Umm Al-Quwain (meaning “Mother of two powers”) is one of the seven and least populated emirates. On our mission to exploring all the emirates of UAE, we left Dubai early in the morning, driving through Sharjah and then entered into the almost dry part of land almost 2.5 hours later. It was a bit scruffy, with potholed roads and no fancy skyscrapers.
Just when we concluded there’s nothing there to see, we saw a blue patch on the far left end. A few more minutes of drive, and we saw a lovely coastline. Far away from the dazzling lights and cacophony of Dubai and Abu Dhabi is this gentle land of Umm Al-Quwain tucked between the odds of Ajman and the deserts of Ras Al Khaimmah.
It may not receive the attention as its counterparts, but it is certainly worth visiting for its lush green mangrove forests, cluster of islands,lovely coastline and is a haven for bird watching. It’s a quiet, sleepy city, with laid-back attitude, and no tourists as yet. So it’s unlikely to see any skyscapper, or opulent resorts here. It’s an idiosyncratic and quirky location in UAE, an unexplored gem, best kept secret and sadly, one that’s abandoned by tourists.
With what we’ve seen and experienced, we’ve concluded this to be the best kept secret of UAE. Ofcourse there’s Ras Al Khaimmah or Fujeirah with beautiful mountains, but that’s heard of. But this little hidden gem is not explored yet by people (probably not explored by UAE people themselves?). To help you further more with what we saw, additional travel tips and a little video, here’s 5 best things to see and experience here.
1) Explore the gorgeous beaches of Umm Al-Quwain
This emirate is blessed with many beautiful beaches, and one of local’s favourite is the Umm Al-Quwain’s Corniche, an ideal place to enjoy the sound of waves.
2) Take a boat trip or indulge in water sports
UAQ Marine Club offers interesting and wide range of water sports and activities including wakeboarding, waterskiing, canoeing, kayaking, SUP to name a few. You can also hire a boat and go to the nearby mangrove islands.
3) Visit Dhow Building Yard
The emirate does not have many urban or tourist development as yet. Till date the main industries are fishing/dhow building and date cultivation. Skilled craftsmen still continue to assemble the traditional dhow boats which can be visited in the old town. In the above picture, you can see 2 dhow boats that are getting assembled.
4) Do bird watching or fancy crab hunting?
The most undiscovered part of this emirate is that it is one of the best places to do bird watching. Thanks to the copious marine and wildlife and lush lagoons Shallow lagoons and mud beds create a perfect habitat for feeding and nesting. Some of the best places to do bird watching are Khor Al Beidah and Al Sinnayah Island, a marine sanctuary covering 90 square kilometres. Best season to see them is between November to March.
Al Sinnayah island is one of the 3rd largest Socotra Cormants colony in the world with approx 15000 pairs. The black bird is also an endangered species. Blacktip reef shark, white green turtles are also among the other species that can be seen. This undisturbed piece of land is a haven for bird watchers, and people who seek peace and quiet time.
5) Explore the mangrove islands
Near to Al Sinnayah are about 7 other islands that are seperated by a series of creeks. They lie to the east of the peninsula enclosed by the thick mangrove forests. The names of these islands are Al Keabe, Jazirat Al Ghalla, Al Sow, Al Harmala, Al Qaram, Al Chewria, and Al Humaidi.
This undiscovered paradise is well worth a visit. Not just the above 5 things to do, there are also water theme parks and adventure sports in this emirate. This emirate may not be the same as it seems now that the tourism is slowly developing. If you haven’t visited Umm Al Quwain, this is the right time. We’ve also put together a little video of our boat tour that captures the mangrove forest and pink flamingos in the far end. Enjoy!