by a strip of Fujairah. Fujairah itself is separated by Sharjah. The emirate of Ajman has two enclaves, one inland, Manama, and one in the east, Masfoot, whilst Dubai has the enclave of Hatta in the east. To add to this, Oman has a few enclaves within the UAE.

Sharjah is probably the most interesting and most scattered emirate. The main part stretches from the city of Sharjah into the central region which includes Dhaid, Madam, Maleha and many other small towns and villages.

On the east coast, the small enclave of Dibba al Hisn is sandwiched between Dibba Fujairah and Dibba Oman. As you continue your journey down the east coast you chop and change between territories, starting in Oman (the enclave of Musandam) then passing through Sharjah (Dibba al Hisn) then Fujairah, then Sharjah again (Khor Fakkan) then Fujairah, then back to Sharjah ( Kalba) before finally going back to Oman. Dibba, Khor Fakkan, Kalba and Wadi al Helou (a mountainous region to the west of Kalba) are known as the Eastern Region.

The most fascinating of these must surely be the tiny enclave of Nahwa which is situated inside the Omani exclave of Madha. Madha is bordered by Sharjah (Khor Fakkan), Fujairah and Ras al Khaimah and has a population of around 3000. Apart from the area of new Madha, it is mountainous territory with numerous beautiful oases scattered through it.

Madha became part of Oman around 80 years ago when its people chose to align themselves with the Omani Sultan rather than the leaders of RAK, Fujairah or Sharjah as they believed at that time that Oman could help them more.

Nahwa covers an area of just 75km² and contains a tiny village made up of new Nahwa and old Nahwa. It consists of fewer than a hundred houses, a police station with a fire and ambulance service, a health centre, a primary school, a sports centre, a small play park, a grocery and several farms. It is governed and serviced by the municipality of Khor Fakkan.

If you haven’t visited any of these places yet, it’s time to get your map out and start exploring!

And a few photos from Madha.