Jebel Hafeet Mountain, UAE

Visitors to Dubai or Abu Dhabi will be struck by the disconnect between the quantity of fantastic driver’s cars that prowl the streets and the fact that driving is, well, a means to an end.

Road building didn’t begin in earnest in the UAE until the Sixties, and most roads were built straight and wide to connect the major cities. There were no historical mountain routes to retrace or far-flung villages to dictate the route. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that the motoring purist would be left bereft of somewhere to enjoy their chosen toy.

While you can indulge yourself in a trackday at Dubai Autodrome or Abu Dhabi’s F1 circuit, not everyone welcomes the risk and expense of taking to the track. What’s lacking is the ability to just drive for the sheer pleasure of it.

Jebel Hafeet

I find myself wondering if Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of the UAE from 1971 to 2004, was the biggest petrolhead imaginable, as one of the region’s best driving roads was built under the auspices of leading to the palace he had constructed on top of Jebel Hafeet Mountain.

The palace remains unused, but the road – a perfectly surfaced three-lane wide affair – is open to the public. It may be two hours from Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but it is the best place to stretch the legs of your Porsche.

Naturally, early on a weekend morning is the best time to enjoy it, as during the day it can get rather busy. It may sound extreme to drive 100 miles for seven miles of blacktop, but it’s worth it.

Jebel Hafeet Mountain

Essential info
Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
Latitude: 24.0331N 55.4639E
Length of drive: 7 miles
Points of interest:
Jebel Hafeet mountain
Views over Oman and UAE
Hotel Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet
Food and accommodation:
Top of Hafeet Mountain Café
Hotel Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet
Jebel Hafeet
PO Box 24476
United Arab Emirates

And there’s no gentle introduction; within a few hundred metres the road starts winding, the occasional short straight punctuating corners. For every well-sighted 180-degree switchback, there are fast and flowing fourth-gear sweepers to keep you on your toes.

It doesn’t take long to reach the summit, which affords the chance to thrash up and down a few times and get to know it. Like the Nürburgring, many corners could easily be mistaken for others.

We do, however, recommend staying sensible – you really don’t need unwanted attention from the authorities out here!

Top of Hafeet Mountain

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