We could of course have stayed at the hotel and lounged around on the beach enjoying the mild winter sun and the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf, but you can’t really call that ‘discovering the UAE’.
We decide to take a trip to the oasis of Masfut, a small town in the mountainous southeast of the emirate of Ajman near the border with Oman. The road cuts straight through the emptiness of the orange sand dunes with only the occasional herd of wild camels to break the stillness. As we draw nearer to our destination the landscape changes: mountains loom in the distance and acacia trees dot the landscape.
It also becomes clear why we have a four-wheel drive: as we enter Masfut the tarmac ends and we are hobbling over unpaved tracks to reach the historic fort that rises 200 metres above the town. From here we get a good view of the place: with just 6,000 inhabitants it is not large, but each house has a garden with date trees and greenery. Masfut is popular with day trippers from the coast who flee the cities and the stifling heat in search of cooler mountain air, especially in summer.
We receive a warm welcome from the principal of Masfut municipality, who not only serves up traditional coffee, but also fresh fruit juice, water from the local spring, almonds and dates. He tells us about the key sights in the oasis and organizes for a guide to show us around. The English teacher from the local school serves as our translator. Authenticity rules here in Masfut, with the old fort, the dam, the traditional village and the Arab hospitality.
After our tour of the sights we head into the mountains beyond the village where we stumble upon a miniature canyon with waterfalls and rock pools. So this is the pride of Masfut! The town’s spring water is famous for its fresh taste and is even being bottled at a small plant up the road. And it is of course also what the principal of Masfut had offered us to drink!