UAE Rock Climbing FAQ

Last updated in August 2013

Your book is called “UAE Rock Climbing” but people say that all the climbing is in Oman. Please explain.

This is a complicated topic so pay attention. Most climbing development in the region was done by expat climbers, until very recently. And they tended to be based in one of two places: the UAE coastal cities, primarily Dubai, or Muscat in Oman. The former group tended to explore in the UAE, in the Musandam (a detached enclave of Oman) and in some other regions of Oman very close to the UAE (like Buraimi). These areas have come to be regarded as “UAE climbing” even though the largest proportion is technically in Oman. This map may help. The rest of Oman (a huge area …) has been the domain of Muscat climbers. It currently lacks a guidebook though one has been “close to being published” for many years.

I have just arrived (or: am about to arrive) in the UAE. Where can I find climbing partners?

There are somewhere between twenty and several hundred active climbers in the UAE, depending on how rigorous your definition. The issue is how to meet them. In most major cities around the world you would just head to the nearest public climbing wall. In the UAE, there are now reasonable quality facilities in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but both have restrictions on casual public use. For Abu Dhabi: the Sorbonne University wall described here. For Dubai, there is Rock Republic, a members-only bouldering gym. The other climbing walls in Dubai are either designed only for beginners or are very poor by international standards.

Otherwise the internet is the next best option. The “Real UAE Rock Climbing” Facebook group is the most useful. Register there, then post details of your current climbing experience and aspirations. Avoid any other UAE climbing groups on Facebook group as they have all been taken over by people with a commercial angle to plug! If you’re allergic to Facebook, there is the neglected forum, but be aware that a few strange fantasists lurk there in search of the gullible.

Another classic partner search strategy is hanging around hopefully at at the bottom of cliffs. At the weekend, Hatta Crag (yes, you will need the guidebook to find it) may be a good bet for sport climbers. Traddies should visit Wadi Shahah in RAK.

Oh, that sounds hard work. Hey, would you climb with me?

Nope, as I am now based in western Canada.

Where can I can find climbing instruction in the UAE?

This is a tricky one. If you really want to learn to climb at a serious standard through paid instruction, you are better off looking at specialist outdoor centres overseas in, say, the UK, Canada or the US. But if you want a foundation course to learn basic techniques or refresh old skills, or a day out to get an initial taster of the sport, please study the list I maintain here. Avoid anyone who can’t evidence quide/ instructor qualifications from outside the UAE and/or does not have a UAE business license.

Where can I buy climbing gear in the UAE?

At present, only in Dubai. The widest range of brand-name climbing gear is at Adventure HQ in Dubai Time Square, which also has a small climbing wall. The GoSports shops at various Dubai malls also have varying stock of stuff. For cheap own-brand outdoor gear of various kinds, inlcuding very cheap (but crap) climbing shoes, try Decathlon in Mirdiff City Centre mall. If you are looking for something specialist and obscure, try Global Climbing, who distribute many outdoor brands here and know who has stock. There’s also a fishing equipment shop that is rumoured to stock some climbing brands – ask locally if you are interested.

Where can I buy the UAE Rock Climbing guidebook?

Great question. Check here.

I am a journalist working for a UAE newspaper or events magazine. I need to fill some space in a hurry. Please send me a link to some stuff I can plagiarise. Better still can I call you so I can misquote some random thing you say? No, you won’t be paid. I may also ask for images, for which I also won’t pay and probably won’t credit you properly. But can you help anyway?

Apologies if this sounds negative but in the last five years, I have had dealings with most of the UAE english language press. About 80% of those interactions have been disappointing. You can try contacting me here but please at least pretend that you have a real interest and please do some basic research first. For example, you can find articles by either I or Pete Aldwinckle about UAE climbing in most issues of OutdoorUAE magazine.

… but “I can also add the print feature to my own site which has a 110K following”

A Dubai-based journalist actually wrote this in an email. When I checked their website, Facebook and Twitter feeds a more realistic estimate of their web audience was a few hundred not “110K”. Wildly-exaggerated self-promotion is unfortunately an endemic problem in Dubai.

I am the editor of a proper climbing magazine. UAE and Musandam climbing looks sick/ gnarly/ phat/ jolly interesting [delete as applicable]. Would you like to help us with an article, or even write one for us? We will remember to mention your book.

Yes! Contact me here.

I am a sponsored climber. I am looking for an exotic new spot to get photographed, maybe even while climbing. Don’t tell anyone I said this but: it would be even better if there were no strong locals likely to embarrassingly burn me off.

Yes, the UAE and Musandam will be perfect for you. Contact me here.

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