UAE & Oman Trip: Day 1 Doha – Muscat: 4 countries, 6 borders, 1105 km!

Day 1 Doha – Muscat: 4 countries, 6 borders,  1,105km!

It’s like you participated in a world rally“, said my friend in reply to my status in Facebook.

We started the journey at 3.24 AM from Al Faisalya Gardens, Al Gharrafa, Doha. In that early morning, me and my friend, Taufiq, along with our families, cruising the sleepy Salwa Road toward Qatar/Saudi  border. When we arrived there 57 minutes later Qatar border was very quiet; only one two cars exiting borders.  After Fajar praying, and finishing a natural break, we proceeded to borders and finished all immigration related matters. It took us almost one hour to pass through Qatar and Saudi borders, even  in this low season early morning. Can’t imagine if it happens during high season!

Qatar border coordinate: 24 44’46.85″N 50 50’52.83″E

Qatar Border
Qatar Border

Turning left at the roundabout after Saudi border (whereas going straight leads you to Hofuf, Dammam and Riyadh of KSA,), we started driving through a stretch of 130 km dual carriageway leading to Saudi/UAE borders. The road is quite excellent; however this road section is unlit and therefore quite dangerous for night driving. No camera installed as I could observe, however we opted to drive just about 120 kph. There are fuel stations available in this road section so you don’t need to worry about run out of gas.

 

Petrol station right before Saudi border – opposite side (need to make U-turn): 24 08’17.67″N 51 34’10.43″E

Petrol station right after UAE border – opposite side (need to make U-turn) 24 07’33.98″N 51 37’52.47″E

 

Where would you go? A roundabout after Saudi/Qatar Border
Where would you go? A roundabout after Saudi/Qatar Border
Saudi Arabia Road to UAE
Saudi Arabia Road to UAE

 

Tips:  Try to fill your tank full at the last station in Saudi road. In addition to energy for your next 360 km of driving to Abu Dhabi, at least you can save few riyals from price difference (0.6 riyals vs 6.25 dirhams per gallon (or about 1.375 per liter) of Special (95) gasoline).

 

One hour twenty minutes later we arrived at Saudi border with UAE. Saudi departure process was simple and took merely few minutes. On the contrary, the UAE entry process was quite lengthy with visa on arrival form application, eye scan, and inspection.  Nevertheless, one hour we spent in those two borders.

 Saudi border with UAE: 24 07’47.84″N 51 34’20.20″E

UAE border immigration building: 24 07’35.73″N 51 37’13.53″E

Now the fun part, a driving of 360 km on a straight dual carriageway (Road E11) with only few curves. Some say, it can be completed within 3 hours. But in our case, 3 hour 40 minutes including lost in Abu Dhabi to find out direction to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Speed limit in this particular road is 100 km/h. You will oftenly hardly notice the solar-powered cameras due to hidden in green belt or due to their low position. Mostly they are located near U-turn or near entrance to towns. You will pass the following towns: Al Hamra (+65km from border), Jebel Dhana (+115), Ruwais (+129), Al Mirfa (some 30km before Tarif), Tarif (+231), and Al Mafraq (+328). Al Mafraq is like an intersection where going straight leads you to Dubai, turns right to Al Ain (road E22) and turns left to Abu Dhabi.

A typical road condition from border to Abu Dhabi (road E11). Picture showing road near Al Mirfa City
A typical road condition from border to Abu Dhabi (road E11). Picture showing road near Al Mirfa City

 Petrol stations are normally present near small town along the road. What I can recall are at As Sila, Al Hamra, Jebel Dhana (5.1 km off the road), Ruwais (opposite), Mirfa (4 km off the road, and opposite), before Tarif (opposite), and after Tarif. Most petrol station normally have toilet facilities, mosque, and small juice stalls. Do not expect large international chain restaurants in petrol stations along this road.

Abu Dhabi

 

We stopped by at Abu Dhabi for about two hours; visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, having Zuhr praying and a light lunch before setting off to Al Ain and then to Muscat. The mosque (cited is the second largest in Middle East) is still under finishing construction but that can’t hide the beauty within.

Coordinates Grand Mosque: 24 24’45.6″N 54 28’30.0″E

 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi (Father of gazelle) is the capital of and the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western coast and located less than 250 metres from the mainland and is joined to the mainland by the Maqta and Mussafah Bridges. With a population of just under 1.5 million, Abu Dhabi is the headquarter of numerous oil companies and embassies. 

Al Ain

Directions and road to Al Ain (E22) from Abu Dhabi is well signposted and we had no difficulty in driving towards the right track. Driving 160km of three-lane dual carriageway road to Al Ain was very enjoyable.  We arrived at Hili Border one hour 45 minutes later only to find out that the border was closed due to system down. We finally could pass through Hili Border with personal approach to Immigration Officer (see posting about Crossing 16 borders).

Road E22 from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain
Road E22 from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain

Al Ain (literally means The Spring) is the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With a population of 614,180 (2008 estimate), Al Ain is dubbed the Garden City of the UAE. It is located in Abu Dhabi Emirate, directly adjacent to the border with Oman. The freeways connecting Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai form a geographic triangle in the center of the country, each city roughly 150 kilometers from the other two

 

Al Ain has been continuously inhabited for more than four thousand years and Al Ain is considered central to the cultural heritage of the country. It is the birth place of Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates. Today, the name Buraimi refers to the Omani town whose urban area merges with that of Al Ain. Until September 14, 2006, Al Ain and Buraimi enjoyed an open border and functioned as one. On September 14, the UAE government closed the open border and required all individuals to clear immigrations both entering and leaving the UAE. Persian Gulf nationals cross the border at the main crossing whereas, expats are required to cross at either the Hili or “Intercontinental” border crossings.(Source: Wikipedia)

 Coordinates:

UAE Border Buraymi (Hili): 24 15’49.8″N 55 46’2.7″E

Al Ain Palace Museum: 24 12’54.0″N 55 45’38″E

Hili Fun City: 24 18’6.4″N 55 47’5.3″E

Hili Archaeological: 24 27’34.4″N 55 47’32.5″E

Al Ain National Museum: 24 13’00.8″N 55 46’29.0″E

Green Mubazarah: 24 6’14.3″N 55 44’57.2″E

Surprisingly, Oman border in Wadi Al Jizi is located 39 km (road towards Sohar) from the Hili border. When we touched Oman immigration building, my car trip meter indicated 808.1 km. Oman immigration process is less simple than UAE. No eye scan, no individual application form for children, and less expensive (only 3 OR for adult, children free).

 Oman Border Wadi Al Jizi: 24 13’27.9″N 56 09’41.1″E

When we’re ready to set off to Muscat via Sohar, it’s already 5.28 PM. Fortunately road to Sohar is well lit and it’s dual lane dual carriageway. There were two or three short road diversions on the road from the border to East Coast Highway but those were easily navigated. The road is excellent, thanks to Oman Government!

Road to Sohar from Al Ain. A short portion of the road is single carriageway.
Road to Sohar from Al Ain. A short portion of the road is single carriageway.

 

Oh by the way, as I drove to the last drive-in counter in Oman border, I was reminded by the immigration officer to clean my mud-painted car. He said that I could be fined if I drove a dirty car. At least before entering Sohar my car should be clean, he added. And here we go, as we approached east coast highway leading to Sohar, I parked my car on the empty area near road shoulder and we handwashed my car with the available water in the car, being looked at strangely by the passerby. What the heck are they doing? Fortunately, there was a nearby mosque with plenty of water we could use of. Fiuuhh. Yet, we spent about 40 minutes to clean all mud paint from my car.

 

But that is not the end, when we stopped at one Shell petrol station just before Sohar for dinner and refuelling, we saw one standing banner clearly, attractively written: FREE CAR WASH FOR EVERY DOUBLE PIZZA PURCHASED! That really made us so damn stupid! I wish…..

 

Sohar

 

Two hours from Muscat is the maritime stronghold of Sohar, named after Noah’s great grandson and famed for being the legendary home of Sinbad.  The coastal city of Sohar was once an important Islamic port and the largest town in the country. Sohar was also once a powerful trading hub and was known as the Gate to China because of its role as a jumping off point for Asian trade. The city is renowned for its copper deposits and an attractive region for tourists due to its clean, safe beaches and the plethora of archaeological features. Sohar is now playing a vital role as a commercial center and with the construction of a new industrial and container port, as a new hub for Gulf shipping. (Source: Wikipedia and Meet Oman 2008)

 Sohar Fort: 24 21’45.9″N 56 44’57.6″E

Recharged with dinner, we started to drive to Muscat at around 8 PM. That’s still another 230 km tough. The drive from Sohar to Muscat along the coastal highway is characterized by long straight beaches, a coastal plain dotted with palm plantations, and a string of forts and castles in the foothills of the central mountain ranges. But with the night driving, we barely enjoy the drive and rather focus on the road busy with pedestrian crossing in town, slow moving vehicles, overtaking or roundabout. If my whole body could tell it must have told me to stop and end the drive. This long drive at the final stage to Muscat, with only few percents of energy and focus, surrounding darkness and a piece of light, seemed bored me and made me started to be queasy. I don’t know.

 

When we finally saw luminous buildings scattered, we took a deep breath. Finally. But we’re wrong. The start of the luminous is As Seeb, the jewel of capital, another 40 km to Muscat. When my trip meter showed 1105 km that’s when we parked our cars beside Delmon Hotel Apartments where we stayed. What a journey. Four countries, 6 borders, 1105 km, 19 hours travelling, and 14 hours of them driving. Thanks be to God. We safely arrived. Alhamdulillah. I’d never driven so far and so long but I did it safely!

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22 thoughts on “UAE & Oman Trip: Day 1 Doha – Muscat: 4 countries, 6 borders, 1105 km!”

  1. Great, that was a crazy physical effort. u did it at the end. but how was coming back?
    I’m doing the same next few days. the only thing is that I will be driving lonely till Al Ain.
    I hope everything will be fine.

    1. Hi,
      Yes it was really a crazy thing. I am normally not such a risk taker but as we had booked so many hotels. cancellation would only cost us more. Again it’s because poor planning. On the way back I took Muscat – Nizwa – Ibri – Al Ain – Fujairah. Stay at Fujairah. Then Fujairah to Musandam. Stay there. Musandam – Dubai. Stay in Dubai. Then Dubai – Doha.
      Wish you a safe and enjoyable trip!

  2. Pak Wahyu,
    Boleh tolong beritahu mengenai documents yang perlu disiapkan bagi kenderaan yang akan digunakan dalam perjalanan dari Doha ke Muscat melalui sempadan Saudi dan UAE? Terima kasih.

    1. Pak Zeinal, untuk kendaraan yang perlu dibawa adalah driving licence, Istimarah (registration). Jika kendaraan bukan atas nama Bapak perlu membawa NOC/exit letter dari penjamin/pemilik (i.e. company/bank). Valid third party Insurance diperlukan ketika memasuki Saudi, UAE dan Oman.

  3. How much did the trip cost in total and how long did it take to travel from qatar to muscat.

    You dont say if you hired a car or used your own?

    Are there any visa’s you need for yourself or the car?

    1. I wasn’t good in recording all my expenses during the trip so that I couldn’t come up with exact expenses.
      However, cost breakdown for my trip were:
      – Formalities (visa+insurance): 500 (visa KSA) + 70-100 (insurance KSA) + 500 (UAE visa) + 70-100 (UAE insurance) + 60 (Oman visa for adult only) + 70-100 (Oman insurance)
      – Accommodation: 200-600 per day
      – Fuel: 3700 km in total.
      – Ticket for recreation: free, minimal, except for some in Dubai and Musandam boat trip (see my other postings)
      – Meal: between 50-100 per person per day (we brought some ready-to-eat food from home)

      I used my own car. You need to bring an exit letter for your car from either bank or your company depending on your car loan status. Istimarah (car registration should also be on hand).
      As for visa it depends on the nationality, however, as a GCC resident we can normally obtain visa on arrival, except for KSA where you need to have a pre-obtained transit visa.

  4. Hey great trip.

    Is it possible to hire a car from lets say Avis or
    Herts in Doha and then drive to Muscat with it ?

    Regards
    Tony

  5. Hi Tony, car rental should normally not allow its rented car to be brought abroad. Full insurance is one of the concern as the local country full insurance does not extend to the neighboring countries (only applicable for issuing country).

  6. Hi

    Like to know so if I am on my visit visa by road to UAE from Doha, I can travel to muscat by road and reenter UAE to travel back to Doha

    Looking forward for your reply

    Azim

      1. Dear Wahyu,

        I am planning to travel from UAE to Qatar..

        Can I travel with my own car but bank loaned..? what are the requirements..?

        How Saudi transit visa works..? Is it for 2 ways..? or should we need to take transit again while returning..?

        Hope to hear from you..

        Shabeer

      2. I am not sure about UAE regulations but in Qatar you need to have clearance from the bank upon submission of deposit or guarantee. Saudi Transit Visa can be requested to have “Round Trip” or two ways. Just make sure you have this Round Trip transit visa.

  7. Bagus sekali info dan panduan…terimakasih kerana begitu teliti..InsyaAllah saya akan ke Muscat dari Doha pada hujung bulan Disember nanti

  8. Hi.. Hope u enjoyed ur trip to muscat.
    I am planning for the coming Eid Holidays. What are the formalities to be done for gettin KSA visa? How long will it take to obtain the KSA visa?

  9. Salam Wahyu.
    First I really wish to thank you for a such great effort/explanation – I really hope it will be useful.
    I’m planning to travel with my family just before EID to Oman. I was hoping if I could get your phone number/email.

    Thanks
    T

  10. Hi Wahyu,

    I am planning to do a similat trip to Oman with my family next month inshallah.
    what are the most enjoyable natural or historical places you avise to visit? and what are the things I should avoid?

    Thank you,

    Kassem

    1. Hi Kassem, please check my latest trip to Oman in April 2013. Like your idea, I varied my trip destinations to include the best of Oman. Try to visit at least one wadi, one fort, one traditional village, one beach, one museum. Good luck.

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