Jabal Al Jais in Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE, is 1,650 metres high and makes for a great family day out. The drive from Dubai is around an hour and a half and once you start the climb, it’s around half an hour to the top. You don’t need a 4×4 to get to the top, there were plenty of sedans doing the climb with us, but make sure to have a full tank. Out Ford Explorer took us up quite comfortably.
The sharp hair-pin bends and the winding roads might make you a bit dizzy if you’re not used to that sort of thing, but there are plenty of places you can stop to take a break, breathe in the fresh mountain air and do some great photography. You’ll spot plenty of mountain goats and they’re quite used to the sight of human beings, going by their easy-going manner.
The road comes to a dead end before the summit and you can do the rest of the climb on foot. You can take the unbeaten path up the steep mountain-side, or the well trodden road if you’re feeling less adventurous. We did not go to the top this time, but plan to in winter to take in the snow and the crisp winter air. It’s been a while since we pulled out our winter jackets!
Jabal Jais is being developed as a tourist attraction. Roads are being constructed all the way to the top, but that might take a while to complete. There’s also a hotel planned some time in the future.
There are toilet facilities at the top and a little tea shop where you can get tea, coffee, cool drinks, water and biscuits. If it’s the weekend, be prepared for a bit of a crowd and a wait for your hot culpa. Best to carry your own in a flask with some food and a picnic mat. What better spot for a picnic? And the drive will make you hungry.
While the mountains are rocky with not a spot of green anywhere, the views are quite stunning. In winter, it snows, hails and temperatures can drop to sub-zero. If you live in the UAE, visit both in summer and winter. We went last week (mid-March), and temperatures dropped to 15 degrees at the top. It was around 20 degrees at the foot of the mountains. Wear sturdy shoes and take a jacket. The wind chill factor right up to April can make it quite cold.
You’ll love the drive and you’ll love the pictures you take. Be sure to take that selfie or groupie with the magnificent mountains in the background as proof that you actually were at the top of the UAE.
Here are some pictures we took on the way and at the top.