After 3 days road trippin’ around the UAE and visiting all 7 Emirates and Omani/Emirati counter-enclaves, it’s finally to the literal end of the road to Khasab: the main city in an exclave called Musandam Oman and can be considered Oman’s “Alaska”. It’s also called the “Norway of Arabia” due to its topography of desolate mountainscapes and fjord-like inlets.
If you’re planning to do the drive yourself, make sure you have a NOC (No Objection Certificate) that the car rental shop will give to you when you tell them you’re making a drive to Musandam Oman. Evan was able to thankfully arrange all this when he arrived into Dubai 2am the night before.
Giving Evan only 4 hours of sleep, we all woke up early at 7am to begin our day. Ambrose also happened to befriend a Persian girl named Samira last night after I asked him to do my laundry downstairs, so we all had breakfast together at the hotel before beginning our drive at 8:30am.
We first drove up an hour and half up past RAK city to the UAE/Musandam Oman border, reaching there at around 10am.
First you have to enter the offices there and formally exit the UAE, paying the 30 AED exit fee first along with your passports, NOC, and car registration papers.
They then give you a pink slip to show to the border guards as you drive into No Man’s Land.
Then when you reach the Oman border, you have to enter the offices there to get a visa on arrival stamp at the border for 5 Omani Rials. There’s an ATM inside in case you need it.
They also hand you another slip to show the border guards that you’re good to enter Oman.
Once you’re past this border, you need to quickly clear customs.
Then it’s another 45 minute drive down gorgeous curvy seaside cliffs to reach Khasab.
All in all, it took us about 3 hours in total to drive from Dubai to Khasab.
Once there we first stopped by the Central Sultan Qaboos Mosque, which holds 1900 people. We were not allowed inside.
Then we drove up to Alkmazrh Fort (or Khmazera Castle), located inside the city that still belongs to a local tribe; it currently is taken care by the tribes’ younger generation who remain proud of their ancestral possession. It was free to enter for us.
We then drove 3 minutes uptown and paid 0.50 Rials to check out the slightly larger Khasab Castle for 10 minutes: Built by the Portuguese in the 17th century, this castle once housed the Wali and his family, then prisoners, before being converted and restored into a regional museum.
The view from the top:
Then we drove up 2 minutes more uptown to scarf down a fantastic 10 Rial seafood lunch complete with fresh fish at Amjad Restaurant:
We then finished our drive at Khasab Dhow Port for the ferry-boats to Muscat. Here you can hop on a full day 6-8 hour or half-day 3 hour dhow boat ride (Or take one all the way to Muscat!).
On a side note, if you’re lucky you can find Iranian Smugglers here where everyday hundreds of small jet boats carrying supplies cross the Strait of Hormuz heading to Southern Iran. The former brings over goats and sheep for the UAE, and then carry back televisions, cigarettes, and other goods to avoid Iranian import duties. Because Khasab is a free trade port Oman tolerates all this.
They must avoid not only shipping traffic but also the Iranian Coast Guard who have no reservations of shooting them on sight.
Since smuggling wasn’t on our minds, we were able to arrange a 3 hour boat ride at 1pm at the last minute for 100 AED (you can bargain it down) per person thanks to a contact provided by Sean the night before.
Dolphins chased down our dhow about 20 minutes into our ride!
About an hour in, they’ll take you to a freshwater area deep in the Strait of Hormuz where you can jump in for a swim and snorkel off the coast of Oman (or Iran, depending on how you look at it). A US drone was just shot down here 3 days ago, but we saw nothing of it: No warships, no media, no helicopters, and no military activity. Just a bunch of American tourists going for a dive.
Then it was simple relaxation for the rest of the journey where you can just take in all the views as they serve you unlimited fruit, tea, water and coffee onboard.
Just lounge away:
After our dhow cruise docked back in Khasab at 4:30pm, we began our drive back to the UAE:
Once returning to Dubai by 7:30pm, we freshened up at our hotel and rendezvous’ed with Sean, his girlfriend Chelsea (who also has been living in the UAE for the past 9 years), as well as inviting Samira out for a final night out together by the Dubai Fountain and facing the Burj al Khalifa.
After a wonderful meal complete with shisha and drinks, we finally said our goodbyes, with Wendy running to catch her 1am flight back home, and Sean and Chelsea having to go to sleep early for their classes tomorrow morning.
The 5 of us left then headed to Dubai Mall for the obligatory visit to the world’s largest fish tank and one of the largest aquariums in the world:
Then Samira and the gang had one more round of drinks and shisha at Garage Café before we all finally turned in at 1am. In a few hours: Kabul, Afghanistan!
- At time of posting in Khasab, it was 40 °C - Humidity: 28% | Wind Speed: 15km/hr | Cloud Cover: so so hot