Hatta is a scenic village located in a remote mountainous area of the UAE, right on the border with Oman. It is an exclave of the Emirate of Dubai and one of the most popular summer destinations for locals who are drawn here by the less sultry climate and the many options for outdoor activities.
One of Hatta’s main attractions is Hatta Dam Lake, a stunning mountain lake with emerald green waters, which is one of the most popular kayaking and hiking destinations. The fascinating surrounding mountainous landscape is the ideal destination for wadi bashing, hiking and biking.
Hatta is also one of the most popular border crossings between the UAE and Oman, making it a very interesting stop for those traveling through the two countries.
What you will find in this guide to visiting Hatta:
- Hatta: Things to Know Before You Go
- Best Things to Do in Hatta
- Best Hatta’s Hotels, Camping and Resorts
- Best Restaurants in Hatta
- How to Get to Hatta
Hatta: Things to Know Before You Go
Hatta is one of the most scenic places in the UAE: located on the border with Oman and nestled in the rugged Hajar Mountains, Hatta is a village rich in history, legends and traditions, but above all it is a great destination for outdoor activities.
Hatta’s sheikhdom is undoubtedly one of the most remote and authentic places in the United Arab Emirates, and its geography is quite curious. Hatta is in fact an exclave of the Emirate of Dubai, surrounded by the border with Oman to the east and the south, by the Ajman’s exclave of Masfout to the west (with the nearby exclave of Sayh Mudayrah, also belonging to the Emirate of Ajman), and from a dozen villages belonging to the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah to the north. This makes Hatta a perfect example of the complex political geography of the UAE.
Hatta is located about 130 km from Dubai, about 2 hours driving. Its atmosphere of an old frontier village and the beautiful surrounding mountainous landscape make it the ideal destination to enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of Dubai. Hatta is in fact a quiet village with a relaxed atmosphere, which is why many locals come here on weekends to spend free time with their families.
Situated between the beautiful Hajar Mountains, which dominate the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah and northern Oman, Hatta offers hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails and is a very popular destination for hiking and cycling enthusiasts.
Once Hatta was a territory of Oman, its ownership was transferred to the Emirate of Dubai at the end of the 19th century, when the Sultan of Oman realized the impossibility of defending the village from the other local tribes who were settling in the area.
Even today in Hatta it is possible to see some towers and fortresses dating back to the end of the 19th century, as well as the ancient Juma Mosque, dating back to 1760. In the surroundings, the remains of the traditional water supply system (falaj) are still visible, but what makes World famous Hatta is the Hatta Dam: a hydroelectric power station built in the early 1990s. Its emerald-green lake is one of Hatta’s main attractions.
The Hatta Dam could become one of the most powerful hydroelectric plants in the Middle East in the coming years and expansion works are underway.
Hatta appears to travelers as a fabulous oasis in the desert: the Hatta Springs form the stunning lake of the Hatta Dam, a popular destination for kayaking. Nearby there is the scenic Hatta Green Lake, a beautiful emerald lake surrounded by mountains, and the so-called wadis, a sort of canyon that depending on the season can be flooded or dry, popular destinations for 4WD trips, so-called wadi bashing.
Being in the mountains, Hatta also has a much more pleasant climate than the coast, making it a popular summer destination where locals and expats take refuge in its beautiful resorts, glamping sites and hotels to escape the Dubai summer heat.
Best Things to Do in Hatta
Explore the Old Village of Hatta
Despite being part of the Emirate of Dubai, Hatta seems a long way from the modernity and glitz of the north coast cities. The village has maintained its old charm over time, here you can visit old artisan shops and traditional farms.
The artisans of Hatta still produce jewelry and artifacts in copper, leather and clay. In the surroundings of the village you will still be able to see traces of traditional agriculture, in particular here the cultivation of date palms is quite famous. Dates are used as food, while wood and fibers are used as building materials and for making carpets and handicrafts.
Hatta Dam & Hatta Kayak
A short distance from the village is the beautiful Hatta Dam Lake, with its scenic emerald waters. While it looks like a fabulous mountain lake, it is a man-made lake, built in the early 1990s to improve the region’s water supply and produce green energy.
The Hatta Dam Lake is one of the most famous attractions in the region: you can admire it from the different viewpoints, some reachable directly by car. In fact, right near the Hatta Dam there is a large free parking (GPS: 24.78377, 56.11435) and from here you can walk to the dam to have a beautiful view of the lake.
Hiking trails also start near the Hatta Dam, allowing you to have a better view of the lake and the dramatic surrounding mountainous landscape.
The most popular thing to do at Hatta Dam is kayaking and boating on the calm waters of the lake. In Hatta there are several agencies that rent kayaks and boats, although in the peak periods (in the summer and in the months between November and February) it is best to book online. Even the best hotels and campgrounds in Hatta offer hiking and kayaking packages.
Hatta Wadi Hub
Hatta Wadi Hub is the place to be for outdoor enthusiasts. It is the main tourist center of Hatta: it is here that most of the excursions and outdoor activities start. There are playgrounds and attractions for kids, but also lots of things to do for adults.
Also in the surrounding area are some of Hatta’s best glamping sites, such as the Hatta Damani Lodges Resort, which offers excellent accommodation in rooms, tents, lodges and caravans, with great views and a nice atmosphere.
Not far away is the fabulous Hatta Sedr Trailers Resort which offers very original American-style caravan accommodation. It is a beautiful luxury glamping equipped with every comfort and located in a decidedly scenic valley.
In the surroundings of the Hatta Wabi Hub there are over 50 km of cycle paths of varying difficulty, from those for beginners to the more challenging ones. You can rent mountain bikes from the shops at Hatta Wabi Hub, which can also provide you with more information on the trails. A map of Hatta’s bike shops and trails is available here.
Horseback riding is another popular activity in Hatta. Hatta Fort Horses is a famous riding school and offers the chance to ride one of their beautiful Arabian horses.
The bravest will be able to experience the thrill of parachuting: the mountains around Hatta are famous destinations for paragliding and parachuting. These activities are also organized by Hatta Wabi Hub’s shops and nearby hotels, campsites and resorts.
The most popular activity, besides kayaking of course, is hiking: around Hatta there are 5 official hiking trails, with a total length of over 30 km. The trails allow you to explore the surrounding mountains and enjoy beautiful views of the desolate mountainous landscape and Hatta Lakes. You can find a map of the trails here.
Hatta Heritage Village
The Hatta Heritage Village, located in the heart of the town, is one of the most interesting attractions in the region: an authentic Arab village dating back to the 3rd century BC, carefully restored and open to visitors. This is the ideal place to find out more about the local history and culture.
The Hatta Heritage Village is made up of over 300 traditional buildings, stone houses, huts and old fortresses that look like sand castles. You will be able to see the two watchtowers dating back to the end of the 19th century, some wells and the traditional water supply systems.
Visiting the Hatta Heritage Village you will be able to discover many interesting things about local customs, through photographic exhibitions and displays of weapons and artifacts. You will also be able to see some traditional shops and the Bait Al Wali, the former local ruler’s house.
One of the most interesting things to see in Hatta are the remains of the ancient Falaj water supply systems, which over the centuries have allowed locals to live here and farm the arid lands of the region. The water is transported here from the surrounding mountains, through channels and tunnels that are several kilometers long.
The Hatta Fortress dates back to 1896 and is one of the most important in the region, built to defend these important trading outposts and oases from enemy attacks.
The fortress is characterized by two 11-meter-high watchtowers, whose peculiarity is that once they were accessible only from an opening located about 3 meters high, so the guards had to use ropes to enter them which were then retracted.
Hatta is also famous for its delicious honey. Here, in fact, there is the Hatta Honeybee Garden, a center that combines the production of honey, in its hives, using organic and traditional methods, with the education of visitors on pollinators and beekeeping.
Hatta Honey is a high quality product, 100% natural and unfiltered. It is sold in the shop located in the Honeybee Garden (open every day) in different sizes and packs.
The most interesting thing, however, is the guided tour, called the Bee World Discovery Package, which allows you to discover many interesting things about honey production, beekeeping techniques and pollinators. The tour includes watching some videos and a tour of the Honeybee Garden, where you can see the beehives and learn more about beekeeping techniques.
Hatta 360 Observatory
One of Hatta’s watchtowers now houses the Hatta 360 Observatory, a vantage point that allows you to have a nice view of the village and surrounding mountains.
The government of Dubai’s has big plans for Hatta, in fact an impressive visitor center is being built around the village and the lake, with a cable car that will take you to the top of the mountain where an amazing observation deck will be built and which should be called Dubai Mountain Peak.
Best Hatta’s Hotels, Camping and Resorts
JA Hatta Fort Hotel
The JA Hatta Fort Hotel is located in a quiet and scenic area just outside the center of Hatta, surrounded by a wonderful garden and a beautiful mountainous landscape. It offers excellent accommodation overlooking the Hajar Mountains, in spacious, modern rooms equipped with every amenity. The rooms have beautiful terraces and guests have free access to the 2 swimming pools, the beautiful spa and the sports center where you can practice tennis, golf, archery and much more. The hotel restaurant, serving international cuisine, is also very good. The JA Hatta Fort Hotel is conveniently located just along the road from Dubai to Hatta.
Hatta Damani Lodges Resort
Located in the middle of a scenic mountainous landscape, a few kilometers from the center of Hatta and right next to the famous Hatta Wadi Hub, the Hatta Damani Lodges Resort offers beautiful accommodation in rooms equipped with every comfort. The glamping-style accommodations (luxury camping) are also very beautiful, such as those in tents (including the transparent domes to see the starry sky of the desert). Hatta Damani Lodges Resort also organizes excursions in and around Hatta.
Hatta Sedr Trailers Resort
Located near Hatta Dam Lake, the Hatta Sedr Trailers Resort offers fabulous old-fashioned caravan accommodation set amidst a stunning mountainous landscape. You will have a beautiful view of the lake and you will be able to enjoy a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. The accommodations are equipped with every comfort, including a nice terrace, private bathroom and barbecue.
Best Restaurants in Hatta
Among the best places to eat in Hatta, besides the JA Hatta Fort Hotel’s restaurant which serves excellent international cuisine, is the Al Hajarian Restaurant located in the Hatta Heritage Village serving traditional Emirati specialties.
The Tanoor Restaurant is also very good, serving excellent local specialties in an informal setting. Try the meat specialties, such as lamb. Another good place to eat is Bab Alsham Restaurant, which serves good and inexpensive Syrian and Lebanese specialties such as hummus, falafel and mixed salads.
How to Get to Hatta
Hatta is well connected with Dubai: it’s just 1.5 – 2 hours of driving along very scenic roads that cross the desert passing by the wonderful red dunes of Lahbab and Al Badayer. The shortest route would be the one that goes straight from Al Madam to Masfut and Hatta through the territory of Oman, but the border is only open to citizens of the UAE and Oman (and may sometimes be closed).
For this the best solution is to take the E44 which goes towards the outskirts of Dubai, from there take the E611 (Emirates Road) and then the E102 Sharjah-Kalba Road. The E102 is a freeway that will take you directly to Hatta, which you will reach with a short detour.
Otherwise you could take the scenic E44 (Dubai-Hatta Rd) and then continue on the new E66.
The E102 passes through the Sharjah Desert and near the village of Maleha, while the E44 passes through the Dubai Desert, near Lahbab and Al Badayer. The roads are in excellent condition.
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