Offroad Oman 2013: Day 1 – Doha-Abu Dhabi-Bahla

We arrived at Jibreen Hotel, Bahla, Oman at around 8pm, after a journey trip of more than 18hours from Doha. It should have been shorter, had we shortened our break in Abu Dhabi. We spent 4 hours in the capital: meeting friends, Friday prayer and lunch break.

I purposely made a plan to take a break in Bahla after completing all 6 borders in one-day go. But it meant long hours of driving.

It was only 2am when we started hitting the road in Doha towards Bu Samra: Qatar – Saudi border. In this wee hour, everything was quiet, and speedy, including the normally long Saudi border process. Less than 20min! A record time.

Beware of Oncoming Traffic

Literally. A road between Qatar/Saudi border and Saudi/UAE border is a dual carriageway dual lane separated by nothing other than non-asphalted land strip, without physical barrier. The road is also not equipped with street lamps. Driving this 125-km stretch was pleasant; although the road is asphalted rough but they are still okay. Until…..

I was driving on fast lane/left lane. Fully concentrated to the road, my retina widely opened. Traffic was scarce with few cars passed every two or five minutes. Until suddenly few hundred meters upfront I saw three cars travelling in a group moving towards me. I kept on the left assuming that they were travelling on the other side of the road. As we approached each other, the frontmost car gave flashes of light. What? Am I driving on the wrong road? Was the road mingled I was not aware of? So, I decided to move to the right lane  just 5-10 seconds before they passed. Hundreds meters down the road I was still thinking if this is single carriageway or was I driving on the wrong side. No. Indeed they were driving contraflow and they asked for a way!

It is not uncommon for this type of the road that the road users are driving contraflow incidentally or making a U-turn anywhere they like. Beware. It is safer to use this Saudi-UAE road only during daylight.

Petrol Stations

If you zero your odometer right at Qatar border you’ll find at least three petrol stations on Saudi-UAE road: km 58, km 101, and km 136 in addition to one right after Saudi border. So don’t worry much about running out of fuel. Well, if you like to save some bucks, fill full in Saudi before entering UAE: .65 riyal per liter in Saudi and 1.6 in UAE.

It’s Friday

This is the second time we travel across UAE border on Friday. But this time is different. For something that I don’t know, UAE border process takes double the normal time. We arrived at around 6.20am (UAE time). Entering the Arrival Hall to obtain visa on arrival, I saw no visa seekers except us. We were handled directly by the only immigration desk officer. Completed visa form we were back to have iris scan. This is the problem. Although there is one officer in Iris Scan Room we were not able to proceed, I didn’t know why. We waited for about 45 minutes. I saw many times that the officer tried to make a call. Seems like he was waiting for higher ranks to come. And that’s true. We were only able to proceed after two higher rank officers arrived. A total of two hours was spent in UAE border alone. Fiuuhh.

140km/h

There is nothing change along Road E11 that linking Saudi/UAE border up to Dubai. I have mentioned in another post that I was confused on speed limit applicable to the road. Speed sign bears 120km/h but signboard bears 140km/h. Learning from my googling that “sometimes” limit allowance is given to stated limit of up to 20km/h (where speed camera actually flashes), I drove with assumption that the signboard is right. It took me exactly three hours from UAE border to Abu Dhabi Corniche.

Mezyad, Al Ain

Mezyad is the name of UAE border to Oman in Al Ain, a city 160km east of Abu Dhabi. The exit process from UAE is simple. On the first booth, car registration is asked, but no slip (custom permit) is given. At the second booth, pay exit visa 35AED per passport. And that’s it. No other checks. In Omani side, the border process is not that difficult. Go to Immigration Building, present your passport, fill-in visa form, pay insurance (at the same building) and visa and get your passport stamped.  I learned that children are now (compare to 2009) required to have a separate visa form.After that couple of checks for passport as well as custom inspection.

Mezyad UAE Border: N 24°01’36.9″ E055°50’46.4″

Mezyad Oman Border (Departure/Arrival Hall): N 24°00’50.1″ E055°50’48.2″

Al Ain – Ibri – Bahla

From Mezyad border, Ibri is 130km away through a  highway; while Jibreen, Bahla is another 90km. We initially planned to stay in Ibri knowing that the first stop is Al Ayn Beehive Tombs, located inbetween Ibri and Jibreen, Bahla. Unfortunately two hotels in Ibri were not available through booking.com so that we shifted our plan to Jibreen, Bahla. Ibri-Bahla road is a wide single carriageway without street lamps. Learning from what I had experienced, I don’t recommend driving this road section at night; scenery during the day is more rewarding, and it’s safer and less tiring of course.

If you opt to stay at Ibri, try to visit Ruins of Al Sulaif Fortress Town located  a kilometer after Ibri if you are driving from Al Ain. Coordinate: N 23°12’17.0″ E056°31’34.0″

I stayed at:

Jibreen Hotel, Jibreen-Bahla Intersection, N 22°56’49.0″ E057°15’22.0″, http://www.jibreenhotel.com

Jibreen Hotel
Jibreen Hotel
Jibreen Hotel
Jibreen Hotel
Surrounding Jibreen Hotel
Surrounding Jibreen Hotel

Other alternatives include:

Ibri Oasis Hotel,9km from Ibri town centre on the road to Al Ain. Coordinate: N 23°14’56.0″ E056°24’51.0″. Driving from Ibri, you’ll find it on the right hand side of the road, just after the College of Technology and Sports Complex. Reservation not available through booking.com. can be made through telephone: +968-25696172/25696173/25696174, fax number is +968-25696171, email address: iohotel@omantel.net.om.

Al Majd Hotel Apartment, Ibri. Located near Ibri’s Police Headquarter.N 23°12’55.0″ E056°29’11.0″  http://www.almajdhoteloman.com/

Advertisements