Dubai's Hatta reopens to tourists: a complete guide to season five

Hatta Wadi Hub has new zorbing trails, e-bikes and a soon-to-open adventure rope course with zip-lines and a free fall

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“Go hike, go trek or get out on a mountain bike. Go do some things that you can’t do elsewhere.”

That’s the advice from Roudi Soubra, executive director of Dubai Holding Asset Management, the company that owns Hatta Wadi Hub, as the activity centre reopens for its fifth season.

The adventure centre is welcoming visitors from Thursday, and accommodation at Hatta Resorts is also open for outdoor enthusiasts who want to spend the night in the Dubai exclave's mountain chalets, caravans, dome tents and airstream trailers.

“Every single year we have to amaze people and do things to make them come back, so there’s a lot of stuff going on,” says Soubra.

Hatta, which can be reached in about 90 minutes from Dubai by car, is entirely surrounded by the Hajar Mountains, and has rocketed in popularity since the launch of Hatta Wadi Hub in 2018.

In August 2021, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced details of the emirate's plans to develop Hatta as a tourism destination. Design plans include a 5.4-kilometre cable car, a sustainable waterfall attraction and new hiking tracks up to Jabal Umm Al Nusour, Dubai's highest peak.

Many of these initiatives are still in the ideation stage, but there are a few new Hatta attractions that visitors can look forward to trying this year.

What’s new in Hatta in 2022?

Hatta Wadi Hub has reopened for season five with new activities and plans to attract more than 400,000 visitors. Photo: Dubai Holding

The Go Gravity centre at Hatta Wadi Hub has been extended with visitors now able to get to grips with a longer, more difficult mountain zorbing trail.

There are also new e-bikes available for those who want to take in the 50 kilometres of biking trails that wrap around Hatta's mountains, dams and wadis. Getting out and exploring the surrounds is much easier on these electricity powered bikes.

From October, weekend visitors will be able to take part in sunrise and sunset yoga sessions at the destination's Art Hub chalet, located atop one of the park's peaks.

By December, the biggest new addition at Hatta Wadi Hub will open. The Hatta Rope Course is currently under construction, but when complete, it will be a towering four-storey structure with 65 different elements. Inside the rope course will be several other activities, including a bag jump, where participants jump into a massive bag; a freefall where people jump off a platform; three zip-lines and a giant swing.

It’s not only Hatta Wadi Hub that’s had an upgrade, either.

The destination as a whole has been undergoing development and RTA is in the process of installing new paths around town that are dedicated for road bikes and scooters. This will make it easy for travellers to cycle or scoot between Hatta’s landmarks — all the way from the Hatta Heritage Village to Hatta Dam and back again.

What’s open in Hatta now?

Hatta Kayak gives travellers a chance to get out on the water at Hatta Dam. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The majority of Hatta Wadi Hub's activities will reopen on October 1, so if you want the full experience, hang tight for a few more weeks.

But if you do want to take advantage of the early opening this year, you can traverse 32.6 kilometres of hiking trails, all free of charge, and cycle across 50 kilometres of graded cross-country cycle routes, which is complimentary if you bring your own bike.

Hatta Wadi Hub’s coffee shop and restaurant are open now for pre or post-activity refuelling and some of the on-site activities, such as axe-throwing and archery, can also be booked this month.

Hatta Kayak is another activity that's up and running. Located about a 10-minute drive from Hatta Wadi Hub, this locally owned company started with a handful of kayaks five years ago. It now has hundreds of kayaks, pedalos, bike boats, doughnut boats and more, and is located right on the blue waters of Hatta Dam.

Kayaking sessions cost Dh60 for an unlimited amount of time, and are also dog-friendly, so pet parents can bring their four-legged friends along for the ride.

Where to spend the night in Hatta

Sedr Trailers Resort offers mountain views and exclusivity at Hatta Wadi Hub. Chris Whiteoak / The National

If one day isn’t enough, there are plenty of options for those who want to spend the night in Hatta.

Hatta Wadi Hub offers several glamping options, but be aware that many of these are booked out months in advance. Visiting in September will let you take advantage of slightly lower rates on most of the accommodation options, of which there are four to choose from.

The Damani Lodges come with stellar views over the park and soft launch stays start from Dh800. Hatta's newest accommodation option are its Dome Tents in Hatta Dome Park, which offer epic sunrise vistas. Low season rates here start at Dh900 for a tent that sleeps four. Families might want to book a stay in one of the fully equipped caravans, which are slightly more affordable with starting rates of Dh700.

Hatta Dome Park offers bubble-shaped tents that come with BBQ areas and outdoor firepits. Photo: Chris Whiteoak / The National

For the utmost exclusivity, the Sedr Trailers are perched on the side of the mountains overlooking the water and offer Airstream trailers with an outdoor chill-out spot, plus a private transfer to the secluded mountain site. September rates for these VIP stays start from Dh1,150 — all tariffs are excluding taxes.

If you prefer to go old-school, bring your tent and set up camp in one of the slots at Hatta Wadi Hub where you’ll have access to bathrooms, food trucks and Wi-Fi. Camping costs Dh199 per tent and allows up to five people.

Stay in a farmhouse holiday home

Travellers seeking a real taste of Hatta culture can opt to stay in one of several local farmhouses.

“There are plans to expand the accommodation options in Hatta, but we want to give the opportunity to the local Hatta residents to use their farms,” says Soubra.

"When we started in 2018, we had two farms converted into holiday homes, and for this new season, we now have over 20."

Hatta's Sunrise Farm. Photo: Meraas

With mountain views, private swimming pools, majlis areas and even resident camels, each of the accommodations offer a little taste of traditional life in Hatta, and most are bookable on the Visit Hatta website.

“This is the direction we want to go in, to give people the chance to go and sit in a local farm instead of staying in a big 200-room hotel, which you can do anywhere,” says Soubra.

There's also the time-honoured JA Hatta Fort Hotel, which is a five-minute drive from the Hatta Wadi Hub, and is now pet-friendly too.

Sign in Hatta. Courtesy Meraas

And if you do only one thing when you get out to Hatta, Soubra wants you to put your hiking shoes on.

“The hike in the morning to the Hatta sign is the most beautiful. If you time it right and come from the back, you reach the sign just in time for the sunrise, and it’s a truly magical view.”

Hatta Wadi Hub is open from 7am-9pm on weekdays, and from 7am to midnight on weekends. Hatta, Dubai; visithatta.com

Updated: September 16, 2022, 5:24 AM
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