Many seasoned travelers will draw a blank when you mention the name “Hatta”, which can partly be blamed on its unusual location: you’ll find it in a secluded corner of the patchwork that makes up the UAE’s northern tip. The town is part of an exclave, a small chunk of land belonging to the emirate of Dubai, even though it borders Oman.
The 100-kilometer or so journey from the city of Dubai is in itself something special – stark hills and rolling dunes sweep past your window before you skim across the top of Oman. You arrive at Hatta to find a valley oasis in the foothills of the mighty Hajjar mountain range.
Skyscrapers, shopping malls, and seven-star hotels are far behind you – here you’ll find low-slung cream-colored houses garnished with palm trees. It’s an area largely untouched by the oil boom, rather it lives on the more modest income afforded by tourism, agriculture and camel trading. The Hatta Heritage Village is – in contrast with some other “historical” attractions in the UAE – the real deal, a glimpse of life in Hatta’s trading heyday. It includes a fortress, a mosque, houses and other structures, some dating back to the 16th century.
Many Dubai residents make the journey here as summer hots up to take advantage of the (comparative) cool of its hilly setting. The Hatta Pools, freshwater basins in a dramatic rocky setting south of the main town, are a great place to cool off before returning to the city. It you’re staying overnight, the Hatta Fort Hotel with its lush, landscaped gardens, is the pick of the accommodation.