Exploring the UAE: 10 things to do in Umm Al Quwain

Don't overlook this small but attraction-packed emirate

Umm Al Quwain might not be one of the UAE’s most famous emirates, but it certainly has some hidden gems.

From outdoor activities to traditional Emirati culture, there are plenty of reasons to visit if only for a day.

Here are 10 top activities to try while you're there:

Mangrove Beach

A once-unknown spot in the emirate, the picturesque location in Khor Al Yeefrah is now being upgraded with the likes of thatched parasols, swings, a cafe and barbecue areas. There are kayaks for hire to go out and explore the wide variety of flora and fauna in the protected area that surrounds the emirate, and a DJ is on hand playing tunes at the weekend. A small entry fee is required for cars, but the facilities and the beautiful location make it a worthwhile trip. It is already a popular picnic spot for sunset.

Kitesurfing

Escape to Kite Beach Centre, where Zanzibar meets Bali. This laid-back beach destination has the emirate’s first certified kitesurfing school. Classes are available for all levels and instructors are all International Kiteboarding Organisation-certified. There is a small admission charge (check website for updated prices), but it’s a great place to spend the day and soak up the sun, as well as enjoy other water sports activities such as snorkelling or kayaking. Guests can also sleep overnight or hire cabanas for four-hour slots – but book ahead as it’s peak season.

kitebeachcenter.ae

Tarzan Gym

This quirky concept uses only natural materials out on the sand to create something that looks closer to what would feature in the Flintstones than a traditional gym. Several wooden pieces of kit make up this fun fitness centre tucked away in Kite Beach Centre. A great place to come with friends and very Instagrammable, it’s guaranteed to provide some laughs, as well as challenges with giant wooden dumbbells, barbells and monkey bars among some of the adults-only "toys" on offer.

instagram.com/tarzan.gym

Thunder Road Pizza & Grill

We often speak about Dubai as the country’s gastro hub, but Thunder Road is an absolutely hidden gem. Run by Italians, the restaurant offers flavours that will transport you to Italy, with dozens of home-made cheeses, pizza to die for and, to top it off, beautiful views of the ocean on the terrace. Their home-made burrata is a must-try. Located at the Barracuda Beach Resort, it’s Italy meets the US with a pool table and children’s playground, making it well worth a day trip up the coast. There is even a grocery store inside to pick up some authentic Italian goodies.

thunder-road.ae/barracuda-branch

An abandoned aircraft

Umm al Quwain - August 4, 2009 - A cargo plane once owned by former arms dealer Victor Bout in a lot along the coastal highway near Umm al Quwain, August 4, 2009. (Photo by Jeff Topping/The National) *** Local Caption ***  JT002-0804-AIRPLANE_F8Q4323.jpg

An abandoned Russian cargo plane has become quite the attraction on the tiny emirate’s coast. The Soviet-era aircraft lays out in the sun by the Barracuda Beach Resort, seen clearly from the E11 leading to the hotel at the location that was once an airfield popular for skydiving. It’s been there for more than two decades. For aviation fans, it is a fascinating site, previously shrouded in mystery. Now we know the Ilyushin IL-76, also known by its Nato-operating name "Candid" first flew for the Soviets in the 1970s as a replacement for the equally legendary Antonov 12. It was useful for remote areas of the Soviet Union as it could operate on unpaved runways. The model seen in Umm Al Quwain is a four engine turbofan and was built for the Soviet air force in the 1970s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it found a new role as a charter and operated in the UAE from the late 1990s.

Coordinates: 25.580214, 55.652882 on Google Maps

Vida Beach Resort

The newest addition to the Umm Al Quwain tourist scene is the Vida Beach Hotel, which allows pet owners to enjoy the emirate’s pretty coastline without having to find a sitter. One of a number of hotels to see the gap in the market for the growing number of staycationers in the country looking to take their fur babies away with them, the hotel is chic and, as expected with Emaar, the attention to detail is impressive.

vidahotels.com

Umm Al Quwain Fort and Museum – Fort Al Ali

UMM AL QUWAIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, MARCH 10, 2014. Mohammed Nazeen (Bangladesh) washes dust from the canon being display at the Umm Al Quwain Museum. The fort which dates back to 1768 , and was originally used as the Emiri's residence, was fully restored and opened to the public in 2000. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Jen Bell. Section: Northern Coverage POSSIBLE FOCAL POINT

One of the emirate’s most prized assets, the fort turned museum offers a wealth of history to visitors. It’s the oldest historical building in Umm Al Quwain and dates back to 1768 under the rule of Sheikh Rashid Bin Majid Al Mualla, the founder of the Al Mualla royal family. The fort began as a residence and venue for his government, but now stands as a monument to the tiny emirate’s past since opening as a museum in 2000. Visitors can see the old prison, weapon room, military room and many more domestic quarters of the property, offering a window into the design and building techniques of a time long before today’s modern UAE. The Falaj Mualla Museum and Umm Al Quwain Centre of Antiquities are also worth a trip for history buffs.

ahd.uaq.ae/en

Siniya Island

Hop on a boat from the coast over to Siniya Island, east of Umm Al Quwain, where the eight-kilometre island offers a wonderful insight into the emirate’s historical and natural beauty. Residents of Umm Al Quwain settled on the island 200 years ago before moving to the mainland. Characterised by its mangroves, ghaf trees and desert flora and fauna, visitors can spot a wealth of nature on the island – from birds such as the Socotra Cormorant to the Arabian Gazelle. There are also 65 different archaeological sites on the island, including graves, structural remains and towers.

ahd.uaq.ae/en

Dreamland Aqua Park

UMM AL QAIWAIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - April 22: Dreamland Aqua Park in Umm al Qaiwain on April 22, 2008.  (Randi Sokoloff / The National) *** Local Caption *** RS004-Dreamland_2.jpg

One of the region’s oldest water parks, Dreamland has become an institution. Established in 1997, the park is spread over 250,000 square metres and boasts more than 30 rides, slides and attractions. This space is more than a waterpark – families can also camp overnight or rent an air-conditioned cabana for a day to enjoy the park’s landscaped gardens on the coast.

dreamlanduae.com

Labsah Camel Racing Track

One of the most classical Emirati traditions is camel racing, a favourite activity of royals and non-royals alike. It offers a chance for locals to display their prized possessions, and is an experience like nothing else in the country. While it’s a little bit more rough round the edges than the likes of the Dubai World Cup, this is where the more authentic side of the country can be seen. Races around the 4km track usually happen during weekends in the winter months.

Coordinates: 25°25′42.8″N 55°43′42.1″E on Google Maps

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Updated: November 24th 2021, 11:46 AM