Day Out in Dhafra

As many of you know, I love Al Dhafra, and try to spend as much time as possible there during the winter. The largest of the regions in Abu Dhabi Emirate, it is home to many natural wonders and is rich in culture and heritage.

You don’t need a 4×4 to explore, nor do road trips have to be confined to the winter months; I’ve put a road trip route together taking you from the desert to the sea, which should be reasonably comfortable to do in all but the very hottest months.

I recommend you take a cool box with cold drinks and snacks, the route follows some remote roads and whilst there are places to pull over and have a picnic, you will only find coffee shops in the cities and towns you pass through.

Google map with all mentioned points can be downloaded HERE

Part One: Abu Dhabi to Al Dhafra Fort

Distance 126kms

Take the E11 Westwards then turn off at the Sahil Road, approx 55kms from the Mafraq Juntion (on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. Follow this road for approx 33kms, then turn right at the roundabout. This road will take you directly to Al Dhafra Fort, 24kms along – it is quite a remote area and there is no way you will miss it!

What’s to see/do?

The Al Dhafra Fort is a relatively new building, constructed in traditional style, using old style materials combined with the latest technologies. Inside you will find 10 themed galleries, giving an insight into the history, culture and geography of the Al Dhafra region. Though the museum is not huge, there is enough here to occupy for 30-60 minutes, with interactive displays, and information boards in both Arabic and English. Take some time to wander round the courtyard (and the upper gallery if you wish), and imagine a time before roads and mobile phones, when forts like these would have offered safety, comfort and hospitality to friendly travelers. Note, currently there is no cafe or food truck, however there is a vending machine where you can purchase cold drinks and snacks.

Part Two: Al Dhafra Fort to Madinat Zayed (Old Name Beda Zayed – Zayed’s Town)

Distance 34kms

Al Dhafra Road takes you westwards towards the planned town of Madinat Zayed. It’s the regional administration centre for the Al Dhafra Region, and is also the largest settlement in the area.

I lived here in 2016, here’s some general info

I even survived a summer here, that same year – read the blogpost here

There has been much development in the interim years, new parks, cycle tracks, better pavements, lighting, and lots more shops and restaurants.

What’s to see and do?

While here, why not take some time to visit one of the three parks on my accompanying google map, such as Sheikha Salama Bint Butti Park or the Madinat Zayed Oasis; if you have your bike with you, try a circuit of the city cycle track, or take a walk through the plantations mentioned in my summer blog above.

If you’d like a cup of coffee, then there are many options, and my favourite two are Latte Cafe, located in the City Mall, or Foxy’s Cafe, which you will find at Al Dhafra Walk.

Too hungry for coffee and a cake? Check out my favourite schwarma restaurant at Cafeteria Al Dhauk Al Shami, or for something more substantial, the lovely Eyes of Gulf Yemeni Restaurant. Prefer Indian/Chinese? Then head to Garlic Restaurant in the City Mall. If you are on a budget, you could head to Lulu and grab something from their hot counter!

Part Three: Madinat Zayed to Mirfa/Mughaira

Distance 68kms

Having spent most of the day surrounded by desert, it’s time to head to the sea! Take the relatively new dual carriageway northwards to Mirfa, and park up near the Promenade.

What’s to see and do?

Although quite a few years old, it is paved in black marble, with compass direction/distance to major capitals of the world – time to test your geography! Mifra and area are undergoing development and renovation, so by the time you read this, there may be more attrations open.

The beach is lovely, with a roped off swimming area, showers, toilets and occasional vendors selling ice cream and coffee. No camping is allowed, but there are some rotundas, as well as a few trees, to shelter from the sun.

Just 6kms eastwards, the new development of Mughaira awaits. As well as a hotel and resort, there are cafes, food trucks, some nice beach with toilets/showers, and for outdoor lovers, a lovely raised walk through the mangroves! Truly, a wonderful place to catch the fading sunlight at the end of the day.

Bonus side-trip

For many years “Hameem Beach” was a popular place for fishers and campers; it was totally closed for a few years during covid, and is now partially re-opened, and accessible from the west (see route map)

  1. Mouza says:

    We thank you for the distinguished report on the Al Dhafra region, as you showed the region in a distinctive and beautiful way. We wish you and all visitors a happy stay in the Al Dhafra region.

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