Towering 1240 metres over the garden city of Al Ain is Jebel Hafeet (جبل حفيت) – Abu Dhabi Emirates highest peak and the second highest in all of the UAE. Jebel Hafeet is easily accessible from either Abu Dhabi or Dubai and is approximately 90 minutes drive from either city.
Out & About UAE decided to take a leisurely drive to explore the area. Firstly the mountain is very easy to find, not only can you see it as a distinctive landmark on the horizon as you enter the city of Al Ain, but it is signposted from almost everywhere in the city (just follow the brown tourist signs). As you approach the mountain there are other areas that you may want to stop off and visit on the way – the first that you will reach is the boating lake (GPS 24.103706, 55.737446) there is not much on offer here other than a nice view and the ability to rent a boat to go for a quick paddle.
If you continue on from the boating lake following the base of the mountain, you will reach the Mubazzarah Historical Dam (GPS 24.098331, 55.741483). According to the sign at the site, the dam was constructed by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan on 4th February 1955 – other than than that there is little information, but you are free to roam around the site as you please, just make sure you take appropriate footwear for scrambling over the rocks.
Backtracking slightly you will reach Green Mubazzarah (GPS 24.106112, 55.748901), a very popular attraction with families, who will come here for picnics and BBQs (it gets especially busy on the weekends)! Green Mubazzarah is a large park where the sides of the mountain have been planted with grass to enable a visual spectacle very unusual for its rugged desert location. There are lots of things in the park to keep you occupied, from the mini train (dry bobsled), to the camel and pony rides for children. Though Green Mubazzarah is most famous for its hot springs, which leave the ground and run through a small river throughout the parkland – you are free to wade and paddle here, though please be aware the water is hot and that you must be respectful of local culture in terms of dress code. If you are feeling really brave you can enter one of the public swimming pools for a 5 AED entrance fee, these are separate buildings for men and women where the water from the hot spring has been diverted to enable swimming. The whole area is a wonderful place to visit and you could easily spend an afternoon here soaking up the sun. There are also designated areas for camping or BBQs should you wish to spend the night.
Now onto the mountain itself… The drive up Jebel Hafeet is very pleasant and the road is exceptionally good, there are two lanes for ascending, and one for descending – if you have never driven these kinds of roads before just take your time and remember to have fun. The road weaves steadily upwards through the craggy limestone peaks and there are multiple viewpoints to stop at and have a look at the scenery below. You will see the desert, the city of Al Ain, and all the way into Oman. The view on a clear day is pretty spectacular, as you take in the expanse stretching out beneath you. The road itself winds 11.7km up the mountain getting steadily steeper until you reach the top. We have made a one minute time-lapse video of the drive for your viewing pleasure:
As you approach the summit you will pass the Mecure Hotel which is a nice place to stop for a drink or a bite to eat, but once you reach the top there is a large car park, toilets, a small cafeteria and a children’s playground. It is said that the temperature at the top of Jebel Hafeet is eight degrees cooler than that in the city below, so make sure you take appropriate clothing if visiting at night or in the winter months.
Sign boards on the mountain say that fossils have been found on site, as well as calcified coral which would indicate that the area was once covered by the sea. Presently the mountain is home to several species of flora and fauna with the discovery of Arabian Tahr just this week.
If you are feeling really brave you can hike or the cycle the route up the mountain, it is definitely worth more than one visit & should be experienced during both the daylight and night time hours. After sunset the view becomes a dazzling collection of stars & twinkling city lights.
There are many cultural and historical attractions in Al Ain, including Jahili Fort, Jebel Hafeet Tombs & Zakher Lake – all of which are covered in our ‘Insiders Guide To Al Ain.‘
- LOCATION: Jebel Hafeet Street, Al Ain (GPS 24.0601595, 55.7768738)
- PRICE: Free – there is no charge to visit Jebel Hafeet, Green Mubazzarah, nor the historical dam
- SUITABLE FOR FAMILIES: Yes – children will love the green parklands of Green Mubazzarah, as well as the exciting drive to the top of Jebel Hafeet. There are play areas located at two of the viewpoints along the mountain road.
All views within this blog are our own & unless otherwise stated, all photos are © Out & About UAE