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Zubārah, Al Fujayrah, United Arab Emirates

Wadi Wurayah - United Arab Emirates

Wadi Wurayah (Wurrayah) the first Mountain Protected Area in the United Arab Emirates.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 14.5 miles / 23 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly
 
Overview: Wadi (Arabic: وادي) is the local term for a usually dry steep-sided valley or riverbed. Wadi Wurayah is situated in the Hajar Mountain range on East Coast of the United Arab Emirates, off the E99 road between Fujairah and Dibba.

The Hajar Mountains of the UAE are part of the Hajar range of mountains that, geologically speaking, are referred to as the Somail Ophiolite, extending from central Oman, in the south, to Mussandam Oman, in the north.

For more information on the geology of this region please refer to the link to the Wadi Madha, East Coast Region, United Arab Emirates guide (see Other Guides by AndrewScholtz in the right-hand panel).

Conservation Status

Wadi Wurrayah and surrounding areas (129 km²) was formally declared a Protected Area in terms of an Emiri Decree (Law No.2 of 2009) issued by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, UAE Supreme Council member and Ruler of Fujairah in order to protect the local cultural heritage, fauna and flora. This is the first Mountain Protected Area in the United Arab Emirates.

The declaration of Wadi Wurrayah as a Protected Area came about on conclusion of a 3-year study undertaken by the Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) sponsored by HSBC Bank Middle East Limited and Bridgestone Middle East and Africa, in partnership with the Fujairah Municipality.

The protected area is home to approximately 300 plant species, at least 12 species of mammal (including the critically endangered Arabian Tahr and Arabian Leopard), 73 species of birds, 17 reptile species, 2 species of fish and 74 species of insects. In addition a number of old settlements, Islamic graveyards, pre-Islamic tombs and petroglyphs have been found in the area - some artefacts dating to 300BC.

Tourism

In January 2001 His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah introduced Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden to the Protected Area, emphasising its importance to the region.

Wadi Wurrayah is a great place for a weekend picnic or overnight camping in the winter. Swimming in the pools is a good way to cool off after the steep walk down from the car park. Access is moderately challenging for the 4x4 enthusiast and visitors may be lucky enough to encounter a mammal or two. Friday visitors consist largely of groups of expat workers taking advantage of their day off to get out of the city to barbecue.

The area is maintained by the Fujairah Municipality and is generally free of litter, at least by UAE standards. A number of local education institutions are committed to maintaining Wadi Wurrayah - including the Higher Colleges of Technology, whose students visit the Wadi regularly as part of an environmental awareness programme.


Tips: Wadis are prone to flash flooding in the wetter (winter usually) months of the year. Take care and be aware of weather conditions in the region. Summer is extremely hot in this area and it is hotter in the steep sided wadis where the sun bakes off the rocks of the Hajar Mountains. Temperatures in mid-summer reach well above the 50 degree Celsius mark. Always carry water. Make sure someone knows where you are going. Travel in pairs (i.e. two vehicles) if possible, and always carry a mobile phone - although you may have to climb somewhat to obtain signal.

Photograph away - but remember the cultural sensitivity towards photography, particularly when photographing women. Remember that photographing government buildings as well as military and oil installations is strictly forbidden in the region.

Note that Wadi Wurrayah is a conservation area and should be treated as such. Do not leave your rubbish or deface walls - just because others have done it is not a good excuse. Do not dump your unwanted aquatic pets in the pools, they harm the very fragile local habitat. Do not remove fauna and flora from this area (or any other area for that matter). This is an extremely fragile ecosystem in an extremely harsh environment.

If you do not drive a 4-wheel drive vehicle, stay off the more difficult parts of this trail. Please refer to "Wadi Wurrayah by Car" in Other Resources (right-hand panel of this page) for more information on how to access Wadi Wurrayah by car.

Points of Interest

Junction
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U-Turn

From Fujairah, travel north on the E99 to Dibba. After Zubara village make a U-turn before your reach the the Thursday Market/Bidiya Mosque.
Junction
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Turn Right

After the U-turn, turn right into the first road after the Wadi Wurrayah sign.
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Wadi Wurrayah Road

You should be on this road - look out for the house with the green windows on top of a hill on your right.
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Wadi Wurrayah Protected Area

Start of the Wadi Wurrayah protected area.
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Drive carefully

Especially after the rain when the roads are strewn with debris.
Junction
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Start Wadi Wurrayah

At this point you turn off the tar road and enter the wadi itself. Note: 4-wheel drive only. Visitors by car can continue on until the tar road ends in a parking area. You can now access the Wadi Wurrayah pools by climbing down the side of the wadi - follow the ill-defined path. Note that this is a steep and potentially dangerous climb.
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Wadi Wurrayah Track

As far as possible try following the visible track - most likely to be the best route through the wadi. Of course after rain this is more difficult and you may find yourself laying down the first track.
Landmark
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Wadi Wurrayah - Loo

There's a loo... (I think) - if you are really desperate.
Landmark
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Wadi Wurrayah Pools

Wadi Wurrayah Pools - your destination. Camping, swimming, short hikes in the area.
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From the Parking Lot

If you travel by car - this is the climb you will have to negotiate from the upper parking area. You may even make new friends along the way.
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Wadi Wurrayah - The right vehicle

"Pavement specials" are probably not the best vehicles for traversing this wadi.
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Wadi Wurrayah - What to see along the way

Crystal clear water, steep sided valleys - water carved landscapes.
Pictures in this guide taken by: AndrewScholtz

Creative Commons - author acknowledgement
Reviews
AndrewScholtz
My guide to Wadi Wurayah has been visited almost 9000 times and downloaded by almost 270 people since I developed it. This wadi is one of the best known in the area and is an interesting place to visit. The conservation efforts are particularly interesting and one hopes they are sustainable given the number of visitors.
Visited on Jan 12, 2011

by AndrewScholtz on Aug 01, 2013

Wadi Wurayah - United Arab Emirates Map


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About the Author

AndrewScholtz
AndrewScholtz
3 guides
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Traveller: 1998 Mitsubishi PAJERO GLS LWB 4x4, 3.5l V6 225HP Amateur Photographer: Pentax K10D and Pentax...

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