Hatta, Dubai’s discreet neighbor

This text is part of the special Pleasures notebook

Near Dubai, the excessive, eccentric, city of the world or city of the future of the United Arab Emirates, it can be difficult to find an outdoor destination. However, by looking a little, it is possible to take a natural turn during your stay. Welcome to Hatta, the family and ecotourism destination par excellence.

The vehicle we are crammed into makes its way through the heavy traffic in the center of the city. The 16 lanes of the E11 motorway are not enough to swallow the incessant flow of locals, expatriates and travelers who want an exit to the desert. We head for Hatta, a small town 90 minutes from our hotel, Atlantis The Palm, built on the land of the legendary palm tree of artificial islands that jut out into the Persian Gulf.

Barely after leaving Dubai, we see minimalist and time-worn structures that turn the page on the contemporary world and open a new chapter to the excursion. The skyscrapers disappear in the rearview mirror as our road crosses a few tiny villages, lined with small shops, restaurants and tea houses that have escaped the wave of modernity sweeping the region.

Turquoise waters

First stop, the Hatta dam, built in the 1990s and whose primary mission is to supply the city of Hatta with water and energy. The tourist offer has developed there, so much so that it is now visited for its nautical activities and its spectacular location at the foot of the Hajar Mountains. Although they suggested kayaks to slide on the turquoise waters of the reservoir, we preferred the donut boats covered and propelled by an electric motor.

The rescuers, expatriates from the Congo, occupy a small island in the center of the basin. With large gestures of their arms, they greet us and improvise a dance before disappearing under a canvas which serves as their shelter. The sun is scorching, the mercury exceeds 40 degrees. With such heat, it is difficult not to think of the workers who are busy restoring a mural painted on the exterior facade of the dam. Measuring 240 square meters, it represents the founders of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Rashid bin Said Al Maktoum.

An authentic meal

Back in the village, we sit at the Al Hajarain restaurant for an extraordinary gastronomic experience. The waiters and waitresses work discreetly around us. In no time, the table is crowded with grilled lamb, beef and chicken, hummus, olives, bread and other specialties, including succulent biryani and machboos. Words fail us to describe the complexity of the flavors that characterize each mouthful. This place, which is not glamorous, undoubtedly offers one of the best cuisines in the entire Emirate.

Thrills and nature experiences

The huge empty and sandy parking lot, the dryness of the soil and the almost non-existent vegetation give the impression of unfinished facilities at the Hatta Wadi Hub. However, it is one of the favorite vacation destinations for Dubai residents who flock here on weekends.

A panel presents the countless activities that can be practiced there: hiking, mountain biking, ziplining, archery, horse riding or even a dozen other sports, the names and images of which are enough to make you go up. the adrenaline. The place is also very popular for its domes of glamping, whose experience is akin to an updated version of the tales of Thousand and one Night. In less than an hour, you can squeeze in delicious coffee, ax throwing, climbing in an aerial park and bungee jumping.

The call of the desert

At the wheel of all-terrain vehicles manufactured by Bombardier that forgive any excess on the part of the driver, we literally taste the desert. While we have barely left the comfortable outdoor lounge which serves as the reception station for Arabian Adventures, a cloud of dust highlights our passage before seeing us disappear into the hollow of the dunes. The small group zigzags in soft sand, leaving deep traces, which the wind sweeps and erases behind us. A herd of camels is walking towards us. The guide suggests a break to take a photo of these curious animals, calm and not at all disturbed by our presence. It is difficult, however, to determine whether a certain form of coordination will have enabled this significant encounter, at the moment when the sun, far in the distance, sinks into the sand, gradually coloring the sky a pomegranate pink. Arranged or not, it’s an unforgettable moment on the edge of the world.

On the way to a Michelin-starred restaurant to conclude this open-air walk, a taxi driver from Pakistan who hopes to one day be joined by his wife and five children confides: “In Dubai, we are all walking towards the same goal, that of to live the good life. » There is something elusive in this region surrounded by countries mired in conflict. Its magnetism defies the law of gravity, a world within a world where everything has a price, even the good life…

To produce this report, the journalist was invited by Visit Dubai.

This content was produced by the Special Publications team at Duty, relating to marketing. The writing of the Duty did not take part.

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