Posts Tagged ‘access’

border issues for climbers at September 2013

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

When I first came to the UAE in early 2005, access through the border for the major cliffs in nearby parts of Oman was like this:

  • Khasab area: tedious passage through UAE and Oman border posts
  • Wadi Bih area: just drive there
  • Dibba area: ditto
  • Hatta area: ditto
  • Wonderwall area: ditto

But, sadly, now, for non-GCC citizens, it looks like this:

The Wonderwall situation has seen the most recent deterioration. In the last few years it has been necessary to take passports but possible to pass through the UAE border post at Hili without a UAE visa exit stamp if you said you were just visiting Buraimi. Now that border post will require you to get an exit stamp, drive to the nearest Oman border post and formally enter Oman, exit Oman again and show those Oman entry/ exit stamps when you return to the UAE. This will add considerable time and expense to a visit.

One way around this is to drive toward Hatta crag instead, passing the UAE police check just east of Madam. Then drive past the Hatta crag turn as if driving toward Hatta town, but look for a turn to the right (south) at a Shell gas station. That minor road takes a twisting path southwards east of Jebel Sumaini into “between the border posts” Omani territory. There is an Omani police post on this road but current information is that they only check passports. About 60km from the Shell station is a junction. Go left there, then after about 20km turn right (west) on to a major road (the Sohar – Al Ain highway). After about 15km the roundabout on the established Wonderwall approach drive will be seen. Go left (south) there and follow instructions in the guidebook to reach the cliff.

Note that this approach was known to “work” at September 2013, but could be subject to change at any time. It is always worth seeking out an update opinion, for example, from the Real UAE Climbers¬†Facebook group.

This map shows the layout (click on it for higher resolution). Border line is black, major and minor roads in red. Border posts are shown by national flags, police check points by a police symbol.



For Dubai climbers the route described above will add only 10-20 minutes more to the journey but for Abu Dhabi climbers the drive will be 3 hours or more each way. The best alternative for Abu Dhabi (or Al Ain) climbers would be to exit the UAE through the southern border post at Mazyad then immediately go through the nearby Oman post just to the south. About 3km south of the Oman border post is a roundabout. Turn left (east) there, on a black top road which loops back close to the border toward Wonderwall, passing a police check point. The negative aspect of this route is that the full visa exit/ entry/ exit/ re-entry procedure would have to be followed. However it is slightly more logical than the situation further north where the Oman border post on the Al Ain – Sohar road is far to the east of Wonderwall.

For any of these routes, returning the same way will be very important.


access to Dibba climbing areas

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Over the summer months, various people have reported problems entering the Oman side of Dibba. Specifically the men with uniforms and guns (*) managing the two border crossings have been turning back expats unable to evidence a hotel stay or pre-booked activity with a known Dibba Omani company. This is obviously awkward for climbers who are unlikely to be in either category. As so often in the UAE, this “rule” is not being applied systematically, so some people are getting through OK.

A few other things that I have read about this:

  • people on tourist rather than residence visas aren’t having the same problem. [don't rely on it]
  • Oman-side businesses don’t like the situation and are lobbying to have it relaxed. [we hope]
  • Sharjah is building its own tourism “island” on its slice of Dibba bay, and so may have vested interest in keeping people on the UAE side of the border. [this is conjecture, of course]

If it becomes a permanent constraint, it is pretty bad news for “UAE” climbing, as Wadi Khab Shamsi and other wadis inland from Dibba have been a major focus of new route development in recent years. Then there’s the DWSing, though I guess it may be easier to produce paperwork for the border people for those trips, as they are almost always pre-booked with Omani dhow operators (if rather informally …)

* I have never been sure to what extent these are UAE military or local Sharjah police? does anyone know for sure?