Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road

Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, a cool drive in the desert

The Jabal Hafeet Mountain Road is one of the greatest driving roads in the world. Located on the outskirts of Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the road extends for 7.3 mi (11.7 km) up the mountain, topping out at an elevation of 1.219m (4,000ft) above the sea level. Thanks to the two lanes going up the mountain, you can take the 60 bends as fast or slow as you like, enjoying views of the desert.

The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road boasts 60 corners and three lanes (two climbing and one descending), the road still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey. It leads to Jebel Hafeet Mountain, the second-tallest mountain in the United Arab Emirates. The road winds through the craggy limestone making up the mountain until it reaches the summit. Try to take this drive in late afternoon so you can catch the sunset from the top of the mountain. A contender for motoring journalists’ ‘greatest driving road in the world’, it measures just 7.3 miles and climbs 4,000ft in its ascent, finishing in a hotel car park across the way from the ruler’s palaces. Built so that rich residents can get their kicks in their million-dollar toy cars, this road doesn’t take you anywhere -- except to a private palace and an exclusive hotel. Carved into the desert, the road is worth the journey up and back for the smooth surfaces and 60 race-track-worthy corners that snake around the Hafeet mountain. “This is a cracking stretch of road for driving enthusiasts,” explains Phill Tromans from Evo magazine. “There’s a fast section and slow sections, it’s just perfect for technical driving”.

The road was built in 1980. It has many places you can stop and take pictures. Along the way you’ll feel like driving in another planet, with the dramatic Arabian landscapes seen in their finest. The views, once you reach the top of the sandstone mountain, are well worth the journey. The climate of the area is typical of the desert environment (warm or hot). It can be pretty chilly on the top plateau but it is best to avoid driving in the road in the height of summer. March to September might be the hottest.

The road scales the mountain and ends at a parking lot with only a hotel and a palace belonging to the country's rulers. Some vehicles drive very fast, and the main risk on this road is coming around a blind corner to discover a vehicle proceeding toward you at high speed. So, use caution and enjoy the magnificent scenery. The road was built by Strabag International of Cologne, Germany. The road is a challenge for cyclists who frequently come over to train. The road climbs up the 8% average ascent of the mountain. On top of the mountain, there is a radar station, a hotel and a palace belonging to the country's rulers. The majestic journey up the rocky pass, the second highest peak in the country, is said to be one of the world’s best driving. There are two lanes in the upwards direction and one coming down. It boasts 60 corners ranging from tight hairpins to fast sweepers. The surface is really smooth. The road is a mixture of fast straights and sweeping curves that merge perfectly from one to another forming this amazing driving road in the middle of the desert.
Pic: Lloyd De Jongh